OpenMFG transforms into xTuple, but misses the open-source train

If OpenMFG wants to be an open-source company, it should start with an open-source license.

OpenMFG just took one step forward, and two steps backward. First, the positive. The company, which provides ERP and CRM solutions for small to medium-sized enterprises, has rebranded itself as xTuple. It has also developed PostBooks, a QuickBooks competitor.

Good stuff. We need more software like this. What we don't need, however, is xTuple's flawed licensing scheme that feints at open source, but falls far short.

xTuple's license is a mess, on two primary accounts:

  1. xTuple has created Yet Another License. I don't think license proliferation is as bad as has been proclaimed, but there simply was no need for xTuple's license. Period.

  2. xTuple has created a license that is not an open-source license. Take a look. It's based on MPL 1.1, but adds an attribution clause (the very thing that companies have been moving away from) and puts would-be users in an untenable position: you "must display one of the 'Powered by xTuple' logos" but the "License does not grant any rights to use the trademarks 'xTuple,' 'PostBooks,' or 'OpenMFG,' nor the corresponding logos." Figure that one out. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Oddly, it actually gets worse. In addition to logo displays, you also have to, "as a form of attribution...include (i) the full and complete content of 'Community' navigation menu items created by the original author, consisting of links to xTuple.org, PostBooks.org, and/or OpenMFG.org websites." Basically, you have to let xTuple take over your derivative work.

This is not even remotely open-source. It's a shame, too, because otherwise the products look fine. It's too bad that xTuple/OpenMFG saw fit to mar its product with deceptive marketing and miserly licensing terms. (And too bad it didn't follow SugarCRM's example .)

To its credit, the headline in my Firefox tab says "xTuple: Open Souce [sic] software." So, the company has an open-souce product.

At least it's honest. Sot [sic] of.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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