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Thread: The very real limitations of open source

  1. #1
    Leftie Linux Lover the_JinX's Avatar
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    Nov 2001
    Beverwijk Netherlands

    The very real limitations of open source

    Hey all,

    I found this on lwn.net today, thought I'd share...

    The very real limitations of open source

    The number of open source programmers as a percentage of the whole is small. I don't have data beyond my own admittedly subjective industry experience, but based on it, I would guess that maybe 5 percent to 10 percent have contributed to such a project. The reason is not hard to fathom. Lots of things are fun. When given a choice between a "fun" activity that keeps you living with your parents and one that buys you a Lexus, most would choose the latter.

    "If we take away the possibility of great wealth, then after a while, when the people have readjusted their attitudes, they will once again be eager to work in the field for the joy of accomplishment."

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  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Nov 2001
    Most of my work is open source, but that's because 90% of everything I do is in the form of a web application.
    I would probably be reluctant to release a huge C++ project to the open source community, probably, unless I had borrowed someone else's code from another open source program...

  3. #3
    There are limitations to everything even closed source. The article failed to point out the limitations of closed source, which has been the real reason why open source was thought of in the first place, namely, the GNU.

    While I happen to agree that open source development is slumped because of the lack of financial support, backing and investment, this article should have done their homework on why open source does not have millions and millions to play with: Most open source is non-profit and most non-profit organizations are relying on those who like and buy the products not only to help technically, but most importantly, financially. Since most people like something for nothing, the open source community (like any non-profit organization) needs to get more and more clever on how to get an extra dollar to get the tightwads of the world to pry their wallet open. That's the real world; it all boils down to dollars and cents.

    Now is there any middle ground? I think some are doing just that; Caldera and Red Hat (To name an example) have varying offerings that most companies are lusting for: Support, consistency and a low cost software solution. So if companies are willing to pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars for this, why not? It not only helps the distribution and the community with the much need moolah, but the consumer who is needing things done. That is not a limitation, it's a step in the right direction. Does this mean RedHat and Caldera are going proprietary? On contrary. They still offer the distribution for others to use just like any other distro but without the centralized support.

    While these ideas are great and distros are making some headway, closed source is still waving the "Stay away from open source like the plague" banner filled with all kinds of bashing rhetoric, unfounded rumors and propaganda, which damages the growth of open source. That is Bill Gates' way of keeping the apes in line, and for everybody from the little man to the gigantic cooperation to keep shelling out hard earned cash. That's nothing personal, just monopolistic business practices. That's a limitation of closed source.

    Finally, open source did not develop software because it was "fun" (that's a small percentage), but for a need for good, reliable software with the code right in front so further development could be done and bugs can be squashed quickly. Like a reply in one of the replies in the article's forum:

    Name: Giscard Girard
    Posted At: 15:31 GMT 06/07/2002

    Software exists because there is a particular need for it. This is why developers are motivated to contribute to open source projects, because they have a need for that software, wether it be for their personal use, or to enable them to do business in other areas.

    Few examples:

    I need low cost server software to deliver well priced web applications. So I contribute to Linux and Apache.

    I need a decent web browser on my operating system of choice, Linux. So I contribute to the mozilla project.

    IBM needs a cheap office suite because they pay HUGE dollars in licensing MS Office products, so they contribute to the open office project.

    Finally, you might have an argument if open source projects were lacking contributions, but this is NOT the case, they DO have developers contributing to them for the reasons I outlined above.
    Has a pretty good point on why open source development projects exist. As for those who are willing to pay for closed source products, that's all fine and dandy. There are great products available for Windows, Mac, UNIX, etc., but before you start listing faults of open source, start looking at your own proprietary problems.

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