Subject: Re: OpenLDAP license
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 09 Apr 2001 22:54:30 -0700

"Ryan S. Dancey" <> writes:

> So my question remains:  Is the OSD as written too specific regarding its
> requirement that the source code be commonly and easily available to
> recipients of the software?

I'm not sure I entirely understand the question, but I think the
answer is no: the OSD is not too specific.  Software under an open
source license must include source code.  But there is no such
requirement on redistributors of open source software.  The GPL is an
example of open source software, but it is not the only example.

> My opinion is that the OSD reflects the ethical position put forward by the
> champions of Free Software, and that it represents their intent as to what
> should and should not be considered "Open Source".

You probably didn't mean it as such, but that is actually a somewhat
politicized statement in the insular politics of the free software and
open source communities.

The OSI is an organization formed to convince the business world to
use open source software.  As such, the OSD was written to define what
was and was not open source software.  I'm not comfortable describing
the OSD as an ethical position.

On the other hand, the OSD is closely based on and may be identical to
the Debian Free Software Guidelines:
These guidelines describe what software the Debian Project considers
to be free.  I think it would be reasonable to describe the DFSG as an
ethical position.

Obviously, I'm splitting hairs here.  But just such hair-splitting is
the cause of significant political disagreements.

Now, I'm not sure who you mean by the champions of free software.  The
OSI is clearly the champion of open source software.  Whether open
source software is the same as free software is a matter of debate, in
the sense that some people consider them to be identical while others
consider them to be different.

I think it is clear that the GNU project is a champion of free
software, though perhaps not the only one.

For the GNU project's take on open source software, see:

For that matter, note that the GNU project considers the Berkeley
license to be free software:

> I hate to sound like a nag, but I just can't reconcile "The program must
> include source code" with "a binary-only distribution is acceptable."

You're right, those two statements can not be reconciled.  However,
nobody is proposing them.  The two relevant statements are ``The
program must include source code'' and ``binary-only redistribution is

> Is Microsoft Windows open source?  If you're one of Microsoft's 1,000
> biggest customers, they'll give you the source code to Windows.  Sure, 60
> million people don't have the source, but some people do, and that seems
> sufficient to comply with this interpretation of OSD #2.

No.  You are ignoring the conjunctive clause in OSD #2: ``must allow
distribution in source code as well as compiled form.''  Note that
this says ``allow;'' it does not say ``require.''