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Re: Open Source Sold Out?

__/ [ Rex Ballard ] on Saturday 04 March 2006 16:43 \__

> I think this article completely misses the point.
> While development of the code and open source software advocacy are
> pretty easy to for free, the support - getting feet in the field, can
> be quite expensive.  Linux can get some milage with end-users with
> Linux "install-fests", but when you want to put new Linux computers
> into every McDonalds, you need people who are dependable, competent,
> can work quickly, can be trusted, and won't try to steal the business
> for themselves.  This is why Caldera had to by the SCO Service
> organization.  Unfortunately, there were too many Caldera shares
> outstanding, and ownership and control of SCO was too much for
> Microsoft to resist.
> Keep in mind that after McBride took control of the company, the first
> thing he did was buy the rights to UNIX from Tarantella, who had owned
> the rights to Linux after Caldera purchased the service organisation.
> Then, when SCO started demanding royalties from Linux customers,
> Microsoft negotiated a deal with SCO.  In essence, this deal made it
> possible to sell a "Microsoft Unix".  Appearantly Microsoft is working
> on a new kernel based on UNIX, which will have the Vista API's.  This
> version might be out in 4-5 years.
> If Oracle were to buy MySQL, they wouldn't control the source code, but
> they would be the first choice for those who wanted consultants who
> could quickly and effeciently install and configure MySQL databases,
> install and configure the tables and stored procedures, and tune the
> queries.
> Of course, other consulting organizations would also be players in that
> market, and even those players would probably want to have support
> contracts with MySQL so that they can go to the "top guys" when
> necessary.
> Eclipse is another good example.  IBM doesn't control eclipse, and many
> of IBM's competitors now offer their own tools with Eclipse as a base.
> At the same time, the Eclipse organization gets support and many
> companies do engage Eclipse for certain support issues.
> There will probably be many more companies with open source products
> that will be turning into corporate entities or corporately supported
> non-profits.  Most of the corporations will be providing support
> contracts, distribution services, consulting services, and proprietary
> plug-ins and add-ons.
> Sun is another example.  In fact, Sun is probably the oldest example of
> a company which has made supporting Open Source technology a key
> strategic element of their business.  When Sun was first founded, they
> offered a platform with BSD Unix as well as AT&T Unix - on the same
> platform.  A key element of their success was that although the BSD
> code was available in source code form, there was a need for people who
> could support it, and hardware that could be quickly and easily
> configured to run UNIX - that was compatible with other BSD
> applications.   Sun provided that service.  The original workstations
> and servers booted a BIOS in Forth, which had the tools to load the
> tape, CD, or DVD which would then install SunOS and later Solaris.
> Over the years, Sun created and adopted a great deal of open source
> technology and was often the only company to officially provide support
> for it.  While other companies refered to the Open Source code as
> "Unsupported software", Sun called it "Complimentary software" - like
> getting a complimentary steak with your $20 salad.
> Sun was actually one of the earliest supporters of Linux as well.  The
> OpenLook toolkits and applications were released in open source and the
> Slackware distribution supported the OpenLook Virtual Window manager
> from the first releases.  Sun also encouraged the use of the GCC
> compiler.  They told people that they should not use the k&r compiler
> for anything other than relinking the kernel, that they should either
> use Sun's ANSII standard compiler or GCC.  This made it very easy for
> Linux users to transition to Sun/Solaris when the time was right.
> Because of Sun's agressive support of Open Source, nearly all of the
> Linux source code ported to Solaris with minimal effort.
> The main reason people made the transition from Linux to Solaris was
> because Sun provided excellent support for the applications and
> services that they had become accustomed to.  They weren't being pushed
> to switch to proprietary version of UNIX or VMS or MVS or some other
> proprietary single-vendor solution.  As a result, more Linux projects
> got migrated to Solaris.
> Sun was almost unchallenged until IBM officially began supporting
> Linux.  Sam Palmisano had been heading the Global Services practice and
> had begun to observe how many projects were accellerated, prototyped,
> scaled, or completetd as a result of Open Source technology, including
> Linux.  It was the IGS practitioners who were pushing for Linux,
> especially those who were working on UNIX projects.  It was much easier
> for them to do their initial development on Linux Laptops or Linux
> Desktops and migrate the tested code configured for *nix than it was to
> try and code something using Microsoft's development tools and than try
> to port those over to AIX or Solaris.
> IBM also began to get feedback from their IGS consultants that one of
> the reasons Solaris was so popular was that they could prototype on
> Linux and migrate to solaris so easily.  The AIX team was pushed to
> support Open Source as well.  Today, AIX 5L is portion of the AIX
> operating system that lets you take source code written for Linux and
> compile it to run on AIX.  In addition, IBM has many popular
> applications precompiled and ready to go, tho not always the latest
> releases.
> Sun also provides another example of excellent support.  Sun purchased
> StarOffice and then put OpenOffice into Open Source license.  That may
> seem almost insane, but the Open Source engine has gained many
> millions, even hundreds of millions of users in a very short period of
> time.  At the same time, StarOffice provides the wizards, templates,
> and cosmetics that are competitive with MS-Office.
> Today, the driving force of innovation in Open Source.  In reality,
> this has probably been true since the 1960s when the NASA space program
> pushed the envelope for computer and electronics technologies.  The
> Internet was a DOD program, total public domain, supported by Open
> Source BSD implementations.  The Web Browser, Web Server, chat, e-mail,
> remote access GUI, multitasking Windows GUI, hypertext, text
> formatting, and thousands of other breakthroughs - were actually
> STARTED in Open Source.
> Microsoft's big innovation was providing all of that context-sensitive
> help, which made all of that Open Source technology easier to learn and
> use.

I can't say that I agree with that last point. It seems as thought you are
trying to balance the discussion as means of getting more credibility. Even
in the absence of Windows, *nix would have found a way to appeal to a large
audience. The main hidrance is diversion of developer rigour into
development under Windows, which relies on the closed-source model and
thereby enables all sort of intersting things. I don't think it is fair to
argue that the introduction of Windows had any contribution, unless the
positive impact of /competition/ counts.

Best wishes,


Roy S. Schestowitz      |    GPL'd 3-D Reversi: http://othellomaster.com
http://Schestowitz.com  |    SuSE Linux     |     PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E
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