The WAR over open-source SOFTWARE licensing is over.

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The open-source Rambos need to quit fighting and concede that software accessibility and usability are more important to developers than the integrity of the license. Let’s discuss The WAR over open-source SOFTWARE licensing is over?

The battle for open-source software is over. The bulk of software is now distributed under open source licenses, ending the long-running conflict between proprietary and open source software. Since developers can use, alter, and share open source software without worrying about legal entanglements, innovation has exploded as a result.

The software open source conflict is over for the following reasons, among others:

  • Open source software may be just as dependable and safe as proprietary software, as demonstrated by the popularity of open source initiatives like Linux and Apache.
  • Because open-source applications can now be deployed and managed quickly and on a pay-as-you-go basis, the emergence of cloud computing has made it simpler for enterprises to adopt open source software.
  • The increasing importance of collaboration has led businesses to embrace open source software, as many open source projects are built by a community of developers from all over the world.

Regardless of how much some people want to carry on fighting, the open source battle is ended. Llama 2, a potent large language model (LLM) with more than 70 billion parameters, was just released by Meta (Facebook). With Llama 2, Meta opened up the usage of its LLMs; the only restriction is that it cannot be used for commercial reasons. Previously, Meta had restricted use of its LLMs to research purposes. Only a very, very small number of organizations (Google, Amazon, and a very, very few others) have the computing power to deploy it at scale.

This obviously means that despite Meta’s claims to the contrary, it is not “open source” in the sense defined by the Open Source Definition (OSD). Some open source supporters are already screaming in a Rambo-like manner, “They drew first blood!” and “Nothing is over! Nothing! You just don’t turn it off!” he exclaimed, demanding that Meta stop referring to Llama 2 as “open source.” In a pedantic manner, they are correct, but they also don’t seem to comprehend how pointless their concerns are. Developers have been selecting “open enough” by voting with their GitHub repositories for years. Open source has never mattered in the sense that some had hoped or believed, not because it doesn’t matter.

Is there a source available? Whatevs , that will kill open-source SOFTWARE licensing?

Many proponents of open source believe that the license should be the goal rather than merely a way to allow for nearly unrestricted access to the code. They still worry about licensing while developers are more concerned with use than anything else. Remember that open source, above all things, increases access to high-quality software without involving the purchasing or (typically) legal teams. Similar to what cloud computing achieved for hardware, this. The license was never the point. Access was always the focus.

When I was a developer  we polled developers to find out what they appreciated most in open source leadership. Though it would be expected, writing code for well-known open source projects didn’t come in first place. Not even third or second. Rather, the top factor by which developers assessed the open source leadership of a cloud provider was whether or not it “makes it easy to deploy my preferred open source software in the cloud.”

Contributions are important—but not for the reasons you might expect. Working with product teams to assist them in identifying their self-interest in contributing to the projects on which they were creating cloud services like Elasticache was one of the things we accomplished really effectively at AWS. We were more interested in putting the product teams in a better position to help customers than we were in winning praise from “the community”—the most overused and vague term in all of open source. What’s this? It succeeded. Even while they are far from ideal, an increasing number of AWS product teams are making substantial contributions to open source initiatives.

Although “open source” is a lesser consideration for the developers who use those services compared to “It helps me be more productive, faster.” Again, this is not to suggest that open source is irrelevant in our age of cloud-based software, as I have already mentioned. By effectively uniting around standards, open source enables developers (and businesses) to more easily access shared expertise and infrastructure.

The open source Rambos among us need to understand that this is not the end, though. Open source, the cloud, open APIs, excellent documentation, and other features all aim to make it easier and more feasible for developers to create. Is Llama 2 open enough to allow 99.99999% of developers to utilize it without restriction? Yes. Is this “open source”? The answer to the question is irrelevant.

An overview of the open source era

The shift toward permissive license began more than ten years ago, and RedMonk researcher James Governor noted that “younger [developers] today are about POSS—post open source software.” Just commit to GitHub; [screw] the license and governance. People worried and chastised in the comments, claiming that similar developments in the past had led to “epic clusterf—s” or that “promiscuous sharing w/out a license leads to software-transmitted diseases.”

Despite this, we haven’t reverted to the pre-software licensing era despite their being millions of unlicensed GitHub repositories. Almost all software now contains open source, or “open enough,” code, albeit it is ultimately licensed to the user. Ideal? Maybe not. But is that reality? Yep.

As a result, GitHub and other companies have come up with strategies to persuade developers to use open source licenses to guide their projects. All these actions, though they may be helpful, won’t really matter, as I stated back in 2014. They won’t matter because “open source” is no longer a significant concept. I wouldn’t describe it as some sort of anti-corporate software uprising. All of this led me to the conclusion that we are currently experiencing the post-open source revolution, in which software is more important than ever but its licensing is becoming less and less important.

You don’t have to agree with this, but there is enough of evidence to back it up in GitHub repositories or in the 20-year-old open source licensing trends. Everything has been moving in the direction of permissive, as-open-as-possible access to code, to the point where the actual license is much less significant than how easily we can access and utilize software.

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