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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

On Open Source

A few days ago, I was talking with a colleague about a new system being tested by the company for internal use.
OK, calling him that is giving him far too much credit, but that's another story.
Anyway, I had some more knowledge of how the testing was going than he did and I brought him up to speed. After I mentioned some pretty predictable snags that had been found, he blurted out "Well, I don't know about 'open source'. I don't trust it.".
Let me point out that not only is this particular viewpoint a major exception where I work, but this is the MCSE poster boy talking.
I prodded him to explain, and his justification was that he didn't trust something that was done for free. Ironically enough, the very project we were talking about was both open source and commercial, a product of In fact, most successful open source projects I know of are actually commercialized in a similar fashion (MySQL is an example here).

The open source project I was [most involved with] was created to replicate a product that had been discontinued, but which a number of developers depended on. Each person that worked on it had a stake in it's success - it was easier to write a part of API we were replacing than it was to change their work to use something else. It's hard to say that we worked on it for free - we all profited from it in some way.

Personally, I see "open source" as something very different from "free software". Open source means the source is viewable from the public. That's very different from the idea of "free software", which to me is more a world of licenses and blind zealotry. While I read Slashdot almost every day, I still don't get the "free as in beer" thing, nor do I understand people like "ESR" or Richard Stallman. If I write something for myself and post it someplace so others can benefit, in the "free software" mindset I'd spend weeks researching which license to put it under.
It's code. Not a car or a machine gun.
Projects like the Apache foundation and NetBSD give open source software a good name. Somehow it doesn't surprise me that Mr. MCSE didn't get that.

yes, this is not too coherent, and either am i.... nyquil poisoned a good post

4/27/2004 10:36:00 PM ] [  0 comments  ]
A good quick laugh