Saturday, February 11, 2012

JSF Open Source Throwdown

Optimus Prime's post IceFaces Copies PrimeFaces Line by Line and Brian McKinney's response (New ACE Component Origins) have led to a controversial discussion on the blogosphere regarding legalities and ethics in an open source context. It is interesting to read the perspectives of those associated with PrimeFaces, the perspectives of those associated with ICEfaces, and the community reaction (and here).

Although I tend not to use JavaServer Faces, I have still found the general discussion interesting because the points and counterpoints being made could apply to any open source development projects. Perspectives on what is legal, what is ethical, and what is morale in open source appear to differ greatly among users of these products. Some people think that everything that has been done is legal and ethical. Others believe it is legal but unethical and still others believe there may be copyright infringement even if there are no license issues.

There are numerous good points made in these online discussions that made me think more about the nature of open source. There is no question that there are numerous different perspectives on what's right and wrong in open source, but I'd like to see opinions from well-known open source advocates such as Simon Phipps and Richard Stallman on the matter.

This recent open source controversy is also a reminder of the importance of choosing the appropriate license for one's open source projects. There is always a tenuous balance between wanting to offer a very liberal license to increase adoption and wanting to protect one's work and get appropriate credit/attribution for that work. The Apache Software Foundation license is very friendly to other users, but in this case it seems it may be a little more liberal than the folks at PrimeFaces would have liked.


@DustinMarx said...

OSS Rules of Engagement is not directly related to the specific open source controversy covered in my post, but it is another recent look at some of the less positive aspects of open source. In particular, it looks at Jimmy Bogard's rules of "OSS engagement."

webmink said...

Duly summoned, I took a look at this matter over the weekend. There is a sense in which it's another expression of the decades-old "two views of freedom" arguments, but it looks to me more like a business/personality clash where the parties involved would fight anyway but are using open source licensing and open source idealism as clubs to beat each other.

Assuming my evaluation is right, I think mediation rather than legalism is the best path and I'd suggest the community encourage the two parties to meet for dinner with an independent facilitator and sort out their differences.

@DustinMarx said...


Thanks for taking the time to read those posts and provide your thoughts on the matter. I do like your recommendation and hope they do too.