Open Source Vendor Lock-in

Yesterday, SAP’s CTO Vishal Sikka called for a more open approach to the Java standardization process (JCP), asking SUN to stop ruling it with a heavy hand. Not surprisingly, he got some pushback using the argument that SAP isn’t one to talk about being more open, given its slow involvement with open source.

I don’t think that this is a fair critique. SAP has always provided the source code of its main business applications suite to user-customers as part of a commercial license, and users have always customized SAP’s business suite to their heart’s content. In fact, it is the only way to make it work for their needs.

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The Intellectual Property Rights Imperative of Single-Vendor Open Source

I guess everybody knows it but nobody ever named it, as far as I know, so I’m doing it here:

The Intellectual Property Rights Imperative of Single-Vendor Commercial Open Source
Always act in such a way that you, and only you, possess the right to provide the open source project under a license of your choice.

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Is it “Use” or “Reuse”?

In software engineering, it is an old question whether you are “using” a component or whether you are “reusing” it. People tend to use these two terms interchangeably, annoying those among us who are trying to put precise meaning to terms. Alas, I don’t know of a good commonly accepted definition. I only know that “reuse” is an over-used term, mostly because “reusing” has more cache than “using”.

After reading some legal material, I’m wondering whether the copyright lawyers already solved this problem.

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Estimating Commit Sizes Efficiently [OSS 2009]

Authors: Philipp Hofmann, Dirk Riehle

Abstract: The quantitative analysis of software projects can provide insights that let us better understand open source and other software development projects. An important variable used in the analysis of software projects is the amount of work being contributed, the commit size. Unfortunately, post-facto, the commit size can only be estimated, not measured. This paper presents several algorithms for estimating the commit size. Our performance evaluation shows that simple, straightforward heuristics are superior to the more complex text-analysis-based algorithms. Not only are the heuristics significantly faster to compute, they also deliver more accurate results when estimating commit sizes. Based on this experience, we design and present an algorithm that improves on the heuristics, can be computed equally fast, and is more accurate than any of the prior approaches.

Reference: In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2009). Springer Verlag, 2009. Page 105-115.

Available as a PDF file.

The Imperfection of Search Algorithms

This is a professional blog, so I usually leave humorous excursions into my life to my personal blog. Well, unless there is good reason for an exception. Today was such a day. That’s because today to much fanfare a new search service, improbably named CUIL was launched. A friend alerted me to the observation that searching CUIL for Dirk Riehle delivers (among other things) the following search result:

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