The Open Source Initiative is an organization dedicated to promoting open-source software.

The organization was founded in February 1998, by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond, when Netscape Communications Corporation published the source code for its flagship Netscape Communicator product as free software due to lowering profit margins and competition with Microsoft's Internet Explorer software.

Raymond was president from its founding until February 2005; Russ Nelson replaced him for one month, but after some controversy he resigned and Michael Tiemann became interim president.

The phrase 'open source initiative' is also used by the ObjectWeb consortium to differentiate market-aware endeavors from open source projects. An example of an open source initiative is the ESB initiative incepted by ObjectWeb in June 2004.

Halloween documentsEdit

The term 'open source' achieved much press coverage from 1998 to 2000, although it was often misunderstood. Numerous enterprises opened to the thought of an alternative open source operating system. The Open Source Initiative was able to publish a number of internal Microsoft memos, the Halloween documents, that showed Microsoft was an opponent of Linux and had suggested various methods of eliminating the threat of open source software.

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Relations with the free software movementEdit

Since its inception, the open source movement has been a matter of controversy within the hacker community. It is often considered an offshoot of the free software movement that advocates open source software as an alternative label for free software, primarily on pragmatic rather than philosophical grounds. Some of its founders allege deeper historical roots, taking a broad historical view of the movement and contending that its actual beginnings long predate the term 'open source', trace it to the folk practices of the early ARPANET and Unix communities and early hacker groups like the Tech Model Railroad Club.

Richard Stallman, speaking for the Free Software Foundation (FSF), has criticized the motivation of the invention of the new term Open Source. According to him, the pragmatic focus of the initiative distracts users from the central moral issues and the freedoms offered by free software, blurring the distinction with semi-free or wholly proprietary software. Stallman describes the free software and the Open Source Initiative as separate political camps within the same free software community, however, and says: "We disagree on the basic principles, but agree more or less on the practical recommendations. So we can and do work together on many specific projects."'[1]

The Open Source Initiative's founders contend that the FSF's view of this new initiative as a sort of anti-FSF political party more reflects the FSF's own preoccupation with ideology than it does actual behavior. Open-source advocates have rallied to the defense of free software in times of crisis, such as Microsoft's intense attacks on the GNU GPL in 2001; both groups pulled together against the SCO lawsuit attacking the kernel Linux in 2003. Indeed, there is not a strict division between the two movements, as many individuals identify to some extent with both groups (although some, like Stallman, espouse one of the two philosophies exclusively).

Tensions between the two communities have occasionally been exacerbated by a habit in the trade press and elsewhere of casting their differences as a personal drama between Stallman and open source notables such as Raymond or Torvalds.

In practice, the operational definitions of free software and open-source software are almost equivalent. The lists of compliant licenses maintained by the FSF and OSI are quite similar, explicitly differing only in corner cases such as the first version of the Apple Public Source License and the Artistic License. Adherents of the free software and open source movements typically have no difficulty cooperating on software projects.

Open source vs. free software thus joins the list of philosophical divisions amongst hackers, alongside the editor wars, and KDE vs. GNOME.

Some authors, when discussing the movements together, use terms other than open source software and free software to attempt to describe the union of these two concepts. These other terms include open source software/free software (OSS/FS), free/open source software (FOSS), and free-libre/open source software (FLOSS).


The movement was formally launched in 1998 by Jon "maddog" Hall, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, and others. Raymond is probably the single person most identified with the movement; he was and remains its self-described principal theorist, but does not claim to lead it in any exclusive sense. The open source movement is steered by a loose collegium of elders that includes Raymond, its other co-founders, and such notables as Linus Torvalds, Larry Wall, and Guido van Rossum.

The founders were dissatisfied with what they saw as the confrontational attitude of the free software movement, and favored advocating free software exclusively on the grounds of technical superiority (a claim previously made by Raymond in his essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar). It was hoped that open source and the associated propaganda would become a more persuasive argument to businesses. Raymond's comment was "If you want to change the world, you have to co-opt the people who write the big checks." (Cygnus Support had been pursuing exactly this approach for a number of years already, but not advertising it widely.)

The group adopted the Open Source Definition for open-source software, based on the Debian Free Software Guidelines, which in turn was based on The Free Software Definition. They also established the Open Source Initiative (OSI) as a steward organization for the movement. However, they were unsuccessful in their attempt to secure a trademark for 'open source', to act as an imprimatur and to prevent misuse of the term. Despite this, the OSI developed considerable influence in the corporate sphere and has been able to hold abuse of the term to a tolerable minimum through vigorous jawboning. With the Free Software Foundation (FSF), it has become one of the hacker community's two principal advocacy organizations.

The early period of the open-source movement coincided with and partly drove the dot-com boom of 1998─2000, and saw a large growth in the popularity of Linux and the formation of many open-source-friendly companies. The movement also caught the attention of the mainstream software industry, leading to open-source software offerings by established software companies such as Corel (Corel Linux), Sun Microsystems (, and IBM (OpenAFS). By the time the dot-com boom busted in 2001, many of the early hopes of open-source advocates had already borne fruit, and the movement continued from strength to strength in the cost-cutting climate of the 2001─2003 recession.


Some in the open source movement have claimed that open source principles can be applied to technical areas other than computer software, such as digital communication protocols, data storage formats, and open source hardware. Bolder claims extend open source ideas to entirely different fields, such as the dissemination of general knowledge.

Board membersEdit

The Open Source Initiative board is:

OSI board alumni include:

Open-source-related movements Edit

USA Edit

Malaysia Edit

See also Edit




External linksEdit

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