Response from Tim O’Reilly to Matt Feinstein – December 2000
Like you, I’m a believer that there should be room for more than the standard open source canon in the toolset of open source and free software developers. The openness of the standards underlying the software and the process by which developers are engaged in the development of those standards are often more important than the details of the licenses the software is released under. For example, many key internet standards have been developed by the IETF under an open and collaborative process that has many similarities to open source, even though not all of the resulting software is released under an open source license.
I have long argued that the success of open source has less to do with licenses and more to do with collaborative software development over a wide area network. (For example, see Open Source: The Model for Collaboration in the Age of the Internet, my talk at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in Toronto earlier this year. This is also the rationale behind CollabNet, the business we founded last year with Brian Behlendorf of the Apache Group. Collab’s mission is to bring open source-style collaborative development to the software industry as a whole. Typically, this has involved helping large companies make the transition to open source, but we’ve also worked with companies on what we call “inner sourcing”–that is, helping them to use open source development techniques within the corporation, or with a cluster of key customers–even if they aren’t ready to take the step all the way to releasing their software as a public open source project.