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The Credibility Issues of MS's CodePlex Foundation 137

Posted by kdawson
from the it's-my-football dept.
alphadogg writes 'Microsoft's new CodePlex Foundation has serious flaws to correct if it wants to become a credible force in the open source industry, and attract a diverse collection of developers and participants, according to an expert in forming consortia and foundations. Andy Updegrove, a lawyer and founder of ConsortiumInfo.org, says Microsoft has created with CodePlex a rigid foundation that has almost no wiggle room and a poorly crafted governance structure that concentrates authority at the top and leaves little power to others who might join the foundation.' Here is Andy's detailed analysis of CodePlex's structure: "Over the past 22 years, I've helped structure scores of open, consensus based consortia and foundations, and represented over 100 in all... In this blog entry, I'll show where I think the legal and governance structure of CodePlex has wandered off the open path, and offer specific recommendations for how the structure could be changed to give people (other than Microsoft business partners) confidence that CodePlex will be an organization worth joining."
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The Credibility Issues of MS's CodePlex Foundation

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  • by MathFox (686808) on Friday September 18, 2009 @08:30AM (#29464935)

    Doesn't look like it captures the OSS development spirit, to me...

    But it almost perfectly captures Microsoft's view on the software market.

  • by Jurily (900488) <jurily AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 18, 2009 @08:32AM (#29464961)

    This looks like a poor attempt at Google Code, but with a lot more politics, beaurocracy and legal problems involved.

  • by happy_place (632005) on Friday September 18, 2009 @08:44AM (#29465065) Homepage
    Not only that, but why put what appears to be a boardroom discussion on your blog unless Microsoft's made it clear they won't play ball. Sounds like "It's a Trap!" which now has a big glowing neon sign over the top of it.
  • What a shock! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirLoadALot (991302) on Friday September 18, 2009 @08:46AM (#29465083)

    Why, the article might lead one to think that Codeplex was set up as an entirely self-serving initiative under Microsoft's firm control! Who could imagine such a thing?!

  • by rwv (1636355) on Friday September 18, 2009 @08:47AM (#29465097) Homepage Journal

    From FTA:

    Q: Is that good or bad?

    A: In my view, itâ(TM)s bad, because it means that the Board of Directors not only has complete control, but the Board is also self-perpetuating (i.e., the directors elect their own successors). Moreover, there are no term limits on how long a Board member can serve. In this kind of organization, the Board is not answerable to the participants, and the participants have no say or control at all over how the organization is managed or evolves.

    The author of the article points out that Microsoft has created a self-controlling organization without industry partners and given it complete control of itself. The implication is that CodePlex will fail because participants will be backed into a corner if they want to do anything that the Board of Directors opposes. It seems like the term "Microsoft Open Source" is still an oxymoron.

  • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Friday September 18, 2009 @08:52AM (#29465143) Homepage

    "...a poorly crafted governance structure that concentrates authority at the top and leaves little power to others who might join the foundation." Doesn't look like it captures the OSS development spirit, to me...

    The article is well-thought and well written. Though Andy uses longer, politer phrases to beat around the bush, M$ Code Pox, is a scam and misrepresentation. Even though we're not surprised by that behavior from M$ and its minions, we shouldn't put up with it. After all, ten years ago tech people laughed at M$, M$ products, M$ users and M$ boosters. however, they did nothing to stop the spread and now look at the big cleanup job before us.

    There are just too many barriers to it ever becoming credible. Look at any of the required changes Andy mentions. This one in particular stands out:

    "Provide that no company and its affiliates (including Microsoft) can have more than one representative on the Board of Directors or Board of Advisors."

    No way that one can be overcome. M$ has long been using it's tactic of panel stacking to carry out its jihad [groklaw.net]. M$ representatives include those by proxy, such as those from sock-puppets and political action groups like Black Dork Software, Novell and others.

    Then you have all the activists M$ has placed inside other companies. Juniper Networks [gawker.com], NComputing [reuters.com], Yahoo (especially via the board), Xensource [cnet.com] are now saddled with M$ moles. That is just a sample, and each of those companies turned and started to toe the M$ party line after taking on one or more moles.

    Now, you may ask, how is all this getting financed and who is underwriting it? The answer: each and every bastard who in any way is helping build or maintain M$ marketshare, that's who.

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel.hedblom @ g m a i l .com> on Friday September 18, 2009 @08:59AM (#29465183) Homepage Journal

    I think it needs less Microsoft or better, none at all. It blatantly obvious this is a mere publicity stunt. The bylaws arent accidentally about giving all control to Microsoft.

    The only good thing at all is that it puts Miguel de Icaza on Microsofts side so that people easier understand where his loyalty really lies. The discussions about Mono and abolishing it from distributions should get easier now.

  • by Norsefire (1494323) * on Friday September 18, 2009 @09:13AM (#29465325) Journal
    People will look for loopholes and ways that Microsoft are trying to rip them off. Most will refuse to believe that Microsoft is doing *anything* to benefit the common good.

    Wether these views are unfounded or not is a different matter ...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:23AM (#29466113)

    Thirdly, I've caught word from the inside that one of the effects this could have will be Microsoft employees being allowed to use open-source software internally, along with the ability to contribute to said projects under this CodePlex Foundation.

    Sorry for being sceptical, but how does a new forge relate to MS employees being allowed to use and improve existing open source programs -- ones that have zero incentive to move to codeplex? And even if it did, why should that affect how the OS community looks at codeplex?

  • by viralMeme (1461143) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:26AM (#29466151)
    The whole reason d'atre of The CodePlex Foundation is that it isn't the Free Software Foundation or the Open Inventions Network. Microsoft could have just have easily one of these or similar organizations. But then again they wouldn't be so easy to control - which is the whole point of the exercise. Pollute, extend and embrace Microsoft control of 'open source', and by extension Open Standards. And here's what one of the current members of the board of TCF has to say about his time at the FSF.

    "I hope that I can last more on this foundation than I lasted at the FSF, where I was removed by RMS after refusing to be an active part of the campaign to rename Linux as GNU/Linux", Miguel de Icaza

    Lets see who else is on the 'open source' CodePlex board: Sam Ramji (Microsoft), Bill Staples (Microsoft), Stephanie Davies Boesch (Microsoft), Miguel de Icaza (Novell), D. Britton Johnston (Microsoft), Shaun Bruce Walker (DotNetNuke) ..

    This blog sure has it figured out already .. "There's an old game in politics. If some group is giving you trouble, launch a competing group under your control [zdnet.com]"

    So there you have it, what could be more 'open' than that ... :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:26AM (#29466155)

    Codeplex is at least an open source site

    That's _even more_ troubling. They're creating a software ecosystem that satisfies the definition of open source, but at same time is completely separate and incompatible with the existing open source ecosystem, because it's based on proprietary Microsoft technologies. Just check how many projects on Codeplex depend on WPF, MS Office, or other MS software.

  • Re:Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Virak (897071) on Friday September 18, 2009 @10:46AM (#29466405) Homepage

    Shockingly, if you time and time again fuck people over, they stop putting so much trust in you.

    Microsoft releases a driver for Linux under the GPL and spins it as them working towards accepting open source more. Except it doesn't really help anyone but them. And later it turns out that they were only doing so because they were breaking the GPL. And then later that the code was shit and has taken a bunch of effort to get into decent shape and they've been completely ignoring emails on the subject.

    Microsoft puts C# and the CLI under the "Microsoft Community Promise" and trumpets as it being a win for interoperability and open source. Except it only covers the core standardized parts. All the libraries specific to Microsoft's implementation that are widely used aren't included. As a result it basically only makes it easier to move from other implementations to theirs, and not the other way around, and the only one who wins is Microsoft.

    Microsoft works towards standardizing the new format for the new version of Office, and yet again plays up the interoperability aspects. Except the standard is a bloated mess, poorly defines things, in many cases says "just do it like that other program did" and doesn't specify what that means, and is in general just shit. It's nigh-impossible for anyone but them to properly implement. It replicates an existing standard, a better one, for no purpose beyond continued lock-in. Even Office doesn't properly support it and won't until the next version. It has myriad serious problems [wikipedia.org] with its standardization process.

    Is it really a surprise that people don't trust them when they're constantly doing things like that? If they made a serious effort, they could win most people over, but they so far haven't. And even if they do eventually do so, it'll be entirely reasonable for people to be cautious at first, because they have an extensive and still growing history of being deceptive with this sort of thing.

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:15PM (#29467551) Journal

    There is the little matter of potential patent time bombs. I won't use Mono for that reason alone. I have absolutely no faith in Microsoft's largesse, or in the moles like Icaza who seem hell bent on selling everyone up the river.

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HitoGuy (1324613) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:24PM (#29467679)
    "There is the little matter of potential patent time bombs. I won't use Mono for that reason alone. I have absolutely no faith in Microsoft's largesse, or in the moles like Icaza who seem hell bent on selling everyone up the river."

    Amen. I always like to say when someone defends Mono for being an ECMA standard: "Standardization does not mean indemnification." The worst a standards organization could do to Microsoft for patent trolling .NET through Mono would be to abolish the standard, something I imagine wouldn't even remotely bother Microsoft at that point.

    As for de Icaza, it should have been blatantly obvious that he was a traitor when he:

    - Applied for a job at Microsoft. I don't know how he responded to being rejected, assuming he actually was rejected.

    - Actually wanted to bring .NET to Linux despite the fact that very few developers saw real value in it. Notice how few big projects outside of his umbrella actually use Mono or even want to use Mono. Note also that the only Mono-using apps I've seen on Linux are aimed directly at GNOME, de Icaza's little "love child."

    - I think a real red flag should have been raised when he started calling OOXML "superb" and blindly thinking it was being "FUD'd." I doubt he ever actually read the standard.

    To me, CodePlex is just abother ploy on MS's part to try to control code. That's also why I think they were so unusually interested in proliferating Mono with de Icaza.
  • by jfb3 (25523) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:39PM (#29467859)

    It's crafted exactly like Microsoft wants it to look and behave.

  • by HitoGuy (1324613) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:57PM (#29468153)
    GNU is just a toolchain. An IMPORTANT toolchain, but a tollchain nonetheless. You don't name your OS or your system distribution after the toolchain, no matter how badly RMS tries to rationalize it.

    The operating system layer itself is Linux. Period. Unless there's actual GNU modules or drivers alongside the Linux kernel in kernel-space I don't know about.

    And the name of the system distribution is whatever the fuck the maker wants to call it: Ubuntu, RHEL, SuSE, since it's THEIR creation by way of assembling the parts themselves into a distribution.

    Stallman wants us to think that by having the GNU toolchain the entire system magically becomes GNU.

    It's Linux. It is not GNU/Linux.
  • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:17PM (#29468481) Homepage
    A little hint: Don't complain about use M$ in our posts or no one will take you seriously, especially when you fail to make a good point.
  • Re:Hrmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday September 18, 2009 @02:54PM (#29469841) Journal

    It's nothing to do with moral or immoral, but with not trusting Microsoft (and is there any reason to trust Microsoft) and not wanting to become beholden anywhere along the development to them directly or indirectly. There are enough other ways to achieve platform independence that Mono does not need to enter the equation.

    If you have faith in Microsoft's promises, then go to it. But until Microsoft releases the .Net technologies fully through legitimate open source licenses so that there is neither potential encumbrance and the technology truly becomes platform-independent, count me out. Microsoft has enough leverage in the development business without my silly little projects adding to it.

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