October 3rd, 2020
The LibreOffice project faces a split, and Hacktoberfest stirs deep emotions. Conservancy is gunning for IoT infringers, while Richard Fontana thinks it's time to revisit the Open Source Definition. Plus a new Ubuntu beta, Gitter is sold, and more.
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After receiving a significant donation from Amateur Radio Digital Communications, the Software Freedom Conservancy has announced a shift in its strategy towards IoT enforcement. The first pillar of its new approach appears to be the adoption of a far more aggressive stance towards enforcement action, with Conservancy's Bradley Kuhn stating that "unrelenting enforcement that holds companies accountable" is needed to see widespread GPL-compliance in the Internet-of-Things space. And of the two hundred and fifty thousand dollar grant that Conservancy has been promised, one hundred thousand dollars is specifically earmarked for supporting the organization's legal activities. The remainder of the donation will help Conservancy with the second pillar of its strategy, with the organization looking to become far more involved in the development of free firmware alternatives for IoT devices, where none currently exist. And to round out Conservancy's new approach, the organization plans to collaborate with others to promote copyleft compliance as a positive selling point to consumers, by playing on their concerns about functionality and privacy.
• Conservancy Announces New Strategy for GPL Enforcement and Related Work, Receives Grant from ARDC
• Amateur Radio Digital Communications: Grants
The Open Source Initiative has faced a number of calls in recent years to consider revising the Open Source Definition. The ten principles of the Definition form the bedrock of what the OSI considers to be a genuine open source license, and are an amended form of words that were originally adopted from the Debian project. But the Definition has lately come under attack from at least two different directions — with projects looking for protection from exploitation by hyperscale cloud vendors, and those seeking to include social equity terms into their licenses, both characterizing it as being far too restrictive. And while these debates have been simmering for a while, a new blog post by Red Hat lawyer Richard Fontana may help bring matters to a head. After discussing the background issues, Fontana attempts to weigh up the pros and cons of revising the text of the Open Source Definition in light of the changes within society and industry since it was drafted, and concludes by arguing that it should be. And while Fontana's post is presented as being his own personal opinion, it's hard not to see it as a proxy for Red Hat itself arguing for a change in the community's approach to open source licensing.
• Is it time to revise the Open Source Definition?
Ubuntu has released the final beta of its upcoming interim release. Like the Fedora beta earlier in the week, Ubuntu's is based on version 5.8 of the kernel, with GNOME 3.38 taking pride of place for the main version of the distribution. Ubuntu's various flavors have released betas of their own, and the project is still currently working towards seeing the final release delivered before the end of the month.
• Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla) Final Beta released
Mozilla has been back in the news, with a flurry of self-promoting blog posts over the last few days. The organization has launched a campaign with the infantile slogan of "unfck the Internet", which it's using as an overarching theme to bring together various tools and activist initiatives. And as if to confirm that this isn't merely a passing phase before Mozilla settles back down and starts concentrating on technology again, the organization is also currently advertising for a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant to work with the leadership of the Mozilla Foundation, and to help drive further organizational change.
• The internet needs our love
• This is how we unfck the internet
• Join the anti-establishment
• Request for Proposals: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant
GitLab has sold Gitter, its open source chat and social networking platform, to the company behind the Matrix messaging protocol. While GitLab has said that the sale will allow it to concentrate more on its core business activities, for its part Element has promised to be a good custodian of the one point seven million users that it's just inherited. The company doesn't plan to make any immediate sweeping changes to Gitter, but intends to work to bring its own client into feature-parity before attempting to unify the two platforms, and standardize all of its users on a single software stack.
• Gitter lands new home in Matrix with Element
• Welcoming Gitter to Matrix!
The Khronos Group has released version 3 of its OpenCL specifications. The move doesn't so much mark a step forward as one back, as the new specifications are largely just a restatement of those that the Group put forward in version 1.2, almost nine years ago. With industry adoption of its later two-series specification patchy to say the least, the Khronos Group decided to retrench and make later additions optional for compliance — meaning that code based around the older version 1.2 should be able to run unchanged under the new version 3. And to coincide with the launch of the new specifications, Intel has released an updated version of its Intercept Layer for OpenCL Applications, which can be used to help developers debug and profile OpenCL API calls.
• OpenCL 3.0 Specification Finalized and Initial Khronos Open Source OpenCL SDK Released
• Intel Releases OpenCL Intercept Layer 3.0
It's October again, which for some means the dread of knowing that come the end of the month, hordes of ignorant teenagers are going to turn up on their doorstep trying to score free candy. But for others, it means that hordes of ignorant teenagers are going to turn up on their GitHub repositories, trying to score a free tee shirt from Digital Ocean. And while there's long been a bit of pushback in the developer community about Hacktoberfest, it felt like this year a corner had been turned — with even the mainstream tech press starting to cover the myriad of complaints plastered across social media. Now, only a couple of days into the month-long event, Digital Ocean has responded — by making the competition something that repository maintainers have to actively opt into. Where previously any public repo on GitHub was considered fair game, now only those that have specifically added a 'hacktoberfest' topic tag will be considered part of the event. Additionally, pull requests will need to be merged, or marked as approved by a maintainer, before they get to count towards any swag from Digital Ocean.
• Open-source devs drown in DigitalOcean's latest tsunami of pull-request spam that is Hacktoberfest
• Require PRs be in a repo with hacktoberfest topic and be accepted #596
• An update on efforts to reduce spam with Hacktoberfest: introducing maintainer opt-in and more
And finally, the tensions that have been swirling around the LibreOffice project since well before the recent controversy over marketing and commercialization, have resulted in a major change. Collabora has long been the largest contributor to LibreOffice Online, the server- and cloud-based version of the office suite, and produced around 95% of the code commits for that part of the project over the last year. While Collabora attempts to fund that development through the sale of support contracts, it believes that The Document Foundation risks undercutting its efforts, leaving the company in a financially untenable position. In an effort to differentiate the brands and their respective offerings, Collabora has now decided to reclaim ownership of its contributions to the LibreOffice Online codebase, and host and develop it itself. Since it's open source code, it's possible that The Document Foundation could simply merge any future updates, and attempt to carry on as if nothing had changed — but that would likely prove to be incendiary for an already fraught relationship. While Collabora has made the first public move in attempting to resolve the long-standing differences between the two organizations, it's unlikely to be the last — and how The Document Foundation responds could prove pivotal to the future of LibreOffice.
• Collabora Online moves out of The Document Foundation