Jeremy Allison of Samba Endorses AGPL

There is some debate on whether my comment during Jeremy Allison’s keynote at LibrePlanet 2009 was a heckle or not. (I did directly give Jeremy permission to call it such, so I don’t mind it. :). However, there is no debate that Jeremy’s follow-up article clearly endorses the AGPL for Cloud Computing applications. In it, he says:

[I]f I ever work on cloud computing code, I’d like to see it under the AGPL, in order to preserve the freedoms I’ve been able to enjoy in conventional software development these many years. Without the AGPL, our freedoms will depend on the kindness of strangers donating their modifications to our code back to us, as they did in the days before the GPL license and the FSF was born.

This is great to see and I thank Jeremy for a great and open-minded response to my point (er, heckle :).

Free and Open Cloud Services

In the news recently is the Open Cloud Manifesto.  It is light on content; and not much of a manifesto at all.  I believe this is a fine start, but perhaps more marketing than an actual working group.  The name “Open Cloud Manifesto” follows the trend of prepending Open in front of everything. We have Open source.  Open computing. Open standards. And now, Open Clouds. I encourage this trend.  However, it needs to go one step further.  The Open Cloud statement needs to take the next step and include Free network services. The Franklin Street Statement (FSS) by the working group lists the characteristics of an optimal free network service.

The FSS lists some key ideas for Service Providers:

  • Choosing Free Software for their service
  • Release customizations to their software under a Free Software license.
  • Allow the Users to control their own data

These can be easily incorporated by the group behind the Open Cloud Manifesto.

We are not talking about free as in zero cost.  Free Networks, much like Free Software, can charge money for their efforts; including support, development, desired customizations, etc.  However, the software is Free as defined by the Free Software Foundation. You as a user of a Free Network Service have the ability to download the software and setup the same service on your own.  The majority of users will not do this, for the simple fact they are opportunistically lazy.
I will happily use, and pay, for your service so long as I have the same control over my data as if I ran it myself; on my own hardware, or I suppose, my own “cloud”.

By empowering the users with control over their own data, allowing them to clone your service using the same software as the provider, and using Free Software; you offer a Free Network Service.  As a User/Customer, this is your data, entrusted to a third party in many cases, you should demand nothing less.