Interview with Rishi Amrit
Bruce Perens is a renowned software developer who coined the term 'Open Source'. We interviewed him through email.
Microsoft has recently decided to release APIs for its Windows
platform software, plus their attempts at getting OpenXML
accepted as an ISO standard. What is your take on these first
steps that one of the biggest proponents of the closed source
development system is taking?
The API release was compelled as part of the EU's anti-monopoly
prosecution against Microsoft. So, this means that they'll do something
to allow fair competition only if caught at wrongdoing and forced to fix it.
The OpenXML effort is their means of fighting the OpenDocument (ODF)
standard. ODF is no vacation novel at 600 pages long, but it's
reasonable to expect a programmer to understand it. Microsoft's "Office
Open XML" (OOXML) is, in contrast, 6000 pages long. Even Microsoft's own
programs don't comply with it, and you can't expect a programmer to
learn it in his or her useful lifetime. Because of this, I can't believe
that OOXML is a sincere effort to set a standard at all. It's just an
attempt to hold on to the office software monopoly for another decade.
What, in your opinion, is the single-most important event in the history of the open source movement - something which brought it to the limelight among the masses? (say, the rise of Firefox, increasing popularity of Linux, creation of the GNU GPL license, et al).
Richard Stallman's work is really the most important - both his
licensing work in creating the GPL and his technical work in creating
the GNU C Compiler and other software. Some would say Linus Torvalds
should be more recognized for Linux, but it's important to remember that
Linus was using Richard's tools, and Richard's license, and adding the
last piece (the kernel) to a system that had already been built mostly
at Richard's instigation.