Thursday, 27 November 2008

Open source systems that are not really OPEN

Recently while evaluating Concourse's CRM product, Concursive for a proposed implementation, we nearly got taken in with Concourse's claim of the product being open-source. According to them, the product was "An open source Java-based application.." but on downloading it, the accompanying license stipulates quite clearly "You may not redistribute the code". Fine!! If I cannot redistribute the code, how can I deliver a solution built around it. Also, if I could not deliver the solution why would I want to waste a month or so trawling through and understanding the million lines or so lines of code before I can modify it to meet my ends.

I can understand the company wanting to hang onto its IP and earning some revenue by "selling" the license but why term the product open-source? Just because I can view or modify the code for my internal use, its of no use to me.

According to the Open-Source Initiative , the Open-Source definition includes the right to freely-distribute the source code . This is the essential spirit of open-source software and should be adhered to when sticking the open-source label on a product. Misusing the term will only annoy developers and earn the product a 'do not use' label.

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