Today Six Apart is officially making its Movable Type publishing platform open source, just under four months after the launch of Movable Type 4 and six months after the open sourcing announcement in June. This means that as of today, MT users can freely modify, redistribute, and use Movable Type for any purpose they choose.

Importantly, it also means that Six Apart has finally removed the one major advantage that Wordpress has had over Movable Type - that it is open source. I'm sure representatives of both companies will argue that they still have advantages over the other (in fact, they usually do so in the Read/WriteWeb comments!). But given Movable Type's history - MT was once the darling of early adopter bloggers, but when Six Apart introduced licensing fees the tide quickly turned towards Wordpress - the open sourcing is both a necessary and welcome move by Six Apart.

MTOS (Movable Type Open Source) is an open source project that will consist of a GPL-licensed version of Movable Type 4.0 and resources for the community of Movable Type developers. It was originally slated for Q3 release, but was pushed back to Q4 - today to be exact. The main points:

  • MTOS has every feature in Movable Type 4.0, along with several new minor improvements and bug fixes.
  • All plugins, themes, templates, designs, and APIs that work with MT4 work with MTOS.
  • MTOS has built-in support for an unlimited number of blogs, an unlimited number of authors, and sign-in with OpenID.
  • Six Apart will be adding additional paid benefits for paid users of Movable Type in the future, with benefits like improved technical support and custom add-ons such as plugins or themes.
  • You can download MTOS at movabletype.org and find out how to contribute to the MTOS project and the MT community.
  • MTOS support is provided by other members of the community. You can buy a standard paid license for one of the existing Movable Type products if you'd like professional support directly from Six Apart.

In a blog post, Six Apart's Anil Dash says that the open sourcing of MT is all about "freedom". No doubt aware that Movable Type has some work to do to position itself as an open source publishing system, Dash claims that there is "a tradition of openness that Movable Type has embodied for over six years". He notes that "there's always been a free (as in beer) version of Movable Type" and "from TrackBack to Atom to OpenID, we've always released standalone open-source implementations of the key technologies that we've created or popularized with Movable Type."

Those are good points by Dash, but really the open sourcing was forced on them by Wordpress' success over the past 2-3 years. I'm glad to see Movable Type finally out in the open, because it's the system we use here at RWW (although we also use Wordpress on some of our network blogs). In the end, the users will win when there are two quality open source publishing platforms available!