Does it matter if Cisco is a leech?

Summary:Leeching, if such a thing exists, is a feature and not a bug. Taking from open source leads inevitably to giving, if just to keep up.

Leeches, from the blog of Rick OÂ’Shea
There is an open discussion going on here and elsewhere over whether Cisco has become an open source leech, and what that means.

(Picture from the award-winning blog of Irishman Rick O'Shea.)

If it is, that's OK. The philosophical difference between open source and FOSS comes down to just this point.

Open source is a reaction against FOSS' strictures, especially the "fourth freedom," the right to get back code improvements.

This is reflected in Eclipse, Apache, and other BSD-type licenses that allow you to use this code to make a profit, and don't require improvements to be donated back.

So as with Jesse Jackson Jr. there is no open accusation, just an appearance (on the part of some) of impropriety.

In both cases appearances can be hurtful. They can also be deceiving. Cisco, so far as I know, is a good citizen in the open source sense of the term.

The bottom line here may be found in a Forrester report noting that open source improves quality, makes IT shops more agile, and speeds the evolution of software -- as well as everything software touches.

Leeching, if such a thing exists, is a feature and not a bug. Taking from open source leads inevitably to giving, if just to keep up.

Topics: Open Source, Cisco

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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