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Re: FOSS and Development Summary Points

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  • Sunil Abraham
    Dear Richard, On Mon, 2005-10-17 at 12:47 +0000, bytesforall_readers@yahoogroups.com ... This is not really an either-or situation. A donor or development
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 17, 2005
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      Dear Richard,

      On Mon, 2005-10-17 at 12:47 +0000, bytesforall_readers@yahoogroups.com
      wrote:
      > 3. The purpose of the briefing at the most basic level is just to
      > disseminate knowledge; to make those involved with decision-
      > making about FOSS and development aware of new data. The
      > intended purpose of the briefing's broader content is to
      > encourage decision-makers (from individual programmers to
      > development organisations to donors etc.) not to get simply
      > carried along on the FOSS wave, but to question their decision
      > and see, in reality, whether FOSS will really achieve what they
      > want.

      This is not really an either-or situation. A donor or development
      organisation might also choose to use proprietary software/development
      platform [for ex. Microsoft .NET or Macromedia Cold Fusion] to develop a
      bespoke FOSS solution. So the issue is not so much production /
      distribution/consumption of FOSS per se but an intellectual
      understanding of the FOSS copyright framework - and how this could be
      applied to other areas of development practise.

      For example, when UNICEF - Hyderabad commissioned the development of
      Sisu Samarakshak - a multilingual, multimedia training module related to
      Mother and Child Health. It was developed on a proprietary platform.
      Unfortunately initially the contract stated that the developer would
      retain full rights over the software. So UNICEF was not able to scale up
      the programme without paying both the proprietary software vendor and
      the developer repeatedly. Even if UNICEF decided to stick with the
      proprietary platform - they could have used a FOSS license for the
      bespoke code. Thus ensuring vendor independence, community participation
      and scalability in this development project. Fortunately this issue has
      been suitably resolved and UNICEF now owns the code - thought I am not
      sure what the license is. Maybe someone on the list could clarify.

      I believe that awareness of alternative copyright regimes would have
      prevented this from happening in the first place.

      Thanks,

      Sunil

      --
      Sunil Abraham, sunil@... http://www.mahiti.org
      314/1, 7th Cross, Domlur Bangalore - 560 071 Karnataka, INDIA
      Ph/Fax: +91 80 51150580. Mob: (91) 9342201521
      UK: (44) 02000000259
    • Sunil Abraham
      Dear Richard, On Mon, 2005-10-17 at 12:47 +0000, bytesforall_readers@yahoogroups.com ... Let me take the Sahana story to illustrate one of the development
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 17, 2005
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        Dear Richard,

        On Mon, 2005-10-17 at 12:47 +0000, bytesforall_readers@yahoogroups.com
        wrote:
        > Ultimately, of course, "FOSS or not" is not the fundamental issue
        > - the issue is how best to achieve developmental benefits via
        > ICTs. If FOSS can in reality be shown to be the best path then
        > let's have the evidence, and go with it. It it's not delivering on
        > development, let's put our energies elsewhere.

        Let me take the Sahana story to illustrate one of the development
        benefits of FOSS. I selected that story because FOSSFP's Fouad Riaz
        Bajwa posted "From Sri Lanka to Pakistan... coping with disaster
        FLOSS-style" just before you posted your message.

        See the following quote from
        http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/free_issues/issue_08/pdfs/FSM_issue_08_disaster_recovery.pdf
        Please note this is just after the Tsunami

        "According to Weerawarana, IBM donated 15 laptops to
        LSF, but Microsoft failed to provide free licenses for Win-
        dows XP. The hardware showed up with PC-DOS installed.....In the
        end, free software did not win the day on these donated laptops.
        Microsoft relented and the LSF used Windows XP because the users
        were more immediately familiar with it."

        Surely we should not have to wait till "the end" when we are trying to
        save peoples lives. And because Sahana is FOSS, the earthquake stricken
        people from Pakistan and India don't have to spend money earmarked for
        food on software.

        In a much more trivial context - when my engineer wants to replace a
        FOSS firewall software. He first tries several options out and finally
        installs the solution he prefers directly off the Internet. If this were
        proprietary software - we would have to get 3 quotations, issue a
        purchase order, receive and sign a delivery challan, make a payment,
        collect a receipt, pay for upgrades, monitor licenses, prevent
        infringement etc etc. In other words FOSS increases the responsiveness
        of an organisation. This is important whether it is peoples lives or
        greater profits.

        Thanks,

        Sunil

        --
        Sunil Abraham, sunil@... http://www.mahiti.org
        314/1, 7th Cross, Domlur Bangalore - 560 071 Karnataka, INDIA
        Ph/Fax: +91 80 51150580. Mob: (91) 9342201521
        UK: (44) 02000000259
      • David Geilhufe
        The issue of FOSS / proprietary in development is a very simple one to me. The key point is: A proprietary license requires a individual/ organization to get
        Message 3 of 4 , Oct 18, 2005
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          The issue of FOSS / proprietary in development is a very simple one
          to me. The key point is:

          A proprietary license requires a individual/ organization to get
          permission to use and modify the software.
          A FOSS license does not require permission to use and modify the
          software.

          This is important in ICT for a couple of reasons:

          1. Viral diffusion. Proprietary software requires the permission of
          the owner. You need to contact them and transact with them to use the
          technology, whether money changes hands or not. FOSS allows a person
          with a bright idea to simply take the code and run with it. Removing
          the permission layer means that technology can disseminate faster and
          be used in ways the creators may never have envisioned.

          2. Local control. Proprietary code, becuase it requires permission,
          automatically brings the creators of the code into the project. FOSS
          allows adoption of software by a local group without any connection
          to the creators of the software... offering a better opportunity for
          entirely locally owned and run projects while still offering
          connections to a larger community if so desired.

          3. Barriers to entry. Permission often involves payment. FOSS usually
          does not require payment. High up front payment is one of the single
          largest "barriers to entry" for use of technology. And when you need
          to try 5-6 technologies to figure out which ones actually work on the
          ground, it is nice to keep that price tag manageable.

          There is no religious war here, but I think the staunch defenders of
          proprietary code get stuck on analyzing the software... this isn't
          the important part. One needs to analyze the innovation and use of
          software... that, I believe, is where the real ICT impact lies.

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          Try CiviCRM at http://www.openngo.org/
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          David Geilhufe
          Co-Founder
          Social Source Foundation
          david -AT- socialsourcefoundation -DOT- org
          http://www.socialsourcefoundation.org/
          T: 409-781-1580

          Add me to your address book... <https://www.plaxo.com/add_me?
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          On Oct 17, 2005, at 3:26 PM, Sunil Abraham wrote:

          > Dear Richard,
          >
          > On Mon, 2005-10-17 at 12:47 +0000, bytesforall_readers@yahoogroups.com
          > wrote:
          >
          >> 3. The purpose of the briefing at the most basic level is just to
          >> disseminate knowledge; to make those involved with decision-
          >> making about FOSS and development aware of new data. The
          >> intended purpose of the briefing's broader content is to
          >> encourage decision-makers (from individual programmers to
          >> development organisations to donors etc.) not to get simply
          >> carried along on the FOSS wave, but to question their decision
          >> and see, in reality, whether FOSS will really achieve what they
          >> want.
          >>
          >
          > This is not really an either-or situation. A donor or development
          > organisation might also choose to use proprietary software/development
          > platform [for ex. Microsoft .NET or Macromedia Cold Fusion] to
          > develop a
          > bespoke FOSS solution. So the issue is not so much production /
          > distribution/consumption of FOSS per se but an intellectual
          > understanding of the FOSS copyright framework - and how this could be
          > applied to other areas of development practise.
          >
          > For example, when UNICEF - Hyderabad commissioned the development of
          > Sisu Samarakshak - a multilingual, multimedia training module
          > related to
          > Mother and Child Health. It was developed on a proprietary platform.
          > Unfortunately initially the contract stated that the developer would
          > retain full rights over the software. So UNICEF was not able to
          > scale up
          > the programme without paying both the proprietary software vendor and
          > the developer repeatedly. Even if UNICEF decided to stick with the
          > proprietary platform - they could have used a FOSS license for the
          > bespoke code. Thus ensuring vendor independence, community
          > participation
          > and scalability in this development project. Fortunately this issue
          > has
          > been suitably resolved and UNICEF now owns the code - thought I am not
          > sure what the license is. Maybe someone on the list could clarify.
          >
          > I believe that awareness of alternative copyright regimes would have
          > prevented this from happening in the first place.
          >
          > Thanks,
          >
          > Sunil
          >
          > --
          > Sunil Abraham, sunil@... http://www.mahiti.org
          > 314/1, 7th Cross, Domlur Bangalore - 560 071 Karnataka, INDIA
          > Ph/Fax: +91 80 51150580. Mob: (91) 9342201521
          > UK: (44) 02000000259
          >
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