Life at Eclipse

Musings on the Eclipse Foundation, the community and the ecosystem

Archive for April 2007

Higgins Webinar

I blogged before about Higgins, but I recently got an announcement from Lynn about an upcoming webinar and thought that I would pass it along.

The Higgins Trust Framework Project: A New Way to Manage Identity
Thursday, April 25, 2007 at 08:00 PDT / 11:00 EDT / 15:00 UTC/GMT

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Presented by Mary Ruddy & Paul Trevithick
Register by email to webinar-higgins at eclipse dot org

Identity is becoming an increasingly important component of all software. For developers, Higgins makes it easy to build applications and services that work with various identity management systems. It allows developers to incorporate identity standards into the software they build so customers don’t need to retrofit it later. For users, Higgins enables a new generation of identity management software, giving people more control over their personal online information. Please register if you are interested in learning about how the framework can be used and extended, and what the project’s goals and future directions are as the first release planned for this summer approaches.

Special thanks to Adobe for contributing access to their Adobe Connect meeting service to host this webinar. For more information on these and other Eclipse multi-media resources, visit the new Eclipse Live site at

Written by Mike Milinkovich

April 23, 2007 at 4:58 am

Posted in Foundation

EPL: The Business-Friendly Copyleft License

I’ve been watching the GPLv3 process since its inception, and I have to admit that I am getting rather disappointed with some of the dialogue surrounding it.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the FSF is completely within its rights to change the GPL, and they deserve high praise for the open process they’ve used in driving new revisions. The Eclipse Foundation has been involved in the process, with Janet Campbell participating on “Committee A”, since the beginning. We’ve had several open and cordial conversations about EPL and GPLv3 compatibility over the past year as well. All of the right conversations have happened with all of the right people. In the end, however, we had to agree to disagree and the EPL and GPLv3 will not be compatible.

So I was surprised to see the comment in the latest draft that the FSF “encourages” us to “revise the EPL to permit re-licensing under the GPL”. That’s never going to happen. Our contributors and ecosystem picked the EPL for solid business and community reasons, and there is zero interest in taking all of our community’s intellectual property and re-licensing it under the GPL.

Then I read comments from Matt Asay that basically says that anyone that doesn’t support the GPL and the narrow list of business models it supports is somehow “silly”. Although he only talks about Apache in his post, by extension I am assuming that he thinks that IBM’s support of Eclipse doesn’t count. They’ve certainly “given back” to this community. And I definitely do not understand how he could possibly interpret Mills’ comments as demanding that “…the open source world should capitulate to his whims…”.

Matt further points out that some have figured out how “…to monetize open source directly.” How that implies that every other company and community has to embrace the GPL is beyond me. Here’s a newsflash: many companies have also figured out how to directly monetize open source under the Eclipse and Apache licenses as well. Monetizing open source software is not unique to the GPL.

So here are some facts that I think people need to keep in mind:

  1. Free software != GPL. Free software is a principle, and the GPL is one expression of that principle. It is not and cannot be the only one. If we replace the monotony of proprietary software with the monotony of a single free software license, we are all losers. Diversity of licenses allows diversity of business models and diversity of competition. Which is a very good thing for the entire community and industry.
  2. GPL != copyleft. There are quite a few other copyleft licenses (both “strong” and “weak“), the EPL being one. Not everyone agrees with the specific copyleft approach of the GPL. “Giving back” to the community can be done without requiring strong copyleft. One of our community’s objections to the GPL is the position that it is reasonable to link 5 lines of GPL code to 1 million lines of EPL code and shazam! the result of this hypothetical combined work would need to be GPL’d.
  3. GPL != monetization. There are a great many successful companies built on top of the GPL. But in addition there are also some very successful business built on top of other licenses such as the EPL, Apache and MPL. The Eclipse community has built a very successful commercial ecosystem around the EPL, largely because its terms allow greater flexibility and a wider variety of business models. As the title of this post suggests, I would argue that the EPL is the business-friendly copyleft license.

So while the GPL community can be quite rightly pleased with itself on completing GPLv3, I hope that they keep the dialogue with other communities positive and respectful. The open source community is a big place, and there is room for many different viewpoints, licenses and business models.

P.S. I’ve already wasted 20 minutes fighting with Blogger’s random font and font color changes, so apologies if this post looks kinda goofy. This might be the last straw….Wordpress here I come!

Written by Mike Milinkovich

April 4, 2007 at 11:58 am

Posted in Foundation