OpenMPE searches for source money
October 6, 2009
The OpenMPE advocacy group is looking for investors. This all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization has passed HP's examination for a source code license. Now it needs money to pay for this license, along with some administration funding to make the knowledge available to its members and its virtual lab.
Above, the group's director Matt Perdue explains the situation in a video of two minutes, recorded at last month's e3000 Community Meet. He's assisted at one point by OpenMPE chair Birket Foster (pan to the right), who explains some circumstances under which HP could terminate these licenses.
A terminated MPE/iX license hasn't ever happened to customers, because they weren't using source code. But the read-only MPE/iX source is for development of patches to the 3000. This is new territory here. No third party has ever asked a constituency in public for funding to open a lab. This is the new turf of volunteer, advocate-based development. OpenMPE at least wants to assemble an independent organization more extensive than a Web-based code forge, the vehicle most open source communities use.
But because HP's license prevents anyone from discussing the terms in public, the source license doesn't have the ironclad, tangible rules and policies you'd expect for an investment in a product.
Neither Perdue or Foster was permitted to state all the reasons that HP could terminate the source license. (It's part of the license terms that none of this gets broadcasted.) Why would a license termination matter? It appears to be part of a guarantee of future support -- something not many software companies will ever offer. The group intends to establish a development lab for patches, then support its work, for a membership fee. If HP revokes the source code license, then using that source for patch support violates the contract terms. We think. Nobody could say for sure.
HP did put an extra requirement into the OpenMPE source license, Foster said. "Certain board members are key to allowing this [licensing] to flow," he said. "They want us to do our own succession planning, so [HP] is good with whoever's there." He added that HP didn't restrict OpenMPE as a licensee in the event the group's board all retired from service. "The next group would be able to take [the license] over." We didn't hear details about HP's permissions to review OpenMPE board changes. Since the licenses are a confidential matter, there's no way to compare terms of any other licensees. So far, no one else has announced they hold an MPE/iX source license.
Perdue said that "there would have to be a specific reason for HP to change its mind" about revoking OpenMPE's license. One reason Perdue did say out loud: A departure of "key people" from the volunteer board.
There's already $1,000 in the license fund as a result of the community meeting. Brian Edminster of Applied Technologies, which is preparing an open source MPE/iX Web site, chipped in the startup money right after the Community Meet of Sept. 23. If your company (or you as an individual) want to invest in the OpenMPE license, the group offers the following deposit point to send your checks (made out to OpenMPE):
c/o Matt Perdue, Treasurer
PO Box 460091
San Antonio, TX 78246-0091