The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is an organization dedicated to promoting open source software.
The organization was founded in February 1998, by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond, prompted by Netscape Communications Corporation publishing the source code for its flagship Netscape Communicator product. Later, in August 1998 the organization added a board of directors.
Raymond was president from its founding until February 2005. The current president is Michael Tiemann.
Although born from the same history of Unix, Internet free software, and the hacker culture as the free software movement launched by Richard Stallman and his Free Software Foundation, the Open Source Initiative was formed and chose the term open source, in Michael Tiemann's words, to "dump the moralizing and confrontational attitude that had been associated with 'free software' in the past and sell the idea strictly on the same pragmatic, business-case grounds that had motivated Netscape."
Stallman counter-charges that OSI's pragmatic focus on a model for software development and marketing ignores what he considers to be the central "ethical imperative" and the focus on "freedom" that underlies free software, as he defines it, and blurs the distinction with semi-free or wholly proprietary software. To Stallman, the important, fundamental difference is philosophical. Nevertheless, he describes his free software movement and the Open Source Initiative as separate camps within the same free software community. According to Stallman, "We disagree with the open source camp on the basic goals and values, but their views and ours lead in many cases to the same practical behavior—such as developing free software. As a result, people from the free software movement and the open source camp often work together on practical projects such as software development."
The movement was launched in 1998 by Jon "maddog" Hall, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, and others. Raymond is probably the single person most identified with the OSI and the "open source" movement; he was and remains its self-described principal theorist, but does not claim to lead it in any exclusive sense. The open source movement is steered by a loose collegium of elders that includes Raymond, its other co-founders, and such notables as Linus Torvalds, Larry Wall, and Guido van Rossum.
The founders were dissatisfied with what they saw as the confrontational attitude of the free software movement, and favored advocating free software exclusively on the grounds of technical superiority (a claim previously made by Raymond in his essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar). It was hoped that open source and the associated propaganda would become a more persuasive argument to businesses. Raymond's comment was "If you want to change the world, you have to co-opt the people who write the big checks."
The group adopted the Open Source Definition for open-source software, based on the Debian Free Software Guidelines. They also established the Open Source Initiative (OSI) as a steward organization for the movement. However, they were unsuccessful in their attempt to secure a trademark for 'open source', to act as an imprimatur and to prevent misuse of the term. Despite this, the OSI developed considerable influence in the corporate sphere and has been able to hold abuse of the term to a tolerable minimum. With the Free Software Foundation (FSF), it has become one of the hacker community's two principal advocacy organizations.
The early period of the open-source movement coincided with and partly drove the dot-com boom of 1998─2000, and saw a large growth in the popularity of Linux and the formation of many open-source-friendly companies. The movement also caught the attention of the mainstream software industry, leading to open-source software offerings by established software companies such as Corel (Corel Linux), Sun Microsystems (OpenOffice.org), and IBM (OpenAFS). By the time the dot-com boom busted in 2001, many of the early hopes of open-source advocates had already borne fruit, and the movement continued from strength to strength in the cost-cutting climate of the 2001─2003 recession.
In 2009, the organization was suspended from operation as a California corporation. It's current status is "Active"..
The current Open Source Initiative board is:
Past board members include: