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Survey On the Future of Open Source, and Lessons From the Past

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the looking-over-things dept.

Open Source 97

An anonymous reader writes "Andy Oram reports on the quality, security, and community driving open source adoption. 'All too often, the main force uniting competitors is the fear of another vendor and the realization that they can never beat a dominant vendor on its own turf. Open source becomes a way of changing the rules out from under the dominant player. OpenStack, for instance, took on VMware in the virtualization space and Amazon.com in the IaaS space. Android attracted phone manufacturers and telephone companies as a reaction to the iPhone.'"

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97 comments

Consistency (0)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year ago | (#43736871)

I just wish there was more consistency to open source projects. For every OpenStack there are craploads of half-finished projects that are basically in a perpetual beta stage. Documentation is spotty, features are spotty. Hell, even the names of most open source stuff seems to suck. It's hard to sell management on something called GIMP as an alternative. Even Libre Office sounds like shit.

Re:Consistency (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43736893)

Beta?

Beta would be great.

I'd argue that such half-finished projects are barely past the tech-demo stage, and not even at alpha.

Re:Consistency (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43736905)

Tired old troll is very very boring.

Re:Consistency (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43736951)

Yeah and funny how he's also 100% right.

Re:Consistency (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737003)

Quite the reverse. The whole point of a competitive market is that the best products get to the customers. In the absence of price competition, all FOSS projects can compete on is quality.

Projects which don't meet customer standards don't progress, though any of their innovation and effort which is of value is still shared. What the troll is trying to spin as a negative quite simply isn't.

Re:Consistency (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737085)

That's what you wish. The facts on the ground say otherwise and that half finished crap is everywhere.

Re:Consistency (4, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#43737121)

All that proves is that Free Software is more transparent.

Re:Consistency (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737523)

All that proves is that Free Software is more transparent.

Fucking this. Right here.

I'd argue there are orders of magnitude more half-finished projects than fully developed ones in closed source environments, it's just no one sees them. At least I know I have about a dozen to one ratio of crap projects versus stable, releasable projects in my own folders at work. And I'm not a full-time programmer. I certainly know that the releasable, stable projects started out as half-finished crap.

The open source community might do well to have a major hub adopt an easy to use TRL standard for devs to mark their projects with. Perhaps reviewers could even agree/disagree with the developer's marked rating. Perhaps certain trustworthy users could even function as a third score (Dev TRL, Registered Users TRL, Critics TRL) or something.

Re: Consistency (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737275)

At least you find outbfor free that it is half finished. I have seen a lot of pay-for software that is also half finished crap. It cost money to find that out though.

Re:Consistency (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43738279)

You mean, like Microsoft windows 8 for example? Half baked OSS crap.
Oh, but it's not.
Frankly I use most of time a few things: games, they are not OSS, browser, OS, email client, mp3 player. All that stuff works quite well for me.

Re:Consistency (2)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#43737023)

Well, other than suggesting that Libre Office and the GIMP are like half-finished projects.... but yeah. His first sentence I agree with completely.

Re:Consistency (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year ago | (#43739447)

He didn't. He suggested that the names "LibreOffice" and "The GIMP" suck.

And, if we're being honest... they really do.

Re:Consistency (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43741659)

True, but they don't suck any more than names of commercial products. Windows Me? Windows Blue? Why would you name your media player WiMP? Why would you name your tablet iPad? Sounds like something you'd have to wear after eye surgery. How about Windows XP, which sounds like it used to be urine before it quit its job.

Face it, most tech names, whether open or closed, have really sucky names.

Re:Consistency (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#43740445)

His first sentence I agree with completely.

Well, I'm fine with it. If I can be more competitive through not having software name related hangups, it suits me perfectly if some fool of a manager can't cope with LibreOffice or GIMP because they don't like the name.

More business for me, and I'm cool with that.

Linux Desktop (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737375)

Every time I say I'm switching from windows to Linux, I go crawling back and why... Linux desktop. My latest attempt with Ubuntu - ended up in a dog slow computer with a gui that hangs. The Suse attempt with KDE has really fuzzy fonts - I've played with the anti-aliasing but it still sucks to look at it. At least Ubuntu you could consider reading on it. I know try Mint... Really my favorite Linux at the moment is android.

I'm at the point of considering a Mac, but those stores with the blue army kind of scare me. :>

Re:Linux Desktop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737427)

"I go crawling back."

Yes. As a good loser should,

Re:Linux Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43738315)

Indeed, handle over your geek badge, with all bad attention ubuntu is getting on slashdot, you still download and try it. there are many other distros out there.
heck, I work on windows at work and Linux at home, I don't miss windows one fckn bit.

Re:Linux Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43738413)

Linux desktop. My latest attempt with Ubuntu - ended up in a dog slow computer with a gui that hangs.
Your experiences are your own. I've never had a Linux GUI hang (even back in 1994), and dog slow? The reason 96.4% of supercomputers run Linux is because its *fast*. Dog slow? Slower than what? Even (read common PC operating system vendor) agrees that the Linux kernel is a lot faster than theirs, and that trend is growing (linux is getting faster). Years ago a vendor's research group (they called themselves microsoft-research) explained that the linux kernel takes 27 machine cycles to do a context switch, and their own system took over 230 to do a context switch. Again, you experiences are your own. Have you ever successfully installed an operating system other than what you are accustomed to before? For example, in my case, I've installed dozens of versions of microsoft operating systems (not my usual system), and likewise SunOS, Solaris, System36, OS/400, OS/2, AIX and Ultrix. Linux is usually the easiest to install (Although Solaris could be 'jump started' across a network although I've installed Linux that way, and downloaded Windows onto a HDD from a lan and installed it that way, as well as by RS232 (very slow upload), and by disk. Back in '94 Linux was hard to install. Now you can basically sleep through it. Again, your experiences are based on just your experience.Linux desktop. My latest attempt with Ubuntu - ended up in a dog slow computer with a gui that hangs.

Re:Linux Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43741911)

How did a completely WRONG, inaccurate comment by an AC get modded "informative"??? WTF???

I have never ONCE installed Linux in a computer that it didn't run rings arount its previous Windows install, so I'm not only calling bullshit, I'm calling the above AC a damned liar. Fuzzy fonts? haven't seen it, maybe there's something wrong with Suse or his video card, but considering he said Linux slowed it down, it's likely he's lying through his teeth about that, too.

It's pathetic that Microsoft has to throw these damned stupid shills at us, and even more pathetic that there are people at slashdot stupid enough to mod them up.

STOP MODDING SHILLS UP!!!

Re:Consistency (4, Interesting)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about a year ago | (#43736961)

The facts don't support your claim.

Traditionally, it's been common to view price as a motivating factor, since open source software is often free. Last year, freedom from vendor lock-in was cited as the the primary goal.

This year, however, freedom from lock-in dropped to No. 2, while quality, which was in third place last year, was named the most important factor behind open source adoption. The availability of vendor support, meanwhile, is now a point of much less concern than it used to be.

Re:Consistency (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#43737159)

another nice insight from TFA:

Government is the largest adopter of open source, ahead of any particular industry (slide 11)

My guess: it's likely that asmkm22 (the OP) works in the industry.
Another guess: the TCO claimed by the Get-the-facts-like campaigns is overrated for the govt context.

Re:Consistency (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43737065)

the very best closed and open source software will have a genius developer or two at its core. there is no substitute. that's why many open source projects perfectly built to a spec and technically correct to appeal to ivory tower mental masturbation are pure shit. Thus there is no open source equivalent to say AutoCAD or Pro/E or Photoshop, and may never be without a genius being found.

Re:Consistency (3, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#43737099)

People willing to spend $2000 or $600 on a bit of software are very resistant to change. It doesn't matter what license the alternative uses.

The problem isn't the "quality" of Free Software alternatives but the fact that NO alternative of any sort will be considered acceptable because software consumers tend to have a mentality fixated on single brands even when the data formats involved don't have any inherent lock-in.

Shills with no money but lots of free time to post on web forums help contribute to the sense of "single brand ineveitablity".

Re:Consistency (3, Insightful)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43737163)

I'll disagree, there is no equivalent or better alternative in the open source world to the proprietary products I mentioned, the job simply cannot be done in the open source world. But for other softwares, say an operating system or a browser or general purpose scripting language, the open source is superior.

Re:Consistency (2)

F.Ultra (1673484) | about a year ago | (#43738571)

Sure, no one in the whole world can get the job done in GIMP, it's like Photoshop has some magick properties that makes it the only software that can alter some imagebits... I'm not saying that The GIMP is better than Photoshop and I do recognise that Photoshop is better, it's just that it's not that much better and OP is right, the major problems most people have with GIMP is that it's GUI isn't a 100% clone of Photoshop.

Re:Consistency (2)

Rob_Bryerton (606093) | about a year ago | (#43739387)

...the major problems most people have with GIMP is that it's GUI isn't a 100% clone of Photoshop.

I'll go one step further, from my observations of the typical arguments seen re: GIMP vs. PS:
1. The biggest problem seems to be the name. Silly, but what can I say? I do agree that the name sucks, but oh well.
2. Next would be the lack of a (default) MDI-type interface, as horrible as that style is. Yes I know GIMP has that option now. Most people don't know this.
3. It lacks obscure feature X or Y which is useful to a certain percentage of users, like the Libre Office vs Word arguments

Personally, I have no problem using GIMP on Linux or OS X (I don't use Windows except at work to launch PuTTy), but then again, any image adjustments I do are simple resizing, rotations, color corrects, sharpening, format conversions and other simple tasks. Sure the name is stupid, but that doesn't bother me.

What mystifies me is *why* there is no OSS PS clone; it's not like this is rocket science. Most image processing algorithms are well known; a simple web search will find them, as most come from papers submitted to SIGGRAPH (sp?) over the years. In addition, it seems like it would be a fun and interesting project, unlike say accounting software, so that kills the 'boring' argument. And last, this would probably be *the* most popular piece of free software, end of story. Whoever wrote it would be a frickin' rockstar.

Going back to my original points, the biggest issue w/GIMP is probably the fact that PS is one of the most widely illegitimately distributed pieces of software. If it wasn't so easy to get a copy off the 'net, it's usage would be a small fraction of what it is today.

Re:Consistency (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#43740483)

Sure, no one in the whole world can get the job done in GIMP, it's like Photoshop has some magick properties that makes it the only software that can alter some imagebits...

Yep. They're not called Photoshop disasters for nothing you know.

Re:Consistency (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#43740461)

that's why many open source projects perfectly built to a spec and technically correct to appeal to ivory tower mental masturbation are pure shit.

Bullshit.

Provide one single example.

Re:Consistency (2)

Zaelath (2588189) | about a year ago | (#43737095)

So fork GIMP and call it something else. If the name is the only thing stopping corporates from putting money into it so they can break Adobe's monopoly, that would seem to be easily solved.

The larger argument about "consistency", as if corporate software is consistent in quality, is just too ridiculous to even argue.

GIMP is a dumb name ... but not the main problem (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737859)

The problem with GIMP is that it has a horrendous usability problem that seams to increase per release.

Yes, GIMP is a stupid name (even as an acronym) ... but a name alone doesn't make or break a product. USABILITY is the #1 factor in making a software product successful.

Re:GIMP is a dumb name ... but not the main proble (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43739193)

Absolutely. I've recently been victimized by 2.8's new Save As... which breaks 2.6 functionality and only allows you to save in GIMP's own format.

New workflow:

1. Save As...
2. Curse
3. Escape
4. Export

Any change that makes users curse your software is not a good change. But it's an epidemic. Office Ribbon, Gnome 3, Unity, FireFox, Windows 8, etc.

Re:GIMP is a dumb name ... but not the main proble (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year ago | (#43739479)

This is a good point, or at least a specific example of a problem that is a good point... It started with GNOME and Canonical, but it seems like more and more OSS devs are getting into that same mindset of "Quiet, users, the devs know what's best for you" to justify an utter lack of configurability, while simultaneously smashing usability with idiotic changes like the above.

Re:GIMP is a dumb name ... but not the main proble (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#43740545)

Yeah the workflow has changed.

Then again, any change will break someone's workflow. [insert xkcd]

But the new one I find actually better. It's harder to accidently save to a lossy format, and when you pruposely do export to PNG or whatever, it no longer bugs you with pointless warnings telling you what you already know.

Takes some getting used to but I prefer it overall.

No, the pointless and REALLY FUCKING STUPID change that broke my workflow and is in no way ever an improvement is that now when you start pretty much any GNOME/GTK program from not the home directory, it forgets which directory you were in as soon as you try to use any file dialog box.

I was in the drectory for a reason. That is where I want to be.

Re:GIMP is a dumb name ... but not the main proble (1)

Rob_Bryerton (606093) | about a year ago | (#43739431)

Yes, GIMP is a stupid name (even as an acronym) ... but a name alone doesn't make or break a product. USABILITY is the #1 factor in making a software product successful.

I'd say the #1 factor would be perception, then marketing, THEN usability. Look at the success of Microsoft, and learn from how they name their products. Word. Office. Windows. See a pattern? Simple, common words, even if they are non-descriptive of the product, like Excel for example. You don't need to use a recursive acronym in your product name to show me how clever you are. I know you're clever because you can write programs! That takes care of the perception issue.

A decent program will market itself given the nature of the Internet; you no longer need commercial advertising. So now you attack the usability factor.

In this day and age, if you want your wares to have broad appeal, the formula is really simple: Style, popularity, and substance coming in last place, generally speaking. Sad but true.

Re:Consistency (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#43740505)

as if corporate software is consistent in quality, is just too ridiculous to even argue.

Actually, much of it is very consistent.

Consistently so bad that users actually contemplatie removing their spleen with a blunt spork to make the pain of using the software stop. *cough*oracle*cough.

Cosistent doesn't imply consistently good :)

Re:Consistency (2)

turbidostato (878842) | about a year ago | (#43737175)

"For every OpenStack there are craploads of half-finished projects that are basically in a perpetual beta stage. Documentation is spotty, features are spotty"

What makes you think that OpenStack is -as of now at least, any different?

Re: Consistency (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737307)

there are alot of closed source programs/tools you don't know about, because they are for interal use or suck and are never released, so your assumptions biased.

Re:Consistency (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#43737401)

I just wish there was more consistency to open source projects. For every OpenStack there are craploads of half-finished projects that are basically in a perpetual beta stage.

Most open source projects don't have any funding, they're just someone's hobby project that they work on when they feel like it. You can't compare something backed by big corporations (like Linux, OpenStack, Firefox, etc.) to something a 16 year old wrote between high school classes.

Re:Consistency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737769)

And this is the exact point that corporates make - one dude hanging out in a basement programming in his/her spare time does not make a suitable replacement for a large funded project with associated support.

Re:Consistency (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43737643)

yea, but there's just as much crap closed source products as well. The only difference is you can see the garbage in an open source product. My employer has gone from being very annoyed with having to deal with open source licenses and trying to get the whole idea of "it's free, we can't negotiate the license, there's no support contract" though their approvals process... to now just having a check box for which GPL version it is and an automatic approval process. It's great now. Granted we're limited in the scope of what we build with a GPL product. If we're building something that hundreds of people will eventually depend on and we have no way to back out... then that project is going to get a lot of scrutiny. The one good thing about closed source vendors is you can sue them if shit hits the fan.

Re:Consistency (1)

F.Ultra (1673484) | about a year ago | (#43738587)

Who has ever successfully sued a closed source vendor? All closed source licenses that I have ever seen contains the "use at own risk", "no warranty" etc.

Re:Consistency (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43739409)

We do it all the time. It seems to be a normal course of business. Also, never sign the vendors contract. you wright your own and THEY sign.

Re:Consistency (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#43740587)

We do it all the time.

Well, I know I'd never sell you any of my software then. Or, well perhaps through a wholly owned subsidiary that exists only to go out of business when its sued.

If you're suing your vendors all then time, then something is very very wrong with the way you are doing business.

All my work is provided with liability limited to direct fees only. i.e. you can get back what you paid me, not a pound more.

you wright your own and THEY sign.

Or you write yours, I send it to my lawyer, who removes all the obnoxious and abusive clauses, then I sign.

True, but confused. Mature and beta open to you (4, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#43737835)

You bring up two points that are worth addressing. There's some truth to both, and there's good news on both - they are solved by using open source in a way that makes sense, not thinking it's exactly the same as proprietary software, except you get the source code. It's kind of like saying that dogs are better than cats because your cat won't play fetch. True, cat's don't play fetch, instead they play with laser pointers.

You're right, you can find lots of beta level OSS. Both free and proprietary software have betas. With proprietary software, you're not allowed to see the betas (unless it's Microsoft, in which case your new computer comes preinstalled with Windows 8 alpha.) With free software, you can choose the beta version of a mature project (Fedora), the stable version of a mature project (Red Hat), or the beta version of a new project (FuSe). They are all available. That means you'll want to look at the status of that version before making a major commitment to it. Don't install FuSe if you want a mature system, install Red Hat. It's actually cool that you CAN choose FuSe, or a development kernel, if you want some new feature that's in development and not yet rock solid stable. You do want to check though, and that's why Sourceforge shows you right up front how much activity the project has, the version numbers, user ratings, etc., so you can choose maturity vs. bleeding edge, etc.

You also mentioned documentation, which is sometimes important, and is actually entirely separate from the quality of the software. True, the programmers of OSS have less incentive to author well organized, newbie friendly documentation in the style you're accustomed to, unless you use a certain trick. There's actually MORE in-depth documentation for OSS. Every change to the software and the design decisions are normally documented three times: on the -dev mailing list, in git/svn, and in bugzilla or similar. If you have a question, you can email the list and the authors of the software will answer you, assuming you ask a Good Question (see ESR). So if you want to really understand how something ticks, you can find lot more information about how Apache works than how IIS WORKS, for example. That's not too newbie friendly, though. For comprehensive, newbie friendly guides, you need one of two magic words.

HOWTO is the first magic word. Google _____ ______ HOWTO for any OSS topic and you'll probably find the documentation you're looking for. If not, the second magic word is "book". I work on a OSS project you've probably never heard of, Moodle. Moodle isn't a high profile project, yet Barnes & Noble has EIGHTY listings of Moodle books. That's EIGHTY versions of the comprehensive documentation you're looking for. (Could be 40 different books, B&N may have duplicates listed.) I know, you're shocked. I just suggested BUYING something related to open source software. I know it may seem strange, but compare $500 for a Microsoft solution versus $22 for the book to go with the free software option. I'll take $22 over $500 all day long if I really need 150 pages of illustrated documentation.

So you're right, OSS projects don't prevent you from downloading beta quality code. And dogs don't catch mice. Consider this post as "Intro to Cats, a Guide for Dog Lovers".

Re:True, but confused. Mature and beta open to you (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43739587)

With free software, you can choose the beta version of a mature project (Fedora), the stable version of a mature project (Red Hat), or the beta version of a new project (FuSe).

Well no. Fedora is the alpha version of RedHat. Then from work on Fedora they construct the new Red Hat beta, which they deliver to the customers who want to run it. From that you get the stable version of RedHat.

I have never comprehended why anyone would want to do RedHat's alpha testing for free. Some people actually paid with hardware failures when RedHat implemented one of their own patches, remember that? Ubuntu is scary enough. (And still hasn't unfucked the cheap bluetooth dongles that they broke oh so long ago... today, I just suggest people buy something running android, because all these Linuxes are bleeding edgers.)

I used Fedora when I needed a new feature NOW. (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#43740365)

> I have never comprehended why anyone would want to do RedHat's alpha testing for free.

I think "alpha" is a bit too strong, MANY people run Fedora on their desktop with no problems. I did so for several years before switching to CentOS for desktops.
Fedora is certainly cutting edge as opposed to stable.

As to "why", I've used Fedora on an important business server when I needed some brand new virtualization features and I couldn't wait 18-24 months for them to be available in Red Hat or other enterprise stable distros. That was much better supported than me compiling all my own pieces and cobbling them together with the older libraries on RHEL. About two years later, I updated the system to RHEL which finally had the "new" versions that Fedora let me run years before most competitors did.

> I just suggest people buy something running android, because all these Linuxes are bleeding edgers.

Most web servers run Linux. Essentially all supercomputers run Linux. It's stable enough to run the whole of Google reliably. It's stable enough for NSA.

Re:True, but confused. Mature and beta open to you (1)

sgtrock (191182) | about a year ago | (#43743083)

Well, if stability is a major concern there's always the option of going to the grandaddy of any number of Linux distros. Install Debian stable for rock solid reliability, Debian testing for something a bit more up to date and pretty thoroughly debugged, Debian unstable for reasonably up to date and generally as stable as most distros, or experimental if you like the bleeding edge.

The really neat thing about Debian is that it's possible to build a system on stable and select individual applications to install as experimental. Works fine for packages that don't have version specific dependencies on libraries. That's how I'm currently running LyX on my main system, for example.

Re:True, but confused. Mature and beta open to you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43740315)

Thanks for working on Moodle. Inputting grades is a pain, but I'm glad my university switched to OSS.

More details please (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#43759617)

I know you probably won't see this since you're AC, but I'd like to get more details. At our institution, we don't manually input any grades because we just use Moodle for online classes. It would be great if you could post more details about what grades you're inputting, why, and how to the Moodle forum. Any suggestions on how to make it easier?

Lockin is out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43736875)

Gee, that's amazing. Who'd have thought that proprietary locked-down products would create a bad result?

This isn't always good though (2)

Drakino (10965) | about a year ago | (#43736885)

It's great to see Open Source used as a tool to help foster healthy competition where it otherwise may not happen. But it's also potentially bad if the Open Source path leads to worse results for end users.

Take for example the iPhone/Android comparison made. The iPhone took control away from the mobile phone carriers in regards to the device, allowing all iPhone users to see updates all at the same time. It also put a dent in the phone crapware problem. Android has done nether, suffering problems because devices can't be all easily updated. Google today announced that they will be updating APIs through Google Play. All because their attempts to update those APIs at the OS level failed due to carrier and device manufacturers holding up, or never providing OS updates. Google is only regaining control and providing better user experience on Android by becoming more closed, at least when it comes to how they deal with carriers and device manufacturers.

Re:This isn't always good though (3, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year ago | (#43737077)

Android gives users more control over their hardware and their user experience. It also presents a more diverse and meaningful set of choices.

A lot of people like to whine about Android fragmentation and then ignore how badly forced OS upgrades can run on an iPhone.

Even without Google trying to emulate Apple. Android provides a useful and distinct alternative.

There is nothing about Google engaging in Apple style megalomania that will improve my user experience as an Android user. Those perpetuating the usual FUD in this area never highly any actual real consequence of this so-called tragic fragmentation.

Re:This isn't always good though (1)

Drakino (10965) | about a year ago | (#43754163)

Android does provide a meaningful alternative, but I don't see it providing overall a better mass market alternative in some areas. If a security hole is found in the OS, how quickly will it get to every Android phone once patched by Google? That is not an answerable question, because it's simply not possible with the current setup to do so.

Also, no OS upgrade on an iPhone is forced. Never has been, and shows no signs of changing. Hell, iOS even asks if it's okay to update carrier settings.

And no, the fragmentation issue is not FUD. It's real, and thankfully Google agrees. The Android developers at my job are very happy with the Google Play Services API changes, as we have a product already shipping that will improve in the next major version. Fragmentation is why our Android team is larger engineering wise. It has a real cost to my business. We personally don't care to get deep into the open arguments, we just want a good platform to ship our product on. And again, credit to Google for addressing some of the pain points, but it's being done not in an open way. I doubt the source to GPSAPIs will ever be released. So going back to the point of the article, and my first comment, open is not always showing to do good in this example.

Drop the attempts to have an us vs them war with Android vs iOS. The sooner you do, the sooner you realize each side has unique benefits and downsides both can learn from. Clearly Slashdot still has the us vs them mentality so engrained in it, that meaningful commentary still is missing. I'll be taking my leave again for about a year or so and see how things change.

Re:This isn't always good though (1)

fufufang (2603203) | about a year ago | (#43737153)

It's great to see Open Source used as a tool to help foster healthy competition where it otherwise may not happen. But it's also potentially bad if the Open Source path leads to worse results for end users.

Take for example the iPhone/Android comparison made. The iPhone took control away from the mobile phone carriers in regards to the device, allowing all iPhone users to see updates all at the same time. It also put a dent in the phone crapware problem. Android has done nether, suffering problems because devices can't be all easily updated. Google today announced that they will be updating APIs through Google Play. All because their attempts to update those APIs at the OS level failed due to carrier and device manufacturers holding up, or never providing OS updates. Google is only regaining control and providing better user experience on Android by becoming more closed, at least when it comes to how they deal with carriers and device manufacturers.

Yep but the whole point of open source is that people can modify it and fork it. Your argument can apply to desktop Linux too. Personally I think diversity is a good thing. But then again, not everyone is a geek.

Re:This isn't always good though (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737187)

Android has done nether

Nether... my ass.

Re:This isn't always good though (1)

F.Ultra (1673484) | about a year ago | (#43738601)

If you see iPhone as a single vendor (which it is) and not as an operating system then you'll see that updates are handled exactly the same. Because Android is not the vendor here, Samsung, HTC & co is. All Samsung Galaxy S4 users will see the same updates just like all iPhone5 users will. That HTC users won't has nothing to do with Android but with HTC.

Photoshop and Acrobat should be next (1)

knopf (894888) | about a year ago | (#43736999)

Maybe the customers can get around supporting an open source replacement for Adobe Acrobat and Photoshop. On the other hand, all the examples listed were not end-user software, but infrastructure-type software (= something that helped a company make money by building something on top) with tech-savvy employees. So I guess, there won't be a big open source move for replacements of Photoshop and Acrobat.

PS: Yes, I know about gimp, darkroom, inkscape, etc. While I can accomplish the task with them, they lack usability, stability, and speed.

Re:Photoshop and Acrobat should be next (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737463)

Maybe you open sores fags can come up with something original instead of ripping everyone else off. Everything open sores is nothing but a copy of a popular closed source software. Doesn't that kinda shit make you feel second rate? It should.

Re:Photoshop and Acrobat should be next (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#43740653)

Maybe the customers can get around supporting an open source replacement for Adobe Acrobat

I don't know what the full version can do, precisely. However, the things I've ever needed to do with PDFs are: create them, annotate an exsting PDF, cut out pages and paste PDFs together and occasionally make small edits to the content.

There's tools to do all of them now.

One of the main uses of Acrobat I've encountered is to bless PDFs to allow them to be annotated. You can annotate any old PDF in Okular and send it merrily on its way.

Greed and fear drive Wall Street (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737101)

Always has. Capitalism is the most successful national economic model to date but it's far from elegant.

So when major corporations get behind open source, that's part of where they're coming from almost by definition.

Re:Greed and fear drive Wall Street (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737203)

"Capitalism is the most successful national economic model to date"

In one word: China.

Re:Greed and fear drive Wall Street (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737263)

In two words: Guangdong Province. Look it up.

Re:Greed and fear drive Wall Street (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year ago | (#43737675)

China has really only gone from poverty when they abandoned communism. Look at China during the pro-communism era (Cultural Revolution) where historical sites were desecrated, many were killed and starved, and political and religious freedoms were suppressed.

Compare that to Hong Kong which has been (mostly) capitalist under British rule and it was much more prosperous (and still is!) than the rest of China.

Today, we can't even accurately tell the growth of China due to manipulated statistics, but China is undoubtedly in a bubble with manipulated statistics and fake construction ( http://www.news.com.au/business/china-building-mega-cities-but-they-remain-empty-sparking-fears-of-housing-bubble-burst/story-e6frfm1i-1226611169281 [news.com.au] ) producing decent numbers but no wealth.

Re: Greed and fear drive Wall Street (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737369)

I disagree the soviet union was during its hayday was the most suscessful. Going from surfdom to global super power within decades. If africa decided to follow a similar path we probably wouldn't need to give them aid.

inb4 soviet famine, people starve all over the world, no economic model has solved this, plus most soviet famines were engineered.

Re: Greed and fear drive Wall Street (1)

Baby Duck (176251) | about a year ago | (#43737605)

By the late 70s it was a secret to no one the Soviet Union was going bankrupt. It's why Reagan's policy against Communism changed from Containment to Active Repealment.

Re: Greed and fear drive Wall Street (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737711)

I believe that is also when the USA started going bankrupt too, they just haven't declared it yet.

We need to clear the waters here (0)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#43737329)

The waters are muddied by the ideas of 'Open Source' vs 'GNU'. TFA talks about 'Open Source' and that shouldn't be confused with free.

The companies aren't necessarily praising the freelance open source developers, they're praising the cost savings of developing across companies and (perhaps) with the help of GNU developers. But this isn't praising the 'My Time is Free' developer, it's praising the bazaar development model. Of course, software developed under collaboration is going to develop faster and more robustly because there's more people working on it.

It doesn't mean that the software is going to be better. That's why companies like Google are writing the software, then giving it to 'Open Source' for on-going maintenance. But this trend isn't going to continue into the future. However hopeful GNU developers are about the future of GNU, it's only there right now because there's so many hobbyist developers out of professional work who can afford the time to throw at it. Want to help companies write the software? They're not gonna say no .. that doesn't mean that GNU is taking over the world.

This is about open source, there's nothing GNU here.

Re: We need to clear the waters here (2)

msparker (449164) | about a year ago | (#43737623)

Well, there is a lot to respond to here, but I'll just address the question of whether the trend will continue. The article itself seems to refute your statement. The survey indicates that the open source trend is increasing, so I think the more reasonable conclusion to draw is that it is likely to continue for some time.

Re:We need to clear the waters here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43738009)

That's why companies like Google are writing the software, then giving it to 'Open Source' for on-going maintenance.

Well, they release their Linux-based because the GPL requires them to. They've also released some "neat hacks" and so forth. Hard to think of any major commercial quality software they've given over though (except as I mentioned, Linux-based GPL).

Competitive advantage (1)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#43737491)

The survey, as most open source articles, studies, etc. ignores the elephant in the room: open source leads to loss of competitive advantage for companies. I know I likely won't ever use open source software to run any critical parts of my business, because part of my business model is having a competitive advantage through better software than my competitors.

Re:Competitive advantage (4, Informative)

Baby Duck (176251) | about a year ago | (#43737671)

You entirely missed the crux of the summary. Each company knew they could not, individually, supersede the established competitive advantage of the most successful player in their industry. However, bandied together in cooperation, they COULD forge a competitive advantage and undermine the player's supremacy. Better to collaborate on an alternative than concede and pay out millions to the player.

It's like Zulu uniting tribes against The British Empire. Or Attila the Hun uniting tribes against Rome. Or Genghis Khan against China.

If your business model needs you to the be the sole owner of a competitive advantage, and you are never able to achieve that advantage alone, then you have no business model.

Re:Competitive advantage (1)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#43737939)

Those are some suggestions that the author of the summary offered that may apply in some situations. They don't, however, address even most situations, I'd argue. A competitive advantage through software is a viable and reasonable tactic through which to contribute to a business' bottom line. Throwing that advantage out when unnecessary to do so is generally a bad decision. It's what business people call "leaving money on the table".

Re:Competitive advantage (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43739539)

A competitive advantage through software is a viable and reasonable tactic through which to contribute to a business' bottom line.

Right, that's why people use Open Source software. It provides a number of competitive advantages.

Throwing that advantage out when unnecessary to do so is generally a bad decision. It's what business people call "leaving money on the table".

Yes, and using commercial software on a commercial platform and locking people into commercial software is called throwing good money after bad.

Re:Competitive advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43737753)

That is really the point. The bottom line is there are very few companies that make money because of open source. RedHat is one of the few exceptions, and even then, they are not really making money from open source. Their business is selling support for Linux, not creating/extending Linux. Sure, they've contributed some work back to Linux, but that is not making them any money. In fact, one primary objective with RedHat 6 was to make it as difficult as possible for open source groups such as CentOS to copy what they were doing. Hard to view that as being an "open source company" when they are expending lots of effort to block other open source groups. (and by the way - is anyone making any significant money from CentOS? None that I know of...)

I had this conversation with a VC just a couple weeks ago. We were pitching an idea to them and they suggested that we "had" to make our software open source because "that is how business is done now." So I asked them how many open source companies are really making lots of money. There was a long silence in the room. So much for that being "how business is done."

Bottom line, there is a reason that software developers are often among the most highly compensated individual contributors in a company - because what they produce has intrinsic value to a company. Throw what they make out to open source so that *anyone* can benefit from their work (without having to pay for it) and you've just flushed a whole lot of money down the drain.

In terms of the article, first as far as I can see, VMWare is still doing just fine in the virtualization market. And no one is making any significant coin off of OpenStack. It's not really letting anyone compete against VMWare because no one is really making money from it.

Re:Competitive advantage (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43737883)

The survey, as most open source articles, studies, etc. ignores the elephant in the room: open source leads to loss of competitive advantage for companies. I know I likely won't ever use open source software to run any critical parts of my business, because part of my business model is having a competitive advantage through better software than my competitors.

OK, so then I'll just start at the closest open source thing to yours, add less work to get even more of a competitive advantage than you have. Me and a few other competitors will even split the bill, even on maintenance. Leave you in the dust. Good luck with that.

Protip: Your ability to configure the bits is what's valuable. Free and Open Source software means more folks configuring bits in one place. Also note: Even with GPL'd software you're free to use the software and modify it internally so long as you don't distribute it.

Re:Competitive advantage (2)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#43737951)

OK, so then I'll just start at the closest open source thing to yours, add less work to get even more of a competitive advantage than you have. Me and a few other competitors will even split the bill, even on maintenance. Leave you in the dust. Good luck with that.

Hasn't happened in my industry (retail), and it's not likely to. Heck, there's not even a single open source package that is at all competitive in the small to mid size point of sale market. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's a pretty big market that somebody would have taken advantage of, if your theory held any water.

Re:Competitive advantage (1)

AxeTheMax (1163705) | about a year ago | (#43738505)

Well its not likely to happen in any other industry either where there is a low population of people capable or willing to write software. There's a reason why most of the open source volunteer's attention goes to operating systems, graphics packages and the like. There is is almost no open source used in my field (certain sections of UK local government) and despite the UK central government doing a bit more to encourage use of FOSS, this does not mean that any specific packages will be developed.

Re:Competitive advantage (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43739551)

Heck, there's not even a single open source package that is at all competitive in the small to mid size point of sale market.

I know you're lying. How do I know? Because there are already companies setting people up with Linux POS, and Windows POS is pretty much all shit. Every time I go to a place that has new register software (which is always on Windows, so far) it is failing left and right.

Re:Competitive advantage (1)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#43739739)

I know you're lying. How do I know? Because there are already companies setting people up with Linux POS, and Windows POS is pretty much all shit. Every time I go to a place that has new register software (which is always on Windows, so far) it is failing left and right.

Thanks for your expert insight, Mr. Wizard.

Re:Competitive advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43741053)

Really! I distinctly remember installing and modifying a copy of OpenBravo for a national retail chain just a few months ago. I didn't realize I wasn't allowed to do that.

Re:Competitive advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43741171)

Here: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=open+source+pos

Or if you want me to do your thinking for you as well: http://www.unicentaopos.co.uk/home

Re:Competitive advantage (1)

F.Ultra (1673484) | about a year ago | (#43738671)

And once upon a time companies could compete on having electricity, that's no longer any advantage, neither is having computers. If you today compete on software than you write it inhouse. There is no way that you compete using commercial closed software, i.e if you use SAP then your competitors can use SAP as well.

And inhouse, the license doesn't matter at all.

You're forgetting 90%. Don't buy or write, customi (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#43740037)

> know I likely won't ever use open source software to run any critical parts of my business, because part of my business model
> is having a competitive advantage through better software than my competitors.

Then you're doing it wrong. Specifically, you've fallen into a black-or-white view and forgot that 90% of cases are gray.
Surely your company didn't write it's own mail client, you use something like Outlook, Evolution or Claws because there's not nearly enough competitive advantage in having your own email client for the ROI to make sense. You don't write your own word processing program for writing memos and letters. That's one extreme.

At the other extreme, you may have ONE piece of software which does that thing that sets your company apart. You might open source or outsource your payroll, but Google would never open source their search algorithm. Ebay may open source or outsource their forums, but the core of their auction system is the core of their business, so it's 100% proprietary. That's the other extreme. So the two extremes are a) commodity software where you should use something off the shelf and b) your core competency, your true competitive advantage, key business secrets, which should be well closed.

90% of what you use doesn't properly fit either extreme. That 90% in the middle is where the ROI is best by CUSTOMIZING existing software. Ebay doesn't write it's own web server, they customize Apache. To handle petabytes of data, Google customizes open source storage stacks. For MOST things, being completely dependent on a vendor for updates, support, etc. is at least a risk, so committing to of-the-shelf proprietary software instead of an open system you'll be able to customize if needed is a mistake. At the same time, building from scratch is a huge waste of money for most of the software you use. Most cases fall in the middle - use what's already available rather than writing your own, but not by becoming dependent on a third party vendor who may pull an Adobe and decide to stop selling their desktop software, instead offering it only as a cloud based monthly service (or who may go out of business entirely). Open source fills this huge middle perfectly.

Think I'm wrong? That means you think Ebay and Google are wrong. Over half of the world's largest companies, the Fortune 500, are known use open source software. Are you REALLY smarter than Ebay, Google, and all the other multi-billion dollar companies? Is that proven by the fact that you're more successful than they are?

Re:You're forgetting 90%. Don't buy or write, cust (1)

DogDude (805747) | about a year ago | (#43740083)

Is that proven by the fact that you're more successful than they are?

I'm more successful than my larger, publicly owned competition, yes.

ROTFL 2 pet stores are more successful than Google (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#43741565)

Dude, you own two pet stores, with a web site that was apparently designed in Geocities. You're not only not in the same league as Google or eBay, you're not in the same solar system. When someone is 100,000,000,000 times more successful than you, the smart thing is to LEARN from them. The very dumbest thing you can do is to think you're smarter than everyone else and therefore refuse to learn.

Re:Competitive advantage (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#43740693)

I know I likely won't ever use open source software to run any critical parts of my business, because part of my business model is having a competitive advantage through better software than my competitors.

So... you'll use Windows or OSX instead of Linux or IIS instead of Apache (et) instead to get a competitive advangate because no one else uses those...?

The reason I don't use open source GPL (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about a year ago | (#43738011)

Hello,

GPL states if you want to make a game using even a little bit of their source code or art, you need to redistribute your project as well. Sometimes releasing your own source code makes your game easy mode to be hacked. For this reason I wouldn't want to release my code initially at release, but I'd release maybe down the road a couple years.

What I want is a licensing system where I can use someone's code/art for free, but if I make a profit, cut them a share. Right now there are systems that make you pay up front, and if you have no money to begin with, you can't do that. But if people made a licensing system that said,"Pay us 1-50% of your revenue in royalty", I'd be all over that.

Re:The reason I don't use open source GPL (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43738147)

What you're want is not the goal of a license -- what you're wanting is the goal of a written (or in some states/countries, verbal) contract/negotiation. Understand the difference between what a usage license is for and what a financial contract/negotiation is for. Understand they serve separate purposes.

My advice to you would be for the "someone" to use the 2-clause BSD license for the licensing, and a written/signed agreement between you and said "someone" that discusses financial reimbursement (percentages, rates, baseline payments or maximum payouts, etc.). The latter doesn't have to be complex, it can be as simple as you want it to be (literally hand-written on a piece of paper if you want), though I would strongly suggest having a lawyer review it for any "catches" that could screw you financially in the end (e.g. someone 5 years later smiles and says "you said 15%, but didn't say of what, so I want 15% of all your company's assets"). Otherwise if you don't like the 2-clause BSD license, consider the WTFPL (yes I'm serious).

Both the 2-clause BSD license and WTFPL are easy to understand, and provide actual freedom of choice/action; while Richard Stallman's desires might be founded on good intentions, it may or may not apply to every situation. The GPL is a very "idealism-focused" license (in the sense that it's hoping to change the world through a borderline viral belief system), while things like the 2-clause BSD license and WTFPL are more pragmatic.

You would be surprised how many software authors choose the GPL simply because "they heard of it somewhere", and likewise how many software authors do not understand in full what the GPL says or mandates/requires. It's quite shocking, honestly. I would say "Don't people read the license they choose?!" except the licenses are written by pretentious pricks and are very hard to understand, especially for non-English speakers (I had to deal with this last month, where a Brazillian colleague was considering the GPL but didn't understand it given how its worded). The 2-clause BSD license and WTFPL are pretty black-and-white -- once again, KISS principle wins.

Re:The reason I don't use open source GPL (3, Informative)

Phillip2 (203612) | about a year ago | (#43738799)

The GPL is hard to understand, because it is quite long. This is because it is written to have legal meaning. It's the legal system(s) that is at fault here, I think.

Re:The reason I don't use open source GPL (2)

Phillip2 (203612) | about a year ago | (#43738793)

A generic license like that is basically pointless, because it has to define what "revenue" actually is. I bet that Google could prove that they make no profit if they wanted to. In fact, they do prove that they make no profit, which is why the poor souls don't have to pay tax.

If you want this form of license on software that is GPL, then write to the authors and ask them. This will involve a period of contract negotiation, and they will probably only be bothered if you can convince them that you are likely to turn a profit. And away you go.

The bottom line problem is not that GPL is bad. It's that you don't have any money. Over the last twenty to thirty 30 years, we have transformed our societies to one where the market rules us; you don't have any money, well, tough.

Re:The reason I don't use open source GPL (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43739565)

PL states if you want to make a game using even a little bit of their source code or art, you need to redistribute your project as well. [...] What I want is a licensing system where I can use someone's code/art for free, but if I make a profit, cut them a share.

Right, what you want is a free ride. What people who use the GPL want is for you to make a contribution. If you don't like the GPL, then ask the copyright holder[s] if you can license the code under other terms. If it were me, though, I'd tell you to go take a flying leap.

Sometimes releasing your own source code makes your game easy mode to be hacked. For this reason I wouldn't want to release my code initially at release, but I'd release maybe down the road a couple years.

Maybe? Maybe isn't good enough. Not that you'll need any of my GPL code, but I certainly wouldn't provide it on that basis. I would demand code in escrow.

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