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Closed Source vs. Open Source in Desktop Linux

Discussion in 'Linux / Unix Discussion' started by Fergal1982, Jul 13, 2008.

  1. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    Full Story: Here


    Interesting reading, I must say. And here was me half believing the propaganda forced down our throats about Linux being wholly open source.


    As a developer. I have to agree with the author. If and when I choose to develop for Linux platforms, its unlikely that I will release my source. Indeed, I dont see why any platform should have the right to try and force people to release their source.



    What I choose to do with my own intellectual property is entirely up to myself. If i choose to open the source of my application to the community, thats great. But if not, why should I be hounded out of supplying my application for users of that platform? Someone else can go ahead and write an open source variant of my application if they like, but they are going to have to work out how its done themselves.


    Perhaps mainstream linux uptake would be a lot swifter if there wasnt all this snobbery from the Linux community.
     
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  2. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    I suggest reading 'The Cathedral and the Bazaar' or 'Hackers : Heroes of the computer revolution'. You really need to understand the historical and political context. You need to understand GNU and Richard Stallman.

    These people in some cases gave a vast proportion of their lives to better the software community and to give you free high quality software, all they ask is that you respect their efforts and help others. You are not forced to use an open source license on a shrink wrapped standalone piece of software.

    Viral software or copy left is one concept, its like religion, its designed to self propogate, the creators of the OS didn't want their efforts to be killed off or sidelined by monolithic corporations, it was a very smart move in my mind.

    I installed ubuntu the other day, was very impressed with it generally, I like all users was well aware when I was installing closed source Nvidia drivers as a 'restricted' warning is shown. However they are still very easy to install and work flawlessly. Hardware vendors probably consider the drivers part of their competative advantage so don't like to open source. When it comes to other things like SOHO router firmware this is often not the case.

    You have similar choices with any product and license, if you don't like it don't use it. People are not forced to use copyleft libraries in their applications.

    Practically every great invention has been 'open sourced', the electric lightbulb, television, penicillin. Imagine what your life would be like if all these great discoveries were 'closed' and the information locked in safes ? What if you got an infection on a remote island, how would you feel then ?
     
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  3. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    Dont get me wrong. Im not saying that open sourced applications arent a good thing, all im saying is that, as the developer of software, I should have the choice as to whether I release the source or not. I dont like the bully boy tactics that seem to be employed by the linux community.

    Just as the users have the choice as to whether or not to use an application, so too, should the developers have the choice as to whether we release our source or not.
     
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  4. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Nobodies 'Forced' to do anything, theres commercial software for linux just like any other platform.

    Theres even commercial open source linux from Redhat and Suse etc.

    Core parts of the platform are considered important to keep open to preserve the platform.

    If you wrote open source code and gave it away for free for 15 years would you like someone else to co-opt it ?

    Large vendors are far more likely to use bully boy tactics, M$ or SCO anyone ?

    There is less of an issue here in the open source community by definition because people can just 'fork' the code...

    Where do you get this idea from ? Simply don't use any copy left libraries in your applications. Even commercial libraries have restrictions like licenses per CPU etc. Many commercial libraries also supply source therefore mixing the definitions.

    You choose how you build your software and therefore what licensing applies.

    You seem to have a M$ FUD view of the world...

    Its 'Free' as in Freedom, thats the whole point...

    Open source in general gives you freedom, it takes very little freedoms away, unlike proprietary software.
     
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  5. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    perhaps you are right, but in everything I have read and seen. The Linux community seems to put an enormous amount of pressure on developers to supply the source code for any applications they write for Linux.

    I may, or may not, want to do this. But the point is that I dont feel I should be pressurised into doing anything of the sort. If I wish to write an application, and supply it for use by the general public (even if I give the application away for free), I shouldnt feel pressured to also let people take a look at the code I used in the application.

    Whether rightly or wrongly, the impression from the Linux community appears to be: 'Release your source, or p*ss off!'. Perhaps thats not the case, but theres certainly enough people making a noise about it to make it seem that way. I Can tell you now, that it turns me off the idea of writing anything for the Linux community.

    I'm all for freedom of choice. I just think that the choice should extend to the developers. If a HW manufacturer, like NVIDIA, doesnt wish to release the source for their drivers, that is their choice. There should be no pressure on them to do so. Thats their choice. The consumers then have a choice - do they use the version supplied, or do they look for another solution (and OS developers can choose to develop a fully open source driver for use with that particular piece of HW).

    As I said, perhaps its only the high-pitched squealing of the Linux Fanbois that generates this impression that you have to supply your source code for anything you write for Linux, but the fact remains that its there. And it puts me (and I suspect others too) off wanting to look any deeper into the possibility of developing applications for that community.

    Maybe I do have an M$ view of the world. After all, I'm essentially an M$ developer. But thats irrelevant. This is the view I have built up of the Linux community, and I have yet to see evidence that convinces me otherwise.
     
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  6. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    If you benefit from the charity of others isn't it only polite to give something back ? Its a 'pay it forward' that has made the whole platform and a plethora of applications available to the whole community. As a developer the ability to look at source is an absolutely huge benefit that will be a massive aide to the next generation of developers.

    Theres no need to reverse engineer undocumented API's in linux like in the early days of windows, because the code is right there for you.

    Windows has a monopoly, they can subsidise many of their products using their OS licensing fees. They have both created and destroyed the conventional market for commercial software, they have helped ensure the commoditisation of many applications. Who can sell a browser or a database these days? Effectively they have forced many products to be open sourced which otherwise would probably not have been.

    If you benefit from the work of a community then why shouldn't you give something back ? If you don't doesn't that help destroy that community ?
     
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  7. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    perhaps, but shouldn't you have the choice on whether you do so or not?

    I'm not saying that, as a developer, I would not release source for every application I wrote. But there may be an app or two that I do wish to keep private. I just feel that the choice is mine and mine alone. And feeling pressure to do otherwise just drops my desire to do it at all.
     
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  8. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Well ultimately it is your choice to open source or not open source on whichever platform.

    However if you fundamentally disagree with the ethos of a community then perhaps its better not to be a part of that community.
     
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  9. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    Not really sure about the point of this debate. When it comes down to it we have a living to make as developers, and we are all free to choose how we earn that living. If a developer chooses not to contribute free software to a community, I fail to see how it benefits that community to exclude a wave of developers not subscribing to that ethos.

    The ideal of free software for all is certainly attractive, but I believe that as Linux grows and becomes more and more integrated into businesses and households, some level of stadardisation will have to be enforced (just like there is for closed source), and this will require funding, and this cost will have to be passed onto the end-user in the license fee.

    It's the way things are, alas. :)
     
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  10. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    New models are being pursued, software as a service, advertising sponsored, consultancy or support funded, subsidised by hardware sales, dual licence etc. Developing open source does not have to mean working for free, developing open source software may well be in the developers and compaines best interests depending on the context.

    Redhat, Novell, IBM, Sun, Google, IONA all commercial companies, all back open source.

    Read this :-
    http://www.calacanis.com/2006/03/06/firefox-mozilla-corporation-mozilla-foundation-made-72m-last/

    $72 million turnover amongst 120 developers, sounds like a good salary and a sound commercial proposition to me.

    Its Free as in Freedom, not Free as in Free Beer ! :biggrin
     
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  11. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    Ah! but selling my software either as an individual, or part of my company means that others get less of a cut of the pie for my work. I do see what you mean regarding 'freedom' vs. 'free beer', but it just adds more complexity to the way that I can earn money when there already is the option of closed source. :)
     
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  12. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Math is correct: "paying it forward" doesn't clothe or feed my kids. I applaud those who can afford to give away their work for free... but I certainly wouldn't be able to do so.
     
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  13. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Its not a matter of right or wrong, its about context and options.

    I would not work for free, nor would I generally advise anyone else too. As such my contribution to open source has been limited.

    However if I were a student or working in a research post I would certainly be thinking about it. Even at work you can submit the odd patch for project related open source libraries.

    Some developers have been hoodwinked into working for free on products that are then commercialised, I think this is wrong and counter productive.

    As an IT tech you have very little to lose, you do not write the software, as long as it is high quality you have a lot to gain by using it. Projects that may not have been feasible before now become feasible or more profitable. Laptops can be made for $100 and sold to africa. Large clusters can be made without massive per CPU licensing fees. Small integrators can sell solutions and save on licensing costs. People can develop their own products (routers, firewalls, cache devices, switches, honey pots, ATMs, in flight entertainment systems, Data acquisition, EPOS, etc...) without having to develop or license an OS. Network admins can use wireshark instead of shelling out on an expensive sniffer/protocol analyser. They can use Nmap to penetration test. They can use apache to reliably serve web content. Too many web developer tools to mention including firefox and firebug. Notepad2 a better notepad. The list is endless...

    So as a Tech all you need to do is submit the odd bug report, feature request, or complement to the developers and you get free software, sounds like a great deal to me ! :D

    I was going to say what a great resource sysinternals was also, only its not strictly open source, at least definitely not now.
    http://blogs.technet.com/sysinternals/archive/2006/10/30/sysinternals-site-migration.aspx

    In a way this only further makes my point...
     
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  14. neutralhills

    neutralhills Kilobyte Poster

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    No kidding. I'm constantly being harassed to give my photos away under VERY liberal Creative Commons licenses by people who expect everything to be free. Sorry, but I don't see Canon giving cameras away for free and the gas station doesn't let me fill for free. It costs me money to produce those images, so I don't feel greedy when I try to cover my costs on the photography, let alone buy groceries for my family.
     
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