ESC: The Open Source Debate
For their opening statements, everybody on the panel had a number of positive things to say about open source software. Even the people arguing against open source software said that open source tools should be used in the places where they are appropriate. The discussion covered the areas of desktop operating systems, embedded operating systems, and development tools.
Here's the "sound bite version" of what was said on various topics:
The open source community:
JF: open source community is scattered and hard to manage
BG: close source tools can disappear, proprietary companies fail on a regular basis.
Models that do and don't work:
SS: Is an open source pragmatist, uses it when it is the best solution and stresses looking at it from a financial point of view. Suggests these business models for using open source:
Recommends avoiding these business models:
Software License Issues:
MT: Know your licenses, don't underestimate the power of the network for support and coding skill.
BG: Mentioned that open source licenses may have export problems.
Source Code Availability:
JF: Source code is not everything. Modern programs are huge and having the source is not a panacea. Mentions that his proprietary source is available for a price.
SS: There is a risk with open source support, the open source author may graduate and stop supporting the code. Free code is not always better.
BG: Having code does not always equate with self sufficiency.
JF: Abandoning all vendors is an overkill position.
SS: If you go with open source, you may end up the operating system business whether you want to or not.
JF: People pay for a packaged system and end up with tested components that work well together.
MT: Proprietary companies are unequal experts, open source people are on a more level playing field with designers.
SS: Look at it in economical terms, chooses open source or proprietary software based on the total cost.
JF: Open source needs a common goal to bring the community together to develop something. Your innovations may be unique from the needs of the community.
MT: Open and closed source companies are innovating, major companies are seeding open source projects to seed new markets. Proprietary companies spend 99% of their time copying existing ideas. The innovation debate is ten years old.
JF: Open source innovation only happens if a community can be defined.
SS: Open source projects that copy proprietary projects may discourage the proprietary developers from going through the work of innovating.
BG: Software is the means to an end, hardware and the combination of hardware and software, the system, is the goal. Gave the example of a modern laptop as what is wrong with a proprietary design evolution.
BG: Compared the selling of music to the new world of application servers. Music industry has a ten year leap over software companies.
JF: The dominant cost of development is in software development. Software is also where the product's value lies.
SS: Hardware and software are the same, vendors are essentially selling content.
Software Qualification:Audience question: What about quality assurance and testing in open source? How do you qualify code from random sources?
MT: Openness is independent of coding standards. Red Hat's Ecos is open source, was designed for testability from the beginning, and has an open source test suite.
JF: Red Hat Linux has a combination of code that is not very coherent in terms of licensing and quality.
MT: The same could be said for proprietary Unix vendors, the software is a big mish-mash.
JF: Embedded developers have an ethic for high quality software, this is a critical factor.
SS: Be a pragmatist when choosing open source software.
JF: Open source is a collaborative tool, it is not a panacea. Beware of the expense involved in wholesale redevelopment of existing systems.
BG: Cautioned against staying in business primarily by hiding your source code.
MT: Mentioned the LinuxDevices.com survey, said that open source
is solving stagnation problems in development and a convergent
technology. Disruptive technologies are on a different path, look
to the horizon to see where software development is heading.
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