Open Source Initiative

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting open-source software.

The organization was founded in late February 1998 by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond, part of a group inspired by the Netscape Communications Corporation publishing the source code for its flagship Netscape Communicator product. Later, in August 1998, the organization added a board of directors.

Raymond was president from its founding until February 2005, followed briefly by Russ Nelson and then Michael Tiemann. In May 2012, the new board elected Simon Phipps as president[1] and in May 2015 Allison Randal was elected as president[2] when Phipps stepped down in preparation for the 2016 end of his Board term.[3] Phipps became President again in September 2017.[4]

Open Source Initiative
large green "C" rotated 90 degrees clockwise to form a sort of key hole marked with small circled "R" indicating a registered trademark and the words "open source" beneath
Trademarked OSI "keyhole" logo
FormationFebruary 1998
Simon Phipps


As a campaign of sorts, "open source" was launched in 1998 by Jon "maddog" Hall, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, and others.[5][6]

The group adopted the Open Source Definition for open-source software, based on the Debian Free Software Guidelines. They also established the Open Source Initiative (OSI) as a steward organization for the movement. However, they were unsuccessful in their attempt to secure a trademark for 'open source' to control the use of the term.[7] In 2008, in an apparent effort to reform governance of the organization, the OSI Board invited 50 individuals to join a "Charter Members" group; by 26 July 2008, 42 of the original invitees had accepted the invitations. The full membership of the Charter Members has never been publicly revealed, and the Charter Members group communicated by way of a closed-subscription mailing list, "osi-discuss", with non-public archives.[8]

In 2012, under the leadership of OSI director and then-president Simon Phipps, the OSI began transitioning towards a membership-based governance structure. The OSI initiated an Affiliate Membership program for "government-recognized non-profit charitable and not-for-profit industry associations and academic institutions anywhere in the world".[9] Subsequently, the OSI announced an Individual Membership program[10] and listed a number of Corporate Sponsors.[11]

On November 8, 2013, OSI appointed Patrick Masson as its General Manager.[12]

Relationship with the free software movement

Both the modern free software movement and the Open Source Initiative were born from a common history of Unix, Internet free software, and the hacker culture, but their basic goals and philosophy differ. The Open Source Initiative chose the term "open source," in founding member Michael Tiemann's words, to "dump the moralizing and confrontational attitude that had been associated with 'free software'" and instead promote open source ideas on "pragmatic, business-case grounds."[13]

As early as 1999, OSI co-founder Perens objected to the "schism" that was developing between supporters of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the OSI because of their disparate approaches. (Perens had hoped the OSI would merely serve as an "introduction" to FSF principles for "non-hackers."[14]) Richard Stallman of FSF has sharply criticized the OSI for its pragmatic focus and for ignoring what he considers the central "ethical imperative" and emphasis on "freedom" underlying free software as he defines it.[15] Nevertheless, Stallman has described his free software movement and the Open Source Initiative as separate camps within the same broad free-software community and acknowledged that despite philosophical differences, proponents of open source and free software "often work together on practical projects."[15]

Board members

As of February 2019, the Open Source Initiative board of Directors is:[16]

  • Carol Smith
  • Italo Vignoli

Past board members include[17]:

See also


  1. ^ "OSI Board Elects New Officers". 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  2. ^ Phipps, Simon. "Outgoing President tweet". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  3. ^ Phipps, Simon. "Handing On The Baton". Open Source Initiative. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  4. ^ Randal, Allison (28 September 2017). "Transitions in Leadership". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  5. ^ History of the OSI
  6. ^ A Look Back at 10 Years of OSI
  7. ^ Announcement of losing 'open source' trademark
  8. ^ OSI Charter Member Discuss List
  9. ^ "Become an OSI Affiliate".
  10. ^ "OSI Announces Individual Membership".
  11. ^ OSI Corporate Sponsors
  12. ^ "OSI Names New General Manager". LWN. 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  13. ^ Tiemann, Michael (2006-09-19). "History of the OSI". Open Source Initiative. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
  14. ^ "It's Time to Talk About Free Software Again". 2014-11-19. Archived from the original on 2014-07-16. Retrieved 2014-11-19.
  15. ^ a b Stallman, Richard (2009-04-21). "Why 'Open Source' Misses the Point of Free Software". Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
  16. ^ "Board - Annotated". Open Source Initiative. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  17. ^ Open Source Initiative Retrieved 17 February 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ 2009 OSI Board Elections held in April

External links

.NET Foundation

The .NET Foundation is an organization incorporated on March 31, 2014, by Microsoft to improve open-source software development and collaboration around the .NET Framework. It was launched at the annual Build 2014 conference held by Microsoft. The foundation is license-agnostic, and projects that come to the foundation are free to choose any open-source license, as defined by the Open Source Initiative (OSI). The foundation uses GitHub to host the open-source projects it manages.The foundation began with twenty-four projects under its stewardship including .NET Compiler Platform ("Roslyn") and the ASP.NET family of open-source projects, both open-sourced by Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. (MS Open Tech). Xamarin contributed six of its projects including the open source email libraries MimeKit and MailKit. As of July 2015, it is the steward of thirty-six projects, including: .NET Core, Entity Framework (EF), Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF), Umbraco, MSBuild, NuGet, Orchard CMS and WorldWide Telescope. Many of these projects are also listed under Outercurve Foundation project galleries.

Its board of directors consists of Scott Hunter (Microsoft), Miguel de Icaza (Microsoft-owned Xamarin), and Oren Novotny.

Academic Free License

The Academic Free License (AFL) is a permissive free software license written in 2002 by Lawrence E. Rosen, a former general counsel of the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

The license grants similar rights to the BSD, MIT, UoI/NCSA and Apache licenses – licenses allowing the software to be made proprietary – but was written to correct perceived problems with those licenses:

The AFL makes clear what software is being licensed by including a statement following the software's copyright notice;

The AFL includes a complete copyright grant to the software;

The AFL contains a complete patent grant to the software;

The AFL makes clear that no trademark rights are granted to the licensor's trademarks;

The AFL warrants that the licensor either owns the copyright or is distributing the software under a license;

The AFL is itself copyrighted, with the right granted to copy and distribute without modification.The Free Software Foundation consider all AFL versions through 3.0 as incompatible with the GNU GPL. though Eric S. Raymond (a co-founder of the OSI) contends that AFL 3.0 is GPL compatible. In late 2002, an OSI working draft considered it a "best practice" license. In mid-2006, however, the OSI's License Proliferation Committee found it "redundant with more popular licenses", specifically version 2 of the Apache Software License.

Allison Randal

Allison Randal is a software developer and author. She was the chief architect of the Parrot virtual machine, a member of the board of directors for The Perl Foundation, a director of the Python Software Foundation from 2010 to 2012, and the chairman of the Parrot Foundation. She is also the lead developer of Punie, the port of Perl 1 to Parrot. She is co-author of Perl 6 and Parrot Essentials and the Synopses of Perl 6. She was employed by O'Reilly Media. From August 2010 till February 2012, Randal was the Technical Architect of Ubuntu at Canonical.In 2009, Randal was chair of O'Reilly's Open Source Convention (OSCON). She was elected a fellow of the Python Software Foundation in 2010.She is currently a director of the Open Source Initiative and was its president between 2015 and 2017, taking over from and handing back to Simon Phipps. She also serves on the OpenStack Foundation board of directors.

Apple Public Source License

The Apple Public Source License (APSL) is the open-source and free software license under which Apple's Darwin operating system was released. A free and open-source software license was voluntarily adopted to further involve the community from which much of Darwin originated.

The first version of the Apple Public Source License was approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI). Version 2.0, released July 29, 2003, is also approved as a free software license by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) which finds it acceptable for developers to work on projects that are already covered by this license. However, the FSF recommends that developers should not release new projects under this license, because the partial copyleft is not compatible with the GNU General Public License and allows linking with files released entirely as proprietary software. The license does require that if any derivatives of the original source are released externally, their source should be made available; the Free Software Foundation compares this requirement to a similar one in its own GNU Affero General Public License.Many software releases from Apple have now been relicensed under the more liberal Apache License, such as the Bonjour Zeroconf stack.

BitTorrent Open Source License

The BitTorrent Open Source Licence, is derived from the Jabber Open Source License, which is an Open Source Initiative (OSI) approved license. Former versions of the BitTorrent client (before 6.0) and related pieces of software are licensed under this License which is available here:

A noteworthy aspect of the BitTorrent Open Source Licence is that it does not grant trademark licence. The trademark "BitTorrent" is owned by the company BitTorrent Inc. and is governed by the Trademark Use Guidelines available here:

Bruce Perens

Bruce Perens (born around 1958) is an American computer programmer and advocate in the free software movement. He created The Open Source Definition and published the first formal announcement and manifesto of open source. He co-founded the Open Source Initiative (OSI) with Eric S. Raymond.In 2005, Perens represented Open Source at the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society, at the invitation of the United Nations Development Programme. He has appeared before national legislatures and is often quoted in the press, advocating for open source and the reform of national and international technology policy.

Perens is also an amateur radio operator, with call sign K6BP. He promotes open radio communications standards and open-source hardware.In 2016 Perens, along with Boalt Hall (Berkeley Law) professor Lothar Determann, co-authored "Open Cars" which appeared in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal.

In 2018 Perens founded the Open Research Institute (ORI), a non-profit research and development organization to address technologies involving Open Source, Open Hardware, Open Standards, Open Content, and Open Access to Research. ORI facilitate worldwide collaboration in the development of technology that would otherwise be restricted under national laws like ITAR and EAR.

Common Public License

In computing, the Common Public License (CPL) is a free software / open-source software license published by IBM. The Free Software Foundation and Open Source Initiative have approved the license terms of the CPL.

Danese Cooper

Danese Cooper (born January 19, 1959) is an American programmer, computer scientist and advocate of open source software.

Eric S. Raymond

Eric Steven Raymond (born December 4, 1957), often referred to as ESR, is an American software developer, author of the widely cited 1997 essay and 1999 book The Cathedral and the Bazaar and other works, and open-source software advocate. He wrote a guidebook for the Roguelike game NetHack. In the 1990s, he edited and updated the Jargon File, currently in print as The New Hacker's Dictionary.

GNU Affero General Public License

The GNU Affero General Public License is a free, copyleft license published by the Free Software Foundation in November 2007, and based on the GNU General Public License, version 3 and the Affero General Public License.

The Free Software Foundation has recommended that the GNU AGPLv3 be considered for any software that will commonly be run over a network. The Open Source Initiative approved the GNU AGPLv3 as an open source license in March 2008 after the company Funambol submitted it for consideration through its CEO Fabrizio Capobianco.

Ken Coar

Born in 1960, Ken Coar is a software developer and open development evangelist, recognised primarily for his participation in the creation of The Apache Software Foundation, and the inception of the initial ApacheCon user conferences.

Luis Villa

Luis Villa is an American attorney and programmer who worked as Deputy General Counsel and then as Senior Director of Community Engagement at the Wikimedia Foundation. Previously he was an attorney at Mozilla, where he worked on the revision of the Mozilla Public License (MPL). He continued that work in his next job at Greenberg Traurig where he was part of the team defending Google against Oracle's claims concerning Android. Prior to graduating from Columbia Law School in 2009, he was an employee at Ximian, which was acquired by Novell in 2003. He spent a year as a "senior geek in residence" at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society working on He has been elected four times to the board of the GNOME Foundation. He was editor-in-chief of the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review, and blogs regularly. He was a director of the Open Source Initiative from April 2012 to March 2015.

Martin Michlmayr

Martin Michlmayr is a free and open-source software advocate and Debian developer, currently president of Software in the Public Interest.

Michlmayr joined the Debian project in 2000. In 2003, Michlmayr was elected as Debian Project Leader; he was re-elected to that position one year later, in 2004.Michlmayr contributed to Debian's New Member process, participating in the recruitment of over 120 new members. Additionally, Michlmayr made various contributions to Debian's quality assurance effort. He identified the problem of packages with inactive maintainers and implemented processes to address this problem systematically. He also became involved in identifying inactive maintainers whose packages should be reassigned; created overviews of bugs in Debian; and coordinated keysigning to improve Debian's web of trust. He also contributed to Debian's ports to the ARM and MIPS platforms, by porting Debian to several embedded devices and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. He used snapshots of the GCC compiler to build the entire Debian archive. This work resulted in the identification of compiler bugs as well as build errors in many open source packages.Michlmayr completed a doctorate in technology management at the University of Cambridge in 2007. The focus of this research was on quality improvement in free software and open source projects, and particularly on release management processes and practices.In 2013, O'Reilly awarded an open source award to Michlmayr, putting him in "the 'unsung heroes' category—the people who devote themselves to the important but not always glorious jobs that keep open source healthy".Between 2008 and 2014 Michlmayr served on the board of directors of the Open Source Initiative, acting as the organization's secretary. He is a member of Software Freedom Conservancy's evaluation committee, which evaluates projects that apply to Conservancy for membership. Michlmayr acted as an advisor to Software in the Public Interest in the past.

Michael Tiemann

Michael Tiemann is vice president of open source affairs at Red Hat, Inc., and former President of the Open Source Initiative. He was the chief technical officer of Red Hat. He served on a number of boards, including the Embedded Linux Consortium, the GNOME Foundation advisory board, and the board of directors of ActiveState Tool Corp. He is also co-owner with Amy Tiemann of Manifold Recording Studios.He co-founded Cygnus Solutions in 1989. His programming contributions to free software include authorship of the GNU C++ compiler and work on the GNU C compiler and the GNU Debugger. Tiemann is featured in the 2001 documentary Revolution OS. profiled him in 2014, calling him one of "open source's great explainers."He earned a bachelor's degree from the Moore School of Electrical Engineering in 1986 at the University of Pennsylvania.

Open-source license

An open-source license is a type of license for computer software and other products that allows the source code, blueprint or design to be used, modified and/or shared under defined terms and conditions. This allows end users and commercial companies to review and modify the source code, blueprint or design for their own customization, curiosity or troubleshooting needs. Open-source licensed software is mostly available free of charge, though this does not necessarily have to be the case. Licenses which only permit non-commercial redistribution or modification of the source code for personal use only are generally not considered as open-source licenses. However, open-source licenses may have some restrictions, particularly regarding the expression of respect to the origin of software, such as a requirement to preserve the name of the authors and a copyright statement within the code, or a requirement to redistribute the licensed software only under the same license (as in a copyleft license). One popular set of open-source software licenses are those approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) based on their Open Source Definition (OSD).

Russ Nelson

Russell "Russ" Nelson (born March 21, 1958) is an American computer programmer. He was a founding board member of the Open Source Initiative and briefly served as its president in 2005.

Shared Source Initiative

The Shared Source Initiative (SSI) is a source-available software licensing scheme launched by Microsoft in May 2001. The program includes a spectrum of technologies and licenses, and most of its source code offerings are available for download after eligibility criteria are met.

Simon Phipps (programmer)

Simon Phipps is a computer scientist and web and open source advocate.

Phipps was instrumental in IBM's involvement in the Java programming language, founding IBM's Java Technology Center. He left IBM for Sun Microsystems in 2000, taking leadership of Sun's open source programme from Danese Cooper. Under Phipps, most of Sun's core software was released under open source licenses, including Solaris and Java.Phipps was not hired into Oracle as part of the acquisition of Sun Microsystems and his final day was March 8, 2010 when the two entities combined. Following Sun, he spent a year as Chief Strategy Officer of identity startup ForgeRock before becoming an independent consultant. In 2015 he briefly joined Wipro Technologies as director of their open source advisory practice.Phipps was President of the Open Source Initiative until 2015 when he stepped down in preparation for the end of his Board term in 2016,, and was re-elected in 2017 and re-appointed President by the Board in September 2017. He is also currently a board member of the Open Rights Group and The Document Foundation and on the advisory board of Open Source for America. He has served on a number of advisory boards for other projects, including as CEO of the MariaDB Foundation, and at the GNOME Foundation, OpenSolaris, OpenJDK, and OpenSPARC.He appeared as a guest on episodes 39 , 113 and 337 of FLOSS Weekly and as a regular co-host, such as on episodes 124 and 201.

The Open Source Definition

The Open Source Definition is a document published by the Open Source Initiative, to determine whether a software license can be labeled with the open-source certification mark.The definition was taken from the exact text of the Debian Free Software Guidelines, written and adapted primarily by Bruce Perens with input from the Debian developers on a private Debian mailing list. The document was created 9 months before the formation of the Open Source Initiative.

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