Does it matter if Cisco is a leech?

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.

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TOPICS: Open Source, Cisco
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Leeches, from the blog of Rick OÂ’SheaThere 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

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  • The GPL prohibits outright leeching ...

    For some time now Cisco has used Linux extensively. In most cases, as far as I am aware, they follow the rules. I don't recall any cases of significant abuse on their part. Any abuse they have committed or will commit will be corrected by the community. So I don't see any problem with Cisco. I do have a problem with licenses that allow, even promote, leeching. But that is why I personally use GPL software and promote GPL development as much as possible. The BSD people have their thing and that is their problem. I just don't think the BSD concept of no strings attached is sustainable in the long term. I think that one of the reasons that GPL software is outrunning BSD software is that major corporate users are obliged to carry their fair share of the development load, whereas with BSD, they are expected to give back nothing.
    George Mitchell
    • Cisco was accused of a GPL violation...

      ...it was with its Linksys routers. I am assuming they
      learned a lesson with that and are sticking with BSD
      in things they improve.
      DanaBlankenhorn