Home > Open Source > Open Source Software and its Enemies Open Source Software and its Enemies Eugenia Loli 2005-06-23 Open Source 37 Comments This is an economic analysis of the OSS movement from the journal Policy. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 37 Comments 2005-06-23 5:25 am So the conclusion is OSS Rocks!!! The people who wants to earn money can still earn money inspite by having part of OSS… Are you listening Bill… ? 2005-06-23 5:58 am Where are the user guides ? I emailed the programmer and guess what . No reply. The article has a related link that shows you how to compile. http://www.builderau.com.au/architect/0,39024564,39186605,00.htm Another one thats better. http://www.gotmono.com/docs/index.html 2005-06-23 6:47 am Both Open Source Software, and Free Software (which by nature is open source), complements a free market competitive economy greatly. Software is just a means for a company to achieve something, i.e. the production of a final product or to provide some ultimate service to people. If a huge amount of your wealth is spent on this ‘middle-ware’ then less wealth remains to spend on other investments. The sooner software becomes commoditised, the sooner great achievements will be achieved. However, the current large software houses which depend on only their software for revenues are standing in the way of this commoditization, which is a real pity. Lots of companies, although competitive in the same arena, realise they share the same problems, and are so supporting open source and free software projects to help them achieve greater results. This is true competition. The free market competitive capitalist economy has really served us well for hundreds of yeats. It will be a pity if Microsoft’s heavy lobbying disrupts this competition, but they seem to be slowly winning… Maybe China and the East which are attempting to produce a competitive market will overtake the US and the West in the future. It is our choice now, competition or restrictions… 2005-06-23 9:01 am FUD does work, if you repeat it intensively to the right people year on year on year then people will be convinced. Not all people will be convinced though, but Lobbying really does work. Democracy can also work… 2005-06-23 9:18 am free software makes the commercial software people try harder.. also, to otherS: and since they have enough money to build a better OS, they win. The idea that “free employment” via volunteers is nonsense and will fizzel out and will hurt sun (But who cares since we still have a free solaris forever to come–solaris lives beyond sun now).. if microsoft falls down. i mean, if there were multiple industry players instead of a monopoly open source would probably be reduced to the educational market… defeating the big bad monopoly is the focus and getting something free… but in my opinion people are still gonna just pirate windows verions anyway since they have much more money and employees that are more highly skilled than the average linux hacker. lol… you can diss commercial OS’s all you want and say linux is cooler because its open source and free.. say all you want… let’s see who’s right in 5 years. 2005-06-23 9:38 am For the sake of a decent discussion, would you perhaps consider reading the article before commenting? Not that you have to agree with the article, but the article does make some points, which you simply chose to ignore (or aren’t aware of as you haven’t read it). So please read it, it’s definately worth it and then comment on it. This will make the discussion just so much more interesting. Thanks in advance. 2005-06-23 11:00 am It takes more than money to build an OS. it takes talent, and leadership. MSFT has more money than anyone else, yet Longhorn gets pushed back and features removed because they don’t have enough money? It’s not lack of talent, because any programmer that can keep windows going is a very good hacker. No MSFT problem is they have money but no leadership. Linux, Open BSD, heck even OS X are doing for more with far less than MSFT because they have strong leaders. 2005-06-23 11:47 am When I see a post such as “With the quality of open source software being what it is, I wouldn’t worry too much about ‘enemies’.” that’s the result of FUD right there… Also besides the advantages that Nii mentioned in his (excellent) post I also think that opensource software competes in a much healthier way. There is a much more ‘natural selection’ among projects. While commercial software often competes with market strategies and not quality, opensource projects compete with quality and usability. I think this will, in the end lead, to better software. 2005-06-23 11:57 am Beautiful article. 2005-06-23 12:35 pm Why is commercial software so bad people? Should Ford give away cars and trucks to all of us? I’m open to open source being of value and having advantage over commercial software in some cases. I’m also very open that commercial software has advantages over open source in some cases. It’s a mixed bag. You have these open source zealots and the commercial software zealots yelling back in forth. What a frickin waste of time. 2005-06-23 12:46 pm No MSFT problem is they have money but no leadership. Linux, Open BSD, heck even OS X are doing for more with far less than MSFT because they have strong leaders. I doubt its about leadership. The problem for Microsoft is that they allready have all the features their customers needs in their current version, in facte even the version before that provided for these needs. Yesterdays issue of Computer Sweden had an article on the usage of windows 2000 in Wwedish companies. It turned out that it had 48% of the market in terms of usage. That made it the leading OS. Some companies even have bought licences for XP as part of some more extensive licence deal, but doesn’t install it because it is to expensive to do so. If they get a new computer with XP they downgrade it to win2k to make it fit better in the company IT infrastructure. This shows that there is quite a lot of intertia to be overcome by any new product that enters the market. It ties the hands of Microsoft, if they make their new products too much different from their current ones they will not be used, due to to too much incompatiblities, too high traingcosts, too high costs for testing. If they make their new products too similar to the old ones, why would anybody care to upgrade. The only way to get people to upgrade seam to be to drop support or charge more money to support old products. At the same time FOSS solutins get more and more usable, more and more compatible with Microsofts offerings making it a more and more vialble alternative, when Microsoft tries to force upgrades by raising the price for support of old products. 2005-06-23 1:11 pm Brilliant essay. 2005-06-23 1:19 pm According to the article Stallman invented OSS. That seems obviously wrong. 2005-06-23 1:28 pm Quite an interesting read. One thing that emerges from it is the “social capital” aspect of FOSS (or however you want abbreviate it). I’m always intrigued that commetators on Free Software (unlike this chap) generally ignore a rather crucial aspect of it: i.e., that one of the great cultural benefits of FOSS is its instructive potential. It fosters a means of opportunity for individuals and organizations to *learn* from others’ code. This, I’ve always thought, should be stressed when the issue of FOSS is presented to governments, and such – that FOSS enhances the technical wealth of a society. Another thing – the article re-enforces a notion that’s been gnawing at me for some time. That is, a great many people who have a history of laughing at Stallman for his “extremism” have since observed that his model has been demonstrated to be on the money from the outset. At every turn the GPL has shone through as the right and proper way to go about open source. In the future he will be regarded as a visionary (hopefully) that the world was slow to appreciate… or I’m a Dutchman. 😉 2005-06-23 1:35 pm Actually it’s more along the lines of ford giving away the specifications and designs of their trucks. Software is not a product, it’s information. 2005-06-23 2:02 pm Software is not a product, it’s information. Have you tried driving a design document recently? How about using Firefox to make a comment on OSNews? See the difference? If not then remove tinfoil hat and start again. 2005-06-23 2:08 pm What does that have to do with anything? Besides, I’m sure Mono has a mailing list as virtually all large projects do. I highly doubt Miguel De Icaza has time to respond to every stupid compile question… 2005-06-23 2:09 pm Have you tried driving a design document recently? How about using Firefox to make a comment on OSNews? Have you tried to do that with just the source code and no binary ? The compiler is your own personal car factory – eh ? 2005-06-23 2:10 pm No MSFT problem is they have money but no leadership. Linux, Open BSD, heck even OS X are doing for more with far less than MSFT because they have strong leaders. Agreed. I’ll add that… * Anyone can be a leader in OSS (not just Linux) * Anyone who is a leader can loose leadership …because people will follow who are good leaders or have a credible plan. If you try and lead an OSS project and aren’t a good leader, the project will fail — or you will be doing all the coding yourself and gain no followers! With closed source projects — commercial or even freeware — you have a leader because of the implicit control over the source. The project can’t fork, so if the leader is horrible, you’re stuck with them either indefinately or well beyond the point when it is obvious they should be replaced. Linus specifically is a great leader. If he all the sudden could not lead, or he decided he no longer is interested others would step forward. If necessary, Linux could fork if a superior leader appears and Linus doesn’t want to ceede control. Highly unlikely, though it is a possibility. Open source in practice is one step closer to democratic ideals; not everyone rules, though everyone can and does vote either by actions or by apathy. 2005-06-23 2:22 pm Why is commercial software so bad people? Should Ford give away cars and trucks to all of us? I’m open to open source being of value and having advantage over commercial software in some cases. I’m also very open that commercial software has advantages over open source in some cases. It’s a mixed bag. You have these open source zealots and the commercial software zealots yelling back in forth. What a frickin waste of time. Commercial software used to be open source (even if restricted), so the two are not all exclusive. RHEL is commercial software … and is also 100% OSS. That said, most of the ‘OSS zealots’ are only zealots when compaired to the old norm of closed source commercial software. Old arguments that center around ‘how is anyone supposed to make a living’ still dupe the novices, though a more complete view of the software landscape sees that this is like arguing that not enough bridges are made by hand with bricks and timbers. OSS acts like cement and girders — pre-made commodities — and if ignored only lower the quality, raise the cost, and/or reduce the flexability of any larger project. OSS is becoming so mainstream, though, that the people on the fringes OSS or closed source are looking more and more pitiful. People are slowly figuring out what the real deal is and when to choose one over the other. 2005-06-23 2:42 pm Another thing – the article re-enforces a notion that’s been gnawing at me for some time. That is, a great many people who have a history of laughing at Stallman for his “extremism” have since observed that his model has been demonstrated to be on the money from the outset. At every turn the GPL has shone through as the right and proper way to go about open source. In the future he will be regarded as a visionary (hopefully) that the world was slow to appreciate… or I’m a Dutchman. 😉 I’m constantly amazed how well he gets it. Sure, he seems radical and unyeilding often, though when the planets align just right he makes the rest of the world look like idiots and entirely out of touch. I’m very glad he’s around. 2005-06-23 2:45 pm > “With the quality of open source software being what it is, > I wouldn’t worry too much about ‘enemies’.” > > Of most/much maybe, but not all, take the BSDs, > OpenSolaris(new one), vim, mplayer, firefox and so > on as examples. Lesson #1: FOSS suffers from negative advocacy from its own advocates. The only program you mentioned that directly fits a user’s need, is idiot-proof, run’s on a normal user’s machine (i.e.Windows) and doesn’t crash all the time is firefox. Start with firefox, then mention Miranda (ICQ client) and maybe OO.org. Then people will listen. You cannot convince people to abandon everything and switch to a completely different system, unless its “mega-uber-ultra-superior” which nothing today is. You can, however, convince them of small steps. Something like switching to Firefox is realistic for a normal user. Switching to FreeBSD isn’t. > You go ahead and justify sticking with proprietary, > virus-ridden, spyware-filled rubbish any way you want to. > No-one is twisting your arm to change. Lesson #2: People will not take you for serious if you project advantages on FOSS that are not, or only indirectly, related to FOSS. I suggest that you take a Mac and tell me how much viruses and spyware you find. Yet it’s proprietary as hell (compared with, say, Linux). Free, Open-Source software is exactly that – free and open source. If you present easy-to-falsify claims, like “OSS is fundamentally more secure” you’re firstly lying and secondly making a fool of yourself. The advantage of free software is freedom. The advantage of Open-Source software is the source code. You can convince people of free program X for it’s superior quality. But they will readily choose proprietary Y instead of free Z in addition, because they value the quality, not the freedom. If you want free software to prevail, either improve its quality far beyond any alternative and advocate its quality, or advocate its freedom. Nothing else will work. 2005-06-23 2:47 pm Sorry if it was unclear – the two quotations are from different people. 2005-06-23 2:51 pm “get what you pay for” I’m sure RedHat, Novell and others would be happy to sell Linux to you for hard cash. It’s not that it’s forbidden to pay for Linux. With your analogy it would mean that all paid for sex must be better than the free one. While it might be true that a professional whore might know a few more techniques than some teenie chick, technique alone does not a good fuck make. 2005-06-23 2:57 pm I personally think patents should be at least time limited.Where the clock starts ticking when the first actual product starts making (commercial patent) use of whatever has a patented.So after the development they have max 5 years of extra income on the patents and than they have to make revenue alone on plain sales and service.This way nobody could make improper use of the patent morass pool in to oblivion. The patent offices treat their clients already as ip subscribers and honor the requests almost allways out of a sheer capacity problem to screen the requests properly.That has to be dealt with first.But who is going to set the first step towards a described scenario? 2005-06-23 5:16 pm I would love to see more of this type of stuff on OSNEWS! With reguards to the content, I agree with a lot of it except: I’m not sure how big of a killer patens will be on OSS, that is yet to be seen. All the big companies are pointing their guns at eachother, and many are providing shelter for OSS to develope and grow. Some of these companies make a lot of mony off services (IBM for example). Sure they would like to sell software too, but they are working toward (and succeeding at) find ways of making money off of OSS, using OSS to complement their existing products, or using OSS was a weapon to under cut their compitors. OSS might already be past the point of no return. I think the comunity is to big and active to be stopped by patens. If Linux was struck down by paten lawsuites, it could possibliy help Linux, it would force us to change Linux and develope something truly revolutionary. Then we could paten it in the name of OSS 2005-06-23 5:29 pm Until OSS bashing isn’t trendy anymore. 2005-06-23 5:56 pm I must have missed it in the article… Was there actually an analysis, as in a comparison to how Linux based companies produce a profit? what they sell and how it’s marketed? I didn’t see ANY of that in the article. 2005-06-23 6:09 pm title: “This is an economic analysis of the OSS movement”.Hate to say it but there’s more in the OSS movement than “a comparison to how Linux based companies produce a profit”.Correct me if i’m wrong but i think they succeeded to enlighten from a macro economical angle. 2005-06-23 11:00 pm “Should Ford give away cars and trucks to all of us?” Sounds like a plan to me. Then you could just pay a couple hundred (or so) a month for service. Now, since this isn’t software, you’d HAVE to have a service provider, but maybe the others could pay royalties to Ford for service congtracts too. Seems like there are many ways around to make bucks from society, that are not based on normal ways of capitalist thinking…. 2005-06-23 11:43 pm We already have similar “economic models” with: 1. Gillette/Schick gives you the razor, but you have to buy the new blades. 2. Cell phone providers give you a phone in exchange for a 1/2/3 year phone plan commitment. 3. HP almost gives away inkjet printers, because the replacement cartridges for the next year cost way more than the actual printer sale. and so on. Good article by the way. IMHO, economic models start breaking down without a “free market” which happens when governments impose taxes/tariffs and the like. OSS/free software good breakdown as well because of government imposed patents. 2005-06-23 11:47 pm OSS/free software good breakdown as well because of government imposed patents. Should read:<b/> OSS/free software could breakdown as well because of government imposed patents. Sorry folks. 2005-06-24 5:52 am If you think of it this way, You pay ford for the raw materials, and pay them to actually put your car together, then you have the open source model, that is if anyone could make a car like ford’s. If ford is overcharging or givin poor service, then choose another assembler. 2005-06-24 7:15 am Why is commercial software so bad people? Should Ford give away cars and trucks to all of us? Giving away free cars and opening your source code are not even remotely the same thing no matter how hard you try to make it seem so. I’m open to open source being of value and having advantage over commercial software in some cases. I’m also very open that commercial software has advantages over open source in some cases. It’s a mixed bag. You have these open source zealots and the commercial software zealots yelling back in forth. What a frickin waste of time. You’re one of those zealots. You made no real point except to make a terrible analogy that attempts to put open source in a bad light. I do agree though that all the fighting is nonsense. I’m perfectly happy using open source software and it’s good to know that Linux will always be around no matter what the corporations want to do with it. 2005-06-24 8:04 am Thanks for all your comments which I’ve read with interest. Thanks especially for the compliments. I like compliments On a more serious note, I’d be very grateful to be put right by anyone who can enlighten me as to why Richard Stallman shouldn’t be regarded as the inventor of OSS. I suspect what the commenter has in mind is what I’d call a quibble. I suspect they’re pointing out that there was plenty of software around before RMS which wasn’t source code secret. What I’m taking to have been Stallman’s innovation – the GPL – was an instrument for protecting source code from the ’embrace, extend, extinguish’ strategy of proprietory software producers. To me this ‘founds’ OSS. If I’m wrong on this in any way, I’d be very grateful to be put straight. I also agree that OSS is likely to survive the software patent fiasco. But it is a powerful inhibitor of progress according to some of the evidence I cited in the article. But I’d be interested in any contrary evidence. 2005-06-24 9:39 am What I’m taking to have been Stallman’s innovation – the GPL – was an instrument for protecting source code from the ’embrace, extend, extinguish’ strategy of proprietory software producers. To me this ‘founds’ OSS. Except that Stallman doesn’t consider himself to have anything to do with open source. He talks about “free software”. There’s no definition of open source that has anything to do with protecting source code from ’embrace, extend, extenguish’. That’s just an intended (but not always true) property of the GPL license and has nothing to do with open source in general. If your logic was the case then the BSD license and other more liberal licenses than the GPL wouldn’t be open source. Public Domain is open source (OSDL didn’t get their trademark) and was around way before GNU or the GPL. 2005-06-24 1:16 pm By garoo (IP: —.cpe.net.cable.rogers.com) – Posted on 2005-06-23 23:00:30 “Should Ford give away cars and trucks to all of us?” Sounds like a plan to me. Then you could just pay a couple hundred (or so) a month for service. Now, since this isn’t software, you’d HAVE to have a service provider, but maybe the others could pay royalties to Ford for service congtracts too. There are truck companies that actually are moving in that direction. They try to sell you a transportation system perhaps even including drivers instead of the actual truck. Phone companies do the same thing. They give you a free cell phone knowing they will make money from your calls. Trucks and cell phones both have quite high hardware value, so if this model works for them, it certainly would work for software where an extra copy costs next to nothing.