Open Source Initiative

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Not to be confused with Open Software Foundation.
Open Source Initiative
large green "C" rotated 90 degrees clockwise to form a sort of key hole marked with small "TM" and the words "open source" beneath
standard OSI logo
Formation February 1998
Simon Phipps

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

The organization was founded in February 1998, by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond, prompted by Netscape Communications Corporation publishing the source code for its flagship Netscape Communicator product. Later, in August 1998 the organization added a board of directors.

Raymond was president from its founding until February 2005. In May 2012 the new board elected Simon Phipps as president.[1]

Relationship with the free software movement[edit]

Although born from the same history of Unix, Internet free software, and the hacker culture as the free software movement launched by Richard Stallman and his Free Software Foundation, the Open Source Initiative was formed and chose the term open source, in Michael Tiemann's words, to "dump the moralizing and confrontational attitude that had been associated with 'free software' in the past and sell the idea strictly on the same pragmatic, business-case grounds that had motivated Netscape."[2]

Stallman counter-charges that OSI's pragmatic focus on a model for software development and marketing ignores what he considers to be the central "ethical imperative" and the focus on "freedom" that underlies free software, as he defines it, and blurs the distinction with semi-free or wholly proprietary software.[3] To Stallman, the important, fundamental difference is philosophical. Nevertheless, he describes his free software movement and the Open Source Initiative as separate camps within the same free-software community. According to Stallman, "We disagree with the open source camp on the basic goals and values, but their views and ours lead in many cases to the same practical behavior—such as developing free software. As a result, people from the free software movement and the open source camp often work together on practical projects such as software development."[3]

Bruce Perens himself said "I fear that the Open Source Initiative is drifting away from the Free Software values with which we originally created it.",[4] one year after he created it.


As a campaign of sorts, "open source" was launched in 1998 by Jon "maddog" Hall, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, and others.[5][6]

The group adopted the Open Source Definition for open-source software, based on the Debian Free Software Guidelines. 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 control the use of the term.[7] In 2008, in an apparent effort to reform governance of the organization, the OSI Board invited 50 individuals to join a "Charter Members" group; by 26 July 2008, 42 of the original invitees had accepted the invitations. The full membership of the Charter Members has never been publicly revealed, and the Charter Members group communicated by way of a closed-subscription mailing list, "osi-discuss", with non-public archives.[8] Public information indicates that the group included Bradley M. Kuhn, Karl Fogel, Jim Blandy, Chamindra da Silva, Lawrence Rosen, and David Ascher.[9][10][11] Then-OSI Board member Danese Cooper was the principal moderator of osi-discuss.[12] Kuhn later recollected that the Charter Membership was a "brouhaha (bordering on a flame fest)" and took no action.[13]

In 2009, the OSI was temporarily suspended from operation as a California corporation, apparently in response to a complaint concerning tax paperwork from earlier years.[14][clarification needed] Its current status is "Active".[15]

In 2012, under the leadership of OSI director Simon Phipps, the OSI began transitioning towards a membership-based governance structure. The OSI initiated an Affiliate Membership program for "government-recognized non-profit charitable and not-for-profit industry associations and academic institutions anywhere in the world".[16] Subsequently, the OSI announced an Individual Membership program[17] and listed a number of Corporate Sponsors.[18]

On November 8, 2013, OSI appointed Patrick Masson as its General Manager.[19]

Board members[edit]

The current Open Source Initiative board is:[20][21][22]

Past board members include:

Open-source-related movements[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "OSI Board Elects New Officers". 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  2. ^ Tiemann, Michael (2006-09-19). "History of the OSI". Open Source Initiative. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  3. ^ a b Stallman, Richard (2009-04-21). "Why 'Open Source' Misses the Point of Free Software". Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  4. ^ "It's Time to Talk About Free Software Again". 2014-11-19. Retrieved 2014-11-19. 
  5. ^ History of the OSI
  6. ^ A Look Back at 10 Years of OSI
  7. ^ Announcement of losing 'open source' trademark
  8. ^ OSI Charter Member Discuss List
  9. ^ OSI Board Meeting Minutes, Saturday, July 26, 2008
  10. ^ OPEN 2011 Profile of the Speakers
  11. ^ RE: [osi-discuss] A question for themembershipaboutlicenserecommendation
  12. ^ "OSI Board Meeting Minutes, Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Open Source Initiative". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  13. ^ Bradley M. Kuhn Bradley M. Kuhn , Richard Fontana (2011-06-07). "Bradley M. Kuhn (bkuhn)'s status on Saturday, 16-Jun-12 15:45:57 UTC". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  14. ^ Categories: Licensing,Software. "451 CAOS Theory » The Open Source Initiative’s corporate status is suspended: a CAOS Theory Q&A". Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
  15. ^ "Use Search Type=Corporation Name and search for "Open Source Initiative"". Retrieved 2010-02-24. 
  16. ^ "Become an OSI Affiliate". 
  17. ^ "OSI Announces Individual Membership". 
  18. ^ OSI Corporate Sponsors
  19. ^ "OSI Names New General Manager". LWN. 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2014-01-27. 
  20. ^ "OSI Board of Directors". 2013-09-04. Retrieved 2013-09-06. 
  21. ^ "OSI Board Changes 2013". 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2014-01-27. 
  22. ^ "OSI Board Changes 2014". 2014-04-09. Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  23. ^ 2009 OSI Board Elections held in April

External links[edit]