Letter to Members of Open Software Foundation

PR Newswire

November 30, 1988

The following letter was issued yesterday by Henry Crouse, president of the Open Software Foundation, to its members. In keeping with OSF's philosophy of openness, a copy of this letter is being provided for members of the media.

Dear OSF Member:

In the interest of open communication, I would like to address several issues that have arisen as the industry reacts to the Open Software Foundation and the advent of the open process which for the first time puts real power in the hands of the user.

At stake is user control over the future of open software. Through your support, OSF has fundamentally changed the definition of openness in its first six months of operation. This change has been a catalyst for introspection and action by the industry -- most of it positive, some of it negative.

As members, you should know our position on the following:

AT&T Discussions -- The central obstacle to AT&T's joining OSF is its insistence that the OSF board of directors mandate System V Release 4 in its entirety as OSF/1, rather than permitting users to select the best available technologies through the open process. As you know, this is inconsistent with our founding principles. I have reached the conclusion that further discussions with AT&T would be non-productive and have decided to suspend them. Although we remain open to further discussions, I assure you that we have no intention of allowing these, or any other activities, to impact our commitment to you to deliver a complete open software platform by the end of 1989.

Selection of AIX-3 -- OSF recently undertook an extensive re-evaluation of our original decision to use AIX-3 as the basis for our core operating system. We concluded one again that AIX-3 is a technically superior base for OSF/1, one that will enable us to carry out our mission of delivering a commercial quality environment for open software. AIX-3 offers a number of valuable technologies, including:

From a business standpoint, the license we obtained for AIX-3 allows us to meet our commitment of providing equitable and stable licensing terms by granting OSF the right to provide source and redistribution rights directly for all or any portion of the code.

It also places a ceiling on license revenues.

We believe that, after your review of AIX-3 technologies during the meeting in early November, you share our full confidence in this decision

Compatibility -- Current UNIX System V applications will be supported by OSF/1. We will continue to embrace industry efforts to develop standards that allow easy portability of applications developed by users and ISVs. From the outset, OSF has committed to implementing current POSIX and X/OPEN applications programming interfaces. There has been no change to this plan.

We recognize the value to the industry of providing System V Streams with OSF/1 and will do so. We also plan to provide Berkeley 4.3 BSD compatibility.

Sponsor Dominance of OSF -- The OSF Charter provides the framework for the decision-making process of the OSF board of directors. By the Charter, each sponsor has only one vote on board issues. Technical issues are decided by the OSF membership, staff and executive management, not the board. We believe that our rapid progress over the first six months of our operation demonstrates an organization free from intervention and politics.

The Open Process -- OSF was chartered for, and is committed to, the open acquisition, development and licensing of open software.

You have seen the open acquisition process at work. We, and the industry, have been pleased and excited by the success of OSF's new way of selecting open systems technology through the RFT process.

Our open development process will begin in earnest this month as we make available to you a preliminary version of AIX-3. With the open development process, you -- the members -- decide which technologies to use on the basis of your own direct evaluation of real specifications and code.

As we discussed in the last member meeting, OSF is developing an open licensing process, one that is both stable and equitable. As mentioned above, the AIX-3 license provides us with a good start. However, we do not intend to stop there, but are moving ahead with long-needed reforms in the way software is licensed.

In short, the open process is working, and we do not believe customers or the industry want to go back to a world where ''open'' is defined as ''my software licensed under my terms.''

As we approach 1989, be assured that OSF is directing its full efforts toward our mission of delivering not just an operating system; but a modern, complete, reliable open software environment for the 1990's and beyond. I want to thank you for the support you have shown to me and the OSF staff. We look forward to your continued participation and inspiration.

/CONTACT: Gary McCormack of OSF, 617-621-8700; or Janice Brown of Hill & Knowlton Inc., Advanced Technology Division 617-642-5907, for OSF/ DH -- NE011 -- 8259 11-30-88 13:09 EST

Copyright PR Newswire 1988 wire