Open Source Initiative

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)3 tax-exempt status, founded in 1998. It promotes the usage of Open Source Software.[4]

Open Source Initiative
Trademarked OSI "keyhole" logo
FormationFebruary 1998 (1998-02)
  • PALO ALTO, CA[1]
Area served
Molly de Blanc

The organization was founded in late February 1998 by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond, part of a group inspired by the Netscape Communications Corporation publishing the source code for its flagship Netscape Communicator product. Later, in August 1998, the organization added a board of directors.

Raymond was president from its founding until February 2005, followed briefly by Russ Nelson and then Michael Tiemann. In May 2012, the new board elected Simon Phipps as president[5] and in May 2015 Allison Randal was elected as president[6] when Phipps stepped down in preparation for the 2016 end of his Board term.[7] Phipps became President again in September 2017.[8] Molly de Blanc was elected[9] President in May, 2019.


As a campaign of sorts, "open source" was launched in 1998 by Jon "maddog" Hall, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, and others.[10][11]

The group adopted the Open Source Definition for open-source software, based on the Debian Free Software Guidelines. They also established the Open Source Initiative (OSI) as a steward organization for the movement. However, they were unsuccessful in their attempt to secure a trademark for 'open source' to control the use of the term.[12] In 2008, in an apparent effort to reform governance of the organization, the OSI Board invited 50 individuals to join a "Charter Members" group; by 26 July 2008, 42 of the original invitees had accepted the invitations. The full membership of the Charter Members has never been publicly revealed, and the Charter Members group communicated by way of a closed-subscription mailing list, "osi-discuss", with non-public archives.[13]

In 2012, under the leadership of OSI director and then-president Simon Phipps, the OSI began transitioning towards a membership-based governance structure. The OSI initiated an Affiliate Membership program for "government-recognized non-profit charitable and not-for-profit industry associations and academic institutions anywhere in the world".[14] Subsequently, the OSI announced an Individual Membership program[15] and listed a number of Corporate Sponsors.[16]

On November 8, 2013, OSI appointed Patrick Masson as its General Manager.[17]

Relationship with the free software movement

Both the modern free software movement and the Open Source Initiative were born from a common history of Unix, Internet free software, and the hacker culture, but their basic goals and philosophy differ. The Open Source Initiative chose the term "open source," in founding member Michael Tiemann's words, to "dump the moralizing and confrontational attitude that had been associated with 'free software'" and instead promote open source ideas on "pragmatic, business-case grounds."[18]

As early as 1999, OSI co-founder Perens objected to the "schism" that was developing between supporters of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the OSI because of their disparate approaches. (Perens had hoped the OSI would merely serve as an "introduction" to FSF principles for "non-hackers."[19]) Richard Stallman of FSF has sharply criticized the OSI for its pragmatic focus and for ignoring what he considers the central "ethical imperative" and emphasis on "freedom" underlying free software as he defines it.[20] Nevertheless, Stallman has described his free software movement and the Open Source Initiative as separate camps within the same broad free-software community and acknowledged that despite philosophical differences, proponents of open source and free software "often work together on practical projects."[20]

Board members

As of October 2019, the Open Source Initiative board of Directors is:[21]

Past board members include[22]:

See also


  1. "Charity Navigator - Unrated Profile for Open Source Initiative".
  2. "Charity Navigator - Unrated Profile for Open Source Initiative".
  3. "Charity Navigator - Unrated Profile for Open Source Initiative".
  4. "About the Open Source Initiative | Open Source Initiative".
  5. "OSI Board Elects New Officers". 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
  6. Phipps, Simon. "Outgoing President tweet". Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  7. Phipps, Simon. "Handing On The Baton". Open Source Initiative. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  8. Randal, Allison (28 September 2017). "Transitions in Leadership". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  9. "OSI Board Evolution | Open Source Initiative".
  10. History of the OSI
  11. A Look Back at 10 Years of OSI
  12. Announcement of losing 'open source' trademark
  13. OSI Charter Member Discuss List
  14. "Become an OSI Affiliate".
  15. "OSI Announces Individual Membership".
  16. OSI Corporate Sponsors
  17. "OSI Names New General Manager". LWN. 2013-10-23. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  18. Tiemann, Michael (2006-09-19). "History of the OSI". Open Source Initiative. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
  19. "It's Time to Talk About Free Software Again". 2014-11-19. Archived from the original on 2014-07-16. Retrieved 2014-11-19.
  20. Stallman, Richard (2009-04-21). "Why 'Open Source' Misses the Point of Free Software". Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
  21. "Board - Annotated". Open Source Initiative. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  22. "OSI Emeritus Members | Open Source Initiative". Open Source Initiative. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  23. 2009 OSI Board Elections held in April
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