Archive for June, 2007

FSF releases GPL v3

With the strong debate in the Joomla world regarding the GPL, I’ve learned a lot about it. Just when I’m starting to get a handle on it, the Free Software Foundation officially announced the release of the General Public License v3 today.

“Since we founded the free software movement, over 23 years ago, the free software community has developed thousands of useful programs that respect the user’s freedom. The programs are in the GNU/Linux operating system, as well as personal computers, telephones, Internet servers, and more. Most of these programs use the GNU GPL to guarantee every user the freedom to run, study, adapt, improve, and redistribute the program,” said Richard Stallman, founder and president of the FSF.

Now the question is, what will the adoption rate of this new license?

More coverage:


PICnet takes top spot as Web development shop

Our PICnetters have been working hard in 2007 to turn out some of the best projects for our community, so it’s a nice reward for hard work when people in our community send us props.

Today, Colin Delany, the writer of e.politics, reported on the results of his search for the most recommended Drupal and Joomla development shops in the non-profit and campaign sectors. He sent his list of the best over the Progressive Exchange mailing list, where this writer noticed something interesting: PICnet was listed at the top of the list!

Looks like we owe more than a few lunches and drinks to our anonymous friends. We’re proud of our clients, and we’re glad their proud of us.


Three open source CMSes walk into a bar…

Joomla, Drupal, and PloneI remember one of the first conversations I had with Laura Quinn of Idealware a few years ago regarding her great idea for an online resource and clearinghouse of high-level technology information, and told her that I thought it would be a hit. Little did I know that I’d get the chance to play a recurring role of supporting actor in the open source content management systems (CMS) webinars, which seem to be quite popular.

On Thursday, June 21, from 1-2:30pm ET, I’ll be showcasing Joomla alongside my fellow open source CMS friends David Geilhufe (of the Drupal community) and Patrick Shaw (of the Plone community). All of our past Webinars have been very well attended, and actually helped some organizations choose Joomla! in the past.

This time, Laura’s asked us to focus a little more on the differences that users can find out of the box between these three systems, so I’ll likely be focusing on Joomla’s administrative UI, large community, and some other thoughts I have up my sleeve. Interested in attending? Register here, and learn more here.


Joomla will remain under the GPL

Joomla loves GNU GPLIn what has been one of the most demanding legal and technical thought processes I’ve seen outside a courtroom (before Paris went to jail), the Joomla core team and the Open Source Matters board of directors have unanimously agreed today that Joomla will remain under the General Public License (GPL). Speaking for this writer, I truly believe this will aid in the growth of the Joomla ecosystem and the open source ecosystem as a whole.

The words used by the core team will be parsed, snipped, and likely taken out of context in the days to come, but reading the treatsie from the Web site is a lesson in open source community building and professional diplomacy.

Starting with, “Joomla! is moving to ensure the future of the project by committing to compliance with the GNU/GPL licence,” the letter to the community includes the following sections:

  1. Slow and steady. This will be the path to which the community will lead in becoming more GPL compliant.
  2. We’re unique. For a community this large, with such a unique history, we’re not going to find quick solutions.
  3. Joomla! Web sites ( sites) will be made compliant with the GPL. Teach by setting the example.
  4. Joomla! will ask its huge community to voluntarily become more compliant with the GPL license.
  5. The Joomla! community will be committed to providing education in guiding better GPL compliance. Provide aid, not hand slaps.

When a community grows to this size, we all must look inward to see where our core values will lead us. In this case, the entire core team and OSM have spoken in unison, and in this project’s case, the values include compliance with the GPL.

Some people have argued that this is a “strict interpretation” of the GPL. I’m not sure what they mean, however, as this simply is the way the GPL was written. In fact, those providing legal guidance to our community on this issue, the Software Freedom Law Center, are the people that helped write the GPL.

What is left now is to see the reactions of the commercial developers in the community (of which PICnet is one). There have been strong voices on the opinions of the subject, even from Joomla developers that have been around for a long time. PICnet will do its best to lead by example, and in the coming months will be unveiling new options for organizations to acquire GPL’d Joomla! extensions.

I know that one concern that many third party commercial developers have is what they consider a veiled threat of legal action against them for violating the GPL by distributing non-GPL compliant Joomla! extensions. A quote from the forums today from core team member Louis sums up his position quite nicely:

“Lets cut the crap, you guys think that one of us intends to sue you for violating the GNU GPL? It would be a hell of a lot easier for us to just get a band of open source developers together to recreate your project and render it useless. That would take no legal fees, save us time and in the end benefit the community a hell of a lot more than scaremongering and postulating on the ridiculous notion that we are out to get someone. We are open source geeks…peaceful people.”,163492.msg861430.html#msg861430

What is ironic about the entire process, however, is that we’re talking about keeping the same license that is used in the wildly popular 1.0.x series. I know that I personally will be aiding in the effort to help better understand what GPL compliant business models can be made, especially in a community whose leadership has spoke so strongly today in support of it.

This is Day 1. I have a feeling our beloved GPL thread will be growing well beyond its 56 pages by tomorrow at dawn.


Joomla copyright holders and the GPL

During the past few weeks, I’ve been privileged to get a first-hand lesson on the General Public License (GPL). Yes, PICnet is lucky to have quite a bright lawyer on staff, but even he was a little unclear on the GPL, open source, and copyrights. To be honest, I’m not sure there’s many people in the Joomlasphere that have much research knowledge and legal practice in the application of the GPL, so it’s a learning lesson for everyone.

Every once in a while, I get a little morsel of understanding, which I feel is good to share with the community. Today’s installment: who the heck holds the copyright to the Joomla code, and therefore, who has the right to replace Joomla’s GPL license with some other license? Is it the core team? Is it Open Source Matters? Is it free for anyone to change the license as they see fit?

Well, I should say that I’m neither a lawyer nor 100% certain of my following answers, but I believe my thoughts below might help in better understanding this market of ideas.

From my research, and what I’ve learned through listening carefully to the GPL talk at the Joomla!Day USA by James Vasile, Open Source Matters legal counsel and lawyer at the Software Freedom Law Center (you know, the group that actually helped create the GPL!), the copyright holders of the Joomla code are the committers of code to the project. That would mean the people we’d expect, like Johan, Louis, Andrew, and others (maybe even Miro!), own the copyright to their pieces of the code. I should say, they don’t own the copyright to the entire Joomla system, but rather to the code they’ve contributed to the project.

It’s pretty powerful that individuals can give their hard work to the project, still hold copyright, but agree to have it all licensed together under the GPL.

What does this mean? Well, in my mind it means that if Joomla’s license were going to change to another type of license, everyone who has contributed substantially (I use that word without full knowledge of its power) to the code base of Joomla would all need to agree that their copyrighted code could be licensed under some other license other than the GPL. That would seem like a hard feat, since it would require quite a few hands (including people no longer on the core team) to agree together to changing the license.

Moral of this story: based on my ever growing understanding and appreciation of the GPL, significantly changing the license under which Joomla is protected would be quite an effort.

Your thoughts are appreciated, especially from GPL lawyers (anyone, anyone?). I’m here to learn as much as you all are.


Handling Multiple GMail Accounts

Last week I made the leap to Google Apps and I’m loving every minute of it. Having all my email in GMail is saving me so much time. Problem I ran into was monitoring over 6 emails through GMail. You could sign-in to each email and check, but who wants to do that. Or you could have multiple tabs open, but thats gets so cluttered. Solution? GMail Manager. Its a Firefox Add-on just like GMail Notifier but allows for multiple GMail accounts. Definitely in my top 5 Firefox Add-ons.


Soapbox launch: Firefly Kids

Firefly KidsIn 1998, the founders of Firefly Kids traveled to Russia to adopt a daughter. What they found when they arrived shocked them, as the orphanages in the country were simply unable to effectively support the neediest children, especially those with disabilities. Three years later Firefly Kids was created to help ensure that the children in Russia’s orphanages were better protected, and since have helped provide alternatives for these children.

Check out their new Non-Profit Soapbox site at:


NPO consultants can’t afford the systems they deploy

Salesforce.comWith all the great discussions happening at the Non-Profit Summit this week, there’s one ironic point that I think many of us “for-some-profit” consultants face in the sector: the solution we provide to our clients is well outside our own budgets as small businesses.

Even more ironic, we at PICnet use the open source SugarCRM to have heavy access to the CRM’s API. This is something we couldn’t do with for less than, gulp, thousands of dollars a year.

It’s funny being priced out of the chance to eat your own dog food, especially since we’re heavily focused on building bridges between the Joomla and Salesforce platforms. I’m not sure what the solution is, but if non-profits are being provided 10 donated seats to the Enterprise level of, it’s difficult to see how those other than the largest consulting firms working with the large end of the non-profit marketplace will be able to afford the same level of Salesforce that they deploy to our sector.

I’m not sure what could be done to help make these tools more affordable, I just needed to get this irony off my chest as I simultaneously continue to applaud the Salesforce Foundation for all its hard work. takes active listening to the next level

Tomorrow through Wednesday I’ll be joining quite an esteemed list of non-profit technologists at the Nonprofit Roadmap Summit, June 4-6, in San Mateo, CA. I’m eager to see how successful this crew can be at helping shape the roadmap for the non-profit template, and even more eager to see if this model can be replicated for our Non-Profit Soapbox. This is truly a unique opportunity to shape the future of a major application for our sector.

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jetBlue steals more of my sleep

I’m quite the frequent flier, and jetBlue gets the lion’s share of my mileage.  Ok, pretty much all of it.  I take the last flight out of Washington Dulles at around 9pm ET, and then take the red-eye out of Oakland on the flight to DC.

All was fine until jetBlue recent changed their schedule, pushing me back to a flight that leaves OAK at midnight (3am ET)!  Now, I get the joy of arriving at 8:05am ET, just minutes before a Washington Flyer bus leaves for West Falls Church making me wait 40 minutes for the next bus.

JetBlue's Flight #318

Why, oh why jetBlue, must you steal my sleep?  The Hollywood stars get to take a more decent 9:45pm flight to Dulles, but we Nor Cal folks get stuck with this crazy new schedule?

PICnet DC can expect a cranky Ryan on arrivals from the West coast.