Certified Open - a potential certification process for Europe?

Shane M. Coughlan shane at shaneland.co.uk
Tue Jun 27 09:58:21 UTC 2006

Hash: SHA256

Alex Hudson wrote:
> It's not an "open source" thing - it's about preventing lock in. You can
> still achieve Certified Open status if your product is not licensed on a
> free software / open source basis.

I do apologise if I am confused and now perpetuate the confusion, but
the Certified Open Product Framework (in the section 'Business Model')
states: "The product should be made available to clients under an
agreement that is compatible with the Open Source Definiton published by

In Ireland Certified Open is being (or will be) applied as an open
source thing or - to be more accurate - companies that perceive
themselves as open source wish to adopt Certified Open because it looks
like (a) a nice way to get a pan European certificate programme and (b)
it's something with an official looking profile.

What Certified Open actually is at this juncture appears to be a vague
idea and an aspiration, albeit one backed by a well-funded group.

> You'll find that OFE have started talking about "Open Solutions" rather
> than open source, which is moving in entirely the wrong direction.

Well, it's the wrong direction for us, but it may be the right direction
for them in terms of their objectives.  IIRC Bob was telling me that
they are having quite a lot of success with the Danish government, and
they are expanding their remit into the Czech Republic.  This is why I'm
worried.  I'm not happy with Certified Open because its so full of holes
and things that could go awfully wrong.  However, whether I'm happy or
not Certified Open is spreading.

> I wish you luck trying to change it, but I'm afraid I already consider
> it a lost cause as it is already damaging our community in the UK. In
> particular, while you're addressing problems with the framework, you're
> not addressing the more fundamental problem of the fit of this type of
> certification with free software. Even though this is self-certified,
> you have to pay to register both products and skills. That automatically
> means any free software project that is not commercially supported is
> unlikely to be able to participate in this scheme, which I consider to
> be bias.

I don't think this type of certification fits Free Software.  I think
the GBN will fit Free Software :)

I do think that Certified Open needs to be engaged with so that it won't
damage Free Software (and open source) in Europe or cause an awful mess
and confusion.  At the very least I feel an attempt at constructive
engagement is worthwhile.  It's possible that a lot of the nastiest bits
of the current framework are due to oversight and lack of direct knowledge.

I emailed Alan Bellinger, the programme director in the UK.  I just sent
in some of my initial thoughts and concerns.  His reply was:

"Thank you for this input Shane; I welcome it and believe it is both
measured and constructive.
Changes to the framework are managed through the Certified Open Council
that is co-ordinated by Basil Cousins - hence the reason that I am
copying him on this e-mail.
We will ensure that your proposals are fully reviewed through the
council and will also ensure that you are kept appraised of progress.
Again, thank you very much for this measured and supportive input"

Hm.  I'm going to look at the framework again and visit their website,
and try to think of areas where what they are doing (a) misrepresents or
conflicts with FOSS and (b) how their various frameworks might be
reworded to actually support the four freedoms of software.  Who knows
if proposals will actually be included, but one thing is sure: they are
going ahead with this.

Given that they are going ahead with this, it would be nice if they went
ahead with a more FOSS friendly version.

Given that they might accept proposals, it would be nice if the wording
could be changed to support the four freedoms of software.

This might be an opportunity for positive education.  It might even get
a result that improves the situation.

I hear all the cynics sighing.  Yeah.  I know.  However, if we don't try
we will never know if something can be changed :)


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Shane Martin Coughlan
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