Confusion will reign if software vendors continue to muddy the waters about what open-source software is and how it should be used.
The open-source user community is increasingly worried about how vendors are supplying and supporting the software, according to a Gartner research note produced by analysts Mark Driver and Brian Prentice.
The pair claim vendors are beginning to argue over the true "meaning, purpose and spirit" of open source.
Gartner is therefore urging users to demand the right to modify code and redistribute software without restriction when vendors attempt to enforce their own definition.
Prentice added that the main benefit of open-source licensing — which vendors are threatening — is the ability to modify and redistribute code without restriction.
One way in which vendors are looking to find ways to restrict open source is through attribution licensing, where users who alter code have to credit the original author on any new product.
Prentice also suggested that vendors are struggling to make open source compatible with the traditional business model aimed at creating a single dominant vendor.
This uncertainty around vendors could make sourcing and architectural decisions tricky, and Gartner advises users to demand a strict definition of open-source software and how it can be used.