HP rallies developers around open-source tools

The PC maker has released tools to make it easier to manage open-source software licences

HP has called on developers to pitch in and help improve the open-source management tools it made available to the community last week.

The governance tools, originally built for internal use at HP, are designed to simplify the management of open-source licences within organisations. HP has also launched two websites, Fossology and FossBazaar, aimed at building communities around the governance tools. "Foss" refers to Free and Open Source Software.

The software released last week is just a starting point, however, according to Christine Martino, HP's vice president of Linux and open source.

"There's no one-size-fits-all approach to Foss governance," she said in comments published by ZDNet.co.uk's sister site, CNET News.com, over the weekend. "Our software fits HP very well, but there are other ways to handle governance of Foss. The way to create the richest set of Foss tools and practices is to open-source it so that others can build on what we've done to tailor the tools to individual enterprise needs."

The idea to release the governance software publicly came from discussions with customers in 2006, according to Martino. "There was almost a rush to the doors, with our customers clamouring for these kinds of tools to help them manage their open-source adoption," she said.

HP's Fossology tools are intended to reduce the uncertainty enterprises often associate with open source, due to the proliferation of open-source licences, Martino said. "When you can understand it and you can manage it, the FUD factor goes away," she said.

The company released its initial governance framework and the first two software agents last week on Fossology, which will also provide resources for academics and others who want to dig into the data behind open-source adoption, Martino said.

The other site, FossBazaar, will aim to build a community focused on business managers, with a particular focus on guiding companies in establishing policies and practices, she said.

HP is contributing white papers, assessment pools, supportability tools and other resources to the latter site, which is backed by partners such as Novell and Coverity. The site will function as a working group within the Linux Foundation.