Sunday, December 02, 2007

Open source - the Malaysian definition

A few years back, I went to this seminar conducted by one of the University here regarding open source (The real name of the university is not revealed to protect the innocent from raging open source fanboy-lunatics). There was one brochure that was interesting, it list out all the open source software made by the University, and they were a plenty. I approach the organizer for futher info.

Me: Hi, I am really interested in these open source software you have
Organizer: Yes we use open source extensively here
Me: Cool, so, where can I download these software
Organizer: Download? well... no, these software is ours. It'll be wastefull to let outsiders download it rite? *smirking*
Me: But, isn't it open source
Organizer: Well, we use php, apache, mysql so it's open source
Me: Under what license are you releasing these software
Organizer: License? err... what license?

Well, I found out indirectly that these software are actually not open source. They are in fact proprietary... and guess what, I have encounter this again and again in the Malaysian IT industry where open source is redefined.

Open source: A software build on a LAMP stack, regardless of its license.

Non open source: Anything else despite being licensed under GPL, build usig Netbeans, running in Glassfish on top of OpenJDK in an open source OpenSPARC processor.

This stupid definition trickles down to developers.

Everywhere else: An open source developer = a developer who donate his code under an OSDL approved license

Malaysia: An open source developer = someone who uses LAMP

This stupid definition actually hurts the open source adaption in Malaysia. Previously, there was a certain degree of advocacy of open source in the Malaysian gov. as far as IT procument is concern: when there are two products of similar functionality and quality, an open source product must be given priority. But guess what, due to the stupid definition above tons of proprietary php projects has been shoved into the goverment's collective throats. In fact, it gave Microsoft a bullet to shoot down the advocacy by saying "hey, it's not open source guys, so why don't we drop the advocacy anyway"... so there goes the advocacy.

If there's one thing open source advocates need to change in Malaysia is that stupid deifnition that sticks in so many heads here.

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