Koha and LibLime and the letter and the spirit of open source

Another link or two about the thing I mentioned in my day in the life post from a week or so ago. I had mentioned there was some Koha/LibLime drama but I didn’t know much about it. I spent some time emailing with people asking about it — my library is a Koha library, or a nascent one, so this is professionally as well as personally interesting to me — and reading a lot of email and chat transcripts. My impression now is that there’s a little bit of a “there” there and now there’s something I can link to.

This thread on the Koha users discussion group list outlines some of the issues. In short, what I understand, and please correct me if I’m wrong, is that LibLime is building features into their hosted version of LibLime that may not be rolled into the main version of Koha that is openly distributed. This became apparent during a user group meeting tha thappened at ALA, a loose transcript of which is included in this discussion. This release option is technically okay according to the terms of the license which is GPL V2 which says that only released code needs to be made available to the larger community. Some clients feel that this is against the spirit of what they thought they were purchasing which was code they’d have access to and that they could edit and/or alter themselves. Other large clients like WALDO want their investment in improvements protected, it seems.

LibLime has lost some staff recently and it is felt that there is a schism growing in the Koha community over this and related issues. I’d be interested to know if other people are running into this.

10 thoughts on “Koha and LibLime and the letter and the spirit of open source

  1. One of the big questions that comes out of this: Why would any client demand this? What it is about their investment that needs to be protected? That seems like a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature open source.

  2. I can understand why libraries would be upset. They selected the open source system Koha hosted by Liblime thinking that they’d be “driving their own bus” and wouldn’t be tied to any vendor. Now Liblime is saying, if you’re hosting Koha with us, you are stuck with Liblime if you want the system you’re using today. It seems pretty misleading to me!

  3. How sad. The haves want to protect their investment and not let any one else play with it. Go back to Sirsi, Triple I or the others. They like taking money for “personalized code writing.” You guys who want to use open source to build your cathedral and keep it all to yourselves SUCK.

  4. I completely agree. These WALDOs have been very happy to take all the benefits of open source but don’t want to share back.

  5. Thanks for posting this! I’ve passed the information onto Clara (our director). We’re still working on getting moved from our system to Koha next summer and we were going to do it through Liblime in large part because of the WALDO developments, with the hopes that someday down the road, it would all be rolled into new releases and we could move toward VOKAL Koha. But it leaves a bad taste in my mouth that WALDO wants to covet their academic additions and that Liblime is happy to accommodate their desire not to share.

  6. I really hate to see things like this, because it gives ammunition to the folks who are afraid to move to open source alternatives. I work in an area that is behind the times (in many, many ways!), and whenever open source is mentioned there are just so many people who shudder and say “but what if it doesn’t work!?” So adding a layer of “weirdness” like this only serves to keep those who are afraid to move stuck in place.

  7. Looking on the positive side, what FLOSS allows you to do is move from your vendor if you aren’t happy with them, but happy with your system. You can’t do that with a proprietary system.
    So while it always sad to things like this, it actually demonstrates the need for FLOSS rather than the reverse.

  8. How strange. I was at a Liblime/WALDO meeting on Long Island last year, and thought I remembered that the new features were all being rolled into the main project. Hrrm.

  9. I think that you you have it to be inverted. LibLime which wants to hold the leash of the code, in order to acquire the competitive advantage in the market. It’ s WALDO which is used as front for LibLime’ wishes and desires. Read transcript closely. Why? Only WALDO and LibLime know for definitely, but the speculation that of libLime told WALDO that they they will not finish the programming if they they they do not acquire the competitive advantage. Thus, what monies of WALDO did libLime were used for? The money of contract WALDO for other things? Not [programmiruyushch]. Possible an exuberance and fast growth of liblime company? Also: what are WALDO’ investments (or those which do run WALDO) into LibLime? Such secrets!

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