Interstingly, Moodle HQ seem to have made a copy of the Totara code-base publicly available on Github at https://github.com/moodlehq/totara. Long overdue. Thanks to whoever made that happen.
General developer forum
Totara code now available
Maybe normal as a platform based on the GPL Moodle should also publish their code publicly !?
> Maybe normal as a platform based on the GPL Moodle should also publish their code publicly !?
Not really, afaik.
They are only "forced" (by the GPL) to publish (share) the source code with their clients (program's users or release/distribution targets). Curiously any client can then decide to publish it worldwide and announce it in the BBC news (or no).
And, of course, if there is no distribution/release, there isn't any need to publish modified sources at all.
I think that's one of the four basic freedoms of free software. It's viral but not 100%.
I really like to see that code made public, no matter if the GPL allows to keep it unpublished and hidden under some circumstances. I think the real spirit is to share everything, so ... well done Totara!
In fact, I'd love getting flooded with all the modifications every site/institution out there does for themselves and never are made public. I'm sure they are plenty of great/inspiring ideas and implementations!
Good news indeed but I am pretty sure that we owe thanks to Moodle HQ not Totara for sharing this, given that it was put public in Moodle's Github account. If Totara were the ones sharing it, I'm sure they'd have done so from their own Github account and most likely with some fanfare too! Am hoping for some kind of announcement on this from somewhere. Until then, get forking! There's a report builder in there waiting to get into core
Mark, you are aware that we've always offered the Report Builder to core as we have with any other Totara features. That is how Martin has cloned the repo afterall.
Yes, get forking! Our model, is and always has been focused on support. This doesn't change anything in our business model. Unsupported code is a risk for corporates - code needs to be maintained. That's why, in the proprietary world you have Support and Maintenance Agreements.
Yes, great news. Happy to see the spirit of free and open source software finally coming through, whether it was with or without Totara Learning Solutions' Ltd. participation. Hopefully, they've learnt that reciprocal altruism is one of the better human traits upon which societies are heavily dependent for their survival.
I'd love to see software patents banished into history too. New Zealand's done it and some are arguing to make that more widespread: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/08/29/new-zealand-just-abolished-software-patents-heres-why-we-should-too/
"Hopefully, they've learnt that reciprocal altruism is one of the better human traits upon which societies are heavily dependent for their survival."
What a laugh - I've been contributing to Moodle for some 10 years (see bottom of the page at http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Community_credits ) . MNET, MyMoodle etc etc. More recently this is what Totara has been contributing - I doubt it's exhaustive...
- Funding the work of the course completion maintainer for ~1 year (not sure how long exactly).
- Funding the work of the face-to-face maintainer for ~2 years.
- Open badges development and ongoing support. See here for actual code contributions:
- Many bugs reported and fixes upstreamed:
Some key ones include:
Reporting and fixing security issues such as:
Improved security of hashed passwords for Moodle 2.5:
- Members of our team are both in the top 130 Moodle contributors with 83 commits between them - our commits are listed here:
Running some stats on the moodle codebase shows that although we've been contributing for a shorter time, we already compare favourably in terms of contributions to some of the larger Moodle partners and dwarf the smaller partners:
- Significant current activity improving and extending Moodle Mobile - this is a 6 figure sum contribution;
Other contributions include:
Offering to share and integrate report builder functionality (or anything else for that matter)
Sharing element library:
Offering to fund usability work:
Language contributions - e.g. funded completion of Polish Moodle language pack.
Sharing test scripts and processes:
Contributing in the moodle forums:
Simon, for example, has made ~100 posts and was awarded "Particularly helpful Moodler" badge:
Yuliya has posted ~40 posts:
That's all I can think of for now, but there's undoubtedly more!
I have also been a leader in the Mahara project - www.mahara.org. Please don't preach to me about the spirit of free and open source. We designed our business model for Totara transparently and it no small part out of deference to Moodle's own business model.
PS - We're from New Zealand btw.
I believe that Moodle HQ's decision may have had something to do with this discussion not so long ago, Is TotaraLMS Closed Source?: https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=171235 (Many of the posts in that discussion appear to have been lost after the recent Moodle.org database collapse).
Simply put, that Totara Learning Solutions Ltd. were charging a substantial fee in order to gain access to the software/source code and that it wasn't available on any public repositories led many to believe that it was closed source. Was this intentional?
That thread covers a lot of ground and I think my repeating it would be pretty tiresome. TotaraLMS is 100% GPL code and always has been. We are perfectly entitled to charge fees for services (which are very low actually) and that is our model. The GPL is about freedom not free beer. This http://www.totaralms.com/downloads/whitepapers/Benefits_of_an_opensource_distribution_v1.pdf may help with the understanding.
But, despite providing better value and GPL freedoms to corporates, instead of being congratulated for broadening the user-base of Moodle technologies and hence being able to contribute as my earlier post demonstrates, instead we get this sort of vitriolic nonsense.
I have no concerns about a public repo. Never did. We designed our business model out of deference to Moodle's own business model. But the goading around whether closed or open continues. We have always treated Moodle as the community we belong to. But enough is enough. You will get what you wish for. We will soon have an open community with a free download for everyone. No doubt there will be whining about that too but I fail to see how anything we've ever done takes anything away from Moodle. Moodle for corporates is a square peg in a round hole and I know this from painful experience. So we didn't develop Totara (some 320,000 lines of extra features) on a whim - it is to meet the requirements of corporates.
Our support services will still cost - but nobody is forcing or even asking you to buy them Matt. They're designed for corporates afterall - folk who want that assurance. The github clone is unsupported - perhaps someone can fork it and start offering support, and invest and take business risks as we have. That is their right under the GPL.
Richard, thanks for the code, thanks for the post and a reminder of the difference between free and gratis. I hope you make a decent living from your services whatever you charge. To jump on a topical bandwagon, mistaking free for gratis is like asking for a discount Nelson Mandala instead of a free Nelson Mandala.
Richard, THANKS for sharing your code. It allows us corporate geeks to install it on our test servers and show it off to our bosses. Once they've seen it and like it their first question is normally: "So who is going to look after it and support it?" When they understand that there is a corporate "vendor" like Totara available it makes them much more at ease.
So, making your code available to us corporate geeks makes it much easier for us to try, test and show off what you offer to our bosses - your potential clients.
I'm not sure what you're interpreting as vitriolic: All I see are people who are happy that Totara LMS source code is now more readily available.
I believe that Martin's done you a service by openly putting the Totara repo on Github.com, and I suspect that this will bring you more clients, not fewer and a more participatory relationship with all Moodlers, not just your existing clients, staff, and Moodle HQ.
Does this mean to "Totara Lite" or Totara itself will be downloadable with community / forum support?
If so that is quite a departure from your previous comments about not wanting to fork.
I understand why people get twitchy when GPL code disapears behind a paywall but you guys seem to have ended up in an unusual position. Elis code was released on Git to the credit of Remote Learner. I understand HQ did not want you to do likewise?
I think Totara have been far more transparrent than MoodleRooms ever have with Joule but dont recall them facing this kind of inquisition. I am not aware of a Git repo for Joule either on HQ or MoodleRooms Git. I am not saying there should be a Joule repo but I would have expected there to be consistency in the treatment of the various "distributions" by HQ.
I think an open Git can only ever be a good thing and will no doubt make your political career easier going forward!
<long first post>
An introduction. If it seems OTT, apologies, "no man is an island" and all that but some context is necessary.
I am a Director of Catalyst IT, a company that is global and contributes to a very wide variety of open source projects, including Moodle. I am also a director of TotaraLMS Ltd., a past president of the NZ Open Source Society and a director of Open Source Industry Australia - OSIA. For the "no software patents in New Zealand" thing, you're welcome...and if you want help getting rid of s/w patents in your own country, I'd love to talk.
There seems to be some misunderstanding about the GPL and its purpose in this thread. I have hosted Richard Stallman in NZ on a number of occassions, I have even read his book RMS's concern is that users get captured by software and that users of software should have the rights to change, distribute and modify that software. He is not concerned about the rights of third parties to have access to software. It is, after all, users that need protection from technologists. To suggest otherwise is self serving and plays into the hands of all those organisations that would like to see the GPL die. These enemies claim the GPL is a "virus" that infects everything that comes within a mile of it and should be avoided like the plague. If you really love freedom and the freedom of the GPL think about it in terms if users' rights rather than yourselves.
I am also probably responsible for the fact that Martin Dougiamas released the latest Totara code on the Moodle repo. That was his right, a demonstration of Moodle HQ's ongoing access to Totara code and also his response to the frustration I experessed to him about what I saw as his misrepresentation of Totara in a Moodle partner forum. We had a tiff. And when he asked, after the fact, if I minded that release, the answer (from Richard Wyles) was, naturally, "no".
I think Richard Wyles has made it very clear that the Totara business model has been made as open as Moodle HQ was happy with. That certainly has been my belief and God knows I stand by open. The concern from Moodle HQ when we started was that there was a risk Totara would split the Moodle community so there was a preference expressed for a model where the Totara repo was available to Moodle HQ, but not in public and there would not be a public forum.
There is no "right" way of making money out of open source. But the road to hell is paved with wrong ways. Open core, dual licencing, code obfuscation come to mind. But so do more subtle issues such as CALs vs CLAs. It is by listening to communities, clients and partners those models evolve and get better. Totara is certainly doing this and the response that is being made by Richard is a demonstration of that. The challenge for *this* community is to decide how to cope with distributions (Ubuntu, RedHat, SUSE come to mind, as do many other Moodle distros) whilst retaining the integrity of the core software and community.
It's tricky, we'll all make mistakes, but honesty and respect will go a long way.
Totara is hitting a sweet spot on the corporate world and knocking proprietary software for six (cricket term). We should celebrate that fact.
Source for Joule?
I think the crux of it is whether HQ asked them not to make the repo available as Don siggests above.
I sincerely don't want to spark up any major debates again by posting here. What I've learnt is that whatever you try to do, if you're doing something there'll be detractors.
But I do need to follow up on my statement that we'd release code regularly and have an open community for discussions around it. To recap, since 2011 TotaraLMS has been offered as a distro for a low-cost subscription fee. Our customers receive the benefit of code support and maintenance, security updates, error correction, patch updates and a continuing stream of new innovations supported by our team. We regularly contribute to Moodle.
Now, in addition to our subscription offering, we will also offer Totara Seedlings, an unsupported version. We have always seen ourselves as an extension of the Moodle community and have always offered our innovations. Some in the team have been involved in the Moodle project for over 10 years now. We will continue to offer code back to Moodle, and with Seedlings into the broader public domain. We believe Seedlings is the most effective way to do that, compared to our previous direct approach such as our work on Open Badges for Moodle. It might not have been clear just how much we do in the open source realm.
Totara Seedlings is a great way for software developers to get to know Totara and engage in the project, and for potential customers to evaluate the features including upcoming versions.
Please note, Seedlings is unsupported but it's not code-dumping older versions. We don’t believe in dumbing down our community version to bait customers into buying our "enterprise" edition. Quite the opposite. Seedlings is the beta version containing our very latest innovations, and the first version of Seedlings is Version 2.6, the beta version of our upcoming production release of TotaraLMS. As the name implies, Totara Seedlings contains young, even experimental code, so it’s not suitable for use in a production setting. And no apologies for that. It’s our way of contributing our thinking, our IP and our code, but our business is in offering enterprise ready open source software fully supported by our team and partners. Totara Seedlings isn't designed to be a free lunch for corporates. Our mission is to bring the benefits of open source to the corporate learning technologies marketplace and we believe scalable low cost support offerings is the way to achieve that.
For more information, go to http://www.totaralms.com/feature-a-benefits/seedlings where you'll also see links to download it.
Probably just my mis-reading of the statement, but this wording:
We believe Seedlings is the most effective way to do that, compared to our previous direct approach such as our work on Open Badges for Moodle.
Sort of suggests like you are going to stop trying to engage directly with us upstream. I hope that is not the case! We'd miss the great bug reports and useful fixes coming from Totara!
Re: "Totara Seedlings contains young, even experimental code, so it’s not suitable for use in a production setting." -- I'm no lawyer so maybe this isn't correct; Totara are releasing an additional buggy/untested version of the source code and not releasing the stable/tested versions. Is that correct? That wouldn't change the points that members of the Moodle community have made previously in this discussion. Either Totara releases all their GPL3 source code or they don't.
I understand that Totara may have sold some contracts to clients based on the current model and that it's something that may take some time (and/or perhaps some cunning legal maneuvers) to smooth over. However, as I see it GPL3 FOSS service providers should give "value added" services in line with the GPL3 licence agreement that Totara accepted by using Moodle source code.
Why not have a look at how others are providing value added services with FOSS?
Here's a super-quick, cheap, and convenient Moodle service provider that's just starting up: http://www.mdlspot.com/ (Runs a Moodle "network" on one codebase with multiple instances, like Wordpress.com).
Or for FOSS in general, there's: https://bitnami.com/cloud who also provide the latest versions of Moodle on a VPS where Moodlers can install and integrate a CMS and/or ePortfolio (e.g. Mahara) alongside.
I can't see any reason why Totara can't offer something like this and honour the GPL3 licence.
Just my €0.02!
Why don't you follow your own advice rather than continuously have this holier than thou attitude against people who are trying things? A short review of how others are providing value added services with FOSS shows so many examples of open core or bait and switch licensing - it's not a good way to go in my opinion.
In contrast, what I have said repeatedly in this forum and elsewhere is that Totara LMS is 100% open source GPL code. But you're intent on mixing the GPL with having a free lunch. We do release all our GPL3 code but we're not supplying a free lunch support service.When the next edition of Seedlings comes out it includes all the previous patches. i.e. all code eventually gets released. But if you want the benefit of timely support, as our customers clearly do, then that has to be sustainable. Now show me an open source business model that is more honest and as upfront as that?
Firstly Richard, please don't make personal attacks against people, i.e. me or anyone else, making valid criticisms about your organisation's policies.
Secondly, I have also contributed source code, bug reports, documentation, freely and openly accessible demos, and have provided help in whatever way I can to members of the Moodle community, all without being paid for it. A lot of us have here and that's why we get our Moodle badges.
Thirdly, "because other people are doing it too" isn't any kind of defence.
Fourthly, GPL3 is GPL3. If you contribute, you do so under that licence. If you use or redistribute, you do so under that licence. It doesn't matter if you believe some people are getting undeserved benefit in your opinion, although you're entitled to complain and criticise if you wish.
And finally, that your business model appears to rely to some degree on trying to prevent access to Totara LMS GPL3 source code, as evidenced by your reluctance to make it available, puts you in a difficult position. As others have stated here, anyone is well within their rights, and upholding the spirit of the GPL3 licence, to redistribute the source code. If people do this, and it looks like they have and they will, you have no legitimate, legal recourse to stop them. So how do you propose to stop them? What if they won't comply with your wishes? What are you willing to do and how far are you willing to go? Why would you want to put the employees of Totara Learning Solutions Ltd and yourself in such a position?
Re: "btw, how does MDLspot or Bitnami give back to the Moodle community? Hmmm, strange ethics you have Matt" -- AFAIK, they don't. They follow the GPL3 licence though, which is ethical and legal. BitNami also make all their installers and AMIs FOSS and their clients are free to export and take their software and data elsewhere at any time or continue to run their installations on AWS without subscribing to BitNami's services. The value they add for their clients is the services they provide, and that's what FOSS allows anyone to do.
Under the spirit of GPL3 licensing, if a client of Totara Learning Solutions Ltd decides that they don't like the services they're getting, they should be able to take their business elsewhere, i.e. find another Totara LMS service provider.
I'll only address a couple of your points because this isn't constructive really. I see what I write has no effect on what you write - you are just choosing what you pay attention to.
"because other people are doing it too" isn't any kind of defence." I didn't make that defence, nor do I believe it necessary to defend myself anyway. We're not doing anything nefarious in any way.
Agreed, the GPL3 is the GPL3 and it's the only software license we use, and have ever used (apart from the GPL v2 back in the old days
Agreed, customers should be able to take their business elsewhere, i.e. find another Totara LMS service provider, Absence of vendor lock-in is a key freedom.
And your final point is just plain wrong - there's no reluctance, you've got the bleeding edge... We absolutely believe in anyone's rights to redistribute the source code. What posts are you misreading? "What are you willing to do and how far are you willing to go?" Surely it's no wonder I give you a bit of stick back Matt, when you make rediculous statements like these?
Again, nobody's accusing you of doing anything "nefarious", i.e. evil, flagrantly wicked, or impious. I'm not sure where you get that idea from. Also, I haven't made any ridiculous statements as far as I can see. Again, this appears to be a personal slur on me.
What I and the others here appear to be uncomfortable with is Totara's unwillingness to publish all its source code and that it looks like a strategy to prevent others from using/accessing the stable version under the terms of the GPL3 licence.
If Totara are simply a service provider and you believe that everyone has the right to use and redistribute Totara LMS source code as a stable, current version and provide services with it, then why is it not publicly available?
Do you consider this to be nefarious? Do you think Totara's policies are within the spirit of the GPL3 licence? Do you think we're being unduly harsh and overly critical?
Seedlings looks interesting, thanks for that
As for reluctance, there clearly is. You said above you had no issue releasing code but you pulled Moodle HQ's access to the Git repo (according to their statement on that page).
RL don't offer a free lunch with ELIS, nor do Instructure with Canvas but as far as I know they both have up to date core repo's available. Neither have been bankrupted.
What you charge is of little consequence to corporate customers. We looked at Totara a while back for possible use for internal training. Although we have a lot of experience with Moodle I would not consider using it without the support.
You are clearly selling a service, that is very easy to see and understand. Never the less the impression I get is that deep down, in spite of everything said on the subject Catalyst (or your partner in this venture) cannot get past the idea of selling the code.
I will add I think Catalyst are a great company, we have funded Mahara development through yourselves and are discussing some Moodle development with some of your people at the moment... in spite of both Moodle and Mahara being a "free lunch".
Big Blue Button is a free lunch. We recently moved onto their (blindside networks) paid supported platform after a couple of years self serving for "free".
Linux is a free lunch, we pay for RHEL (all be it discounted for educational use).
I honestly think those that don't want to pay wont and those that do will regardless of the usability of your repo.
Are Tesco's, Vodaphone and your other customers waiting for the day they can swindle you out of your subscription fee or do they value the service you provide?
You already put far more trust in your partners and customers than most companies so why the pre occupation with "free lunch"? For example you cannot enforce that number of accessing users pricing model can you? That also runs on trust doesn't it?
None of the above was meant to fan any flames, just my take on things
Thanks again for Seedlings, will be interesting to play with that and best of luck with Totara, I think its a great product.
btw, how does MDLspot or Bitnami give back to the Moodle community? Hmmm, strange ethics you have Matt
You asked how MDLspot or Bitnami give back to the Moodle community with the assumption that they do not. I cant speak for Bitnami, but I am a friend and former co-worker to the creator of MDLspot and can testify to the contributions that have been made back to the Moodle community. Just because you couldnt find a Github page with the name MDLspot doesnt mean there have been no contributions to Moodle.
We need to be a community here but it sounds a lot like siblings trying to one up each other with their Moodle LOC stats. Contributions dont have to be limited to just LOC either, so lets stop with the chesting pounding. I for one am grateful that you contributed and actually agree with most of your statements. I just wanted to come to the defense of a good Moodle citizen who may have gotten dumped on a bit in these forums.
<disclosure>This is 100% a personal opinion and does not represent anything but that</disclosure>
Now, I'm not so happy. Really. Don't you have the feeling that those Seedlings are against the spirit of the Open Source "hordes"? I'm not saying it infringes anything... but the spirit, isn't it?
Still, I can ask to my very good friend @ Michelin (your customer), to pass me the code and once I've it, publish it for the masses? I would't say that infringes anything, more yet, I'd say that's way more aligned with the spirit, isn't it?
Note I'm not an Open Source specialist nor have all those amazing experiences and curriculums neither have directed anything in my life (ask my wife, LOL). Just a plain, raw, developer, not understanding how keeping things hidden is better than sharing them (again, under the spirit of the Open Source prisma).
For sure, I think I understand the reasons for the Seedlings "workaround" and why you need to run them that way and I've nothing to say about that (it's your business 100%, of course!). Just stating that, for me, that's not the spirit. Nothing else.
With (sincere) love and admiration, ciao
PS: Of course, my personal opinion about the Totara case (yes, bolded and underlined) is completely extensible to any other company out there distributing Moodle derivates without sharing them (but using those workarounds, like "private/restricted distribution", "subscriptions", "seedlings" or any other "trick". In favor of Totara (Richard et all) they have been crystal clear about their strategy and have shared it here. And for sure, sharing Seedlings is way better than sharing nothing.
this is just my humble opinion about sharing and claims about publishing or not code that represents a certain, (sometime huge amount of time (and probably money) investment)
Observing open-source communities lead to the conclusion that the sharing balance often turns in favour of "consumers" and barely to "providers". If this may be true at start, where developers join together to share effort, finally comes a strong unbalanced situation in which a few people provide a very lot of effort with actually little return...
What i also noticed was the usual unfairness of consumers when they take shared code to use : the less they are economically engaged, the more demanding and requiring they behave... This comes to be a final paradox of the open-source spirit.
You would think f.e. that all consumers do not have skills to offer back development or technical assets. That's true. But you also can notice how little people get really involved in quality contributing and documentation helping. I am of course mostly aware in my linguistic community, as i spend more time in it, but i'm not sure the balance is really different here and there.
By the way, this is NOT a developer complaint at all. We love pushing out ideas and proposals to consumers, and we love having "users" that just tell you they use your stuff with success... and we love also spending that coding effort nights for (sometime) free.
but the original "sharing spirit" is somewhat getting tweacked with massive access an reuse of contributed shares, whith a thin and not so comfortable return on investment model.....
So thanks to Totara to finally publish what they feel they can publish and want to share with wider audience... !
Thank-you Valery, I've thought along similar lines sometimes. We get a lot of criticism for giving back a whole lot more than so many others do. Sometimes I wonder whether people won't be happy until you go bust or something. And that indeed creates a paradox for what is often banded around as the "open source spirit". It's sad to say, but I find the dynamics really curious and I've seen more nastiness and self-righteousness in the Moodle community than I have in any other part of my working career - we stay committed though. The corporate training world needs to have good, well supported open source learning technologies just as much as the educational world does. It's those customers I feel beholden to, not commentators that we're clearly never going to please anyway.
Eloy, please explain to me what we're hiding? Seedlings has more code in it than the current supported version. Where's the "trick"? We're being clear what it is.
Obviously I don't know.
If it's hidden and I'm not one of your "subscribers" nor I've a friend @ Michelin, how the hell can I know? LOL
Please don't get my opinion like an attack/offense not anything similar. I just became "deflated" once the initial facts in this thread (whole thing being published, yay, euphoria!) are not true anymore (whops, depression).
Also, I pretty much adhere to Valery's comments above, I just didn't want to go into details there, because I don't like to talk about business at all and, also, because IMO one thing does not justify the other.
And yes, it was the "spirit", exactly that, what I wanted to raise because I think it's being violated. Once more, I can understand why (see Valery's post), but knowledge not always leads to happiness. And that's my current, personal and non-transferable "depressed" feeling.
We don't need to agree, nor convince the other (and being aware of my pig-headed personality and my clear "spiritual" ideals nobody will make me move, be warned). Just different opinions, but I felt I needed to share my very own POV on this, hence I commented. Do I really need to justify why I post?
Nothing more, nothing less. Again, thanks for sharing and collaborating. You rock! (up to some point in my scale) Others do not.
You appear to have completely missed the point of Richard's post earlier today, things have moved on a lot from the situation as it stood way back at the beginning of the thread.
Seedlings is Totara 2.6 beta and is fully and freely available here
I'm not sure how you feel the spirit of open source is being violated by having a cost-free GPLd download of the very latest version of the code. That seems like a very strange position to take to me. But I guess the old saying applies - you can't please everybody.
you'll be publishing your development "head" (aka, master), instead of your stable branch / stable releases. Interesting.
All of your clients, who I assume receive the stable releases (or the stable branch), have the right to redistribute it. It's in the GPL. I addition, the GPL has a funny clause that if you try to add any restriction to that redistribution then you cannot distribute. Section 7 of GPLv2 -- it moved around in GPLv3, but it's still there.
Does Totara have any restrictions on redistribution?
You know, you are free to use any code from the latest stable ELIS, which Remote Learner publishes entirely. We recently found hints that make us think that even Joule has decided to use our code.
The GPL in essence embodies a "share and share alike" ethos. We share our latest stable code. Will you share alike?
It's been a while. How are you? No (yawn), Totara does not have any restrictions on redistribution. It is licensed GPLv3 and I have made this clear countless times. And yes, after all these years I do understand both the spirit and the letter of the GPL. Nowhere does the GPL oblige us to offer our time for free. Yes, all our clients can redistribute the code - absolutely. That's immutable. There's never been any debate around that so I don't know why it keeps coming up - just seems like an endless game of point-scoring. We can't break the license, it would be illegal, and nor would we want to. It is exactly those freedoms we want our customers to enjoy. And Martin D has himself said we're not.
And even though the GPL (neither in spirit or letter) doesn't preclude the sale of software, it’s an inherently difficult business model to pursue (unless it's bespoke) given the GPL freedom of redistribution. So we don't do that - IMHO it would be silly.
Instead we have a support based model, with ticketed support via a support desk.The benefit of our service is the ability to raise a ticket either directly or via a Totara Partner, for technical advice or alternatively have us produce and send patches and fixes in a timely manner. On top of that, independent pen tests etc. – in short, the assurances of a stable, secure and maintained open source solution that we back with 24*5 support. It’s a very cost effective route, but even better it gives you control over your IT future and you can obviously customize if needed/desired.
But if you are a customer of our support services, then we expect you to be just that. Not a free-rider who wants to make money out of our labours. Be clear, I'm not talking about code here - I'm talking about our services. That comes at a cost and therefore we have a cost-effective offering for that support. There is nothing wrong with doing this.
You ask about our share and share alike ethos. Well, we've just given you everything we've got, and you can port or fork until your heart's content. But you seem to want our time for free as well? We need to support the code for you as well? Please note this isn't crippleware that has been dumbed down. Nor is it code dumping old versions (although I see no problem doing that either).
Please have a look at SugarCRM, Alfresco, Liferay - in fact any of them. Nobody is offering commercial grade support for their community offering. NOBODY. So, give it a break. Why should we? Fork it, do it yourself, and see how you go. That's the freedom you enjoy with the GPL Martin. Not the freedom to demand we supply free beer.
Have a look at http://www.alfresco.com/products/community - wasn't Remote Learner an Alfresco Partner at some point?
Things are great. It's been a long interesting ride in they years away from Moodle. Seems like you've been busy too
Back on the Totara topic. You say "But if you are a customer of our support services, then we expect you to be just that. Not a free-rider who wants to make money out of our labours." -- right but the GPL allows them to publish the code they received from you. With changes or without changes.
So to refine my question -- are there any consequences for a customer of yours, if they make use of this feature of the GPL? You expect them to be "just that". What happens if they aren't?
It is customary --but not obligatory -- to release your stable releases to the community; pretty much everyone does it because it nurtures trust. The projects you point out do make those releases public. They fiddle with the branding a bit but the releases are the real deal. As you say, they mostly don't offer dedicated support (meaning here personalized help) unless the customer pays. However every release, down to their bug fix releases, are public.
This is how Remote-Learner publishes ELIS too. Yes we are an Alfresco Partner. All the Alfresco (and Moodle Alfresco plugin) code we run is in public releases.
We all get a free ride. On Linux. On Apache. PHP. MySQL/MariaDB/PostgreSQL. Moodle includes tons of code from libraries we didn't write. Yes, we both strive to contribute -- financially; with code -- but out contributions are dwarfed by what we get for free. We can't lose sight of this.
Publishing your master branch is a big step forward. Let's have a cold one for that.
... and one by one, let's push everyone towards playing by the same ground rules...
I'm going to write one final post in this thread because I think the positions have been well outlined and there are some entrenched views.
We have a track record of contributing to Moodle, some of us going back over 10 years. We have just released over 350,000 lines of extensions into the public domain. As Valery noted, this is an investment in time and money, in this case years and millions. So yes, I do regard some of the criticism in this thread as harsh, overly critical, and frankly unfounded.
I think sometimes people extrapolate the GPL to having more meaning than it does - that is where the subjective term "spirit of open source" gets bandied about. What the GPL does is confer freedom to users to share and change all versions of a program. And it gives you the freedom to distribute free software. When you distribute "whether gratis or for a fee", you must pass on to the recipients the same freedoms that you received. So, it's OK to charge a fee. It's also OK not to distribute, and it's also OK not to have a public repo. But if you do distribute you must pass on those freedoms. Well understood.
I'd like to acknowledge the work Martin Dougiamas has achieved in making Moodle economically sustainable. I'm sure he's had many anxious moments because it isn't easy. I know this from experience with Mahara, Moodle and Totara.
At Totara Learning, we are endeavouring to make the provision of Totara LMS economically sustainable by offering a premium service. This service is, to a significant extent, modelled on the RedHat subscription based service. As previously explained, for a fee our subscribers have access to our services, (either directly or via our partners);
- they can raise a ticket for an bug they've found and we'll fix it and send them the patch as a priority (SLA based). No, we do not automatically, in real time, publish that same fix into the public domain and nor is there any obligation in the GPL that we should. This is a premium service for subscribers.
- like with RedHat, the stable, supported version is behind the cutting edge. Our clients need stable + support and maintenance, and our business is to offer them that.
- we do say to our customers that we don't expect them to raise these tickets and receive our premium service (subscriptions for support) on behalf of 3rd parties. They agree they are buying a service off us and like any normal commercial services contract that is between a customer and supplier of that service. If I agreed to clean your car every week for $50 but you bought all your friends' cars around too then I couldn't clean them all sustainably. I have pointed out that no-one in the open source world, that I know of, provides their community code with free, full service support. That's not a defence of what we do - just pointing out that there's no economically sustainable model to do that. Moodle doesn't do that either, and nor does Remote Learner with ELIS. I can only assume Remote Learner offers support packs around ELIS in order to make the ongoing provision of it sustainable. Yet I take it from some of the comments in this forum that Totara Learning is wrong to do so...we don't have a magic wand!
I've always been personally against the open core model but given the grief we get for being open I do wonder what would have been easier sometimes. Let's be clear. The GPL does not obligate you to put everything into the public domain. It certainly does not obligate you to provide your services for free. It does obligate you to pass on the freedom to users to share and change all versions of a program. We believe in these freedoms.
That we have just put a massive multi-million dollar investment out into the public domain should be congratulated but I'm not altogether surprised that's not happening here. As I've said earlier, I think there's some dynamics in the Moodle community which I find disappointing but then I guess it happens in all large communities - a microcosm of humanity afterall.
Anyway, that's it from me in this thread. I have too much to get on with rather than spend time with circular arguments. All the best with whatever you do, and whatever motivations drive you. As per Eloy's comment, we don't need to agree.
We can all go and have a nice cup of chamomile tea.
Probably better than chocolate, alcohol or caffeine or comfort food.
But I do predict the conversation is not over, wait a bit and a few more people will want to have their say in another round of posts, which I think is OK. I do know how to use the delete button if I need to - and, as per Richard's comment, "we don't need to agree".
Re: "But I do predict the conversation is not over, wait a bit and a few more people will want to have their say in another round of posts, which I think is OK." -- Yep.
May the facts speak for themselves...
"This is a clone of the Totara source code (which is based on Moodle) as of November 29th 2013. It's not being updated because our access to the original repository was terminated shortly after distributing this clone." -- Source: https://github.com/moodlehq/totara
Free and open source?
Anyone able to use and redistribute?
Well, it looks like there are restrictions on redistribution of the Totara code. These restrictions seem to be forward-looking ("you'll lose access to future updates").
GPL does not allow restrictions on redistribution (section 7 in GPLv2, it's moved around a bit in v3). And from a certain point of view... well yes you can redistribute so there are no restrictions. From another point of view... well, yes there are consequences, so there are restrictions.
I have just taken a look at Section 7 of the GPLv2 and I could not see anything that would prevent anyone from not releasing new code to a third party that had previously receved code from them. I was using this link.
Posting these notes to clarify where the disagreement lies.
Any view of the disagreement should keep in mind that all parties in this discussion contribute a significant (and growing) amount of effort to Moodle.
It really surprises me that there is not one single Totara customer with the balls to push all the code they have access to onto github.
There's nothing stopping them. They all have that right. Which bit of "the code is GPL, customers pay for ongoing ticketed support" are people (deliberately) refusing to understand here?
Maybe they don't publish the code because they are happy customers, not religious fanatics? Just a thought.
I really would suggest/ask you not to mix any comment or opinion with dis-qualifications like the one in your last phrase. It does not help for anything, I think.
Not that it hurts me (I'm old enough), but can hurt others... for nothing (for free, lol). I think it's ok to discuss and argue, no matter how confronted/opposed the POVs are, but always with respect.
At least that should be the "spirit" (bloody word, eh) ROFL!
Just returning the serve Eloy, so don't be trying the faux-aggrieved act.
Comments implying that Totara customers are somehow afraid of being punished if they publish the code - especially after Totara have made the latest code freely available - are what is "unhelpful" here. The whole tone of this discussion from numerous posters has been resentful, begrudging and dismissive and sometimes downright dishonest about Totara, the business model, our motivations and contributions.
As Richard already said, it's quite clear after the last couple of days that the tone of these posts and these constant attacks on Totara by a small but vocal section of the Moodle community have got nothing at all to do with the code itself, the terms of the GPL, or the "spirit of open source" (a phrase which conveniently doesn't actually mean anything).
I really don't know what's the faux-whatever act (my English is pretty limited, sorry), but it's really clear for me that you are not going to tell me what I can/cannot say. At all.
Second attempt, would you, please, be able to avoid expressions like the used 2 comments above? Just that, really simple. Nothing else.
PS: Edited, just re-read your previous post, you mentioned "returning the serve". This is not a ping-pong match at all, man, just a warning about better keeping some expressions out from the discussion. Hope you consider it.
(continuation from previous, but apart, to avoid mixing matters)
PS2: And I go to sleep, promised. Yesterday I decided not to continue posting here about the "spirit", because positions were already clear and done (and I sort of "PM-ed" to Richard about that). But if you insist saying that the "spirit of open source means nothing", or that somebody has "missed the point completely"... surely I'll need to retract myself and continue discussing about it, be warned! LOL.
PS3: If I've offended anybody, I have not problem apologizing. Just I've re-re-read my 3 comments above and I think they are extremely educated and non-offending (surely the "cows" one is slightly out of tone, but i wrote it joking, seriously) and I only centered my objections (POV) to the "distribution of source code" you've decided. If you see that like a deep-attack (is that the name of a film?) I only can say, sorry, it's not.
PS4: Time to zzzZZZzzz. Ciao
As it happpens, I agree that much of the criticsm of the Totara here seems disproportationate. There is a lot of questioning in detail in areas which are not asked of other businesses which are established around Moodle. As others have said, perhaps that is because Totara is somewhat open about the business model, where as the intracies of other business relationships are not quite so visible to the public. I think its also because from the outside, Totara seems to be a business which has gone against the wishes of the project. Again, I am sure these things have happened before but not exposed quite so openly.
Though I am certain similar criticism has been aimed at the Moodle Partner model, Remote Learner, Moodlerooms etc on these forums too. This open criticism is normal of this community and it's not some sort of vendetta against Totara.
It is also my view (which ignores the business side which I don't know anything to talk about, but does pay me ) that having Totara as part of the Moodle community is an net positive. Surely thats a large part because I know there are great people involved with Totara and I am able to enjoy working with some of them. Plus the fact that I do work with them, if I didn't hear from anyone from Totara, I would almost certainly feel differently.
So, your comments here concern me a lot. This is the 'General developer forum' and you are talking to developers, not business people. Some of the people on this thread have contributed significantly to Moodle (and by extension Totara) and despite what you might think, thats not solely come about because someone has funded them to work on it. Some of us working on Moodle are motivated by non-tangible aspects like 'the spirit of open source' which you dismiss so readily. These are important aspects of our community and they should be treated with some respect, even if you disagree. For the benefit of Totara and Moodle.
That comment didn't come out as I intended it so to clarify I was retorting to what seemed to me to be some people who were determined to attack Totara, and who were making rather vague accusations like we are in breach of the spirit of open-source, which could be very subjective and mean whatever the poster (or indeed the reader) wants it to mean.
In no way was it intended as an attack on all the fine open-source developers all over the world who devote their time and talents for free to making all the great open-source products we all use on a daily basis, including Moodle So sorry if it came across that way, I was trying to express a certain frustration with some of the rhetoric on the thread, not open-source developers - after all I'm one myself!
Arrgh, despite myself. Tim, it's nothing to do with balls surely. It's about being satisfied with our services to them. But it does happen, & regularly. So what? What's kicked this discussion off is that we're doing it ourselves and the link is https://github.com/totara/seedlings not a clone. Doesn't change at thing - our subscription for services model.
And to Martin L:
“The community version of the ELIS(TM) code is unsupported, and is provided "as is" with no warantee or guarantee of functionality*.”
So it seems your very own business model at Remote Learner is remarkably similar to ours.
Really guys, I can't help but conclude this enmity is driven by other factors.
We haven't had an answer to the much asked question, what happens when someone with access to Totara's stable, usable code forks it on Github?
Go on Ciaran... I dare you ;)
Duh, that's their right and that's been answered over and over. You pointed to one just before! Martin D did it in December. What happened? Totara Learning had consecutive record months in Feb and March. That's what happens.
And to Dan and others - we have been putting up with rediculous allegations and posts like Matt's Madmen one. He tells me off for being offensive! Wow, you need to look at yourselves in the mirror here guys are start moderating your own members. Again it's one-sided and none of you are pulling Matt Bury up for his appalling behaviour. It's just Ciaran you shouldn't have said this or Richard, even though you've repeatedly told us something we'll keep poking you. Ugly, often incredibly hypocritical and inconsistent and it reflects very poorly on the Moodle community IMHO. It seems to me that there's no problem giving it but plenty of hurt feelings when there's a natural reaction.
It does not auger well for Moodle when it has descended into this type of discussion. What happened to open source fighting the good fight against proprietary systems? What a waste of energy trying to explain anything here - not everyone but one or two deliberately dragging it down to a base level. This time I really am out of here! What a joke. I'll never bother trying to explain anything we do to Moodle "community members" again. I don't owe you an explanation afterall - especially not given the diatribe we get back.
I agree that 'descended into this type of discussion' is not helpful, but I feel like I need to respond to your comments:
moderating your own members
I don't regard anyone as 'our own members' and I can sympathise that you feel its an us vs them issue, but I don't regard it like that. I also certainly don't think you or Ciaran need 'to be moderated'.
As for why I do not engage with Matt, I don't find it to be constructive. I do think the same is true of discussing with you.
Richard Stallman came up with the idea of FOSS (without him there may never have been open source and the web would be a very different place today). The FOSS and GNU communities have developed and grown from there and this characterises/influences many of the sentiments held dear to FOSS developers and supporters. He sets the bar high and doesn't stand for abuses of GPL licences or wriggling around on technicalities or exceptionalism, so much so that he's been humourously dubbed "St. iGNUtius." When anyone gets involved with FOSS, these are the communities they're engaging with.
I think what frequently happens when people with a traditional business view engage with FOSS Communities of Practice is that they get upset with "open-sourcers" for upholding and defending their values.
I think the issue here that is rubbing some people up the wrong way is that we're identifying a factual, concrete, relevant, and important issue that employees of Totara appear to be ignoring and then making appeals to emotion: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/appeal-to-emotion and in a couple of instances, ad hominem attacks: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem to argue the case. So yes, expect some rightfully indignant responses.
His website: http://stallman.org/
About Communities of Practice: http://wenger-trayner.com/resources/what-is-a-community-of-practice/
P.S. Gotta love https://YourLogicalFallacyIs.com/
Hi there. I am not getting involved in this conversation at all but I just wanted to post to say thanks to Matt for the great link to https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com with the great downloadable poster https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/pdf/LogicalFallaciesInfographic_A3.pdf
If insulting is all you can reply, being out is, for sure, the best you can do. You decision, anyway.
Along the last 48h I've been called a lot of things, from memory "ugly, hypocrite, inconsistent, ridiculous, religious fanatic..." all them against ZERO disqualifications from my side (I just commented about the "publish all" approach moving down to "publish beta versions only" model causing some conflicts to me).
I'm pretty sure that you knew that your "announce" was going to cause some reactions (from memory, I think you commented about that in the very first lines). So, which were your expectations? Everybody giving +1 like crazy, accepting your distribution model is the best ever for everybody? No, it's not.
If some simple objections from a few people lead you in that mood.. well I'm afraid, but the problem is yours, don't make everybody else responsible for it. I only can say, calm down, it's not good to get hot for that, after all, it's a "tiny" detail only. About it, people simply has different POVs, it's not really so hard to digest.
Trying to move the problem a little down to the real arena... here it's a simple use case I'd love to know more about:
As a long term developer of Moodle, you are using "my" (please, allow me to call it "my", it does not matter it's not) code in your Totara distribution. Say we are talking, for example, about the database abstraction library. Then, a customer of you, detects a bloody bug in the MSSQL driver. It's a very rare bug that has not been detected nor reported to Moodle and only happens the 29th of February every 4 years (just exaggerating a bit for fun).
Can you describe which is your business model when something like that happens? Do you fix it yourself? Do you open an issue in Moodle's tracker? If you fix it yourself... do you send the fix back to Moodle? If Moodle fixes it... do you charge your customers about it? If so, how many times? Once per customer? Nothing?
Surely knowing your behavior about that use case will help me to know a bit more if I need your GPLed code or no. Not that I'm going to pay 3000$ by "my" code, you know, I'll try to get it from other sources and, surely will publish it if it lands to my hands. It's perfectly ok for everybody.
Sincerely, peace, ultimately, you decide.
you know well that Totara do upstream patches to Moodle when our customers find bugs or security issues in the Moodle core code. We do it all the time, always have done. Richard in this very thread pointed out numerous examples of Totara contributions to Moodle here.
We also merge in any other Moodle fixes with every Moodle release as part of our regular rapid-release cycle, on top of all our own fixes to the Totara-only functionality, and this goes out to all subscribers at no additional cost as a matter of course as part of their support agreement with us. As can clearly be seen in the release notes forum on the Totara open community site here e.g. Totara 2.5.10 released on the 18th March contained all the fixes in Moodle 2.5.5 with full credit given, the actual line in the changelog in the Security Fixes section is "Moodle HQ: http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Moodle_2.5.5_release_notes" so our customers know exactly what those issues were and who fixed them, along with all the other fixes and improvements in that release for all the Totara modules (over 300K lines of additional code in numerous Totara-developed modules like Learning Plans, Programs, Reportbuilder, Performance Management and so on).
Again, this has all been out in the open and discussed numerous times since the very beginning of Totara, yet people keep raising these strawman arguments.
It's quite obvious the motivation for this quibbling has little if anything to do with concerns over the GPL.
first of all, many thanks for your reply, it's really welcome.
I'm aware of all the patches and contributions coming from you continuously and I'm extremely grateful about them (both personally and as part of Moodle HQ). I think you will also find multiple places where I'm saying "many thanks, yay, you rock..." (this discussion included). Why?, simply because I believe you owe it.
Also I want to apologize because surely I've missed other discussions about/against Totara in the forums, so I can understand you can be somehow "exhausted", but simply I don't have time to follow every discussion so, again, sorry if I've been asking about things already answered.
In the past I've been looking to your code here and there (when it was available @ github) and it was really handy to have it there in a remote git repository. Now, well, the situation has "degraded" a bit (only "editor picks" are there, missing history), so it is not so simple anymore. Ok, (not perfect but) I can live with that, really. Of course, I'm not asking for access to the whole thing, coz if so... I'd be publishing it immediately, be warned!
I think that one of my main concerns (also very simple), is how does your "limited" (not said in a pejorative way at all, please) distribution of code affect Moodle. Do I need to, periodically, compare your seedlings against our upstream branches to see if there is anything missing (to be added upstream). Or can I trust you and assume that everything "belonging" to Moodle is being sent back to Moodle? A simple "yes" as answer would make me very, very happy.
More important (for the sake of my soul, I'm an egoist), I don't want to finish without saying, once again, that you can call me "Eloy, the simple", because there are not hidden intentions, nor double meanings, nor anything like that here. I'm a really, really simple man (feel free to ask to anybody knowing me) expressing his feelings in every comment and not attacking at all ever (well, not "ever", but at least in this discussion). If for any reason (the context, the repetition, the "philosophical" nature of some of my questions, my limitations expressing myself in English...) you've felt attacked from here, please, erase that idea from your minds. 100%. And my more complete and sincere pardon.
In the other side, to tip the scales, of course, I'm so simple that everything that I've said in this discussion "is as is" and I don't retract myself from any of my comments at all. They express my opinions and feelings over the time (happy, not so happy, surprised, shocked, insulted, hopeful... let's see what's next!) I think I also confessed some comments ago that I'm a bit (a lot) a pig-headed guy.. so taking back... nah! LOL (just to end with a bit of humor).
Make love not war, Eloy
Edited: keep the GPL thing apart if it hurts so much, positions are clear and no one will change of opinion, that's a fact. Let's center ourselves into practical aspects.
Disclaimer... We are friends! I am replying here because i'm intrigued and I feel like we share many of the same values, but clearly there is a difference in our points of view:
I think that one of my main concerns (also very simple), is how does your "limited" (not said in a pejorative way at all, please) distribution of code affect Moodle. Do I need to, periodically, compare your seedlings against our upstream branches to see if there is anything missing (to be added upstream). Or can I trust you and assume that everything "belonging" to Moodle is being sent back to Moodle? A simple "yes" as answer would make me very, very happy.
This feels to me like it is relatively the same question I was asking to Richard about sending bug fixes upstream. "Or can I trust you and assume that everything "belonging" to Moodle is being sent back to Moodle? " - what differs between Totara and Moodle Partners here? In general they both charge for support, in general we don't know if they send their fixes upstream. The difference seems to be that totara are distributing their code beyond what is regarded as a direct customer, is that the difference??
what differs between Totara and Moodle partners here? In general they both charge for support, in general we don't know if they send their fixes upstream. The difference seems to be that totara are distributing their code beyond what is regarded as a direct customer, is that the difference??
Nothing, absolutely nothing (for me). Note my approach / interest is completely unrelated to the business model (partners, distributions, subscriptions, clouds, fun, pure educational ...). My unique and genuine interest it to see any fix, improvement landing back into "mother" Moodle. So everybody else benefits of it.
Just quoting myself, from my very first message before this discussion became anything but beautiful.
Of course, my personal opinion about the Totara case (yes, bolded and underlined) is completely extensible to any other company out there distributing Moodle derivates without sharing them... ... ... In favor of Totara (Richard et all) they have been crystal clear about their strategy and have shared it here. And for sure, sharing Seedlings is way better than sharing nothing.
So, for my Moodle-centric POV, I don't mind much if it's achieved by having access to everyone's repo, or via a .zip file (that again I'd republish in a second, I'm sticky about that, don't forget!), or with patches, or having issues in Moodle's Tracker.
All I want is to maximize the benefits coming back to Moodle from people using it (in any way). I don't think it's hard to understand neither unfair to ask about. That's a Community, after all. And everybody is part of it IMO (Totara, Partners, Universities, Educators, Students, Moodle HQ, everyone's employes, my little-boy school...).
I think we have talked in the past about Open Source and the GPL. And I think you know I'm 100% with you about GPL not being my preferred one (to say it without offending anybody loving it, please). I always have considered that, in name of freedom, it forces too much, what leads to be a total nosense. So I endorse your POV completely.
Said that, Moodle is GPL so we should think in GPL terms all the time. I agree about legals being the ones to fulfill (and I never have said that anybody is doing something illegal). But just have opined that any limited distribution is against the spirit (or what I understand as the spirit) of the GPL. Because, for me, the spirit, is to share everything. Every commit. Again, for me. Nobody needs to agree with me, nor needs to do so (legally). But that does not change how I understand it.
My unique and genuine interest it to see any fix, improvement landing back into "mother" Moodle. So everybody else benefits of it.
That's a totally reasonable request - to answer your question, yes we upstream all Moodle bugs found during development or reported to us. We have an 'upstream' tag in our bug tracker specifically to identify and track upstream fixes. When we file a new Moodle issue we usually supply a patch and respond to review input until the fix is integrated.
Aside from bug fixes we try to offer upstream anything we think would be useful, from whole features, minor improvements, security improvements, performance improvements, or even the occasional crazy idea . If there's anything else we've done that HQ would like to see in core Moodle, drop me a PM.
Finally can I also just say a huge thank you from the Totara dev team for all the hard work you and the rest of the community does to make Moodle the awesome platform that it is. Totara couldn't exist without it and we do appreciate it!
... to answer your question, yes we upstream all Moodle bugs found during development or reported to us. We have an 'upstream' tag in our bug tracker specifically to identify and track upstream fixes. When we file a new Moodle issue we usually supply a patch and respond to review input until the fix is integrated....
I only can say, many thanks for the answer and for all the hard work! Much appreciated.
Life is so simple, let's live it, ciao
PS: Would be great to hear from others and their behavior about upstream. (devil)
first, a clarification -- ELIS, maintained and published by Remote Learner -- offers paid support just like Kineo with Totara; however we release publicly every tagged release as is customary in the Open Source world. Our customers can also redistribute the code, but they don't need to bother as we've done it ourselves first -- this custom has very strong roots in the FOSS community.
This is an important distinction. I do not expect that we will all agree on what's the right answer, but the facts on the table are clear: code release practices for ELIS and Totara are not the same. ELIS follow deeply-rooted FOSS practices, Totara is doing something definitely different.
I am personally very happy that Totara is releasing code, it is a step forward. A beer is due. As I half-joked earlier -- it is the other players we should worry about.
Code release practices of Joule, for example, are a mystery to me. I have reasons to believe that they incorporate code maintained and released by Remote Learner... they seem to have good taste! yet I wonder whether there are improvements that might be worth sharing.
For what tis worth...
It is one thing to have difference (s) in opinion...
It is another when communication breaks down...
A shared common purpose needed, surely...
It was F Mercury who stated...' I work til it aches my balls!'
Gentleman......wise words...from that of a genius.
Onwards and upwards.....
"Really guys, I can't help but conclude this enmity is driven by other factors."
For my part its driven more by confusion. On one hand you have no qualms with the repo HQ released:
"when he asked, after the fact, if I minded that release, the answer (from Richard Wyles) was, naturally, "no""
"I have no concerns about a public repo. Never did." (backed up by seedlings release)
"when we started was that there was a risk Totara would split the Moodle community so there was a preference expressed for a model where the Totara repo was available to Moodle HQ, but not in public" (touched on in white paper a while back)
And on the other:
""This is a clone of the Totara source code (which is based on Moodle) as of November 29th 2013. It's not being updated because our access to the original repository was terminated shortly after distributing this clone.""
On one hand its all about the service:
"it's nothing to do with balls surely. It's about being satisfied with our services to them"
"The benefit of our service is the ability to raise a ticket either directly or via a Totara Partner"
"But if you are a customer of our support services, then we expect you to be just that. Not a free-rider who wants to make money out of our labours. Be clear, I'm not talking about code here - I'm talking about our services"
And on the other its about keeping stable code behind a paywall lest you go out of business:
"Totara Seedlings isn't designed to be a free lunch for corporates"
"you're intent on mixing the GPL with having a free lunch"
"Sometimes I wonder whether people won't be happy until you go bust or something"
If there is a risk to what you do I would have thought it likely come from one of your paying customers hosting multiple instances of your software, paying for the minimum number of users and acting as a proxy into your support services?
"It really surprises me that there is not one single Totara customer with the balls to push all the code they have access to onto github."
It doesn't surprise me, I doubt one single Totara customer saw their purchase as "buying the code base". Aren't they buying the service / support / capability to improve what they do?
I would wager most don't care about let alone understand the license or know how to push it to GIT (unless you count partners as customers). They needed a training platform. Totara was the best fit for the money, they set it up and used to train their staff and am sure they are happy with it!
If some fly by nighter went to Sony, Michelin or any of Totara's other customers and said "hey, I can save you $1500 p/a through my group buy and copy paste your support tickets from my system into theirs" how many takers would there be? If that was viable wouldn't someone already be doing it?
Not wishing to be nasty or self-righteous I think to a point Totara perhaps under estimate the value of their service and over estimate the value of their source code, or rather the pay-wall "protecting" it.
Perhaps the other reason for the "enmity" is that, as Tim alluded to earlier some of us measure Catalyst against a higher standard than some or your peers. Certainly my own interest in this thread is driven by a wider interest in what you do as a company and your products / innovation.
Anyway, thanks again for Seedlings, pushing Moodle into new territory, Badges, Marker Allocation, the Stuff your guys are doing on Tin Can, Mahara etc..
As we know there are many institutions using Moodle with large turnovers$/resources who reciprocate with a minimal contribution to the field of learning technology, and Totara does not seem to be one of these. I’ve been looking at how hapara.com uses Google Apps APIs to enhance Google Apps for Education & better suppport teaching & learning. And also how this can fit in with Moodle. I think this will be a huge growth area, particularly in secondary/high-schools. However as Angela Merkel & others have said, it would be good if less information, communication & technology flowed through so few networks & corporations. My point being, maybe some of the brilliant energy shown in this discussion could be directed at figuring out alternative services to the Google Apps & Office 365s of this world ? ambitious I know! but the EU might be supportive ...currently these services don’t integrate plagiarism detection, question engines, voice feedback, or provide a class assessment gradebook, but they might one day... I've tried to give an overview of what Hapara can do now, in the screencast here
...sounds like a plan to me Jago. Nice idea for a common purpose...win-win eh, perhaps.
But whatever happens, for God's sake all put it on the bloody github!
remember when John Cleese says to Cybil....'Ah, Cybil Fawlty-Mastermind subject: statin the bleedin obvious'
well true Cybil style here...........the reason to place stuff on Github must surely be to ensure that there is an outside chance that you might learn from each other!
The most impressive thing I have ever seen a Moodle Partner do in these boards was Remote Learner advising a third party on how they could migrate a customer away from them / ELIS, that on top of making their repo available.
I always mention that to anyone looking at Moodle partners... where no vendor lock in means what it says in spite of commercial extensions.
As for Joule... that really is the elephant in the room...
OK, so having made one unhelpful post before, in the middle of the UK Moot when I was tired, let me now make a more reasoned post:
- Totara releasing Seedling (master branch) is a big step forwards from where we were before. Thank you.
- Catalyst IT and Totara have a long history of contributing upstream to Moodle, including Badges, SCORM, many bug fixes, ... This is great.
- Other partners are much worse (MoodleRooms / Joule, I am referring to you. I can't think of any other examples right now.) but we have much lower expectations of them.
- However, Catalyst aspires to be held to higher standards than others. I would like to think you believe http://catalyst.net.nz/open-source and it is not just marketing talk.
- The real paradox is this: Anyone, could, by paying $2,950, get all the code of all branches and push it to Github. Therefore, that is an upper bound on what you think the code you are withholding from us is worth, as code in a git repository. (Given that no-one has actually done that, the real value is presumably less than that.) Compared to the huge investment you have made in Totara, that is approximately $0. So why not just push the code out there, like Remote Learner have down with ELIS? No-one is saying that you should offer any support to people who are not customers (although you could consider offering people a way to report any bugs they find - but you know all that stuff about how to run an open source project).
- I will add that I do remember the previous discussion about ensuring that Totara remains a distro, not a fork, since that is better for everyone, and because of that, the best way to handle the code is not obvious.
If I understand the Joule business model correctly it is cloud based, that would mean they do not actually distribute the GPL code - Moodle is not AGPL, so that shoul be fine too. (I might be completely wrong, there is no need to argue with me here.)
I personally find it against the spirit of freedom if you try to force anybody to distribute all their code to everybody in the world free of charge. I was raised in eastern Europe during the Cold War and that is probably why I do not like anything resembling the communist ideology. Anyway my prefered license is BSD/MIT because only that gives the true freedom to developers...
crumbs! Such an interesting thread, can only but contribute to this discussion-but from the outside of Dev world. Nevertheless, many users of all those techy products do not have the Dev knowledge and so hopefully my input is of some value-a different perspective, p'rhaps
Four points then.
1. Sometimes things need a review, tis often called evolution/change/transformation-and so on. In reference to Tim's points 1, 2 and 3-maybe Moodle might want to start thinking about kindly asking for potential/predicatable/specific upstream contributions from 'all' partners'/collaborators...even if it is just bug fixes or nothing at all. Just a thought, of course. It really does appear to me, to be very blunt, that Moodle is an axis for others to pivot their wares around, and it is quite possible that the value of giving back is overlooked-you know for the good of the cause, for the benefit of 'all users' of Moodle and associated wares. I have not got the energy to name those concerned. There is however a slim chance by now that they know who they are
2. I can but shake my head having read the astonishing paradox laid out in point 5 Tim-full stop from me on that.
3. Petr, a fair point about forcing anybody to distribute code free of charge....but I do think that is really not the intention or opinion of anyone here.
4. I read in one of the posts here that Totara is for the 'corporate world' and Moodle for education, actually it might have stated to be precise 'schools' I have not the time to scroll through. However, this sounds a bit misguided to me, education-YES of course, but in addition there are many corporate companies using it without any middle-man globally, I have seen some evident, exemplary courses. So, professional development is something Moodle should really be focusing on, and I have no idea why they have not moved this forward-such an easy thing to do as well......mmmmmm I shall have to think more about that.
Anyway, for now hope my ramblings are of some use. And, Richard Wyles-did you run away! We miss your valuable input!
Folks, this thread is lengthy...and it is tricky to read Eloy's and Simon's latest input.......tis squiffy.....here......maybe to do with my IE version/browser (highly likely )
Just thought I would mention that.
Love your comments. Per chance would you have it set to show replies in nested form? If so, it will indeed get more "squiffy" as this thread lengthens and waxes eloquent.
With regards to point 4, I can assure you that Catalyst is still very much walking the walk.
But that's never enough and it's easy to get wrapped up in our own echo chamber of self justification. We do have conversations like this one all the time at Catalyst, as I am sure does the Totara team. We are all open source enthusiasts and our staff have many more views and positions than the ones reflected above
We also rely on the communities we engage with to keep us straight. Conversations like this one are vital.
For the record, unlike Petr Škoda, I prefer the GPL precisely because it does place an obligation on developers to respect the rights of our users/clients. To me that's paramount and the key insight RMS provides over the OSI founders. I do agree with Petr that we should be careful about foistering different views on what the "spirit" of open source means. There are lots of spirits in this community most of which are compatible.
I am also amazed and proud of the work that Richard Wyles and the Totara team have undertaken, both in building up a compelling business and, rightly, contributing back so much to the community and project that has allowed that business to take off. I am sure things can always be tweaked and improved but the Totara Seedling step is an important one as it gives a wider audience a view into the Totara code base than just Moodle HQ, clients and partners.
Great! Right. OK. Now then....has this finished ...hope not! Where are we with matters? Always good to sum up at a certain juncture...can do it if you like-yes no problem.........please-someone, how about a new thread with a succinct summary starter?...........or have we watered all the plants?
In other words, have we got the ball at the back of the net yet!
I inquired further about this move and the following was mentioned about totara free version has over the commercial license:
Totara are providing an early, unsupported version of the latest code under the GPL3+ license.
The main reasons for this are:
- To allow potential customers to see the code and run a local instance to see if it meets their needs.
- To contribution back to the open source Moodle community.
While Seedlings is good for those purposes we need to be really clear that it is not suitable for running a live site. There are several reasons for this but the main ones are:
- The code is pre-release quality. There has been no QA, testing or bug fixing on the Seedlings branch.
- There will be no code updates, which means no bug fixes including security fixes for known and published flaws in Moodle/Totara. Using this code in production would put your site, server and user's data at significant risk.
Totara subscriptions fund all the work they do, including bug fixes, product support and new feature development. They unreservedly support the freedom to extend Totara as provided by the GPL license, but in order to make their work sustainable they only provide ongoing code updates to Totara subscribers.
My question to moodle community, - are we allowed to take on bits of the totara code and implement into moodle (especially the reporting features which moodle is heavily behind totara on)
GPL / Licensing aside, is the Totara code really that portable? Think about it - Totara has introduced programs atop courses, heirarchies / taxonomies, custom fields on courses, added organisational support with positions and reporting (management) structures, learning plans and all of its reporting, and a whole host of other qualification framework related stuff. There are some nice elements of Totara's code - such as the way they implemented their custom fields, but they aren't directly translatable into Moodle's source code (I tried and ended up building from scratch anyway¹). Reporting, for one, ties into the heirarchy and positions, so it's difficult to see how some of these items can be simply lifted out.
Yes you can, although once you do that you will obviously need to support the ported code yourself.
Overall our preference is for Totara features that are suitable for Moodle to be integrated into Moodle core, as this avoid unnecessary duplication of effort on everyone's part.
In terms of the reporting features you mentioned, we had a good effort at trying to get them into Moodle which unfortunately has stalled for some time:
We are still open to making the contribution and willing to put effort into integration, if agreement can be reached that our code is suitable for Moodle's requirements in this area.