[Legal-general] question re. OSMF's attitude to hosting alternative licence servers
mapping at sheerman-chase.org.uk
Thu Jul 29 14:14:22 BST 2010
On 29/07/10 11:20, Iván Sánchez Ortega wrote:
> OSMF's resources are limited. Both money and sysadmin time. If you have a look
> at the DB and rendering server specs, you'll see they are high-end machines,
> and that 30 gigs of ram and 15 SAS drives don't come cheap. Not to speak
> about decent sysadmins, which are very hard to come by.
Thanks for responding.
The point about the lack of sysadmins is a good one. OSM has never lost
one of my edits - I fact I find more amazing as time passes! As far as I
can tell, this lack of sysadmins is the primary reason why a PD server
has not taken off yet. I was thinking about putting some effort in
myself. I do have the rails port running and I had made software
changes, but I am no expert.
But I don't see your point about hardware resources carrying much water.
We don't know what the hardware requirements are going to be at this
stage. I imagine, given the low traffic on this list, only little
resources are needed at least to begin with. The comparison with the
main server hardware spec is simply not valid. Given that OSMF has
relatively healthy(?) accounts and the ease the foundation met their
previous appeals for donations towards servers, are you seriously
suggesting that OSMF don't have the hardware/financial resources? Or is
it you are unwilling to commit those resources?
To clarify what I mean by "hosting an alternatively licensed server", I
should add: a relatively modest server would be needed for beta testing
(involving 10s not 10,000s of users) and software development (to modify
the rails port to a usable state for a fork). After that, OSMF keeps the
situation under review and takes action depending on user demand and
available resources. But that plan would need support from the current
sysadmins, I am just outlining a possible scenario. What I am not
suggesting is to duplicate the main database server infrastructure!
> The real problem is not OSMF resources, but the ability to grab the attention
> of potential contributors.
You seem to be implying that we need a significant number of users to
make this worth while. I don't see that necessarily follows. Having a
few towns intensively mapped by a few hard core users and available as
PD would be a worthwhile achievement.
> Now, supporting two datasets with different licenses, and having to explain
> why to potential contributors? That's just nuts.
This is actually the main objection I expected from OSMF. There is a
real risk it would make things more confusing for users, if we handle
this poorly. But I am not proposing "equal billing" for an SA and PD
license. Or even equal support. We should not expect contributors to be
involved with both, unless they really want to (like me). Therefore the
effort to support them is not doubled. We should present information to
new users at a rate when they are ready to take it in. I foresee at
least a few months of beta testing a new server with a small core of
users. This itself won't even be visible to new users.
There may even be some contributors who would only contribute to a PD
dataset. This would increase the pool of contributors beyond what can be
achieved by PD. And I am not exactly a light weight mapping contributor
> The effort required for
> doing an import would easily go double or triple, just because of explaining
> the licenses and writing longer agreements with mapping agencies.
Then the simplest thing is to not import data from these sources. A one
size fits all approach is not necessary. I don't think we should aim to
have the same data in each server!
I note that the current contributor terms effectively enables the data
to be released as PD (given a vote, etc). So really the negotiation is
pretty similar for the CT and PD, unless the CT is revised, which is a
>> Since the purpose of OSMF is to support the mapping community, [...]
> No, it's not.
Yes, I think you'll find it is. To quote the front page of the
foundation's wiki: "The OpenStreetMap Foundation is an international
non-profit organisation supporting but not controlling the [open street
Given there is actually significant interest in PD, based on the doodle
poll, I hope that OSMF actually does less "controlling" and more
"supporting". In fact dual SA and PD is more popular than exclusively
SA. It is quite possible that PD is more popular than SA overall, but
OSMF seems to have been careful not to ask that question of
contributors. You have expressed your personal view that SA is the way
forward (which is fine), but it doesn't follow that OSMF should limit
the alternatives, particularly against the wishes of the OSM community.
I partly blame the duration and uncertainty of the ODbL relicensing on
this controlling attitude of OSMF.
One issue that has not been raised is what is the future of the license
beyond ODbL v1? And does that negate the need of a PD fork, if the
project goes down that road anyway (I feel that possibility is unlikely,
but think some hold this view).
I am also anticipating SteveC entering this discussion. It seems that
much of the OSM core inferstructure (the license, the database and a way
to edit it) was begun using his own effort. I wonder if anything can be
added to this core without his support. With SteveC being anti-PD, I am
expecting a rough time...
Anyway, hopefully OSMF can do what it can to support the pro-PD
contributors. Given that I have attempted to address all your points,
I'd be interested in any rebuttals.
More information about the Legal-general