The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long…

Nearly six years ago Google launched a new project to promote and support open source software development: Google Code. Back in those days we had Intel Pentium 4 processors that ran at 533 MHz (or 800 Mhz if we were lucky), and contained 125M transistors using a 90nm process. Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle, working for SAP Research, uncovered evidence that in 2004 there were approximately 125M source lines of code (SLOC) of open source software in the world. Fedora Core 3 had 1652 packages, and SE Linux policies protected only 13 of them (apache , dhcpd, mailman, mysqld, named , ntpd, pegasus, portmap, postgresql, snmpd, squid, syslogd, winbind). Six years is a long time ago!

At that time, Google Code did not treat all OSI-approved licenses equally. Some were definitely more equal that others. But a lot can happen in six years…

Intel’s latest Gulftown processors run at 3.46 GHz, and pack 1.17B transistors that implement 12 threads (6 cores) into a 32nm process. SAP Research stopped counting after it concluded that there’s more than 1B SLOC open source software managed in repositories around the world. Fedora 13 has over 9,600 packages and more than 250M SLOC. And SE Linux policies now cover thousands of packages. And this week, Google announced that Google Code was going to treat all OSI-approved licenses as equal. Which is great news.

It also points out that the OSI has, in those past six years, done a fairly tolerable job of policing the peripheries of open source. Yes, we have approved new licenses (such as the EUPL, in 2009). Yes, we have refused to approve licenses that violated either the letter of the OSD or which would otherwise offend the sensibilities of any reasonable party attempting to accept the OSI-approved licenses en banc, as Google (and others) have done. So in a sense I see this as validation of our measured, but responsive approach.

The arc of the moral universe may be long, but it does bend toward justice.

Thank you, Google!

P.S. This blog posting, like all my blog postings, reflects my personal view.