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The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit organization dedicated in the promotion of open-source software. OSI was founded in 1998 by Bruce Perens and Eric Raymond. Eric Raymond is a prominent personality in the world of open source movement. He served as OSI’s president from its inception until 2005.
The organization’s acronym, OSI, should not be confused with that of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Model, which relates to the various layers of data classification in a network structure.
Perens and Raymond were inspired by the unprecedented act of Netscape Communications’ release of the source code for Netscape Communicator. They wanted to form an organization to promote and coordinate the development of open-source software and so founded OSI. Today (as of 2011), the organization has a full board of directors, with Michael Tiemann as president, and is headquartered in San Francisco, California (USA).
OSI is quite distinct from the Free Software Foundation (FSF) led by Richard Stallman. Although they have similar history and motivation, OSI considers its ends as more pragmatic and business-driven, while FSF is based on anti-establishment and moralistic viewpoints. Nevertheless, the two organizations have worked together on several projects, and even Mr. Stallman has acknowledged that their differences are mostly philosophical.
The OSI is actively engaged in building open source community, public advocacy, education, and promoting awareness regarding the significance of non-proprietary or open source software. In order to establish an open source environment around the world, OSI preserves and supports the Open Source Definition and also provides the OSI-Certified Open Source Software Certification Program. To achieve this OSI certification, the software should be distributed using a license that ensures the legal right to freely read, use, modify, and re-distribute the software.