Intel, Google warn of Open Source risks

IN MOST OPEN sauce fairy tales, little Linux developers tremble in fear at the mention of the big, bad Vole, but with Google and Intel now seemingly joining Microsoft in its huffing and puffing, the story of open sourcery could do with a refresh.

Apparently Google’s Open Source chief, Chris DiBona, and Intel’s head Linux and Open Source Technologist, Dirk Hohndel, have gone on record, at a briefing in San Francisco, saying the use of open source software can be not just risky but also very expensive if not done properly.

Whilst this sort of fear mongering is expected from a company like Mighty-Soft, it is a little unexpected coming from two giants known for their enthusiasm and support of Open Source.

But, insist the two open source proponents, the risks are real and firms will have to start being more and more careful to comply with the plethora of open source licenses attached to the non proprietary code they often use.

“Open source is a huge asset for businesses,” says Chipzilla’s Hohndel, but warns “of course if you get it wrong it could cost thousands of dollars in damages if you get sued.”
The pair noted projects risked losing all licensing rights from careless ‘contamination’ and ‘infection’ of the firm’s proprietary software with open source code. “The worst in these is how many people are completely ignorant on how licenses and rules work,” continued Hohndel, adding companies should extensively train employees involved in software development in open source software licensing.

“I have to tell Googlers, that they can learn from books but most of the time you can never copy from it. And this is crazy but that’s how it is,” adds DiBona.

Chipping in again, Hohndel points out some countries don’t even allow for the concept of public domain, Germany being a case in point. You can not relinquish your copyright. So even if you think you are releasing something in the public domain, you can’t. Which means the people who use this public domain code are wrong,” explains Hohndel.

So apparently Intel and Gurgle are still all for free love and open sauciness, but both are now cautiously advocating safe sauce. In other words, ‘if you’re going to do it, please use protection kids’.

News source: TheInquirer

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