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OSI affiliation

Dear project members,
  as you might have heard post-FOSDEM, the Open Source Initiative (OSI)
is opening up to an affiliate membership structure [1,2].  As I've
already mentioned in [3], representatives of OSI have approached me to
know if Debian is interested into joining. I'd like to discuss with you
such a possibility.

[1] http://www.opensource.org/node/604
[2] http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Open-Source-Initiative-affiliates-announced-at-FOSDEM-1428905.html
[3] http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce/2011/12/msg00000.html

For now, the only responsibility would be to have a Debian project
representative participate into OSI activities, as an advisor. Later on,
once the "old style" OSI board and the initial OSI affiliates have
finalized the governance structure, affiliate projects are expected to
have a say in OSI activities and decisions.

Although I'd like to hear your comments before deciding, my advice is to
accept the invitation and have Debian join OSI. My rationale for that is

- OSI history is intertwined with ours and we share a common heritage:
  the DFSG. Having the actors interested in such a document work more
  closely together is, IMHO, desirable.

  (As a side note on this: ours and OSI's version of DFSG have diverged
  through the years. It'd be nice to see if we can merge the differences
  and/or generalize the texts so that other distros and projects can
  benefit from them.)

- OSI seems to have evolved quite a bit as of recently. After many years
  of low activity, they have took part in important political battles
  for Free Software. They have also done so side by side with other
  organizations, including the FSF (see [4] for a recent example on
  software patents). Those battles are important for Debian and their
  outcomes will influence us, whether we like it or not. Unfortunately
  we rarely have the energy, structure, or visibility to fight them.
  Lacking those resources, joining an association who has them is a
  useful way to contribute.

  [4] http://www.fsf.org/news/osi-fsf-joint-position-cptn

Again, the above is just my personal advice.  I'll be happy to read your
comments and use them to make a more informed decision.


PS just in case you care about that debate: I'm no fan of the expression
   "open source"; I believe that user freedoms are here to stay, while
   development methodologies are not. I consider that part of the OSI
   name to be, essentially, historical heritage. I don't think it should
   stop us from working with OSI, if we consider that doing so is a
   useful thing to do
Stefano Zacchiroli     zack@{upsilon.cc,pps.jussieu.fr,debian.org} . o .
Maître de conférences   ......   http://upsilon.cc/zack   ......   . . o
Debian Project Leader    .......   @zack on identi.ca   .......    o o o
« the first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club »

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