Linked by Hadrien Grasland on Fri 21st Jan 2011 17:34 UTC, submitted by jimmy1971
GNU, GPL, Open Source Richard Hillesley has written about the fate of various Sun open source projects since that firm's acquisition by Oracle. He noticeably quotes Oracle CEO Larry Ellison as having said "If an open source product gets good enough, we'll simply take it."
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Comment by jimmy1971
by jimmy1971 on Fri 21st Jan 2011 17:45 UTC
jimmy1971
Member since:
2009-08-27

I wonder if former OpenSolaris developers are among those who persist in rolling their eyes when Richard Stallman warns of the pitfalls of "open source"? I think there's a lesson here for the pragmatists who persist in dismissing the social importance of free software.

Edited 2011-01-21 17:46 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE: Comment by jimmy1971
by Neolander on Fri 21st Jan 2011 17:48 in reply to "Comment by jimmy1971"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Thanks for re-posting it as a comment ;) I agree that it was a good point, but two paragraphs were too long for a mere quoted news item.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by jimmy1971
by jimmy1971 on Fri 21st Jan 2011 17:53 in reply to "RE: Comment by jimmy1971"
jimmy1971 Member since:
2009-08-27

No problem. After submitting the original item, I started having second thoughts about the proselytizing I tacked on at the end. (Just for clarification for news submissions, should any editorializing be saved for comments?)

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Comment by jimmy1971
by Yamin on Fri 21st Jan 2011 19:17 in reply to "Comment by jimmy1971"
Yamin Member since:
2006-01-10

I'd like to know what the social importance of 'open source' is.

I'll tell the practical importance of things like making sure you get paid for what you do. Making sure, your company has a good revenue stream renewing licenses even through down turns. Making sure people who have not invested so much time and money in R&D cannot just use some free software to undercut and everyone else and have a race to the bottom...

...

I say that lightly. I know the advantages of open source. I know about service contracts and the like.

It's just in the world we live in... everything is based upon you having continuous cash flow. Everyone protects their trade and cashflow (doctors, lawyers, teachers, auto workers...).

The computer ecosystem is amazingly free. Much more so than the auto-sector. Have tried to read the 'diagnostic' codes for your car? You have to buy a special decoder for it. It's nothing they couldn't take two seconds to publish. But it's revenue. Even the most closed proprietary software vendor is more open than the auto-sector.

In the world we live in, I don't see the social benefit of open source over closed source.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by jimmy1971
by jimmy1971 on Fri 21st Jan 2011 19:54 in reply to "RE: Comment by jimmy1971"
jimmy1971 Member since:
2009-08-27

Let me start at the most general level, and then work towards the more specific:

Your point of view is framed by the assumption that software is primarily an economic phenomenon, that it exists only to serve corporate owners, and that any benefit to the user is secondary to the profit motive. In my opinion, such an assumption is simply incorrect.

Firstly, the owner of a computer has a right to understand exactly what this software does to their machine and what it does with any data contained on the machine. This right trumps the economic prerogatives of any corporation. While a free market economy is a good thing, it should never trump individual rights or freedoms. (Once it does that, it stops being a “free” market economy.) And although the economic prosperity of any ethical company is a good thing, it should never be a social goal.

Suppose you hire an accountant to take care of your taxes. You, as their customer, have the right to know exactly what they are doing with your information. You would surely insist on them being completely open with you about what they are doing. The idea of them secretly sending your sensitive financial data off to unknown (to you) recipients would not sit well with you. This is the same danger that closed-source software poses to the user.

Therefore, because the law as it currently stands in most countries doesn’t recognize or enforce this very basic user right, it is up to the user to enforce it themselves by installing only free and open source software on the machines in their domain.

In short, free and open source software is about honesty, transparency and freedom. And that, in a nutshell, is the social importance of free software. (I’d get into the right to modify and distribute modified versions, but there’s only so much time in the day.)

Edited 2011-01-21 19:56 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by jimmy1971
by jabbotts on Fri 21st Jan 2011 21:11 in reply to "RE: Comment by jimmy1971"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

A social benefit: I had a friend in need of a machine, we had some old hardware laying around that could be picked through for parts. We still needed an OS; Debian to the rescue. The social benefit is that I was able to help a friend for the price of scrap parts laying about and without infringing copyright to stock it fully with software.

I've also been able fix many machines because the needed tools where FOSS licensed. All those shnazzy liveCD are a good example that has exploded after developing it for Knoppix.

More social benefits; everyone gets transparency for discovered bugs and faster patch turn around after bug reports. Two different distributions can compete for users while colaborating on development; they really do get to have it both ways. Everybody contributes fixes and finds bugs and benefits while everybody remains free to differentiate their projects.

You also pay a lower price per license for Windows because of FOSS developed products driving competition.

There is also a difference between driving prices down and driving product quality down. FOSS tends to drive prices down rather than quality; if proprietary competition can't justify it's prices or cuts quality further to maintain profits...?

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by jimmy1971
by tylerdurden on Sat 22nd Jan 2011 04:15 in reply to "RE: Comment by jimmy1971"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

Your perception is similar to some kids who have yet to spend a significant amount of time in the labor force, and yet wonder why organized labor is necessary. While they enjoy their 8 hr work day, weekends, vacation time, and in some cases guaranteed retirement.

If you can't see the impact of open source vs. closed source... probably you have never spent a significant amount of time developing actual code.

Stallman's personality may collide with some people, however there is no denying that right now people have access to a very large (and with relatively good quality) collection of free development tools. Stuff that in previous decades would have cost an arm and a leg. GNU opened the door to software development to a large number of people who would have been unable to enter the field otherwise. [

Edited 2011-01-22 04:25 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by jimmy1971
by SeanParsons on Sun 23rd Jan 2011 12:56 in reply to "RE: Comment by jimmy1971"
SeanParsons Member since:
2011-01-11

It's just in the world we live in... everything is based upon you having continuous cash flow. Everyone protects their trade and cashflow (doctors, lawyers, teachers, auto workers...).


I know a lot of people have already chimed in on this in various ways, but I wanted to include my 2 cents as well. As a former health care professional and now an instructor for various pharmacy classes I can safely say that the best way I protect my cash flow is by being good at what I do. There is nothing top secret about how I teach.

I post all my presentations and lecture notes on-line for my students including the occasional video of some of my lectures. I use relatively few textbooks as health care changes so rapidly that it is hard to keep most textbooks current. I do use a textbooks for pharmacy math, but I am in the process of switching over to my own math book that I'm developing under the GPL (you can find it at http://pharmaceuticalcalculations.org ).

My students and my director give me very good reviews every semester and I would argue that my teaching style and lecture material is definitely based on the principles of F/OSS. Therefore, I can argue that F/OSS protects my cash flow and I would wager that many other professionals could chime in on the importance of transparency provided by such methodologies.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: Comment by jimmy1971
by Kebabbert on Sat 22nd Jan 2011 15:57 in reply to "Comment by jimmy1971"
Kebabbert Member since:
2007-07-27

OpenSolaris is being totally opened as we speak. It is called OpenIndiana, based on Illumos (former OpenSolaris) source code. There was some closed parts in OpenSolaris, but they are being rewritten to be totally open.

So, OpenSolaris developers have no problems. The Solaris community is quite big.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by jimmy1971
by abraxas on Mon 24th Jan 2011 00:35 in reply to "RE: Comment by jimmy1971"
abraxas Member since:
2005-07-07

The Solaris community is quite big.


That may be but the OpenSolaris developer community is quite small.

Reply Parent Score: 3