[Ofa_boardplus] OFA and Open Source

Doug Ledford dledford at redhat.com
Thu Mar 15 12:33:10 PDT 2018

On Thu, 2018-03-15 at 18:50 +0000, Paul Grun wrote:
> I want to find closure on one open source/dual license item discussed today.

It is worth separating this discussion on user space and kernel space
lines.  The kernel space RDMA stack is where the GPL infiltrated and
became a problem.  User space is still quite happy with a reasonable
license that promotes use in a broad range of scenarios.  This is aided
by the fact that APIs are often implemented as libraries and people
commonly are OK with libraries being somewhat permissive in their
license as they are intended to be used by more than just open source

> It seems that there is broad agreement in the value of open source.  There is also some demand to continue to maintain dual licensing.
> In the early days, OFA code (called OFS) was maintained in an OFA repo created per the bylaws.
> Hence the OFA could enforce the dual license provisions because the OFA controlled the maintainer of that repo.
> But since OFS was open source, anybody could fork the repo and effectively deprecate the OFA repo, which is what happened. 
> Once the open source community made the choice to fork the code and assign maintainers, the OFA could no longer rigorously enforce dual license provisions, except by a gentleman’s / gentlewoman’s agreement.
> The OFA could not have prevented that from happening.
> There are reasons why the community chose to do so (e.g. dissatisfaction with an absentee maintainer or other reasons) that perhaps the OFA could address
> But at the end of the day, there is no legal agreement that would prevent that from happening if someone were motivated to do so.
> Hence, in my view, the notion of losing control is illusory, since no such control exists, because OFS was open source.
> Please educate me if this isn’t accurate.

Yes.  Jason and I have both argued this many times.  If the software is
forkable, then you don't have "control", except by the acquiescence of
your users.  When that's the case, it is the quality of your stewardship
that matters, and what keeps people from taking the nuclear option of
forking and going their own way.  Once the OFA got the RDMA subsystem
integrated into the Linux kernel, it was inevitable that there would
eventually be a licensing issue.

Doug Ledford <dledford at redhat.com>
    GPG KeyID: B826A3330E572FDD
    Key fingerprint = AE6B 1BDA 122B 23B4 265B  1274 B826 A333 0E57 2FDD
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 833 bytes
Desc: This is a digitally signed message part
URL: <http://lists.openfabrics.org/pipermail/ofa_boardplus/attachments/20180315/6ac2eccb/attachment.sig>

More information about the Ofa_boardplus mailing list