Should open source boycott Cisco's contest?

Should open source boycott Cisco's contest?

Summary: I'm interested in how readers feel about this. Should open source people shun Cisco until it gets right by the FSF? Or do we compartmentalize legal disputes and get on with the work?

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TOPICS: Cisco, Open Source
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Cisco AXP Contest Logo

While lawyers debate the merits of the FSF's suit against Cisco, open source developers may be asking themselves how they can make their views heard.

Here's an idea. Boycott Cisco's contest.

Cisco is running a contest, with a $100,000 prize fund, called "Think Inside the Box." Its aim is to build Linux applications using Cisco's Application Extension Platform (AXP).

Perhaps due to a lack of publicity entries have not been pouring in. The first phase entry deadline has been pushed back to February 27.

So here's an idea.

Don't enter. And let Cisco know why.

Companies are welcome to act as open source leeches if they wish, and if that behavior goes beyond the pale that's what lawyers are for.

But here is a company being accused of stealing open source code on the one hand trying to buy the loyalties of open source programmers with the other.

Sure we could all use the money especially now. And it would be neat to jump-start what I call Always On applications which live in the air and require network resources.

But there are other ways to get there.

And what of those who do choose to enter? What of those who win? Should their own reputations within their open source communities suffer as a result?

Maybe. People are free to feel that way just as they are free to enter the contest and take Cisco's money.

I'm interested in how readers feel about this. Should open source people shun Cisco until it gets right by the FSF? Or do we compartmentalize legal disputes and get on with the work?

Topics: Cisco, Open Source

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24 comments
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  • Its open source!

    If it is open source code, why shouldn't a company try to use it and integrate it into their solutions? A contest like this is perfect for a company to be paid for their open source applications and try to get their name out there. Who knows, maybe cisco will look to some good companies again and commission them to build some applications if they like them so much. If you don't want companies doing that, don't make your programs open source.
    drewitz@...
    • Educate yourself about the GPL and open source

      Your comment reeks of ignorance of the GPL, here's a link that may help.

      http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html
      deaf_e_kate
      • If he's ignorant so am I. Please explain.

        I don't think "open source" is perfectly synonymous with the GNU General Public License. The problem is with the definition of "open source", I think. Seriously, has it really been settled? Where "open source" is a philosophy, is the GPL its actual codification? If it is, then, in all the discussion of open source, GPL should be manifest much more signifcantly than it is. Which tells me that the definition of "open source" is not settled, and that those who think they know, don't. If you disagree, please explain why?
        kgsheppard
        • You can't rollerskate in a Buffalo herd

          Did you even look at the link? Why don't you read and learn what it is that you don't know about open source, FOSS and the GPL? Your questions are synonymous with Windoze users who do not read their EULA and come on hear spouting great soliloquies of hearsay about it.

          http://74.125.95.132/custom?q=cache:CB0Xll4HsfMJ:www.cybersource.com.au/cyber/about/comparing_the_gpl_to_eula.pdf+Comparison+of+the+EULA+and+GPL+%3F&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&client=pub-5386907765195439

          A Comparison of the GPL and the Microsoft EULA

          Now, in ten words or less, summarize the Encyclopedia Britannica, please.
          Ole Man
          • There is "free" and there is "open source."

            Depending on how you define the two there can can be huge differences. The fact that the two terms are used synonymously mucks up the understanding of either, and stifles otherwise perfectly civil and informative conversations. I prefer free licenses to the GPL. Don't you?

            Thank you for recognizing my great soliloquies.
            kgsheppard
          • I am not a developer

            So I prefer the GPL. The biggest difference between the two (open source, public domain) and the GPL is: The GPL enforces (or at least is supposed to enforce) the distribution of any code that is licensed under the GPL. The user (that's me) can do anything he/she chooses with it, but if it is distributed (passed on to others), it must be under the same conditions that I (he/she) received it.

            So no one can distribute the code and claim ownership of it (plagiarize it).

            Some developers take a dim view of the GPL because they cannot LEGALLY claim they wrote it and sell it as their own, leaving the REAL owner out of the equation.

            If you really want to be enlightened, try reading the "Comparison of The GPL and EULA" in the link I furnished above. I have read it several times, and it didn't hurt a bit.
            Ole Man
          • Thanks for the feedback.

            I read the GPL and the EULA and the analysis in the link you provided. Frankly, your synopsis sums up the GPL very well. But, what did come to me as read the analysis portion (from the link) on the GPL is that the GPL is an ideology driven communal contract. And it is less "free" than I had thought. But, no matter.

            However, there are truly free licenses out there. Those of us who have seen them and have used them naturally apply a different connotation to the term "open source" when it is so consistently linked with the the term "free".

            So, thank you for the enlightenment on that matter. I look forward to our repartee in the future.

            On an economic note, commodity markets, which is where software is headed, will not make a distinction on the religion (open source) that produced the commodity. What open source is providing is competition in the form of increased supply by dumping, thus accelerating the general commoditization of software applications. Some proprietory developers, recognizing the trend, already offer their software products for free, making money off other services they provide. Their endusers don't give a hoot about open source. Why should they?
            kgsheppard
          • "Their endusers don't give a hoot about open source"

            This is only true for selfish at least, and sometimes greedy people. The vast majority of GPL users appreciate and respect the fact that someone has made the results of their work, along with the works of any other participant, available for them to use in any manner they choose, with the only conditions being that they afford any other recipient the same consideration.

            The ones who "don't give a hoot" are either greedy and selfish, or ignorant, inasmuch as they have failed to read and comprehended the GPL, which is supposedly a mandatory exercise (reading and abiding by the license) to use ANY software if it is NOT in the public domain. Anything in the public domain is truly free (not covered by copyright or a license), to use, to abuse, to copy, to destroy, or to do anything one chooses to do with, as long as its not otherwise illegal.

            I can suffer those who are ignorant. There is no shame in being ignorant. I am myself ignorant of many things. But to REMAIN ignorant by choice is detestable, and to ARGUE about something that one is ignorant about is worse. Being ignorant of one's ignorance is worst of all.

            Good luck in all your endeavors. I recommend software covered by the GPL. You know someone stands behind it, and maintains it, at least as long as it is in production, and possibly (probably) a long time after that. When you pick up something off the sidewalk (in the public domain), you never know where its been, who put it there, or what it may contain. Of course, if you are developing yourself, there's free material for you.

            Edit: PS.... Microsoft software is sometimes acceptable, if one can bear the abuse and harassment that their EULA, activation scheme, (all iterations of) WGA , and DRM saddles them with, and doesn't mind "developing" for Microsoft (for free, as far as Microsoft is concerned).
            Ole Man
    • Sure, if the sponsor isn't a thief

      The FSF has accused Cisco, in a lawsuit, of stealing
      GPL code, violating its license and putting it into
      hardware without following up on its obligation to add
      improvements back to the commons.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • free software

    I think the use of the term "open source" here is a mistake. It makes sense in some contexts but not right here. Cisco is thinking in terms of open source with regard to their actions. The real issue with Cisco is that they have taken away the freedom of their customers to control their own systems. And that freedom is what the FSF is fighting to restore. Cisco has a "black box" mentality it needs to get over if its going to participate in the free and open source software community.

    I already boycott Cisco for reasons other than their actions with regard to Linux. I boycott them because much of their equipment is 10 times more expensive than superior hardware running Linux. There are plenty of other vendors out there building systems just like Cisco, or better, but doing so with free and open source software. Those smaller companies just don't have the advertising dollars or marketshare to make their names well known.
    cabdriverjim
    • Totally agree.

      A PC running Linux and any number of FOSS firewall solutions will provide you with a much better solution than anything Cisco has to offer at a fraction of the cost. Plus, their IOS OS has proven to be one of the most insecure OS' out there.

      It has always struck me as amazing how many IT professionals think that a firewall appliance can offer you more than a PC. Or that somehow the appliance is something other than a computer in its own right that simply loads its solution from ROM as opposed to a disk in a PC. The appliance and PC do exactly the same thing - boot up and load applications.
      bjbrock
      • Something has to be said for the reliablity and flexability of appliances..

        They arent evil and White box servers are not the complete answer.

        Appliances offer lower power consumption, longer uptime, easier managability, good support, fast replacement.

        A white box has its place and in some environments it may be the better solution, but its not the end all solution.
        Been_Done_Before
  • Boycotts should be made with caution

    I figure they're only justifiable if participation in the activity or patronage of the institution in question is manifestly contrary to one's own interests (or the public interest), or that doing so is to contribute to or participate in immoral behavior (my longstanding refusal to patronize MS meets both criteria, IMHO). Boycotting for purposes of delegitimization, or behavior modification, per se are not acceptable, and boycotts designed to punish people for expressing their honest opinions, or to promote or oppose particular political causes are an abomination. Don't know anything about the Cisco platform in question, but I think that a conscientious open sourcer would want to know whether it's more than a proprietary lock-in strategy. If it is, then it would strike me that participation undercuts the goals of the free software movement and is therefore foolish.
    John L. Ries
    • Use the Link, John

      Note that the Free Software Foundation has filed its
      first-ever lawsuit against a vendor for systematically
      violating the GPL, against Cisco, and that case is
      ongoing.

      The idea here is to push for a settlement by letting
      Cisco know it can't get away with stealing from open
      source with one hand and pretending to be our friend
      with the other.
      DanaBlankenhorn
    • Just the opposite john

      Cisco made the first move here with the use of gpl code .

      Open sourcer have all the right to boycott until the end if they want ...Anyways cisco may be in it for a real pain ... I hope
      Quebec-french
  • I see why you would be mad... but boycotting before they are found guilty..

    is stupid.

    Let them settle this like grown adults.

    Now if you choose to personally boycott them, thats fine.... to each his/her own. Just dont scream rape before the rape actually occurs.
    Been_Done_Before
    • re: I see why you would be mad... but boycotting before they are found guil

      [i]is stupid.[/i]

      I disagree. A boycott is to show displeasure and it has nothing to do with Cisco being "found guilty." The best example is when conservative groups advocate boycotting advertisers who sponsor TV programming they don't like. They couldn't do that by your standards because the advertisers aren't even being charged with anything, much less found guilty.

      BTW those boycott threats work!

      As far as screaming rape (!) goes, it's perfectly legitimate to promote and advocate a boycott. Look at the conservative groups again.





      :)
      none none
      • See my previous post

        I think the tactic is overused and has the potential to be abused as a form of unofficial censorship/persecution (it's used that way by left and right alike). I'm not in favor of moral neutrality either, but I see politically motivated boycotts as a substantial threat to freedom of conscience (which I've always given close to top priority).

        A boycott might well be justified in Cisco's case, but I'm withholding judgment for now.
        John L. Ries
    • So you think no action should be taken?

      if you discover somebody stealing your belongings? You shouldn't object or try to stop them, until they're convicted?

      No thanks!
      Ole Man
  • RE: Should open source boycott Cisco's contest?

    Okay, so anybody that has a suit filed against them is guilty. No need for law courts. Seems like this Illinois Governor case. Everybody is innocent till proven guilty. Watch the senate welcome back burris.

    I think calling anybody a thief, before proven guilty is wrong. I agree with John L.Fies and Been_done_before. Papparazzi.
    pzellman