Open Source Initiative blogs

  • 20 Years with, and at OSCON


    OSCON, the annual open source conference organized by O'Reilly Media, is always a great event for the open source community to come together to acknowledge the advancements of the open source software movement and the communities that enable it. However 2018 was a special year as several open source projects and communities marked significant milestones and celebrated anniversaries, including the OSI (you may have heard, it's our 20th).

    In recognition of the success of the open source software movement, and successes of so many organizations that have contributed to software freedom, the OSI organized a full-day of presentations, discussions, and activities. The track, "Open Source Anniversary: Our Shared Successes", not only celebrated the founding of the open source software movement and the OSI itself in 1998, but also the anniversaries of several other key initiatives that have enabled the free and open source software movement to thrive.

    • Deb Nicholson, Director of Community Operations at Software Freedom Conservancy, presented 30+ years history of the Free Software movement.
    • Jose Parrella, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft and Debian Developer, provided highlights of Debian's 25 years.
    • The 25th anniversary of Red Hat was covered by Michael Tiemann, former OSI Board President and VP Open Source Affairs at Red Hat.
    • The FreeBSD Foundation, celebrating 25 years, was represented by their Executive Director, Deb Goodkin.
    • Abby Mayes, Practice Lead, Working Open at Mozilla, shared Mozilla's 20 year history.

    Highlighting the continued growth and maturity of the now twenty-year open source software movement, our track also included several other talks featuring emerging initiatives:

    • OSI Incubator Project ClearlyDefined, crowdsourcing FOSS data for project success, was introduced by Carol Smith, Senior Open Source Program Manager at Microsoft and OSI Board Director.
    • Software Heritage, browsing 20 years of FOSS, and then some, was presented by Stefano Zacchiroli, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Université Paris Diderot, CTO of Software Heritage, former Debian Project Leader, and former OSI Board Member.
    • OSI Board Director/Treasurer and Program Manager at Google, Josh Simmons, presented, "Teaching the next generation to FLOSS."

    Finally, we were very fortunate to host two very special keynotes:

    Later in the evening, to celebrate this special occasion, we hosted a party, "Cupcakes & Cocktails" where the real highlight of the day took place: a memorable panel discussion on the founding the OSI, and its early work in promoting open source, with OSI Co-founder Bruce Perens, former OSI President Michael Tiemann, and former OSI DIrector Danese Cooper, moderated by current OSI President Simon Phipps. We were honored with over 150 guests joining us for the party, who not only heard some of the history of open source from those who made it, but may have also participated in a little bit of history themselves that evening.

    While the anniversary track was a real highlight in our celebration of open source over the past 20 years, throughout OSCON we also conducted interviews with open source luminaries to capture their recolections of the movement's beginnings, and expectations for the future of open source software. We were fortunate to speak with Tim O'Reilly, Bruce Perens, Chris DiBona, Luis Villa, Alolita Sharma, and several other key people from the open source movement. In the coming months we'll share these interviews, along with each of the presenttions and the panel discussion from the day's events, here and on our community portal OpenSource.Net.

    Importantly, we want to thank our dedicated sponsors for their support in making all of our events, and indeed, all of OSCON so successful: Amazon Web Services, DigitalOcean, GitHub, Google, IBM, Indeed, Heptio, Linux Foundation, Microsoft, and Percona.

    OSCON was a great opportunity to celebrate our Anniversary. We want to thank everyone who has helped us make this celebration a wonderful experience!



  • Should we celebrate the anniversary of open source?

    Today in Portland at OSCON, OSI will be celebrating 20 years of open source. I’ve had a few comments along the lines of “I’ve was saying ‘open source’ before 1998 so why bother with this 20 year celebration?”

    That’s entirely possible. The phrase is reputed to have been used descriptively about free software — especially under non-copyleft licenses — from at least 1996 when it appeared in a press release. Given its appropriateness there’s a good chance it was in use earlier, although I’ve not found any reliable citations to support that. It was also in use in another field well before then, to describe military or diplomatic intelligence obtained by studying non-classified sources.

    But there’s no doubt that the gathering at VA Linux where a group of key figures adopted Christine Peterson’s suggestion and decided to use the term to label a marketing programme for free software was a crucial moment. From that point onward, people who wanted to promote software freedom in business or wanted to identify their own approach to doing business with free software had a collectively-agreed term. It’s much easier to make a thing real if you have a word for it.

    From that moment it became easy to talk about open source projects, open source business models, the benefits of open source and so on. Yes, people could talk about free software in the same way, but many of us found setting a “price frame” at the start of a discussion an unhelpful distraction requiring justification — “you mean you just want to give it away?” This arose because of the strength for native English speakers of the notion of zero cost associated with the word “free” and the need to dive into discussions about freedom in order to counter it.

    The formation of OSI also changed things. By defining open source in reference to a definition of how to identify licenses that deliver the right to use, study, improve and share code, developers were empowered to use open source software without needing to seek further advice. By making a talking point of the methodology enabled by software freedom, open source enabled business adoption in a way that a frame based on promoting liberty would possibly derail. Together, this convergence of meaning made open source a lightning rod for change and an idea that could be spread outside a bubble of like minds. That’s not to say open source lacked a philosophical base; rather, that base became a foundation rather than the lead talking point.

    Open source did not emerge from a void. It was consciously a marketing programme for the already-15-year-old idea of free software and arose in the context of both the GNU Project and the BSD community and their history (stretching back to the late 70s). We chose to reflect this in the agenda for our celebration track at OSCON.

    But that doesn’t mean its inception is irrelevant. The consensus to define open source at the VA Linux meeting and the subsequent formation of OSI and acceptance of the Open Source Definition changed the phrase from descriptive to a term of art accepted globally. It created a movement and a market and consequently spread software freedom far beyond anyone’s expectations. That has to be worth celebrating.

    Image credit: "spirit.png" is a derivative of "43427372221_5c3afe5d39_h.jpg", via Meshed Insights, and used with permission under a Creative Commons with Attribution (CC-By) license.

    This article was originally published in Meshed Insights, and was made possible by Patreon patrons.

  • Open Cars Kick-Off Conference

    Convened by Bruce Perens, one of the founders of the Open Source movement in software and an authority on Open Standards, and Open Research Institute, Inc. the Open Cars Kick-Off Conference will be held November 6, at the Marriott Airport Lakeside, Orlando, Florida, USA

    Autonomous cars are coming. But how are we going to deal with keeping both the software and hardware up-to-date? Odds are, a three-year computer and software a few months old are going to be too old to drive autonomously, at least while the technology is in its infancy. And how do we train the guys in your local garage to maintain an AI?

    The automobile industry thinks they have a solution: lease rather than sell autonomous cars, lock the hood shut, and maintain them exclusively through their dealers.

    That works great for the 1%. But what about the rest of us? The folks who drive a dented, 10-year-old car? We should have the option to drive autonomous cars, and to participate in the same world as the more wealthy folks.

    Open Cars will be the solution. These are automobiles sold with standard fittings, plugs and standards, so that an autonomous driving computer can be purchased in the aftermarket, installed and tested by a certified mechanic, and put on the road. Similarly, the on-board computer, communication, navigation, and entertainment system on an Open Car will be pluggable, purchased on the aftermarket, and will fit into well-defined niches in the vehicle.

    By facilitating a competitive market for self-driving computers and other accessories that can be installed on any Open Car, Open Cars will increase the speed of self-driving development, preserve healthy competition, increase quality and lower cost through the force of an open market.

    This one-day conference will introduce the concept of the Open Car, ongoing research, and how we will establish the Open Car as a reality.

    Come to Orlando in November! Bring your family! The venue is a short drive from Disneyland, Universal, SeaWorld, and other attractions.


    Conference attendance will cost $60. Tickets will be available in a few days. To register your interest in the conference and be informed when ticket sales and hotel reservations open, subscribe to the Open Cars announcement list.

    Open Cars? Open Source?

    Open Cars mean open standards built into new cars that will support an aftermarket for autonomous driving and other electronic accessories. Open Source is not required.

    The autonomous driving solutions added to Open Cars are likely to be sold for profit, some sort of certification and a specialized mechanic are necessary and must be paid for. Computer, communication, navigation, and entertainment systems have less stringent requirements and Open Source implementations are likely.

    However, Open Standards make the development of Open Source autonomous driving systems possible. The potential for an Open Source implementation which is audited, certified, and sold might make Open Source autonomous driving solutions workable.

    Call For Papers

    A few slots are open for presentation by leading researchers in the field. Please submit your abstract only via email to ASAP.

    Follow-Up Meeting

    A follow-up meeting on November 7th for sponsors and active participants shall discuss how we carry forward the Open Cars campaign.


    The first paper on Open Cars has been published in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal. The paper was a collaboration between ORI president Bruce Perens and Boalt Hall (Berkeley Law) professor Lothar Determann.

    Image Credit: "Koenigsegg CCX with dihedral doors open" (Koenigsegg_CCX_(16702216680).jpg), by Axion23 - Koenigsegg CCX, CC BY 2.0,

  • Anniversary Schedule at OSCON


    The Open Source Initiative (OSI), in conjunction with OSCON, will be celebrating 20 years of Open Source next week at the Oregon Convention Center, Portland. The OSI will be hosting a day of community-led lightning talks, open source related activities, and an after party on Wednesday (July 18th). Entrance is free, courtesy of OSCON, but registration for the Expo Plus pass is required using the promo code EXPOFREE. The Expo Plus pass gives access to the event organized by the OSI, while the regular pass gives access to all other OSCON sessions and activities. The promo code “OSI20” gets 20% off any regular pass.



    Schedule Open Source Anniversary (Room F149)
     9am Keynotes
     10:20am Morning Break 
     11am Simon Phipps: Welcome
    Keynote: Danese Cooper & Stephen WalliHeroic and inspiring tales of open source
     11:50am Carol Smith: ClearlyDefined: Crowdsourcing FOSS data for project success
    Stefano Zacchiroli: Software Heritage: browsing 20 years of FOSS, and then some
    12:30pm Lunch
    1:45pm Patrick Masson: Welcome
    Keynote: Bruce Perens: 20 years of Open Source
     2:35pm Jose Parrella: 25 years of Debian
    Abby Mayes: 20 years of Mozilla
     3:15pm Afternoon Break
     4:15pm Deb Nicholson: Free Software: Our Past and Our Future
    Deb Goodkin: 25 years of FreeBSD
     5:05pm Michael Tiemann: 25 years of Red Hat
    Josh Simmons: Teaching the Next Generation to FLOSS
    Vicky (VM) Brasseur: Closing
    5:45pm Booth Crawl (5:45pm - 7:00 pm)
    7:00pm - 9pm 20th Anniversary Party (Cupcakes and Cocktails)
    Panel with OSI / Open Source Founders


    The OSI will also be celebrating the Anniversary at the Community Leadership Summit, held just before OSCON (July 14-15). The event is free to attend, but registration is required:

  • Linux Australia Joins Open Source Initiative


    PALO ALTO, Calif. - July 5, 2017— Linux Australia, Inc, the organization representing thousands of Linux and open source community members in Australia, was recently accepted as a member of the Open Source Initiative, the global non-profit working to promote and protect open source software, further strengthening international relationships with partner organizations committed to free and open source software, hardware and culture.


    The Open Source Initiative is the steward of the Open Source Definition (OSD) and the community-recognized body for reviewing and approving licenses as OSD-conformant. The organization's members play an important role across the world in community building, education and public advocacy to promote the importance of non-proprietary software. In doing so they further international awareness of how open source technologies, licenses and models of development can provide economic and strategic advantage.

    President of Linux Australia, Kathy Reid, was delighted with the move. “We’re incredibly proud to bring Linux Australia into the Open Source Initiative fold - joining a strong and active international community of practitioners, policy advocates and technologists committed to the benefits that open source technologies can provide. As the Open Source Initiative celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, we look forward to partnering with both OSI and other partners to continue to strengthen international open source communities of practice. As new developments such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality and other emergent technologies come to the fore, the principles and ethos underpinning open source are more important than ever. “

    Patrick Masson, General Manager of the Open Source Initiative, was equally positive. “We’re honored to welcome Linux Australia as an OSI Affiliate Member. As a community-driven organization working to advance software freedom, Linux Australia serves as a model for open source collaboration, co-operation, and co-creation. Most already know of Linux Australia’s premier international conference,, however Linux Australia’s efforts to advance free and open source software are far broader: cultivating communities of practice, supporting projects to promote Linux, creating educational resources to further understanding and adoption. We look forward to working with Linux Australia and their membership--in all their activities--and thank them for their ongoing commitment and contributions to software freedom.”


    About Linux Australia

    Linux Australia is the peak body for Open Source communities in Australia. Linux Australia represents thousands of users and developers of Free Software and Open Technologies, and facilitates internationally-renowned events including—Australasia's grassroots Free and Open Source Software Conference. Individuals who join Linux Australia directly participate in online discussions on mailing lists covering a range of topics and user communities. Members of Linux Australia participate in sub- committees and special interest groups, organize events or stand for election to the Linux Australia council. Linux Australia Members may submit applications for funding for projects relevant to or beneficial to the Australian FOSS community under the grants program. Linux Australia membership is free and anyone can join.

    Media contact: Kathy Reid, President, Linux Australia

    About the Open Source Initiative

    Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative promotes and protects open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI Affiliate Program allows non-profit organizations to become OSI members--an ideal way to support the mission of the OSI and contribute to the continued awareness and adoption of open source software. Affiliate Membership A “who’s who” of open source communities. For more information about the OSI, see

    Media Contact: Italo Vignoli, Director, Open Source Initiative

    Image credit: " 2003" by Lauchlin at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], from Wikimedia Commons