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Why is OSS Commercial Software So Expensive?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the not-cost-competitive dept.


An anonymous reader asks: "Our startup honestly wanted to use OSS products. We do not want to spend time for any OSS bug fixing so our main requirement was -official support for all OSS products-. We thought were prepared to pay the price for OSS products, but then we got a price sticker shock. Now behold: QT is $3300 per seat. We have dropped the development and rewrote everything to C# (MSVS 2005 is ~$700). Embedded Linux from a reputable RT vendor is $25,000 per 5 seats per year. We needed only 3 seats. We had to buy 5 nevertheless. The support was bad. We will go for VxWorks or WinCE in our next product. Red Hat Linux WS is $299. An OEM version of Windows XP Pro is ~$140. A Cygwin commercial license will cost tens of thousands of dollars and is only available for large shops. We need 5 seats. Windows Unix services are free. After all, we have decided that the survival of our business is more important for us then 'do-good' ideas. Except for that embedded Linux (slated for WinCE or VxWorks substitution), we are not OSS shop anymore." Why are commercial ports of OSS software so expensive, and what would need to happen before they could be competitive in the future?

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Not a Good Business Model for Enterprise (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313653)

Why is OSS Commercial Software So Expensive?
Possibly because it's not a good business model for enterprise consumers--and therefore must up its charges.

I mean, you want to sell a product that a community developed. Which means its quality could be variable. On top of that, you want to support it. The depends on excellent documentation which isn't enforced in the open source community. There's probably a lot of dead OSS projects for every one successful OSS project. You'll notice that the software itself is very very free ... what the summary is complaining about is 'seats' (training or support).

This particular user seems to be looking for portable technologies. The commercial versions of these technologies are still in their infancy which does not bode well for the OSS alternatives. I would suggest that you're paying the early adopter fees on a few of these things. Afterall, Google uses a stripped down version of Red Hat. My company of tens of thousands employees uses Red Hat company wide. They find the free cost to be quite lucrative--just buying support whenever it's needed.

The OSS business model works well for the individual user who isn't looking for support because the free end product is out there for them and they use it if it works. The enterprise consumers looking for support year after year must pay quite a bit.

The software itself is not expensive, nor is it necessarily harder to support--it's just very difficult to create this support out of nothing.

In my opinion, you're going about OSS all wrong. You should stick with what is working and slowly move to a new OSS tool one at a time. You will encounter learning curves. But there is a lot of information online and, worse comes to worse, you can look at the source/documentation yourself.

I imagine there's something about the product you aren't telling us about that is quite constraining ....

Re:Not a Good Business Model for Enterprise (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314145)

I mean, you want to sell a product that a community developed. Which means its quality could be variable. On top of that, you want to support it. The depends on excellent documentation which isn't enforced in the open source community. There's probably a lot of dead OSS projects for every one successful OSS project. You'll notice that the software itself is very very free ... what the summary is complaining about is 'seats' (training or support).

How is anything you just said unique to F/OSS? The quality of proprietary software is variable, and so is the support. The quality of documentation for proprietary software is likewise spotty. Proprietary software projects die on the vine all the time; at least F/OSS projects can be easily picked up again, if there is any interest.

As for the article's premise, that commercially supported F/OSS software is expensive - how is that any different than proprietary software? There's a reason that Paul Allen and Larry Ellison are in a boat building competition. I really with the Slashdot editors would spend a least an iota of energy attempting to filter out the trolls; but maybe they just enjoy the flamefests.

Re:Not a Good Business Model for Enterprise (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314409)

What I find surprising is that, in the few responses I've skimmed (including yours), I haven't seen anyone mention that these companies need to pay programmers. There's this tremendous myth that OSS is all written by good Samaritans in their spare time, and companies that sell it commercially simply rebrand it, box it, and ship it.

It's like people think that Linux is free, so why can't Redhat distribute it for almost nothing? Redhat and Novel employ programmers, too. In fact, the paid programmers make a tremendous contribution to all of this FOSS we benefit from. That's right, sometimes it's the big companies' work that makes the FOSS version so good, so the commercial companies aren't getting all that work for free.

I don't mean to insult anyone here, and I don't want to quibble about the ratio of good Samaritan contributions vs. paid contributions. Still, you can't discount that there are Redhat-employed programmers working on Redhat, and sometimes Redhat's work ends up in the free stuff.

So what I'm saying is, businesses selling commercial OSS have the same costs as a closed shop, even though they receive some free help. And for all the free help they get, these savings are offset by the fact that people don't have to buy their software. So let's say they cut their programming costs in 50% (just a number I'm plucking out of the air), their revenue is also cut by 75% (another made up number) by people who would buy it, but decided instead to download for free.

And this doesn't even take into account the whole dynamic of competition in commercial OSS. In short, for whatever Redhat spends in development, Novel also gets that work for free, and vice versa. Now maybe Novel doesn't want to use that work, and maybe Redhat is benefitting from Novel in just the same ways, but it sure does complicate the business model.

Re:Not a Good Business Model for Enterprise (3, Insightful)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314411)

Good points. I'd also point out that the summary doesn't include the cost of the Windows support contract. Not that I think it would outweigh what is listed for the OSS things, but it would be fair to have that too since you don't really get any support from MS for Windows unless you pay for support. The $140 listed doesn't include it.

Commercial versions vs. "based on" (5, Insightful)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313657)

Let's draw an extremely fine line here: commercial parts/versions of OSS products, and products built on OSS.

Commercial versions of OSS products aren't worth it, anywhere, almost ever. Just look at the prices above. In almost every case, go with the closed soruce version, and you'll save yourself a hell of a lot of money.

Now, look at two highly successful products built on open source: Fonality PBX (Asterisk) and Barracuda Spam firewall (Spamassassin). We use 'em both. I'm our entire IT department - just me. I already have too much on my plate, and when we were in the market for a new antispam solution, the natural pick was a Linux-Exim-Spamassassin/RBL frontend to our Exchange 2003 server. Powerful, effective, free (aside from hardware).
Problem: I'm already working tons of overtime - do we pay a contractor $120/hour to come in and try to set a system up, then rely on me to support it when I already don't have time? Or, do we pay a company like Barracuda Networks $1300 for their itty bitty model of the spam firewall and get a system that's guaranteed, backed up by all the time they've spent developing their hardware and frontends, 24/7 support, automatic updates, and license-free monitoring and filtering? I don't have the numbers with me, but the cost in staff + contractor time + hardware vs. the Barracuda system (which is overkill for our little network) was something like 3:1.

Re:Commercial versions vs. "based on" (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313903)

I think where OSS and such do make sence is on the server, when you substitute $$$/seat daemons to free daemons.

I'm thinking something like Linux/Samba/Kerberos for substitution for WinServer. Now, you dont owe any per seat access licenses.

Re:Commercial versions vs. "based on" (1)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314395)

That's exactly where Barracuda is (in part!) saving us tons and tons of $.

Re:Commercial versions vs. "based on" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314385)

Baraccuda sucks -- and I _do_ know what I'm talking about. I am one of the administrators for a large, major US govt agency, and we evaluated every major brand on the market. Baraccuda can't get out of its own way much less work as a real enterprise-level Anti-Spam / Anti-Virus solution. If you think Barracuda is good you either A) have no budget, or B) haven't evaluated anything else. Barracuda is apparently very good at marketing and getting their ads in all the right magazines. When you're ready to engineer your AS/AV solutions on solid, proven technology and not from pictures in magazines, take a look at Brightmail, Postini, Proofpoint, or Ironport. In a day and age where Spam, Viruses, Phishing scams and other nasties comprise 50-80% of the typical organization's mail stream-- you'll be glad you did!

Some Theories... (3, Insightful)

pen (7191) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313659)

Three reasons come to mind:

  • Quality and reliability: These products may cost you less in the long run. I couldn't begin to say how many hours I've wasted tracking down stupid issues in every Microsoft environment I've ever used, from Visual Basic 3 to today's Visual Studio.NET
  • Support: I would guess that most of these licenses come with some kind of support contract.
  • Relative obscurity: If you have hundreds of thousands of customers, you can afford to spread the load between them. When you only have a few thousands, you need more money per customer to support the same level of development.

Of course, these are all hypothetical and general. YMMV.

Re:Some Theories... (5, Interesting)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313907)

If you have hundreds of thousands of customers, you can afford to spread the load between them. When you only have a few thousands, you need more money per customer to support the same level of development.

Which would mean that all software begins life as insanely expensive and then comes down in price? My experience sez that's not the case.

Quality and reliability

Yeah, I've never had to track down stupid issues in open source software. Never!


Since the common wisdom seems to be that Microsoft charges a lot of money for nothing and it's super-easy to replace "propietary" software with FLOSS equivalents (MySQL vs. Oracle, GiMP vs. Photoshop, etc) I'd say that's about the only thing you could conceivably be charging for, other than packaging and/or integration. So I suppose the issue here is really "why are support contracts so expensive?" rather than "why is the software so expensive?".

Either way, my (relatively limited) experience with FLOSS vendors is that they tend to be a bit arrogant in the sense that they'll tell you that whatever you're using right now is "shit" and they have the solution to all of mankind's problems (including yours), and then they have absolutely no idea how to create things like tiered pricings and segment/volume discounts for different types of customers. That's something commercial software vendors do very well. The commercial ones will also tell you that they'll get you off the "shit", but then they can walk the walk. FLOSS vendors seem to be all talk.

In our case we ended up going without a support contract (insanely expensive) and hired a guy that was an expert with the software. He did all the customization work we needed for about a year and he made a good $50K with virtually guaranteed future contract work. The "vendor" (if one can call them that) ended up losing out to the hacker kid in mom's basement - literally.

Re:Some Theories... (2, Interesting)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314259)


I submitted 3 Apache bugs (39940, 40146, and 40301) and they haven't even been assigned to anyone or commented on by anyone, never mind fixed!

Re:Some Theories... (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314367)

I'm in a similar boat. I've posted several questions and requests even for someone to acknowledge that a particular bug I've discovered exists. I've gotten zero answers. It's frustrating when a project's stopping block is a bug that I can't seem to track down in the code (it's kernel level--I'm simply not that good) and that no one else will acknowledge the existence of. The only good side is that at least I'm not paying for this lack of support!

Re:Some Theories... (1, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314407)

I submitted 3 Apache bugs (39940, 40146, and 40301) and they haven't even been assigned to anyone or commented on by anyone, never mind fixed!

Which IIS bugs have you submitted. Have they been fixed? How much did it cost you to submit them?

Re:Some Theories... (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314415)

So I suppose the issue here is really "why are support contracts so expensive?" rather than "why is the software so expensive?".

Except that in at least some of the examples given (XP, VS), there is no support included. MS will charge an extra for support, which should be included in the price if you want to compare with supported OSS. I'd say in general regardless of whether it's OSS or proprietary, support will tend to cost more than the software simply because that one cannot be duplicated at a near-zero cost.

Red Hat not competing with Microsoft (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313693)

Red Hat is competing with the big iron Unices like HPUX and crap like that which costs in the thousands. It's cheap for its niche.

Re:Red Hat not competing with Microsoft (2, Insightful)

DraconPern (521756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313733)

I don't see how RedHat is competing with 'Big Iron' when it doesn't have half the features. May be against lowend Solaris installs, but the price isn't that different.

Re:Red Hat not competing with Microsoft (1)

shogarth (668598) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313927)

Red Hat is not competing with "Big Iron." They are a software service company not a hardware outfit. The biggest of the Big Iron operators, IBM, sells and supports Red Hat. They are competing in the server space with other commercial Linux support outfits, Solaris, *BSD, Win2K3, and a few others. They aren't really competing at all in the desktop space.

That said, Linux is not as full featured as some of the commercial OS offerings. For example, some of the debugging tools available for Sparc Solaris rely on features that the x86 hardware platform simply doesn't implement. Is that a Red Hat issue? No. It's a limitation chosen by the user when they selected a more limited hardware platform.

Re:Red Hat not competing with Microsoft (2, Interesting)

paitre (32242) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313793)


My employer is going RH (and possibly SuSE) and we're saving something like 7 figures in licensing and hardware support contracts by dumping the majority of our HP and Sun systems for bladeframes running RHEL.

Even with that, we're still paying a crapload, but the savings are immense when compared to RH's "real" competition. Personally, I suspect that RH would be nore than happy to lose what little of the workstation market that they have so they can rake in more money in server licenses...

Re:Red Hat not competing with Microsoft (2, Insightful)

eclectus (209883) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313925)

apples & oranges. You are dropping HW & SW support from HP/SUN and getting SW support only from RHEL. If you compare SW only support costs from Sun/RedHat/HP at equivilant support levels, they are fairly equivilant.

*full disclosure. I work for Sun Support, onsite at a large company that uses HP, RHEL, and Sun. I work with the folx who purchase support from all three vendors, and I'm going off of what they tell me, plus what I've seen elsewhere.

Re:Red Hat not competing with Microsoft (1)

paitre (32242) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313983)

Not really, because we're also paying hardware support for the bladeframes that we're using.

A cost which is a _FRACTION_ of what we are paying for our Sun and HP rigs.

Re:Red Hat not competing with Microsoft (2, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313859)

Exactly, Redhat WS is not equivalent to MS Windows XP. With Redhat you get a lot of stuff you don't get with Windows XP, like a full office suite, which from MS would cost more than $300.

Re:Red Hat not competing with Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314381)

This is the most stupid post I've seen. The prices quoted are not realistic and they obviously are unable to do research. Redhat is not in the desktop business and does not want to be in it.

Had they looked at Novell they would have found world class support for everything they mentioned at a fraction of the cost.

sounds like you don't really know what you need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16313717)

you want to be cheap but want everything done for you so that you don't have to do any work yourself. good luck!

buy one seat for anything support wise and when you have a problem reproduce it there and go thru that seat for the support.

Re:sounds like you don't really know what you need (3, Insightful)

binarybum (468664) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313777)

While I think your second line is a good idea, your first misses the point - the submitter was comparing commercial OSS vs. CSS not commercial OSS vs. free OSS.

Profit! (3, Informative)

riversky (732353) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313753)

Hire people to make the software (even open source) = Wages to pay

Hire people to make the software but not pay them = slavery

Charge more for the product than the wages you pay = PROFIT

Ok that was way too simple but the bottom line is no one ever said OSS was non-profit or even small profit. In fact by driving down costs these providers can get richer than with proprietary software. The model is buy low and sell high. Economics 101

Support (5, Informative)

radish (98371) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313775)

But you say you want support, that's why you're paying. Hate to break it to you, but an OEM license of XP doesn't buy you any useful support. Neither does a $700 VS license. Microsoft, like everyone else, charges for support contracts.

Re:Support (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313935)

That's the problem with QT. You can't just buy a license, without support.

Re:Support (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314151)

No, the problem with QT is that their business model is not actually based on any legal concept of copyright. Their spin on licensing is that developers must pay a seat license to develop applications which use their library if the resulting product is going to be "commercial". They specifically say that you can't use the open source version of their product to develop commercial software. Then, in the same breath, they claim that their library is under the GPL, which, if you ask the authors of the GPL they will tell you, has no such restriction.

Re:Support (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314351)

They specifically say that you can't use the open source version of their product to develop commercial software. Then, in the same breath, they claim that their library is under the GPL, which, if you ask the authors of the GPL they will tell you, has no such restriction.

In fact this is a violation of the GPL which they claim to be licensing under. There cannot be added clauses which remove rights granted by the GPL or it is NOT GPL. They can charge whatever they want for the "commercial" version under the GPL but they cannot prevent you from compiling your own version from their source code, which must be made available for free (download) or nominal reproduction/copying fees (burned CDs + shipping), or downloading their "non-commercial" (i.e free) version and then using it for "commercial" use.

If they modify or add features to a GPL project then they MUST license those features under the GPL too and they cannot add additional licensing restrictions on those improvements. The only way that they can charge more for the "commercial" version AND enforce their right to limit how you use the software is for them to build a completely proprietary project that runs on Linux, then they can license their complete, compiled (with or without source), and wholy owned product however they chose, but if they choose to license under the GPL then they cannot impose the use restrictions.

Re:Support (1)

Shawn is an Asshole (845769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314199)

Which is why I use wxWidgets [] + DialogBlocks ($70/user)...

Re:Support (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314291)

Alternatively, you could just write the UI for your application in the appropriate language for each of the platforms you want to support. Yes, that means writing one in C# for Windows, one in Objective-C for Mac and one in C for Linux. Then use a common core for all platforms. The UI should be seperate from the core anyway, so its not like it is hard to write three seperate UIs. It does, however, mean you can make the app look different on each platform, something that people who use cross platform toolkits claim they don't want, until they actually start getting customer complaints from users who want your app to look and feel like every other app on their platform. Of course, these are usually Mac users, and we tend to just ignore them, so the myth of cross platform UIs continues.

Actually, ya it does (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314181)

What a Windows license buys you in terms of support is two major things:

1) Patches. MS releases patches for Windows and everything associated with it, and tests those patches to make sure they work. If an incompatibility is found (it's rare one survives the initial testing) it gets fixed. Now of course there is OSS that does that, but there's no guarantee. With MS it's not really a question of if the software will be patched during it's supported life. Same deal with supported OSS software like RHEL. Sure, Fedora also does patches, but they aren't tested like the RHEL ones are, and if the developers of the component don't release a patch, they aren't likely to patch it for them.

2) The knowledge base. MS has a massive knowledge base that is really very good. I use it all the time at work. When a Windows system bluescreens do I start a debugger? Hell no, I'm not a programmer. I write down the details and look it up in the knowledge base. The answers tend to be just want I needed. If some weird problems comes up, again I go looking in the knowledge base. It is a central, easy to search, repository of solutions tested by MS themselves. You don't get that with a no-charge OSS product. Sure there are news group posts, and IRC logs and such out there but man, tracking down the answer can be hell, if anyone has found an answer at all.

3) Vendor support. When a vendor sells you a system with Windows, they are guaranteeing hardware support (at least if they aren't shady). When Gateway sells me a rackmount server with Windows installed, I know that it will be working, and I know that it will have drivers for all it's hardware. However when I try and install FC4 on it, maybe it doesn't work. In fact what does happen is it kernel panics on install (we still have never figured out why). Should it not work, I can call them and get it fixed, if it's a Windows problem they'll call MS and get it fixed. You can get the same thing with Linux, but only buying a system with a supported Linux distro on it, which is usually an enterprise Linux.

Those are not at all worthless support resources. Support doesn't necessarily mean holding your hand through configuration, it just means ensuring that all the resources you need are available. You get that with commercial solutions, be they OSS based or not. It's not the same as a support contract, but often is what people need.

It's the support costs. (5, Informative)

SarekOfVulcan (133772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313787)

How much support do you get from Red Hat [] for your $299?

How much from Microsoft [] for your $140?

Win XP Pro OEm - support? (4, Informative)

ahg (134088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313789)

Red Hat Linux WS is $299. An OEM version of Windows XP Pro is ~$140.

And the OEM version of Windows XP Pro is supported by whom?

I don't know what support Red Hat provides with the $299 version but I know supposrt is primarily what you're paying for or everyone would be using Fedora Core.. Please compare apples to apples - last I heard OEM versions including zero vendor support.

Re:Win XP Pro OEm - support? (-1)

DraconPern (521756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313919)

OEM of XP is supported by the computer vendor. E.g. Dell has 30 day phone support, which is just like RedHat's $170 offering that has 30 days support. So in this case RedHat is more expensive.

Re:Win XP Pro OEm - support? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314115)

In that case, Dell is charging you for support. It doesn't matter that it is included in the cost of the machine, Dell isn't giving you that for free. So your comparison is still wack.

Much of your cost is because you are "commercial" (4, Insightful)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313803)

The expensive items are because you want "commercial" versions - e.g. you want to create a closed product. (e.g. you cite how expensive it is to use Cygwin and Qt - commercially).

You might want to consider your business model - can your product be FOSS too, and then YOU charge the big bucks for support, etc.?

Economics... (2, Interesting)

huckda (398277) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313805)

An OEM version of Windows XP Pro is ~$140.

And the virus you get is FREE, but ends up costing you a little more than $140.

joking and MS-flaming aside...
OSS support for specific products that you mention is outrageous.
but for the MAJORITY of OSS products the support is much less.
But it all comes down to simple economics:

Supply vs. Demand if all of those OSS products you mentioned have viable competitors the price would be lower

in the closed source realm there are TONS of players and the costs need to be lower to get a good chuck of the market.

Re:Economics... (1)

Trevin (570491) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314373)

A agree that it is about supply and demand, but I don't agree that competition has anything to do with it.

Competition is what reduces the profit margin. But a company can only go as low as its operating costs, and the cost of human resources can be quite high.

So if you have 1 tech support person (or developer) supporting a product for just 1 user, that user essentially has to pay the entire salary of the support person.

But if 1 tech support person can support a product for 100 users, which is quite feasible if those users don't require constant hand-handling and whatever problems come up can be handled once for everyone (like software bugs), then the support tech's salary can be split 100 ways, so for example you would end up paying $500 per year instead of $50,000.

It's a lot like how pricing works for software. General purpose software that has a high demand can be sold for a lower cost because the publisher makes up for it in volume. Niche software with low demand has a higher cost in order to recover the cost of development.

Learn about open source first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16313807)

Open Source can be about allowing your company to utilise free software on your desktops.

When it comes to utilising some open source products in your CLOSED SOURCE PROPRIETARY FOR PROFIT SOFTWARE then the licensing terms change. Be fucking thankful that there are some systems out there that you can (1) license for use in your application under a license that is closed source commercial software friendly, such as QT (which is an entire platform without the overhead of C#, which also only runs on Windows, FreeBSD and Linux (mono) be damned, they're unsupported) and (2) where you can also view their source code instead of them giving you an API that does 'magic' but you'll never know if it is secure or not.

What if using QT would have saved you even half a man month of development per user. That makes up the licensing differential.

When you're running a company, you should prioritise the costs effectively. Being cheap up front very often costs you dearly down the line.

why pay for support? (1)

aztechClanIII (536891) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313815)

seems like you could get all the support you need for free, and from the sound of it the free support would be better than what you've already purchased. Don't use QT if it's so expensive, I think that one is more for cross-platform use. Also, use CentOS instead of RedHat if you're looking to save a buck. You'll never use RedHat support and you only need it if you're running Oracle. Anyway, OSS was meant to be community supported, check out the community around the technology you use.. Become a part of that community and help support yourself, after all you've got the code!

Qt (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313817)

Qt does not cost $3300 per seat. You can download it and use it for Free. Oh wait, you meant "proprietary licensing". Right.

Aanyway, maybe expensive because it's good? I haven't used it myself, but I've heard it's rather good stuff.

Re:Qt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16313943)

Not only that but AC didn't bother to check out TrollTech's discount for startups/small business licenses. A qualifying business can get up to 3 licenses at 65% off of the regular $3300 price.

Summary smells trolly to me.

Re:Qt (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313997)

Yes, QT is about $3300 per seat, if you want to develop something you hold the rights too. It is good, but it isn't *that* good.

Pay for open source??? (4, Interesting)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313819)

We run Jboss, Tomcat, Apache, MySQL, Asterisk, etc. Do we pay for support? Hell no. We have a knowledgable and competent staff. You only need to pay for support and commercial products if you DON"T have a knowledgable and competent staff. You are basically paying someone else to be that staff. That's why you are paying the high price. That and the re-assurance that someone is responsible for the product you are paying for so that you have someone to bitch and whine to when it breaks. With an unsupported open source product, you are the only person responsible for maintaining everything. These are the reasons why you pay the high price. But you always have the option NOT to pay and just support it yourself. Plus you are comparing HIGH END support contracts and their are low end support contracts that are a LOT less. It all depends on what you want.

Re:Pay for open source??? (3, Insightful)

paitre (32242) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313933)

In a past life working at a (still profitable) dot-com we didn't pay for support either.
Tomcat, RedHat, Apache, etc.

However, there's a BIG difference between a webhosting-type services company that MIGHT promise 2 9's and a transaction processing company who promises 4 9's and where downtime costs/losses are measured in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per hour.
Any business where reliable systems are a critical component are going to be willing to pay for that reliability, be it in HA hardware solutions, HA software solutions, or more likely, a combination of the two.

Sometimes, you really don't have a choice - you need high end support because you need someone to blame when the shit hits the fan. You need someone who will dedicate development time to alter their product to meet your specific needs. Out of the box w/basic configuration? Sure, pay the least you can. Throw in semi-exotic hardware and the need to meet high-end reliability targets, and support costs are literally the least of your concerns.

It's not what you want. It's what you need to properly cover your ass and support the business.

Re:Pay for open source??? (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314311)

Exactly. That's precisely the point I was trying to make. If you need accountability, that's what you are getting with that high price tage. And even then, you don't have to have THAT high of a price tag and the support contract pricing varies on your companies needs. I've seen some companies just default to purchasing support on everything without even thinking as to whether they NEED it on that product or not. Some applications/frameworks/systems you may need it and on others you may not. And when your company evaluates something and decides they DO need it, you then have to evaluate the type of support contract you wish to purchase. I'm honestly suprised that this question even comes up because any IT dept should know how to evaluate software, products and support before even getting to the point where they need to purchase $30,000 support contracts.

Re:Pay for open source??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314299)

It's nice that your staff is knowledgable and competent. But that merely means that you're paying the support costs by having extra in-house staff to do that work. Whether or not it's worth outsourcing the support is simply a matter of where it can be done for the least cost.

Most companies have enough trouble focusing on the development and support of their own products that they don't really need the hassle and distraction of hiring extra people to support the tools that are supposed to be helping them do that development. If you need a bunch of programmers to support the tools, you might as well have written the code yourself.

Just because some wizard manages to learn to use a cryptic tool despite its bugs doesn't mean that tool is a great thing to build your product around. He's "compentant and knowledgeable", and also wasting a lot of his time and ability.

Only the tools that don't need special competant and knowledgable staff to maintain really help you do your work. Tools need to "just work". Otherwise, they add to your workload. You might have to have them anyway. But they need to cost much less in effort to use than they provide in saving on the real job and hand.

The difference between a lot of FOSS software and commercial software is that the FOSS stuff is regarded even by its developers as a hobby. Working on the tool itself is what they do. As a result, they tend not to understand why everyone else doesn't want to work on tool A just like them, when in fact they're trying to solve a completely different product by developing widget B. The commercial outfits know that no one will buy their crap just to have fun playing with it, so they have some motivation to get their cool toy out of your hair and help you get on with widget B.

Some few FOSS projects understand this problem, of course. But all too many just have the "hey, you have the source, fix the bug yourself" mentality.

Notice that the biggest FOSS success stories are those in which the tool developers and tool users are the same group -- that is, programmers. Linux, GCC, various shells, scripting languages like Perl or Python, editors like vi. All this stuff is used by the same people that develop it, so they have a vested interest in making it work right, as it affects them personally. This effect has a bit of a halo for really common tools that most people need -- web servers, image editors. But it breaks down completely when the developers are not also the user audience. Then, they have no interest in improving tools to make someone else's job easier. (Hey, we gave them the source, they should learn to program, and do that instead of their actual job.)

Why pay anything (3, Insightful)

iambarry (134796) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313821)

Seems to me like you are searching out the most expensive commercial OSS on the planet, then asking why wouldn't you just buy the MS product instead.

Why would you want the $10,000 version of Cygwin when you can download and use it for free? Likewise, there are plenty of reputable free Linux distributions out there, many suitable for use in embedded systems.

If you want a commercial Linux, why not look at Redhat? Its comparable in price to Windows. There are plenty of embedded applications.

Re:Why pay anything (2, Informative)

Wavicle (181176) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314133)

Why would you want the $10,000 version of Cygwin when you can download and use it for free?

Because they don't want to release their software as GPL, and the free version of cygwin requires it.

If you want a commercial Linux, why not look at Redhat?

Because they want a real-time embeddable OS and that's not what RH is selling.

Bandwidth don't come cheap... (2, Funny)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313827)

Someone's gotta pay the bill for all those torrents. Speaking of which, my fedora dl is almost done. Thanks, d00d!

Economics at work in the niche market (1)

atw (9209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313863)

Most of very few people who would use OSS will use it for free without paying a dime, a small minority of them will actually need proper business support - but businesses have fixed costs and if sales are low this means unit price will be high. Naturally this is a catch 22 as the high price puts people off and they either use same software for free or buy into non-OSS.

I'm sorry but is this article a troll, (1)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313865)

or am I missing something?

I comment on embedded Linux/Windows or the QT/C# thing, but at least two of the examples are apples to oranges comparisons.

Cygwin vs SFU, surely with one you're paying for support and one you're not? I mean Cygwin was free without support last time I checked.

Again, "Red Hat Linux WS is $299. An OEM version of Windows XP Pro is ~$140.", well if you want RedHat for free you can have it for free, just recompiled by a 3rd party (CentOS). What's that, you want support? Does that XP Pro OEM disk include support? It doesn't? You surprise me!

Re:I'm sorry but is this article a troll, (1)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313895)

>I mean Cygwin was free without support last time I checked.

It's been ages since I bothered to look, but I'm pretty sure that cygwin has the same kind of dual-license deal that mysql has. In other words, if you use it commercially, you have to pay.

Re:I'm sorry but is this article a troll, (1)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314011)

You can use MySQL for free commercially if you abide by the GPL or whatever its OSS license is. It's just if you don't want to play OSS ball that you'll have a problem, but AFAIK SFU doesn't give you any source code to play with anyway so the point is moot.

oops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16313929)

"I comment on embedded Linux/Windows" = "I *can't* comment on embedded Linux/Windows"

Re:I'm sorry but is this article a troll, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314193)

It's definitely an apple-oranges comparison. The commerical cygwin license costing tens of thousands of dollars ($25,000 is what I got from a google search) that the article mentions is only if you are developing applications that link to the commercial cygwin libraries and are closed source. But AC isn't using cygwin for that, he's just wanting a Unix environment like that provided by SFU. In that case, Red Hat offers a commercially supported version of the cygwin utilities at $2,679 for 10 desktops. More than SFU, but then you get a shitload more programs plus commercial support.

Re:I'm sorry but is this article a troll, (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314277)

The article *is* a troll. It was written by someone contracted by MS. I don't know how that could be more obvious, other than them saying "I am being paid by Microsoft."

It sounds like one of those case studies you see in a section on a company's website.

Redundant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16313885)

OSS Commercial Software -> Open Source Software Commercial Software

Grrr... Worse than ATM machine and PIN number.

Buh? (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313897)

QT is $3300 per seat. We have dropped the development and rewrote everything to C# (MSVS 2005 is ~$700).

you act as if Qt were the only option around. What about GTK+ and wxWindows?

Embedded Linux from a reputable RT vendor is $25,000 per 5 seats per year. We needed only 3 seats. We had to buy 5 nevertheless. The support was bad. We will go for VxWorks or WinCE in our next product.

That's fine. Next time, pick a different vendor. How much research did you do before picking this vendor?

Red Hat Linux WS is $299. An OEM version of Windows XP Pro is ~$140.

If you need support for every Linux desktop in your organization, you have bigger problems than how much you're paying for licensing. Also, that Windows XP Pro only comes with installation support. ALL support after installation is either hourly or on contract. So basically, instead of using white box linux so that you get a free redhat with free updates, you spent $140 to be locked into a Microsoft platform. How is this a win again?

A Cygwin commercial license will cost tens of thousands of dollars and is only available for large shops. We need 5 seats. Windows Unix services are free.

I hate to break this to you, but "Windows Services for Unix" is crap. Also, you only need a license for cygwin if you want to distribute non-GPL software. Why go so balls-out for open source if you're not going to distribute open source? Your "do-good" ideas are half-assed and do not impress us under these circumstances.

After all, we have decided that the survival of our business is more important for us then 'do-good' ideas. Except for that embedded Linux (slated for WinCE or VxWorks substitution), we are not OSS shop anymore."

Congratulations. Sounds to me like you wanted to use all the FoSS tools to create a non-Open product (let alone Free.) We don't need ya! Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, kthx.

Re:Buh? (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313957)

Excuse me? There's plenty of room for all of us; opensourced and closedsource.

And there's no need for name-calling such stuff. He can read the licenses, as Im sure he's done with MS products.

And really, Linux as a base system needs to be open source so we can do whatever we want. But on top of that, let anybody develop for it. If I'll use it, and its good, Ill buy it.

(AAAAhh someone who is willing to pay for linux programs!!! oh the humanity)

Re:Buh? (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314257)

(AAAAhh someone who is willing to pay for linux programs!!! oh the humanity)

This isn't the early 1990s. If you don't understand the difference between "freedom" and "free of charge" by now, you shouldn't be posting to online forums yet.

- Schraegstrichpunkt, who has purchased VMware Workstation, Crossover Office, various Loki games, and several commercial Linux-based operating systems (though I still prefer Debian).

Re:Buh? (2, Insightful)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313991)

"Congratulations. Sounds to me like you wanted to use all the FoSS tools to create a non-Open product (let alone Free.) We don't need ya! Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, kthx."

It's this kind of mentality that truly is the hindrance to the adoption of OSS.

Re:Buh? (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314077)

Absolutely. We need a base system that is truly free (and we have it).

Let the cool content based programs (read games) and vertical apps go up from here. All I ask is that you (the companies/developers) follow the rules of the base system.

Re:Buh? (2, Insightful)

AVee (557523) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314425)

And how is a company developing closed source software helping 'the adoption of OSS'? And by the way, who said we wanted 'adoption of OSS' in the first place? Personally i couldn't care less if others want to spoil there money on MS software, as long as they don't try to fore me into using the crap...

Re:Buh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314041)

Unix interop components are now available with Windows Operating system. They have been awarded by Linuxworld, which helps scripts to run directly, and UNIX apps to be compiled (in addition with linking with windows libraries)

Re:Buh? (1, Insightful)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314043)

>We don't need ya! Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, kthx.

See, this is a perfect illustration of the different agendas of the BSD and GNU developers. The BSD camp has the attitude of "Do it for free because no one should have to re-invent the wheel". This leads to benefits such as the proliferation of the BSD networking stack which -even though they didn't make a buck off of it- they still benefitted because everyone started from the same -compatible- software base (instead of writing and implementing a zillion half-assed, incompatible solutions). The GNU attitude is "you can't use MY SOFTWARE unless you follow MY AGENDA [] and play by MY RULES". That would be fine, if these same people were not constantly frothing at the mouth about being "Free As In Freedom" (which, as you can see, means something wholly different coming from them than it does coming from anyone else -say coming from someone who advocates the *total* freedom granted by the BSD license).

In short, BSD is 'free' as in 'free to do whatever you like'; whereas GNU is free as in 'free do it my way or free go to the gulag'.

Re:Buh? (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314123)

Ill give that the comment about the ass and the door was inane, but people can choose whether to use encumbered source code.

If you use Windows devel tools, you abide by the agreements. If you buy some embedding kit, you abide by those agreements. Well, if you want to use GPL based code, you abide by the GPL.

Nobody's breaking your hand to use GPL stuff. It's just there, and easy to use. Just there's that cost to it....

Re:Buh? (1)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314341)

I would completely agree with that. My point (typos aside) is that the GNU license is about as close to being 'free' as Microsoft's Shared Source is; both place undue restrictions upon the user, in stark contrast to genuinely free licenses [] . This is fine -as long as you're honest about it. But to turn around and say that "our software is free unless you do X, Y or Z with it" is hypocritical and -imho- objectionable in the extreme; particularly when you're going to patronisingly tell me that those reasons are there 'to preserve my freedom'. It's misleading (at best!) wether it's Bush doing it, or wether it's RMS.

Re:Buh? (1)

fatboy (6851) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314423)

In short, BSD is 'free' as in 'free to do whatever you like'; whereas GNU is free as in 'free do it my way or free go to the gulag'.

I disagree. In short, BSD is for the benefit of developers and GNU is for the benefit of users.

You think that's expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16313913)

Try supporting them yourself. Or getting non-OSS software that you a) pay for the software and b) pay the same price for support.

If you think the prices are expensive then you should go into business supporting the software. Oh wait you're not, mainly as people like yourself balk at paying for support.

What do you think a reasonable price would be?

Some of the comparisons... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313941)

...seem to be "consumer" closed-source software to commercially-supported OSS, which probably isn't a fair comparison. Consumer closed source software often has support that compares (sometimes poorly) with free (as in beer) open-source software, rather than OSS with a commercial support contract.

I'm not sure that its generally the case that commercial OSS is more expensive than feature-comparable closed-source software with a parallel support contract, but if one believes that OSS offers an advantage in quality (from the review of the code enable) and/or security against future vendor policy changes (as, support aside, licensing for the code itself and its redistribution will never be an issue), then a premium for that quality may be justified, all other things being equal.

apples and oranges, or total incompetence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16313953)

You have just demonstrated the degree to which your own incompetence indicates that your startup is likely to fail. First off, you don't need to buy any of the fancy toolkits to get an "embedded Linux" that works. Most hardware vendors will actually provide you with something that works on development boards. Can't find something that is exactly what you need? Well, adapt something is close; that's why it's called work.

As for comparing Windows XP and Red Hat WS, please take your head out of the sand and compare what you're getting. Windows XP doesn't give you: a) a full email client b) an office suite c) engineering tools d) compilers for several languages.... Do I really have to go on?

I think you've merely demonstrated that you are an idiot.

What did you expect ? (1)

xPertCodert (596934) | more than 7 years ago | (#16313981)

1. Any comparable to QT commercial package costs as much or even more. Use wxWindows or GTK 2. There are many Embedded Linux vendors and the prices vary a lot. Timesys charges much less for a subscription, for example. It helps to research a market before making a decision. 3. VxWorks ? you make me laugh... Have you ever considered the price of the beast ? And good support from Windriver ? you must be joking , right ? 4. Yeah for 140$ you pay to Microsoft you get 24/7 free support hotline... Not ? Seriously there are plenty support houses that can support Debian and other distros for a fraction of RedHat/Suse enterprize support contracts. Again, it does help to research a market. 5. Why on earth, you need Cygwin commercial license ? Well in any case, OSS products may be free as in freedom of beer, but the support is not. If you are not capable in supporting yourself, prepare to pay. What did you expect, that someone is going to invest his time to support you for free ?

Um... You're *not* paying for the software. (4, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314015)

Pretty clearly. That bit's available for free.

You're paying for official support and services. Presumably 24/7 telephone, onsite if necessary. You're paying for people and their expertise not software.

However, there is a good point. Support is expensive, there's a market out there for lower cost support services.


CentOS and wxwidgets (1)

Serveert (102805) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314017)

Those two can do what redhat ES and QT do.

Then replace the commercial load balancers with LVS.

Not sure of the others.

Qt not $3300 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314031)

If you're a startup or other relatively small company, Trolltech makes Qt available at a 70% discount. For one platform, Desktop Light, it's only about $1000 per seat. Still pricy, I agree, but you could pay that much in equivalent Windows tools pretty easily.

Re:Qt not $3300 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314091)

$400-$700 per developer for a copy of Visual Studio 2005 Professional vs $1000 for the Desktop Qt library? I think I'll stick with Visual Studio 2005.

Because CD duplication... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314067) very very hard. ;)

Probably because it relies on support (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314073)

This is just my experience from the little time I've had out of college to see both sides. When you go to a big, known enterprise company like Oracle for support, they send out a person to help you and that person works like a slave for you until your needs have been met to the specifications of the contract. Yes, I'm exaggerating, and spare me the details of your case where it didn't work like this. I'm not trying to make a universal rule here.

The "community response?" RTFM you n00b. That's ok, that's where Red Hat and others come in.

Oh wait, they can't make a killing off of the sales of their products, so the majority of the company is taken care of by the support people. Ok... so they have less incentive to invest in R&D than say, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Oracle, etc. because they can't make a large amount of cash off the product itself since it has to go out to the public, and support is something that others can come in and provide. There really is no reason why IBM consulting cannot provide Red Hat support, and that's true of many other companies.

The bottom line is that the freedom to write OSS is one thing. An expectation that you'll get rich off it is quite another.

Broken Logic (4, Insightful)

mrsbrisby (60242) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314097)

Why are commercial ports of OSS software so expensive,
That assumes they are, which they arent. As you say, Red Hat Linux WS is $299. An OEM version of Windows XP Pro is ~$140. The problem is that support for Windows is $35 per call, per email, or per online chat. Of course, this only includes end-user support. Developer support is 250$ per call.

You can compare QT to GDI+ all you like, but GDI+ works on one platform, and QT works on many. Expect to pay more for an increased feature set. Law of the land, open versus closed never has and likely never will have any effect on that.

and what would need to happen before they could be competitive in the future?
They already are. You can tell because Microsoft shills like yourself are pretending to have questions about them not being competitive on slashdot.

A question about RedHat.... (2, Interesting)

SumeyDevil (906408) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314119)

RedHat does charge $299 per year for one license. With Microsoft, you're getting $140 for a copy forever (and if you order from a major vender, it's basically free). I know, I know, the argument is that you're getting perpetual support for the RedHat license- but have any of you tried to use it? It's generally pretty terrible. We've ended up switching everything to Ubuntu or CentOS b/c it's just as easy to find support by googling, rather than getting re-routed through RedHat. It doesn't make sense to me. Over the lifetime of XP, you've paid $140, and gotten free updates. For the lifetime of RedHat (let's assume XP's ungodly 6-7 year lifespan so far) you're paying almost $2000! You can also argue that "you don't need to get support for all the machines" but RedHat complains incessantly, and you won't get any updates, which isn't really safe for a corporate world. Additionally, a significant Linux deployment usually requires someone with significant knowledge. Last I checked, it's cheaper to hire someone to manage a windows deployment than a RedHat one. I wouldn't mind paying the $299 as a one time fee...but $2100?? Almost 10 times the value of a Windows license? Is the support your paying for really worth that much?

Re:A question about RedHat.... (1)

Ashcrow (469400) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314335)

The 140$ USD for a windows license comes with no support. The updates from windows update are so-so and tend to be after the issue has been in the wild a bit.

You are mostly correct about paying the yearly fee for RHEL ... but RHEL it self is not the payment, you are paying for a support stream.

I dare you to call Microsoft up next time IIS isn't running correctly on your Windows 2K3 server and see what you get for only buying the base $500-1,500 ( 03-56866169/prices-html [] ) license!

Apples to oranges (4, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314161)

You say you want official support. Then you proceed to compare an officially-supported copy of RedHat Enterprise Linux to an OEM copy of Windows XP. Well, I hate to break it to you, but that OEM copy of XP comes with no support. If you read the agreement, it says you as the system builder are responsible for supporting that copy once installed. You don't even get the installation support that comes with the $300 retail XP box. All you get is Windows Update, and the opportunity to hear the Microsoft rep tell you to call the company you bought your computer from. The same with Visual Studio. The commercial software isn't cheaper as far as support goes, they just aren't quoting you the real price until after you're committed.

It's the Quality (2, Interesting)

Ashcrow (469400) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314173)

On thing that a lot of comercial Open Source shops are guilty of is providing to high of quality support. Sure, RHEL is more expensive with an update/support contract than Windows, but have you ever called Microsoft before? Not only do you get friendly folks from india on the line but usually leave (afte ~ 6 hours of calls) with no real answer. If you tally up the time spend on the phone and then running diag yourself on the Win box you end up with much higher costs.

Don't get me wrong, there are some comercial OSS companies out there who over price and under serve, but the majority I've delt with have been really, really good compared to the traditional competition.

On the same token, not everyone needs a comercial version of XYZ app. I run Fedora 6 BETA as my production workstation at home ... on an intel mac mini. Not only is it really stable, bugs are fixed without me lifting a finger (well, ok, so I run yum -y update).

The use of software should be gauged by the return on investement that the software and support provides. Have an internal IT Helpdesk team? Do they know XYZ app well? Why pay to double your support? Double support is something a lot of shops do so they can 'find a neck to choke' externally? The news is that choking doesn't fix the issue!

I've spent a decent amount of time working for Open and Closed companies and shops. The quality of code and support from the Open (or more Open) shops were much higher than the Closed source/black box shops.

And this is why I prefer Sun's way (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314175)

As said before there are a dozen OSS projects out there and when it comes to OS there's one thing you can't expect: reliability. Note that I'm not claiming that this is no where to be found, but you can't approach a project with "I demand...", etc. Got that part so far?

When looking Enterprise business this is exactly what is happening. Your customer is paying you and as such can't be told "We know you liked the product as it was but there were some bugs and so here's the new version. Unfortunatly it reacts a little bit different than the previous release." When your whole business is build upon such a product then this approach is not going to work. This would mean that OSS would be an absolute no no when it comes to Enterprise based computing. Which would be a shame IMO since there are some very good products out there, which over the years have already demonstrated that this doesn't have to be an issue perse. But the secret here?

Control. You will have to have someone (or a group) in control who are calling the shots, which also means that the person shouldn't be too afraid to simply cancel certain developments because of the reasons already mentioned above. However, in many cases companies fully rely on the OSS "market" by grabbing software together and neatly packaging it all up and when changes do happen they simply set their own staff to work to either "undo" those changes or merely port them back into their maintained version of the problem. That may look like OSS on the Enterprise, but its more like playing Enterprise-based business with an awfully weak and riskfull model. Resuling in what you experienced.

Finally, why I like Sun? Because they do things differently and don't pay much attention to the whiners ("it has to be FREE") but try to walk on that golden (middle) road to both please their customers and the developers. They simply came up with an already existing business model and started looking how OSS could fit into this. You see this happening right now with Solaris. People can build on Solaris all they want, fork it, whatever, but Sun keeps control over what does and doesn't get into the OS. Thus resulting in OSS developers who can make a difference while protecting their options to fully support the software they're releasing. I'm really surprised that RH or SuSE (now Novell) never seemed to use such an approach but more or less "winged" it, at least thats how it looks to me. You're basicly paying for support and some "insurance".

The real question is ... (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314177)

What is it about OSS that makes it so expensive to support? Most of the comments in this thread say the OSS license expense is all about support costs. What's the deal? Is this stuff so difficult to install, configure, and keep running that lots of expert support is required? Funny, from everything else I've read on these boards you pretty much wave an OSS CD by your machine and it installs and configures itself to perfection, anticipating your every need and whim. Which is it? Is OSS finicky and hence hard to maintain, thereby justifying the high support costs, or are these OSS vendors fleecing their customers?

You are missing the point of "commercial OSS" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314189)

Open source software is either affordable like your run of the mill BSD operating system or linux distribution, because its just to support the development. Or its outrageously expensive like RHEL and commercial mysql licenses because the cost is based on managermind. A manager thinks "more expensive = better", and since only a manager would be dumb enough to pay for something that is free, they price it accordingly.

The other alternative is QT and others like them where they already tricked you into using their GPL or worse licensed libraries, and now that you want to make a commercial product out of your previously internal only software, you are screwed. Either rewrite it without QT, or shell out big bucks for the commercial license. Stay away from companies like this.

Define support (1)

starseeker (141897) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314215)

There are degrees of support, and I think you aren't making an apples to apples comparison here.

Point #1: When you talk about support on the scale of the contracts you are describing, the scale is MASSIVE. These are the juicy contracts - provide broad support for systems which are relatively uniform and well maintained. The level of support these setups need is much greater than that available or possible to home users, and since downtime is so expensive they can (and do) pay $$$$ to be very sure and avoid it.

Point #2: OEM licensing for Windows and other consumer products does not have support anything close to the situation described above. The user base is as diverse as you can get, there may be a thousand unanticipiated and unknown combinations that could be installed on any given customer's machine, and you are supposed to make sense out of it. Oh, and there is no incremental reward for dealing with ever more difficult problems - just that same initial flat fee, or perhaps a $/minute phone charge. Yay. That's not what big companies need - they need someone out to fix the problem, NOW. They shell out big bucks for that service, and for good reason. That level of support is not easy.

Why do you think OSS support is so often held up as a big advantage? Because FOR MOST USERS the level of support and help that can be found in the community is far beyond anything they will ever be able to afford in the commercial marketplace. The high end support contracts you are seeing are designed for corporate customers with uniform needs and deep pockets. Buying home or even "Pro" versions of software and not paying a big chunk of cash means you quite simply won't get the kind of support you would get with the big $$. Very, very small vendors MIGHT provide it, but people need to eat if they are doing software as a business and believe me good people aren't cheap. Open source short circuits this with a completely different model, and it just so happens that the benefits trickle down to those who don't pay large $$ too (because $$ aren't the motivator). But you won't get guarantees. Guarantees are EXTREMELY expensive, because they are incredibly hard to support and make real.

Commercial or OS, you get what you pay for in support because in-person help cannot be duplicated at close to zero cost.

OSS != Free (1, Funny)

NullProg (70833) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314245)

After all, we have decided that the survival of our business is more important for us then 'do-good' ideas.

Survival of your business model depends on customers who want to purchase your services.

OSS is about freedom of choice. All your other points are null and void because there are several OSS alternatives to choose from. To complain that Red Hat charges $299 where SuSE charges $70 (with support) is just plain dis-information.

This Ask Slashdot reads like a Microsoft marketing campaign. OSS doesn't work for us, Microsoft has all the solutions. Hey Taco, how about a rule against anonymous Ask Slashdot submissions (except in the case of whistle blowers and torrid sex tales)?


It's expensive because... (1)

Ice Wewe (936718) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314251)

OSS software and support is so expensive because it's a niche market.

Trolltechs QT pricing and M$ MSDN pricing (1, Insightful)

viking80 (697716) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314267)

first, a startup/small company gets a 65% discount off $3300 or $1155.
  And if some of the developers work on tools you plan to share source for that development station is free!

Thats pretty reasonable. Actually quite cheap.

M$ MDSN pricing is $10,939 for the MSDN team suite. That includes up to 5 developers.

Trying to develop anything with windows without this is just stupid.

If you add the test facility with another 30 computers for running tests etc,
M$ will be much more expensive.

I have tried both for actual products. In addition to much higher cost for M$, it is also alway a hassle with all the "Genuine advantage" crap. Reinstalling XP for testing various languages and new hardware configurations and having to call MS is just a huge hassle.

The answer is in the question... (3, Informative)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314293)

To wit:

We do not want to spend time for any OSS bug fixing so our main requirement was -official support for all OSS products-

Simple solutions:
  1. Make sure your programmers know OSS (Linux or otherwise) inside and out.
  2. Do not buy that support, since your programmers already know how to support themselves, fix bugs and/or know enough to select stable versions of OSS tools, instead of relying on the latest-and-greatest (and buggy) tools from a vendor.

The same thing happened to me in my last job, a mixed Sun/Linux shop: people complaining about the price of Linux. Why? Because (a) only SuSE Linux was approved for a certain tool, and that tool was considered as critical by the company and (b) because company's policies and bean counters demanded official support from a reputable vendor for everything that was bought. The result? Thousands of Euros spent on buying expensive, gold-plated, 24/7 support contracts. That were almost never used, since both the programming and sysadmin teams had plenty of experience using Linux servers.

Which makes perfect sense really: Sun support is sometimes cheaper than some Linux vendors, because Sun understands that software support also means hardware lock-in. Microsoft can be cheaper than Linux because, let's face it, all the OEM Windows installed on brand-new computers subsidize the dev tools (C# and Visual what-have-you) while support is essential to the survival of many Linux distributions. Heck, giving the software away for free and selling support contracts is the entire business plan of many Linux distributors! Also, Microsoft understands that, if you, as a developer, buy Visual Thingamajig 2006, you are locked into their platforms, and so are your clients. And that means more money, in the long run, for Microsoft. Why do you think they have recently started to offer programming tools for free? Not out of the goodness of their hearts, that's for sure.

So, Linux, cheaper? Only if you solid in-house experience. I have also seen companies replacing hundreds of Sun and Windows 2000 R&D workstations by Linux/AMD machines. Why? The official reason was: "Linux is cheaper and good enough to provide the 90% functionalities we need, AMD is cheaper AND more powerful than SPARC CPUs, and everyone here likes (and knows) UNIX systems better anyway"... And that was the VP of R&D speaking.

So, back to the point above: Linux is cheaper... as long as you have enough experience in-house not to need expensive support contracts.

why do you need support? (1)

wardk (3037) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314301)

you could just download the OSS software and post your problems on slashdot

High, but probably not a deal killer... (1)

andyross (48228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314317)

One important point to remember here is that software costs at all levels* are invariably much, much smaller than the salary costs of the developers who use them. (With the obvious exception of software that requires a royalty agreement instead of a single license purchase). Changing platforms just to save a few $K on software licenses is, frankly, shortsighted and dumb.

That said, these prices are very high to my eyes -- much higher than I was expecting to see. Like it or not, open source products are perceived as a value choice by the corporate world. I have to believe that our vendors are only doing harm to the market by charging more for their products than the equivalent proprietary products...

Apples vs Oranges (4, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314337)

I think a big part of the problem is that you're comparing different things and wondering why they have different prices.

Qt vs C#: Sure, C# is cheaper, but the price you quoted for Qt is for triple-platform licenses, and C# doesn't get you that much cross-platform support. Yes, Mono gives you support for other platforms, but it differs in many respects from the Windows version, whereas Qt is very consistent across all of them. Documentation and support for Qt is vastly better than the comparable C# support for non-Windows environments, (and somewhat better than for Windows as well).

Red Hat vs XP: Red Hat contains far more functionality than XP. Depending on exactly what you're doing, you very likely have to buy additional software for XP. Also, how much support does that $140 XP license get you? Assistance with installation, and that's about it. Red Hat provides a lot more, and it costs a lot more. If you don't think you'll need the extra support, then don't buy it, and Red Hat will be a lot cheaper than XP.

RT Linux vs WinCE/VxWorks: I can't argue here, not at the prices you quoted, and since you said you got lousy support from the Linux vendor (who was it, BTW?). Perhaps you just needed a different vendor? How about Wind River (makers of VxWorks, for those who don't know).

Cygwin vs Windows Services for Unix: Depending on what you need, SFU may be fine. As long as you're just using the stuff provided by Microsoft, SFU is pretty good. If you want to be able to download any random Linux/Unix package off the net and have good odds that it will build and run, though, forget it, SFU is completely inadequate while Cygwin will do a good job. Note also that SFU comes with no support, unlike that commercial Cygwin.

In nearly all cases, I think the core issue is that the prices quoted for OSS support (a) buy you better support than what you'll get in the closed-source case, (b) give you more in functionality, flexibility, or both and (c) are really intended for bigger companies who are less strapped for cash and who have a bigger need of the security blanket the support contracts provide.

Your company would probably have been better off skipping the support contracts, using the software for no cost, and putting the cash aside to pay an independent consultant or two in case you get in a jam. You can get extremely high-quality support for most OSS for small consulting fees, just by hopping onto the project mailing list, identifying a handful of heavy contributors who know the area you're concerned with, and then privately offering them money for their time.

Of course, if your management is too uptight to take that approach, and too tight to buy the OSS support, you should go with the closed-source offerings -- and then keep your fingers crossed that you don't have to rely on Microsoft's support. Wind River's support is good, in my experience, but the rest of the stuff you mentioned is from Microsoft.

$3500 doesn't seem that bad. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314363)

Is it that expensive? Sure for the home office, $5000 is kind of pricey. If you make $100k a year, it's 5% before taxes so it's probably 7 to 8% of what you make. For a business it can be different. In the early to mid 1990s the big part of the industry was totally focused on TCO. I remember seeing numbers between $12000 and $25000 a year to own a PC in an enterprise. It seemed really boggling, I mean a big computer was like $5000, say you buy everything retail, so for some good compilers and stuff maybe that is around $5000 so $10,000 total which is less that $12000 a year and you don't [buy a new one every year.

If you start to factor networking in and then the back office applications and what have you. I think Tivoli at its cheapest is like $35 an IP address. Various switches and other network devices are doing per port and per IP licensing for various functions. Throw some IT flunkies in to the mix a network guy or two and the cost of owning and operating a PC per year starts to climb. To be honest, now a days, I wouldn't be that shocked if the TCO had gone up some.

So then when you factor in a $3500 a seat license for something, I think it can start to look kind of cheap, especially if it's a one time fee or a one major version fee (presumbaly upgrades are cheaper) and it's royalty free. How much are you selling your product for and how many people will actually be working on the GUI? Say 2 developers and a spare copy (for the build machine or something) $10500.00 for a pretty killer piece of software like QT? That doesn't seem horrible. What MSDN cost per year? That's supposed to be per seat.

Damn OSS Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16314365)

... runnin' on ATM machines that need PIN numbers and talk to home with the TCP protocol. I mean, what the WTF is this all about? Read the RTFM on what these acronyms expand to! =P

Weird Comparison (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314393)

Red Hat Linux WS is $299. An OEM version of Windows XP Pro is ~$140

I don't really understand why a server operating system is being compared with a home computer operating system here - wouldn't Server 2003 be better compared with RHEL WS and Fedora better compared with XP?.

One thing I do heartily agree on is that *nix commercial software is expensive, open or not - but what can you do if you can't sell a million copies and everyone needs to get paid? If it is commercial software on *nix it is a specialised product.

Doesn't quite ring true (2, Informative)

SSpade (549608) | more than 7 years ago | (#16314417)

Qt comes in a range of versions. They're mostly freely available for open source products. For closed source products, the most sophisticated single-platform version, incuding a years worth of support, is $1100 / seat for small business and startups for up to 3 seats. The original poster wanted 3 seats.

The only reason he'd have to pay $3300 / seat would be if he had more than $200,000 cash on hand. Not as available credit, but cash in the bank. Or if he was already bringing in more than $200,000 a year in revenue.

I don't have much sympathy for well-funded startups that decide to choose bad technology rather than good technology because it's a grand or two cheaper. I expect this one will burn through its VC and crash and burn fairly quickly.
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