Open Source Software

RichardBuggyRichardBuggy subscriber Posts: 4
On the osCommerce thread there`s been a lot of discussion about open source which I think needs to be addressed.The free in open source is about free speech, not the price of the product. It`s about protecting your right to use software the way you want. This is achieved by using a license to make sure you have the right to use to the software in *any* way you want and that no one can take that away from you. The software not costing anything is a side effect (technically you can charge for it).A phrase often used to describe this is "free as in free speech, not free as in free beer". The difference is often lost but really important.Free Speech: I sell you a bottle of water for $5 and let you use it any way you want.Free Beer: I give you a bottle of water at no cost but tell you that you can only drink it between 9.00 and 9.05 on the second blue moon of a year. What if you want to drink it at another time or use it for a different purpose?Personally I`m a huge fan of open source. If a proprietary application does 95% of what I need I`m at the mercy of the manufacturer to add the remaining 5%. Of course they`re not going to do that unless it`s commercially viable. With open source I can add the 5% myself (or pay someone to do it).
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Comments

  • RichardBuggyRichardBuggy subscriber Posts: 4
    Hi CraigYou`re right about the move to software being rented. Software companies want this because it provides a regular income stream instead of highs around new releases and lows in between.As I want this thread to be about the positives of open source instead of Microsoft bashing I`ll refrain from taking easy swipes at them.A related issue is requiring people to register software (especially online) and limiting the number of times it can be used before you do. I noticed a few years ago the maker of my accounting software (not Microsoft) moved to online registration and limiting the number of companies you can use the software for. This raises serious issues like:1. What happens if the company collapses?2. What if they change name and domains?3. What if they are unable to provide me with a registration key?4. What if they refuse to provide me with a registration key?When I was a Windows user I found myself reinstalling my computer every 6-9 months. This potentially means I could find myself unable to use software I had legally purchased.All of this isn`t an issue with Open Source
  • markloseymarklosey subscriber Posts: 0
    There is another huge benefit to open source software: Support.Support from commercial entities is limited to whether they are making enough money from product sales to enable a decent support system. And you are still limited to one source for support and it`s not always included with the price of the product.With open source, especially popular projects, you have the community to serve you.  People seem very willing to help.  Like the old barn raising scenario, except that people can help you on their own time.  Most if not all popular open source projects have some sort of community forum or wiki. I have participated in so many of these projects, providing advice when I know the answer and getting questions answered when I don`t.  It`s not strictly related to development efforts either. The best communities have huge user communities that are just users helping other users. The Cathedral and the Bazaar is interesting reading for anyone who wants some additional information on how this all came about and why it works.  Rhichard Stallman is pretty much given credit as the godfather of open source .  The book  is written by Eric S. Raymond. This book delves deeply into the reason why open source evolved and why it works. It provides concrete economic theory and plenty of background on why the os method works for large complex pieces of software.
  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    I find it interesting that many open source people complain about licensing terms or attempts by software developers to protect their intellectual property. How do most web developers feel when the client doesn`t want to pay for services rendered or suggests an exchange of "free promotion" in exchange for a "free website".
    Personally I love watching the open source movement talk about the need to destroy the proprietary models that built the computer industry. Good luck!
    Everyone deserves a fair wage for their work. Period.
    If you don`t like the license agreement, don`t license the software. Or, write a better version and release it as open source. But really, I think if you aren`t willing to write an accounting program and release it as open source, then don`t complain about someone who is kind enough to write an accounting program ... even if it`s proprietary. That is the point where you should keep your teeth tightly pressed together so you tongue and lips cannot move and give birth to uninformed statements.
    Please be fair and balanced if you discuss Eric Raymond. Tell the SUN members here that he is regarded as insane by a good sized chunk of the open source movement. This isn`t Fox News.
  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    I really have to write again. I am completely and utterly astounded by the nonsense uttered herein.
    "This book delves deeply into the reason why open source evolved and why it works. It provides concrete economic theory and plenty of background on why the os method works for large complex pieces of software."
    I hope you`re not a software developer. The open source method has no advantages over the proprietary method. What is the supposed difference? More eyeballs? Didn`t Microsoft`s much delayed Vista release just prove that more eyeballs don`t necessarily help. How many developers did Microsoft hire to write Vista? Ten or 10,000?
    As far as I know, it`s still pretty easy to write huge classes in open source. Huge classes aren`t always a good thing. It`s also just as easy to write bugs and make bad design decisions. The concepts of good software design are by no means unique to open source. Modularity is not unique to open source. Good code structure and proper functionization are not unique to open source. Correct use of abstraction and encapsulation are not unique to open source.
    While Cathedral/Bazaar is certainly interesting, it`s also incredibly biased. Nothing wrong with bias. But in the context of this discussion, the bias should be noted.
  • RichardBuggyRichardBuggy subscriber Posts: 4
    I find it interesting that many open source people complain about licensing terms or attempts by software developers to protect their intellectual property. How do most web developers feel when the client doesn`t want to pay for services rendered or suggests an exchange of "free promotion" in exchange for a "free website".Clearly you don`t understand how open source works. As an open source developer I`m extremely protective of my IP but I can see the benefit of sharing the source.You also need to understand that there is a big difference between protecting your IP and restricting how your software is used. Did you know that recent electronic version of Alice in Wonderland included the restriction that it cannot be read aloud? Read it to your child and you`ve broken the DMCA even though Alice in Wonderland has been out of copyright for years. This is the kind of crazy restriction that is increasingly appearing in proprietary software licenses.


    Everyone deserves a fair wage for their work. Period.I develop open source and I earn a fair wage. Do I need to say anything else?Please be fair and balanced if you discuss Eric Raymond. Tell the SUN members here that he is regarded as insane by a good sized chunk of the open source movement. This isn`t Fox News.I think you`re confusing Eric Raymond with Richard Stallman.    Rich
  • RichardBuggyRichardBuggy subscriber Posts: 4
    I hope you`re not a software developer. The open source method has no advantages over the proprietary method. What is the supposed difference? More eyeballs? Didn`t Microsoft`s much delayed Vista release just prove that more eyeballs don`t necessarily help. How many developers did Microsoft hire to write Vista? Ten or 10,000?I`ll use osCommerce as an example. If I`m a web developer needing to build an e-commerce website I could start from scratch and charge the customer $10-20k or I could start with osCommerce and charge them only for my customization. This is a competitive advantage for me. By contributing my changes back to osCommerce (eg. as a new payment gateway) I`ve made money from developing open source.There are other advantages:
    End users can customize software to their requirementsEnd users can use the software any way they want
    Developers benefit from users and other developers contributing patches and featuresIt`s easier and cheaper to sell the software (i.e. convince customers to use your application)
    Generally you make more money from services associated with the software than the software itself (this is why IBM has been moving to services).
  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    Clearly you don`t understand how open source works. As an open source developer I`m extremely protective of my IP but I can see the benefit of sharing the source.
    [ I understand how open source works.  But open source arguments are often coupled with additional arguments against conventional licensing or subscription models. See previous posts in this thread. Open source is not bad; but a lot of open source proponents are against proprietary software because it bothers them. ]
    This is the kind of crazy restriction that is increasingly appearing in proprietary software licenses.
    [ Crazy license agreements have nothing to do with proprietary products or the proprietary model. As I said above, a lot of open source proponents are against proprietary software period. They think information should be free and look at any effort to charge for software as an affront to human dignity. Yet they turn around and purchase cars and food without mouthing a single word of complaint. So it`s really just a b.s. argument on the part of open source. Where are the arguments for free food and cars? Open source can`t have it both ways. ]
    You also need to understand that there is a big difference between protecting your IP and restricting how your software is used.
    [ How Company X chooses to protect their intellectual property is their business. The clauses Company X puts in their contracts is their business. If someone does not like a clause in a contract they are free to buy a different product. ]
    I think you`re confusing Eric Raymond with Richard Stallman.
    [ No, I`m not confusing the two. Eric Raymond is racist, homophobic idiot who favors genocide with respect to Muslims. But don`t take my word for it. This man has made statements that are *fantastically* and *shamefully* racist. But I guess if you can put the incredible racism aside, and if you can forgive his calls for genocide, go ahead and read his book. ]
  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    This is a competitive advantage for me.
    No it`s not. A competitive advantage is an advantage you have over your competition. Your competition can do the same thing for zero cost.
    End users can customize software to their requirements.
    This is not an advantage of open source. This is a "feature" of well written software, open source or proprietary.
    End users can use the software any way they want.
    Hmm. I don`t think this is strictly true. Can you provide details of the common open source license agreements, especially the parts that grant end users the right to "use the software any way they want"?
    Developers benefit from users and other developers contributing patches and features
    This is not an advantage of open source. This is a "feature" of well written software, open source or proprietary.
    It`s easier and cheaper to sell the software (i.e. convince customers to use your application)
    Hmm. Really? You must mean the upfront sale, right?
    Generally you make more money from services associated with the software than the software itself (this is why IBM has been moving to services).
    There is a lot of open source babbling about how the proprietary model "locks in" the customer, "soaks" the customer, and "restricts" the customer. From what you`ve described here, I really don`t see the difference. In your description of this model, open source sits as parasite on the back of the customer - just like the proprietary model. There are "services" instead of upgrades. Oh and please make sure the check doesn`t bounce, right?
    Any there any other points you would like me to neatly refute?
  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    p.s. I have nothing against open source, although I certainly don`t care for Eric. Raymond. In fact, I even use open source products. Quite a few in fact.
    But the real value of open source is not technological. It has no technological advantage nor any real, sustainable competitive advantage over proprietary software. Not in any true sense, nor in any important sense.
    Open source excites people because it creates markets. Markets for MySQL, markets for Linux. Sometimes it even creates giant markets or helps people build giant markets. And a market is just a giant pool of capital and people use that capital to make investments. So that`s why open source is exciting. But proprietary software, like Windows, also creates markets. The Windows ecosystem is a huge market that has created more wealth than ... well anything I can think of. In fact, open source really owes its existence to Windows, as much as people don`t want to admit. Windows is the reason cheap computers exist. Windows is the reason that people can buy a great compiler for a few hundred bucks. Windows is the reason that most of us can afford a computer. So proprietary software is, and will remain, a vastly superior model until the day that open source can claim to have created as much wealth and productivity as proprietary products.
  • RichardBuggyRichardBuggy subscriber Posts: 4
    CookieMonster, you`ve made so many mistakes it shows you`ve never actually written a program. Your claims that being able to create patches is a sign of good design are just wrong. If you don`t have the source you can`t fix bugs!! Similarly, many features cannot be added without access to the source.As for the rest, I just don`t have enough time to waste on debunking your mistakes.Sadly it looks like this thread is going the same direction as the osCommerce one. All the good stuff has already been said on the first page so now is probably a good time to abandon it.
  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    Everything I wrote is correct. I have certainly done enough software development to speak correctly about software architecture. Being able to create patches is a sign of good design. It is. Sorry but what`s the alternative? Not being able to create patches? Being able to add features and write extensions is a sign of good design. None of this is exclusive to open source.
    I think you don`t want to waste time "debunking" my mistakes because I haven`t made any for you to debunk.
  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    In fact, Windows is a great example. Millions of developers have written extensions to Windows without its source code.
    I really don`t want to get into a fight, but you cannot expect me to sit around while you talk about open source advantages that don`t exist.
  • olegoleg subscriber Posts: 13 Bronze Level Member

    Being able to create patches is a sign of good design. It is. Sorry but what`s the alternative? Not being able to create patches? Being able to add features and write extensions is a sign of good design. None of this is exclusive to open source..
    .
    .
    In fact, Windows is a great example. Millions of developers have written extensions to Windows without its source code.
    Windows is not a good example.
    No one has written any "extensions" for Windows.  Millions of developers have written software that runs in it.  Windows is an operating system, one of its main fetautes is acting as a host for third-party software.
    However, no one has written any patches for Windows.  If you find a bug in Linux, you can you fix it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.  If you find a bug in Windows, you wait for a service pack from Microsoft (or attempt to create a hack, in violation of your license agreement).  This is the main difference between proprietary and open source.  Any software llicense agreement will include terms against modifying the software; being able to create patches is not at all a sign of good design if you are selling software-in-a-box.
     
    By the way, Microsoft and open source are not contradictory terms:
    62oleg2007-5-24 0:6:59
  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    A patch or the ability to patch requires a modular architecture. So patches require good design. [A patch as opposed to a completely new version.] Windows is a perfectly good example of how great design facilitates platform extension. Whether or not you choose to view Windows extensions as "pure extensions". They are, more or less. [ We should also avoid the argument of whether or not Win32 is well-designed. ]
    My point. The benefits of open source are really benefits of good design. Good design is not exclusive to open source. It is found in proprietary architectures as well. A lot of the benefits of open source are not really special. Sure the upfront cost is lower but that doesn`t convey any competitive advantage whatsoever because it`s lower for everyone.
    Am I missing something?
  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    p.s. RE: Windows. Windows is a just a computer program. It`s a closed source computer program. It is a platform and a computer program. Many programs host other programs. What is a DLL? It`s just a program hosted by another program.
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