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The State of Open Source Software

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the line-them-up dept.

Open Source 76

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Peter Wayner provides an in-depth look at the state of open source software and an overview of the best open source software of the year. 'It's easy to find hundreds of other positive signs of open source domination. If the mere existence of a tar file filled with code from the nether regions of a beeping device that's buried deep inside someone's pocket is all you need to feel warm and fuzzy about "open source," you might conclude that open source development is the most dominant form in the increasingly dominant platform of the future,' Wayner writes. 'But anyone who digs a bit deeper will find it's not so simple. Although the open source label is more and more ubiquitous, society is still a long way from Richard Stallman's vision of a world where anyone could reprogram anything at any time. Patents, copyrights, and corporate intrigue are bigger issues than ever for the community, and more and more people are finding that the words "open source" are no guarantee of the freedom to tinker and improve. Some cynics even suggest that the bright, open future is receding as Linux and other open source tools grow more dominant.' Included in the writeup are the best open source applications, best open source desktop and mobile offerings, best open source development tools, and best open source software for datacenters and the cloud."

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76 comments

InfoWorld and Slashdot (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37333334)

InfoWorld promotion has been going on for a long time in slashdot, but seriously now. Milking for link juice and keywords like "best open source applications" and "best open source development tools" straight in the summary? Hooray, SEO spam.

Re:InfoWorld and Slashdot (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333442)

That is pretty egregious.

Re:InfoWorld and Slashdot (0)

Rik Rohl (1399705) | more than 2 years ago | (#37334630)

What did you expect now that Taco has gone?

The corporate boofheads are now in charge of this site, so things will only get worse.

Re:InfoWorld and Slashdot (1)

MechaStreisand (585905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37334844)

Somebody needs to mod the GP up.

So others can see it, he said: "InfoWorld promotion has been going on for a long time in slashdot, but seriously now. Milking for link juice and keywords like "best open source applications" and "best open source development tools" straight in the summary? Hooray, SEO spam."

Re:InfoWorld and Slashdot (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#37337686)

I think 2012 is real but it won't matter, a world without cmdrTacko to dictate your info streams and Steve Jobs to dictate your buttons clearly isn't worth living in.

Re:InfoWorld and Slashdot (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#37337738)

I wouldn't care if the articles were actually newsworthy.

What I got from the articles is that:
Open source doesn't mean that corporations can always freely copy an open source project without talking with the FOSS project's management. But hey, that is actually a good thing, otherwise the big companies would just keep spewing out shamelessly copied versions of FOSS projects as their own.
IMO the real value on FOSS is that you get the source code of the binaries you run. You can freely tinker with it as long as you keep private and if you really come up with something interesting you almost always will be able to publish after some to and fro with the original dev.

So, yes it licences stop big companies from ripping of FOSS. I like that I think.

Re:InfoWorld and Slashdot (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37344646)

Between this and all the free attention the "editors" feed the likes of Florian Mueller with via these itworld/infoworld/computerworld splogs, I've just about given up on Slashdot as a reputable news source.

Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37333376)

Android is supposed to be open source, but they keep the source codes unreleased for months, you can't actually run your own source on the devices easily and actually making any contributions is almost impossible. All while they claim it's open source to win geeks and other companies support, while said companies also danger themselves in patent lawsuits (which Google nicely "forgets" to tell)

Re:Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37333582)

Android is (partially) open-source only because it would cost too much for google to develop a replacement for something that already exists while having almost no benefits. They (google and smarphone manufacturers) keep important parts of android closed, just look at how difficult it is porting a new version of android to a phone that ALREADY runs it. There is no community involvement at all in android's development. Patents and lawsuits are a constant threat even if you are a completely legal and sole android modder.

That being said android is way better (at least for me) than almost all alternatives (iOS, Symbian, obscure dumphone software) and it still can be fixed (can't say I see that happening). I'm really sad for Maemo/Meego fate, it is an amazing phone OS, I consider it much better than anything else, for end-users, developers and manufacturers. It is really open (well, still have some bothering closed bits, but mostly open), there is a big community involvement around it (even it being a small amount of people) and has a very good UI. I really can't understand why Nokia killed it, they still are a very profitable company and had time to develop the next big mobile OS, I can only guess it was because of some money injection from microsoft.

Re:Google (3, Interesting)

anubi (640541) | more than 2 years ago | (#37334834)

Yeh, I remember the day I bought a new timex "datalink" watch. I had high hopes and dreams of what I could do with that watch, being I could "talk" to it with nothing more than a LED.

I bought three of the things.

I remember well the frustration I encountered when I tried to find out aboutl the protocols needed to talk to the watch. I had all sorts of microcontroller projects I wanted to use it with... at the time, all 6502 based. Microsoft was involved. That's when I began to get a real sour taste in my mind every time Microsoft was mentioned. Microsoft had gotten big, and no longer thought well of those of us trying to find other ways of using their products.

Now, please tell me why keeping the protocols under tight wraps helped Microsoft or Timex? Did they really think I was going to copy their watches? Geez, there is no way I had any intention of getting into the watch manufacturing business! I just wanted to horse around with the darned thing and have fun seeing what I could do with it. To me, that was the fun of having the watch in the first place. If I can't do anything with it, I might as well buy a Porsche as a lawn ornament.

I ended up, five years later. throwing the watches away, two still in the original packaging. Junk. The only benefit I got was a lesson to be very wary of my intentions to see potential in products when the manufacturer is going to do their legal darndest to make sure I can't horse around with it. Its like going to a restaurant and having the chef come to my table and make sure I "enjoy" the meal exactly as he deemed. A shake of salt could bring a lawsuit.

I have seen books on how to program Androids at the bookstore. That, by itself, has biased me strongly towards the purchase of an Android phone when I get ready to buy a "smart" phone. The other phones look too much like a "datalink" to me.

Re:Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37348972)

A watch is a consumer product for doing things they advertise for. Nobody promised you anything more. You seem like a moron who gives their money first and then checks what they are getting. And you threw them away? Most people would return them to the store. Jesus.. what a retard you are..

I have seen books on how to program Androids at the bookstore.

iOS, WP7, Symbian all can be programmed by the end user. What nonsense are you talking about? Ooops.. sorry to let facts be involved in some good old MS bashing.

Google's idea of open source isn't right (4, Interesting)

jmcbain (1233044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333474)

As J. Gruber of Daring Fireball points out [daringfireball.net] , Google doesn't do open source as we would expect. An internal Google memo on Android development clearly states their policy:

  • Do not develop in the open. Instead, make source code available after innovation is complete
  • Lead device concept: Give early access to the software to partners who build and distribute devices to our specification (ie [sic], Motorola and Verizon). They get a non-contractual time to market advantage and in return they align to our standard.

This is not how open source is supposed to work. Open source doesn't mean "closed until we decide to make it open". Open source doesn't mean "closed until we and our partners can profit."

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37333504)

We don't give a fuck.

Thanks for searching,
Google

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333856)

We don't give a fuck.

Thanks for searching,
Google

What you meant to say is probably "Haha. Who cares?" - The Gmail-man.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333698)

Why not?
So long as the end user gets the code, what does it matter?

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1, Troll)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333724)

This is not how open source is supposed to work. Open source doesn't mean "closed until we decide to make it open".

You are right, open source means "closed until we release".

Open source doesn't mean "closed until we and our partners can profit."

You are right, open source means "closed until we and our partners can sell/distribute it".

Oh -- open source exactly means that. If you don't release, you don't need to publish the source.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

polymeris (902231) | more than 2 years ago | (#37334874)

You are right, open source means "closed until we and our partners can sell/distribute it".

Oh -- open source exactly means that. If you don't release, you don't need to publish the source.

Are you certain of that? I was wondering just today: If I distribute to my partner P (and no-one else) the source and binary of an application A which links to a GPL'd 2+ library L, can L's copyright holder demand I provide them with the source? Or can only P do that?

What if I distribute (again to P) a modified version of library L?

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37334902)

You give P the right to demand source code and the right to redistribute that code under the terms of the GPL. L's owner doesn't enter into it.

Regardless, the only part of Android that is GPL is their patchset for the Linux kernel. The entire userspace is some BSD-variant license.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37341192)

Only P can. You have not distributed the binary to L, so L has no right to the source.
GPLv3 changes some of these things slightly, but that's specifically Free Software, not the more liberal Open Source

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

OdinOdin_ (266277) | more than 2 years ago | (#37345260)

If your new body of work is a derivative of library L then both P and L can demand the source (from the moment you distribute it to another party), but practically L may never know your derivative existed if the matter is kept private.

If your new body of work is not a derivative of library L then the terms of your new body of work is a private matter between you and P under any terms you choose. Look at it another way you could distribute just your body of work and have P reconstruct the whole by indepenantly downloading library L. Just for good measure you could implement a crappy implementation of L to help prove your new body of work is not a derivative since it can be substituted out for another implementation. But when you come to putting application A into operation you would always use the GPL version of library L as its is considered better performing.

If you distribute a modified version of library L then both P and L can demand the source. Since this is a derivative of L and the terms of being able to redistribute it at all dictate this clause. You main own the Copyright on some parts of the code base (you added/changed) but you have additional obligations to forfill under Copyleft from the first moment you redistribute your derivative.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

kragniz (2245762) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333732)

Although, this is only for Android. For the most part, Google behaves as a good F/OSS citizen.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37340798)

Although, this is only for Android. For the most part, Google behaves as a good F/OSS citizen.

Really? Where is the source for adwords?

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (3, Insightful)

inhuman_4 (1294516) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333754)

I always thought opensource meant the user gets access to the code , not just the binary. IMHO there is nothing wrong with google keeping the code under wraps while its under development. As long as the user can get the code when the device is released I dont see the problem. What is going on with honeycomb where they release the device but not the code I am unimpressed with.

Re:I always thought opensource meant (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#37334602)

The new Hotness is developing closed layers on Open Source shells.

Companies save 7 years on core concept development, but then they slam you for anything that looks like a rectangle with a home button in patent court.

Google is doing the same thing - Android is "sorta open" but seriously no company has the cash to fight them for the 5 years it takes to begin to get noticed.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37333756)

Yeah, but then you couldn't find a less credible source than Gruber if you were Satan and tried to taunt God into making one. He's a professional Apple fanboy.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37349634)

The source is a document in a legal proceeding involving google. You can look it up too if you want.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37333798)

This is not how open source is supposed to work. Open source doesn't mean "closed until we decide to make it open". Open source doesn't mean "closed until we and our partners can profit."

Actually it can mean that.
You do not decide what open source means. And I release the code I have written in any way I want. (If at all.)

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (3, Insightful)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333840)

Your argument is correct but not precise enough and you'll get attacked by some g-drones ^^

What is meant to be said here, is that Google _ALREADY_ released the product and did _NOT_ open-source it. That's HoneyComb and it's been out for quite a while.
Basically, it's like saying ID software games are all open-source cause they open source the engine like 5 too 8 years later. Aka bullshit. (note: ID software is actually honest and very clear about their practice and I can only acclaim their behavior - Google instead uses that as marketing weapon)

Then there's the opensource "spirit". The RMS opensource. The open source that has _also_ open development behind. The open source like Mozilla does, for instance, where nearly everything is open and anyone can just come in and chime. The open source like the Linux kernel does. That's proper open-source.
Call it what you want.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 2 years ago | (#37336204)

Except that honeycomb isn't licensed under the GPL. The kernel is, as are certain third party user space applications, for all of which Google has released the source code. The rest of Honeycomb is open source, but is not licensed under the GPL. It's not illegal to distribute it without permission, but if you ask they can tell you to stuff off.

Lots of people have this illusion that OSX and Android are different than they are. You can have an open source kernel for a proprietary operating system, you have to release the source for any changes you distribute to the kernel, and there are arguments that kernel drivers are covered as well, but the OS itself doesn't have to be because calling system calls doesn't require a GPL license.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 2 years ago | (#37346590)

That is totally irrelevant. No one said Google did something illegal for instance. Nope. But they're not following the open source spirit.

Unlike Apple, they claim to be open source, I can sharply remember that "Android is as open as git clone blah make" post from a Google exec. But that's a lie.
Apple does not claim that OSX is open source. They claim for open standards but that another story.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 2 years ago | (#37347182)

Lots of people have implied Google is breaking the law, and an awful lot of people, yourself included, seem to be absolutely convinced that Google are the good guys and shocked when they aren't. Have you read what Eric Schmidt has to say about Google+ as an identity service and anonymity on the internet? They've gone over to the dark side mate.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

Predatory QQmber (1724716) | more than 2 years ago | (#37337364)

I think i will call that opensource-spirited and openly developed software as "Free software".

Overall, whole thing sounds like another rehash of free-as-of-price vs. open-source vs. free/libre talk. Some people just don't get the difference, especially between last two.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (3, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333874)

This is not how open source is supposed to work.

It's not how Free Software works, for sure. It's also not how community projects work. It's how insular, isolated projects with a strongly expressed NIH syndrome work.

Android is not Open Source though. The AOSP is. The AOSP is the offal of the Android project that Google used to draw in fans of open source, Free Software, and Linux. And yet at the height of Android's popularity they proceeded to leave the AOSP and community out of Honeycomb, and we have no idea whatsoever they'll do with Ice Cream Sandwich when it comes out on devices.

This is one reason that I shudder when people suggest that Android should be the basis for a desktop Linux, to the exclusion of all the other infrastructure not controlled by Google that, lacking any major architectural flaws, needs good usage testing and a designer's eye.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 2 years ago | (#37335382)

and we have no idea whatsoever they'll do with Ice Cream Sandwich when it comes out on devices

yes, we do. they've publicly stated many times they will open source HC. there's no reason not to believe that.

google, being a publicly held company, is in the business of making money. first and foremost and before anything else. don't act so shocked when the act of making money gets in google's way when it comes to releasing source when you demand it.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333942)

Cathedral vs. Bazaar. Some of us may remember the gcc/egcs split or the emacs/xemacs saga, where FSF packages were developed in secrecy until they were released (sound like Android?). Or perhaps even something like ghostscript, which was a commercial product, but they released older versions under a FREE license (sound like Android?).

Today, the bazaar model is much more common. We can clone a git repository or svn update and see changes as they happen. Android has moved to a cathedral model. Id GPLs their engines ~5 years after release, but DOOM 4 isn't FREE. For the same reason, you can't really consider Android (HoneyComb) to be Open Source until they release the code.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 2 years ago | (#37336188)

Cathedral vs. Bazaar. Some of us may remember the gcc/egcs split or the emacs/xemacs saga, where FSF packages were developed in secrecy until they were released (sound like Android?).

No, because Android source isn't released even after the product ships. That's the whole premise of this thread.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

vipw (228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37337080)

For the same reason, you can't really consider Android (HoneyComb) to be Open Source until they release the code.

You should finish reading the comment before replying...

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37334016)

I was OK with the whole email, right up until he got to the part about distributing it to partners. AFAIK, you can do anything you want to GPL software until you redistribute it. Then, you have to publish your changes.

Open source _can_ mean "closed until we make it open". But it can't mean "closed after we redistribute changes based on GPL software".

If they developed internally, they should be able to develop however they want. And use it themselves all they like.
As soon as they give it to their partners, they should be obliged to deliver source code to everyone, in my interpretation. IANAL.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 2 years ago | (#37337242)

As far as I know, they only have to make the source code available to the people/partners that they distribute it to.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37338812)

AFAIK, if their partners sell products with Android, they're redistributing it; and so, they have to give customers access to the code. IANAL & etc.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37335098)

Open Source != Open Development Process. I know lots of people are going for this warm fuzzy community feeling around the term "open source", but really, "open source" just means the source is released to the public under a permissive license. Nothing more. Don't get me wrong, I think that Open Development Process is totally the way to go. But don't think that everyone that says "open source" means "open development process".

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37335708)

What nonsense.  Why do you want to deny them the ability to profit from creating open source tools?

Where in any manifesto or license does it say this is bad?

Seems to me we should be falling all over ourselves thanking Google for finding a way to make Linux commercially viable, via Android in particular.  We need Linux to work.

I think a more legitimate question is why we tolerate so many violators of the various licenses, and so many binary blobs in our cell phones.  That's (of of the things that) scares Stallman, and that's what scares me.

Re:Google's idea of open source isn't right (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37337196)

Interesting that two of the first three comments are about Google in a story that has nothing at all to do with them. Fun what corporate fanboyism can do to people's minds.

Odd choice (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333486)

VLC, but no ffmpeg, x.264 or MPC-HC? Especially ffmpeg, given that VLCs decoders come from libavcodec.

Fifty-one pages (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333546)

Among the six links to infoworld.com are 6 + 5 + 8 + 13 + 11 + 8 = a total of 51 pages. I'll forgive people for not reading through the whole article. For me, the problem with a lot of pages isn't having to click next, next, next, as much as that I can't Ctrl+F to find a particular application or genre in the article.

Re:Fifty-one pages (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333568)

Many mod points for someone who links the all-on-one-page versions of these. The "print" link didn't seem to work for me.

Re:Fifty-one pages (4, Informative)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333598)

Agreed. Here's all the one page summary ...
[ not karma whoring since I've been maxed for _years_ ... ]

= Applications =
* Apache Lucene and Solr
* Drupal
* Openbravo ERP
* Pentaho BI Suite
* SugarCRM
* WordPress

= Desktop and mobile =
* 7-Zip
* Google Android
* CamStudio
* Google Chrome
* LibreOffice
* Oracle VM VirtualBox
* PDFCreator
* Pidgin
* PortableApps.com
* TrueCrypt
* VLC

= Application Development =
* CakePHP
* CoffeeScript
* Git
* Apache Hadoop
* Hudson and Jenkins
* jQuery Mobile and Sencha Touch
* MongoDB
* Node.js
* Web2py

= Data Center & Cloud =
* Eucalyptus and OpenStack
* Gluster
* Talend Open Studio
* Vyatta
* Xen
* WSO2

--
Can I get my 10 mins back, please.

Re:Fifty-one pages (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333704)

> Among the six links to infoworld.com are 6 + 5 + 8 + 13 + 11 + 8 = a total of 51 pages.

Hmm, I think you have a fence-post (off by one) error for some of them. :-/ The first page is just an intro page for the last 4 sections.

e.g. The actual pages of content ...

6 article: Bossie Awards 2011: The best open source software of the year
5 article: Linux at 20: New challenges, new opportunities
7 awards: applications
12 awards: desktop and mobile
10 awards: application development
7 awards: data center and cloud

See http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2417536&cid=37333598 [slashdot.org] for a one page summary of the awards

But yeah, I concur, 12 pages bloated out to 51 is nonsense.

Tivo and the blob! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333548)

All you really need to extinguish the warm-and-fuzzies is a stiff dose of the fact that an alarming number of the present and upcoming SoC designs at least optionally include pretty aggressive Tivoization features, opaque black-box functions handled by cryptographically verified and non-replaceable firmware blobs, and not infrequently a driver or two that isn't available in source form and makes keeping the kernel current rather tricky...

You can have all the open source you want; but if you can only run it on x86 whiteboxes and select dev boards, you still have a problem.

Re:Tivo and the blob! (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#37334018)

non-replaceable firmware blobs

Firmware blobs, not being run by the host CPU, tend to be a bit of a wash.

a driver or two that isn't available in source form

Rarely are these kernel modules. Most often they are userspace modules, which limits your ability to upgrade or swap out the libc. This is problematic for non-Android Linux efforts because (thanks to Google) these userspace blobs are linked against Bionic and not glibc.

You can have all the open source you want; but if you can only run it on x86 whiteboxes and select dev boards, you still have a problem.

Which is precisely what Apple and Microsoft want. Well, minus the "x86 whitebox" because that gives you an out to get around them.

Sleezy combining desktop and mobile (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333634)

I love mobile as much as the next person, but for the love of the programming, can people please separate Desktop and Mobile ?!

Re:Sleezy combining desktop and mobile (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#37334558)

"No".

The future of computing is interchangeable Mobile and Desktop, with only superficial factors. a Mobile Device needs to be able to power a (low end) desktop experience by hooking up to hardware. I'm fine if that's Zoom +2 years.

Re:Sleezy combining desktop and mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37335144)

"The future of computing is interchangeable Mobile and Desktop"

More accurately, the future of computing is in mobile. Desktop will die, and mobile will talk wirelessly to the large monitor and keyboard on your desk when you need it to, without ever have to leave your pocket.

So in a way, mobile *becomes* the desktop as well, and those large boxes collecting dust bunnies under your desk will go away.

Re:Sleezy combining desktop and mobile (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37337092)

Riiiight, because nobody needs to do actual work, nope all they need is social media baby yeah! Speed? Posh, if it can't run on a CPU from 10 years ago you don't need it!

Please, mobile chips are playtoys. you know what they'll be in 10 years? playtoys. It is actually very simple, unless they start packing nuke batteries in the damned things you will ALWAYS have to give up speed for battery life which is fine if you want to play some angry birds, but when you are at home? fuck that slow ass bullshit.

That is just as damned stupid as the occasional customer I have that insists on a gamer laptop. No not because they wanna LAN, that would actually make sense. Nope they want to spend crazy money on a mobile device that they never take anywhere so what you end up with is a REALLY EXPENSIVE desktop with crappy parts that dies quicker from heat death. oh well fool and their money and all that.

Hmmmm (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333678)

As I sit here on a Ubuntu workstation, accessing this site with Chrome, with another open window sporting Firefox, I have to ponder if open source is really as ubiquitous as people think.

Re:Hmmmm (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37334400)

I think you've hit on something. In the closed source world MS killed Bob, but Canonical has yet to kill that unity crap. Most of the time OSS is the way to go, but sometimes you do need to just kill a bad idea before it really starts to monopolize your time and energy.

Re:Hmmmm (3, Insightful)

arbulus (1095967) | more than 2 years ago | (#37335268)

The thing with FLOSS is that you see the development process. You see the bastard kids. You see the failed ideas. You see the brainstorming-throw-shit-at-the-wall development until they reach a rev where everything works. You don't see that with closed development processes. You just see an end product and never see the "failed" bin.

The positive in that is that someone might like rev 3.2 that you threw out. And they can take that rev, fork it, and have a product that loads of other people love as well. It gives people freedom and choice that the closed systems deny you. People may hate Unity and GNOME 3.0. So someone comes along, forks GNOME 2, keeps it alive, and people are happy. And maybe by version 1.5 or 2.3, Unity gets really good. And maybe by 3.6 GNOME gets really good. KDE 4.0 was unusable. But the latest release is really great. The whole process lets people have the choice of using what they like instead of being told what to use and how to use it.

bogus use of "open source" (2)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333684)

It does seem to be pretty common for people to apply the term "open source" to things that aren't. For example, when Schwarzenegger was governor of California, he started a Free Digital Textbook Initiative [bbc.co.uk] . I went to a symposium set up by the state about this initiative. Many people at the meeting used "open source" correctly to describe their books. E.g., the book's LaTeX source code was freely available, and the book was under a CC-BY-SA license. But Pearson, a big commercial textbook publisher, sent a representative, who talked about how Pearson was doing books that were "open source." Actually their sole free offering was a consumable biology workbook that was available as a free PDF download. But they heard everyone else saying "open source," and it sounded like good pixie dust, so they started using the term.

FTA: (1)

DangerOnTheRanger (2373156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37333706)

Although the open source label is more and more ubiquitous, society is still a long way from Richard Stallman's vision of a world where anyone could reprogram anything at any time. -1 for mentioning open-source and RMS in the same sentence.

Re:FTA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37333880)

Mod parent up.

Or one could read the contrast another way (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37334004)

Or one could read the contrast another way: "Although the 'open source' label is more and more ubiquitous, society is still a long way from a 'free software' mentality."

Re:FTA: (3, Informative)

wrook (134116) | more than 2 years ago | (#37335204)

No offence, but before you start criticising, it would help if you understood the issue. RMS uses the words "open source" himself. I have emails from him to prove it. What is at issue is that there is a distinction between "open source" and "free software". Originally ESR started using the term "open source" as a replacement for "free software". He (probably correctly) felt that the word "free" was confusing. However, at the same time he created a definition of "open source" that was different from "free software" while insisting that they were the same. The FSF is concerned with the freedom of all subsequent users to use the software for any purpose, modify it for their needs and to redistribute their modifications. "Open source" discusses the development practice of allowing other developers to view and modify the source code. There is no implication that all subsequent users will be able to modify the code.

An equivalent term would have been fine at the time. The problem was that ESR ignored the only thing that the FSF was interested in. At the same time, he championed many useful and pragmatic practices that have value in their own right. Thus one movement became two.

It is quite reasonable to say that the practice of producing open source software is becoming more and more mainstream, but that the issues of software freedom have not taken hold to the same extent. I doubt there would be many people who would disagree with that statement or find it objectionable. Open source development practices are a definite step forward. But for those interested in software freedom, there is still a long way to go. In some ways the open source movement has taken up a lot of the technical issues that the free software movement used to deal with. Personally, I think it is more important for free software advocates to concentrate on social rather than technical issues (and, in fact, I think that is being done).

Re:FTA: (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37335654)

Whatever happened to ESR anyway? I don't think I've heard anything new about him in 10 years or more.

Re:FTA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37337980)

Last time I read his blog he hid in his basement because of a hurricane...

Re:FTA: (2)

wrook (134116) | more than 2 years ago | (#37338922)

His blog is here: http://esr.ibiblio.org/ [ibiblio.org] It seems he's purposely stayed out of the limelight for 10 years, or at least his "Speaking Engagements" section of his home page says that he has stopped giving them since 2002 for personal reasons. Not wanting to speculate, but at around the same time he took a lot of flack for talking about the shares he received from the IPO of VA Linux. I think a lot of technical people can identify with having made political gaffs and I wish he'd been given some slack. But there you go, being famous has both its ups and downs. I think in the end we all lost out because his voice was valuable and he doesn't seem to raise it as much any more. Still, he appears to be quite active on a lot of projects, just not as vocal.

Thinking about it, it's an interesting question given that my response was really intended to deflect some all too common, unwarranted criticism of RMS. Like a lot of people, I don't agree with everything he says (though I could say that about anyone, really), but the guy stands up to an incredible amount of abuse and keeps marching on in the spotlight. I don't blame ESR one bit for not wanting to follow suit (if that's really what happened).
 

Free Software (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 2 years ago | (#37334002)

a world where anyone could reprogram anything at any time.

Isn't that more the goal of Free Software (particularly given the changes in the GPL with v3) than Open Source?

Here is a live up to date story of my own (2)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 2 years ago | (#37335644)

Imagine you have a customer that is part of a contract that you just won but you have to find/deliver/develop a user interface of some sort for the customer to interact with their daily needs. On the backend you have a database, some other stuff and this and that that will interact with the GUI. Do you write your own GUI using WCF? Do you use QT which is free to distribute commercially?(all you have to do is include the dll/jar/whatever). Do you write your own?

No of course not. Why would anyone want to do that? How about let's go with a piece of crap software that makes a crappy GUI, with VB code running in the background, no documentation online to speak of, only runs on windows(of course), is buggy and the only interaction the "developers" have with this tool is to drag and drop. If a problem occurs, if you need a change in the software then you have to wait on said company to deliver... not to mention that that is extra money to add said feature(s). So what happens when someone else comes onto the project? They have been coding in C#/Java/C++/whatever language forever but it takes them 4 weeks to become even somewhat productive because this tool is so confusing and openly with question was built so that people could use it without doing any programming.

You cannot blame this piece of software for what it is. If it is built so the average joe can use it without programming a single line of code then so be it. You CAN however blame the ignoramous that fell for the hook line and sinker selling pitch on why we should be using said software because using another library or writing your own code would be too "expensive". Never mind the fact that you are totally and utterly dependent on said company to deliver knowledge and answers to questions about software so you fall behind schedule, nevermind that a new "developer" wastes 4 weeks of his or her time learning their way around a GUI instead of actually spending at most a couple of days learning about the software design and nevermind that the GUI is so horribly put together that is doesn't make sense for a coder. Nevermind the fact that the license for this software cost an unknown amount.

Management doesn;t seem to care/notice/know about options that are available and is so short sighted that he would make a decision that would make a team of "developers" want to just get up and leave. People who are management/approve contracts should NEVER make those decisions if he/she has not and/or is not a developer without at least putting together a team of real developers who are going to be working on it.

Open source software would be much further along if developers were allowed to be developers instead of put behind a management sandbox.

Re:Here is a live up to date story of my own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37339034)

What? Really?

Open source software would be much further along if developers were allowed to be developers instead of put behind a management sandbox.

The most counter intuitive, forget all I said so far, contradictory conclusion line EVER!

I mean, I agree with you, let the suit out of the development, but come on, Open Source USUALLY lacks of suit is common knowledge,

Besides, all the problem you described is because the "Magic GUI Maker" you mention was PRIVATE, CLOSE SOFTWARE.

Hate open source (1)

unsolicited (2277156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37336652)

Businesses hate competition.
Open source promotes open competition.
Hence businesses hate open source.

Is it difficult to understand?

f33r teh merc! (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37340316)

Most of the Linux kernel development is supported by the hardware companies. The kernel developers may be coveted by these chip manufacturers who want to be sure that they can keep some of the Linux market, but the developers are nothing more than mercenaries.

Priceless. :)

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