Bruce is back, does OSI still want him?

The Perens campaign is about serious issues, the most important being the continuing tension between the needs of vendors and free software advocates. Those tensions have never been entirely put to bed.

OSI head Michael Tiemann
Open Source Initiative co-founder Bruce Perens wants back on the board.

Perens, who quit OSI in 1999 to concentrate on free software, has launched a petition drive to win his way back in.

Perens says vendors are over-represented on the board, which is headed by Michael Tiemann of Red Hat (above). "I think that vendor-domination of Open Source inevitably dilutes the rights of everyone else," he writes.

Perens is also concerned about license proliferation. Tiemann called that a priority when he was first named to head OSI, but later approved a new attribution license and some Microsoft licenses.

On his own blog, Tiemann is not amused by Perens' presumption:

If Bruce had participated in the license proliferation committee and had won the day with his elegant argument, he might well be president of the OSI today. But at this point his claims of solution are no stronger than Eric Raymond's presumptive claims at the start of the process that there should be only 3-4 licenses and all others should be deprecated.

In a postscript, Tiemann adds that he suggested Perens run to get back on, but not "on a platform that is misleading, jingoistic (as Matt Asay says), or otherwise negative."

So Bruce is welcome back, but not if he's bringing something serious to the table?

The Perens campaign is about serious issues, the most important being the continuing tension between the needs of vendors and free software advocates. Those tensions have never been entirely put to bed.

This is a classic labor-management question. Vendors have economic motives and in this case labor has some non-economic ones as well. Are those valid or not?

I personally think bringing Perens on-board, even as a minority voice, would help address those tensions. Tiemann has had to swallow hard on many issues during his tenure. He had to swallow hard on the license question.

At a group like OSI swallowing hard is part of the job description. Dissing Perens at this point would be a signal that the OSI has become a vendors' organization. But letting yourself be pushed around is no fun either.

If consensus were easy anyone could do it. Ask Barack Obama.

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