VISTA Enterprise Network - Successful Implementation, World Class Support

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Point 7: Restart the Lifecycle with Fileman and Forum, part two

Dear Reader,

. . . continued from part one, yesterday.

Rebooting the VISTA lifecycle will also require the right license for the software. We can't use a license for the core infrastructure packages that discourages the widespread adoption of the common shared VISTA core, by adopters and developers alike. If that core isn't kept in common, particularly the infrastructure packages like File Manager and Kernel, then VISTA will continue to balkanize into mutually unintelligible dialects, drifting apart as the VA and DOD dialects have done.

Although there may be VISTA packages for which the GNU Public License (GPL) is a suitable license, it's certainly not suitable for the core infrastructure packages because of the extreme degree of integration these packages have with all other VISTA packages, an integration so extreme it pushes past normal definitions of such terms as "derived works" and "interfaces." This unavoidable mismatch between the GPL's terminology and VISTA's unique internal structure makes eventual court battles over licensing violations highly likely, and offers no guarantee that such lawsuits would be decided on the basis of a reality most people don't comprehend and the rest can't explain clearly. That is, although the GPL isn't inherently incompatible with File Manager, for example, its terminology misrepresents Fileman's relationship to the rest of VISTA so badly as to make it an unreliable safeguard of our intentions.

Whether the license for the VISTA infrastructure packages needs to be the Lesser GPL, the Eclipse Public License, or some other open-source license is a question that needs to be sorted out in short order so we can get on with the work such licenses are intended to safeguard.

Most people should never ever work on the File Manager or Forum software because of how complex they are and because of the potential of problems in these areas to affect every other VISTA package, but they must be our top priorities. With the right experts leading these efforts, they'll be the right projects to restart the lifecycle.

Yours truly,

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