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Applix spawns VistaSource, invents "Source Access"

By rusty in News
Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 09:22:53 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

In a rather puzzling story I first noticed on Linux Weekly News, it seems that Applix has spun off it's linux software division into a new wholly-owned company called VistaSource. That's not the puzzling part. This quote, from the press release on NewsAlert is:

VistaSource will operate under a blended licensing model referred to as "Source Access," which is different from Open Source in that it is designed to empower the customer by offering a number of source licensing options, while still being commercial software.
What is this new beast, this "Source Access" which sounds so much like marketing doubletalk? What I could figure out of it is below, along with some even more disturbing quotes.

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So, we already have word of a licensing scheme that will "empower the customer." Looking further, I found a welcome letter from VistaSource's president, Bernie Thompson, which includes this statement:
Open Source, by the formal definition, is software which conveys certain freedoms to inspect and modify the code to the software (liberte), but also requires software to be free of licensing cost (gratis). Our mission is to provide as much of these freedoms to our customers as possible, while remaining a company that thrives by producing great products that customers are willing to pay for.
Well, sort of, Bernie. What the Open Source Definition says, exactly, is:
The license may not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license may not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.
So, while that means that VistaSource, for example, couldn't require that no one else is allowed to redistribute their software, they can charge money for it, much the same way that RedHat charges $80 for an operating system you can download for free (or buy on CD for a dollar or two). While, strictly speaking, what he says is true, to someone who hasn't spent (way too) much time thinking about software licensing, it will seem that once again, someone has asserted that you aren't allowed to charge money for open source software.

As to the actual licensing terms they plan to use, the VistaSource site is lacking in details. It's easy to learn that they plan to offer products under "a variety of licenses", but what licenses will be available exactly are never mentioned.

So what really is the deal here? It seems like another one of those "how can we speak Open Source, and take advantage of it, without really committing *our* work to the philosophy" manuevers. Does anyone else have more info about this Source Access thing? In short, can anyone shed any light on this?


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Related Links
o Linux Weekly News
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o NewsAlert
o welcome letter
o the Open Source Definition
o Also by rusty

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Applix spawns VistaSource, invents "Source Access" | 7 comments (7 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Hmm. "designed to empower the custo... (none / 0) (#1)
by Paul Dunne on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 08:40:35 AM EST

Paul Dunne voted 1 on this story.

Hmm. "designed to empower the customer". To paraphrase Hermann Göring: when I hear the word empower, I reach for my Browning.

But seriously, I think this is another example of corporate cluelessness when faced with the free software phenomenon. They know something's going on, but they don't quite know what. Or to put it another way: like the blind dog in the meat-packing plant, they can smell it but they can't find it.

I'm confused.... (none / 0) (#2)
by DJBongHit on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 09:10:39 AM EST

DJBongHit voted 1 on this story.

I'm confused.


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

Re: Applix spawns VistaSource, invents "Source Acc (none / 0) (#3)
by lachoy on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 10:12:41 AM EST

Well, I wouldn't put applix in the same category as other clueless folks. Their SHELF language and development environment is LGPLd. As I remember, they actually develop Applixware using SHELF, so it's a non-trivial release.

Also, they've been in the community for quite some time.

That doesn't mean they can't screw up, but it's something else to keep in mind...
M-x auto-bs-mode

Re: Applix spawns VistaSource, invents "Source Acc (none / 0) (#4)
by rusty on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 10:16:51 AM EST

And this is what I was thinking as I read these articles. I mean, I remember when ApplixWare was basically your *only* choice for a traditional word processor on Linux. So this is not a new environment or community for them. Which is why I'm so puzzled by this weird, halfhearted "open-source-like" thing. AFAIK, their main products haven't been OSS before, right? Maybe they're getting scared of the gnome and KDE folks and their desktop stuff, and trying to make a stab in the right direction, while clinging to corporate profits from licensing. The whole thing is, just... odd.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: Applix spawns VistaSource, invents "Source Acc (none / 0) (#5)
by Rasputin on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 11:25:48 AM EST

I could be wrong (wouldn't be the first time ;) but I would guess that Applix has joined the unwashed hordes in equating Open Source with GPL. From that perspective, it makes sense that they would promote what they see as a new, more business friendly (in the sense of income through licensing), open source license style. It might be worthwhile to ask someone there (I would but I have no clue as to who it might be) if they've looked at the other open source licenses.
Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat.
Re: Applix spawns VistaSource, invents "Source Acc (none / 0) (#6)
by fluffy grue on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 11:54:45 AM EST

But the GPL also allows you to charge money for GPLed software. That's practically RedHat's entire business model. So even in the case of the GPL, their FUDish assertion that open source can't make money is still, well, FUD, or very misinformed at least. But didn't Applix use to be part of RedHat or something?
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

It's the Source That is Most Important (none / 0) (#7)
by gnuchris on Tue Apr 25, 2000 at 02:44:13 PM EST

I always thought that if a company wasn't in the position to release something under the GPL or BSD or one of the various OPEN SOURCE licsenses, they should at least give the source code to the people who bought the product... I will only buy software that comes with the source. Even if I"m not allowed to re-distribute the source to others, at least I can audit and change the code for my own needs... still not a good solution, but better than closed source.
"He had alot to say, He had alot of nothing to say" -TOOL-
Applix spawns VistaSource, invents "Source Access" | 7 comments (7 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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