Google on the State of FLOSS

Google knows what’s out there. That knowledge is what they give away in order to collect revenue on ads. Part of their knowledge is the state of FLOSS and they shared that at a conference:
“DiBona said that according to Google’s net crawlers, the web now contains over 31 million open source projects, spanning 2 billion lines of code. Forty-eight per cent of these projects are under the GPL, 23 per cent use the LGPL, 14 per cent use the BSD license, 6 per cent use Apache, and 5 per cent use the MIT license. All other licenses are used with under 5 per cent of the projects. Google’s preferred license, DiBona reiterated, is Apache, because “it has patent grants that are fair.” Unlike the GPL, Apache has no copyleft requirement, meaning those who use Apache code needn’t distribute their changes back to the community.”

That revelation says a lot. FLOSS is doing better than even I had guessed. Still, I find it puzzling that people want a licence that respects patents because software patents are essentially invalid, software being a logical product that can be produced by anyone given the specification of what needs to be done. That is, if you need “Hello World!” on the screen there are countless ways of doing that and none of them are creative. They are defined by the permutations of the syntactical elements of programming languages and instruction sets. A programmer just chooses a permutation from a finite set. It’s not like literature where the objective is open-ended. The story/plot does not even need to end in a creative work. Similarly having open source and not distributing changes is bizarre.

From the Apache Licence:
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If the Work includes a “NOTICE” text file as part of its distribution, then any Derivative Works that You distribute must include a readable copy of the attribution notices contained within such NOTICE file, excluding those notices that do not pertain to any part of the Derivative Works, in at least one of the following places: within a NOTICE text file distributed as part of the Derivative Works; within the Source form or documentation, if provided along with the Derivative Works; or, within a display generated by the Derivative Works, if and wherever such third-party notices normally appear. The contents of the NOTICE file are for informational purposes only and do not modify the License. You may add Your own attribution notices within Derivative Works that You distribute, alongside or as an addendum to the NOTICE text from the Work, provided that such additional attribution notices cannot be construed as modifying the License. You may add Your own copyright statement to Your modifications and may provide additional or different license terms and conditions for use, reproduction, or distribution of Your modifications, or for any such Derivative Works as a whole, provided Your use, reproduction, and distribution of the Work otherwise complies with the conditions stated in this License.

It seems to me contradictory for a licence to grant the right to distribute in object form and to modify the code. It is so much easier to work in source code and so much more valuable. If a programmer gets a programme in source form under the licence, he/she can change the code, compile it and distribute the binary under the same licence but the recipient of that code now has a difficult time to modify the code. What is the purpose of that? I don’t think it helps anyone. It certainly gives the end-user far fewer rights than the original authour intended for the original authour’s original work. That seems to me to be a pointless thing but there it is, Google prefers that…

I am thankful that many in the FLOSS community do not agree with the ASL and Google. FLOSS is doing very well in spite of diversity or because of it and I think Google’s strange view of FLOSS will not become the norm but remain an eccentricity.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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5 Responses to Google on the State of FLOSS

  1. Nope. High growth rates even in the paid markets.

    e.g. ERP+CRM 2009 – 20% annual growth rates: IDC
    “We see vendors of open source enterprise applications attracting equity investments and heavyweight leaders and growth rates are typically above 20% per year, sometimes much higher. IDC believes the net effect of the emergence of open source enterprise applications will be one of price pressure, in particular in the midsized segment. We do not expect a religious war between an open source community on one side and commercial proponents on the other. Rather, it will all come down to a battle over who can provide the customer with the most ERP or CRM per euro.”

    FRAMINGHAM, Mass., July 29, 2009 – A recent IDC study reveals that worldwide revenue from open source software (OSS) will grow at a 22.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach $8.1 billion by 2013. This forecast is considerably higher than 2008 for three reasons: (1) the bottom-up list used to calculate the revenue has expanded through an exhaustive effort to include more projects in this forecast; (2) open source software has had a much higher level of acceptance over the past 12 months than previously expected, and; (3) the economy accelerated the uptake and use of open source software in the closing months of 2008.

    RedHat’s revenues were up 21% over 2009 for the last quarter

    Then there’s Android/Linux….

  2. John Bilderback says:

    “FLOSS is doing very well in spite of diversity”

    Actually stats prove that FLOSS is currently declining and becoming less and less important in the business world.

  3. The “best seen at” notes were the result of M$’s embrace and extend policy applied to HTML. There were lots of sites that specified fields/sizes in pixels and not % to keep IE happy. Of course that made slaves of the whole world who had to stick with IE to view lots of sites properly.


    border:5px solid gray;

    Try it yourself »
    The total width of an element should always be calculated like this:

    Total element width = width + left padding + right padding + left border + right border + left margin + right margin

    The total height of an element should always be calculated like this:

    Total element height = height + top padding + bottom padding + top border + bottom border + top margin + bottom margin

    Browsers Compatibility Issue

    If you tested the previous example in Internet Explorer, you saw that the total width was not exactly 250px.

    IE includes padding and border in the width, when the width property is set, unless a DOCTYPE is declared.

  4. Richard Chapman says:

    Has anyone patented “Hello World” yet? It would be a good way to illustrate the absurdity of patent mess.

  5. Dan Serban says:

    The BSD license is the reason WebKit has now become the de facto standard in mobile rendering engines.
    WebKit might well be one of the reasons we no longer see those god-awful “Works best in such-and-such browser” banners on amateur sites.
    People choose BSD, MIT and Apache licenses when their target is to maximize adoption rates for good, truly open standards and network protocols (think TCP/IP).
    OpenStack is licensed under the Apache license and after barely one year of existence it is on its way to becoming one of a handful of mainstream standards in cloud computing.

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