Explore the Free/Libre/Open Way

Xalgorithms Alliance arranges all of its relationships and operations with the demand-side perspective of The Free Software Definition (i.e. user freedoms), and the supply-side perspective of The Open Source Software Definition (i.e. developer principles).

Demand-Side Perspective

The Free Software Definition: A computer program is distributed free/libre when anyone who obtains it retains the following freedoms:

  • Freedom 0: Freedom to run the program for any purpose.
  • Freedom 1: Freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to one’s needs. Unencumbered access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • Freedom 2: Freedom to copy the program and to redistribute copies.
  • Freedom 3: Freedom to improve the program, and release any modified versions. Unencumbered access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Supply-Side Perspective

The Open Source Software Definition: A computer program is distributed open source when everyone distributing it abides by the following principles:

  • Permit free redistribution
  • Publish source code
  • Welcome derivative works
  • Respect integrity of author’s source code
  • Ensure the license is technology-neutral
  • Do not discriminate against persons or groups
  • Do not discriminate against fields of endeavour
  • Do not link with non-disclosure agreements
  • Do not tie the license to a particular product
  • Do not restrict other software’s terms and conditions

Isn’t “open source” always “free/libre”?

No. Permissive licenses such as those known as “MIT” and “Apache” are open source, but not free/libre. Programming code under these licenses can be relicensed by anyone directly or as derivative works under a restrictive license, which means that free/libre terms and conditions are not in force.

The open source hybrid “Eclipse Pubic License” allows its open source code to be intermingled with code under restrictive licensing. So a mixed package under Eclipse does not meet free/libre terms and conditions.

The various “GNU” licenses are both free/libre AND open source. Programming code under a GNU software license may only be intermingled and distributed with code under other free/libre/open licenses. These licences are one-way compatible with permissive licences like MIT and Apache, meaning that code under open source licences can be re-licensed and distributed under the free/libre/open GNU licenses.

Most of the global free/libre and open source market uses GNU licenses. Therefore what is colloquially called “open source” software is usually “free/libre/open source” software. That overlap can lead to some confusion, but it’s helpful to be clear in our language about these terms of trade over intellectual rights and responsibilities. There’s no need to dwell on these details if they distract from the purpose at hand. Suffice to say, the free/libre/open branding does pack a whole lot of significance.

Xalgorithms Foundation is explicitly a free/libre/open source initiative. We distribute our work “open source” under the Apache 2.0 for the programming code that is intended for ubiquitous deployment, including within solutions under restrictive licensing. And we distribute our work “free/libre” under the GNU GPL 3.0 when intended to be maintained free/libre. The different license have different purposes.

The Value Proposition for Participating in Free/Libre/Open Works

Augment Benefits

  • Optimizing the pace of innovation through inter-organizational collaboration and learning at three levels:
    • International
    • Cross-sector/Cross-departmental
    • Cross-industry
  • Leveraging existing intellectual and informatics works that have already been paid for
  • Fostering an agile and competitive environment by reducing barriers to entry
  • Strengthening in-house and/or independent security, management and financial control
  • Diversifying and decentralizing opportunities for employment and business through:
    • Customization for niche requirements
    • Opportunities for small/medium enterprises outside major cities
  • Engaging internal and external expertise in:
    • Different core competencies
    • The quality assurance community
    • The implementation community

Manage Risk

  • Distributing risk amongst multiple participant-investors
  • Advancing and protecting the “knowledge commons”
  • Outlasting team/organization (sustainability)‏
  • Learning from peer review feedback via:
    • Praise and/or criticism
    • Confirmation/rejection of assumptions
    • Personnel retention & succession management

Reduce Costs‏

  • Reusing components (own & others)‏
    • Redirecting creativity, effort and spending to pre-empt redundancy and idiosyncrasy
    • Externalizing some costs of creation/evolution
    • Retaining the freedom to stand still (no planned obsolescence or forced upgrades)
  • Reducing time and money required for legal reviews through:
    • Reduction or elimination of need for “non-disclosure agreements”
    • Simplification of copyright-license management
    • Reliance upon general purpose re-usable licenses
  • Reducing start-up and delivery times by way of:
    • Engaging international standards by default
    • Aligning to a more elegant modular architecture
    • Allowing for more agile systems development
    • Retaining freedom to adapt to requirements

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