That sounds like removing the "F" from FOSS or should I say, that is a bazaar inside a cathedral. :)

Seriously now, IMHO, as an FOSS contributor and a commercial software developer that uses FOSS, I believe that there is a complicated process of getting to the point to embrace a FOSS initiative and that statement does not help it at all. Where are the decisions made, in public e-mail-lists or in a cabinet? What about election and cabinet change?

I am not saying that a government agency can't be the incubator of a *F*OSS, there are numerous successful example out there, but the governance of the project matter a lot. "If you love your OSS project set it free".

Best regards,




Sorry for the inflamatory subject heading. I'm hoping to get a few bites with my fishing...

I'm currently reviewing a high level government strategy paper (in draft) and intend submitting a formal response.

I'd like to see some discussion on the subject by my respected colleagues prior to making the submission.

The gist of the comment in the draft strategy is something like:

"Open Source approaches to software development will be most effective if some form of central authority undertakes the role of verifying contributions and providing quality control."

My initial reaction and response to this is something like:

"This is a misreading of how Open Source works.

Successful Open Source Projects typically have software of superior quality. This is usually due to there being many developers who have access to the software for QA purposes.

Any attempt to impose a central authority from outside of Open Source projects would be rebuffed vigorously and result in a probably irrepairable relationship between that party and the project(s) involved.

The most successful centralised Open Source authority is probably the Apache Foundation ( which is behind a wide range of projects including the Apache Web Server, probably the most widely used Web Server on the Internet. The Foundation pioneered the concept of 'Meritocracy', where people earn respect and are given greater responsibility for projects based on their past contributions and 'merit'. The Foundation grew from within the Project. It was not imposed on the Project. They have developed an enviable reputation for spawning, incubating and fostering robust Open Source Projects that routinely produce high quality software.

Nearly two years ago, an organisation called the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGEO, was formed based on the Apache ethos, to provide similar support for Open Source Spatial applications. They currently have a number of prominent spatial projects in Incubation with a number of other equally capable projects waiting for the next vacancy for incubation."

OK, over to you. I'm interested in all points of view on this issue.

Bruce Bannerman

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