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McVoy Strikes Back 777

Posted by Zonk
from the them's-fightin-words dept.
cranos writes "Fast on the heels of his previous article claiming the kernel is at risk of Bad Things over the BitKeeper fuss, Daniel Lyons has released a new article where Larry McVoy attacks the Open Source movement as non-innovative and dependent on the kindness of corporations. The following quote says it all: 'The open source guys can scrape together enough resources to reverse engineer stuff. That's easy. It's way cheaper to reverse engineer something than to create something new. But if the world goes to 100% open source, innovation goes to zero. The open source guys hate it when I say this, but it's true.'"
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McVoy Strikes Back

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  • by bmw (115903) * on Thursday May 26, 2005 @08:56AM (#12643584)
    "One problem with the services model is that it is based on the idea that you are giving customers crap--because if you give them software that works, what is the point of service?" McVoy says.

    To begin with, software these days is quite complex and it really is impossible to have a full-blown operating system with all the applications people expect and not have some sort of issues. Secondly, the vast majority of people out there are not computer savvy and are going to need help regardless of how well built their OS/applications are. Red Hat isn't dead yet so I wouldn't be so quick to proclaim them as such, although their demise wouldn't entirely surprise me.

    "The other problem is that the services model doesn't generate enough revenue to support the creation of the next generation of innovative products.

    That's one of the great things about open source software; it doesn't have to. Companies like Red Hat are packagers, not necessarily creators. What they provide is a nice, neat package of what others are already creating.

    But if the world goes to 100% open source, innovation goes to zero. The open source guys hate it when I say this, but it's true."

    Honestly, what is this guy smoking? We are creative beings... It really doesn't matter what people decide to do with their source code, there will always be innovation because it is human nature to think of new ways to do things.

    But McVoy says open source advocates fail to recognize that building new software requires lots of trial and error, which means investing lots of money. ...or time. Keep in mind that there are a lot of people out there that have the free time on their hands to tinker with things that they find interesting. This is really how open source got to be big in the first place. McVoy seems to ignore the fact that, in general, open source software is really only gaining momentum and that it has its roots in hobbyist tinkerers; people who do it because they find it fulfilling for their own personal reasons.

    But none of them can show me how to build a software-development house and fund it off open source revenue. My claim is it can't be done."

    This statement really says everything about why McVoy feels the way he does; he's only thinking about money. He has completely forgotten that open source software doesn't require a profit to exist or be innovative. People write free/open source software because they enjoy it not because it is going to make them rich.

    "Nobody wants to admit that most of the money funding open source development, maybe 80% to 90%, is coming from companies that are not open source companies themselves. What happens when these sponsors go away and there is not enough money floating around?

    Nothing. I will continue to use Firefox, OpenOffice, X Windows, and all the other software I have come to rely on. This is another great aspect of open source software; it isn't going away because someone else can always pick up a dead project and run with it themselves.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      How many updates, upgrades, patches, etc. did McVoy sell for BitKeeper? I hope it was zero, otherwise the guy has just proofed himself a liar.
    • by ssj_195 (827847) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:03AM (#12643655)
      To begin with, software these days is quite complex and it really is impossible to have a full-blown operating system with all the applications people expect and not have some sort of issues. Secondly, the vast majority of people out there are not computer savvy and are going to need help regardless of how well built their OS/applications are. Red Hat isn't dead yet so I wouldn't be so quick to proclaim them as such, although their demise wouldn't entirely surprise me.
      Indeed. Non-trivial software will require support (either to install, or to tailor to your companies specific requirements) until we invent Strong AI, not before.
      That's one of the great things about open source software; it doesn't have to. Companies like Red Hat are packagers, not necessarily creators. What they provide is a nice, neat package of what others are already creating.
      Even then, Redhat to a *huge* amount of development, especially on GCC. If I recall, Luminocity was also funded by Redhat. This is not even close to an exhaustive list.
    • by RupW (515653) * on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:13AM (#12643756)
      ...or time. Keep in mind that there are a lot of people out there that have the free time on their hands to tinker with things that they find interesting.

      Remember that getting the prototype up and running is the interesting bit - getting it polished, fully QAed and packaged is the dull slog that no-one really wants to do. Witness all the incomplete projects on sourceforge. Once it's got just enough function to scratch the author's itch they move on to other things.

      There's a wide gulf in what people will do because they want to and what they'll do because they're paid to - or at least in how many people you'll get at each end of the spectrum.
      • by gmack (197796)
        I disagree.. a lot of software that I've payed for has been unpolished incomplete crap so this is in no way confined to the open source world.

        Some people are lazy whether they are payed or not.
      • by akahige (622549) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @11:11AM (#12645114)
        Be that as it may, I can't believe that no one has pointed out that this article is writen by a notoriously anti-open-source and pro-SCO shill. No matter how relevant the point may be, what else did you expect him to say -- and how much did he have to twist what McVoy said to get the salacious quotes he wanted?
    • Keep in mind that there are a lot of people out there that have the free time on their hands to tinker with things that they find interesting.

      The point of larry is that decent software can't be created by a student in a couple of weekends. It takes some programmers working full-time to create a "perfect" product - just look at the state of the "documentation" of most of software projects

      However I think that lack of resources is not that bad, sometimes. Students who write software on weekends need to b
      • by ssj_195 (827847) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:44AM (#12644044)
        The point of larry is that decent software can't be created by a student in a couple of weekends
        The point of Larry is that innovative software doesn't get created in this manner. Personally, I would suspect that 90% of innovation lies not in the polish that goes into taking your idea and making it into a slick package, but in the very first prototype where you have a brainwave and say - "hey, I've just thought of a new algorithm that could be a (good way of accomplishing task that noone has tackled yet|more efficient solution to an old problem)". If a bunch of open-source writers pull this off, and I bet there are countless examples of this occurring, then this gives lie to Larry's claims. I don't care whether they then take their novel algorithm and wrap it up in mom-and-pop friendly packaging - they have Innovated, and the rest is just adding lacquer.

        Note again that I am not saying that quality software can be or is accomplished by a student in a couple of weekends, but I'll bet that Innovative software often is.

    • [quote]Nobody wants to admit that most of the money funding open source development, maybe 80% to 90%, is coming from companies that are not open source companies themselves. What happens when these sponsors go away and there is not enough money floating around?[/quote]

      Non-OSS companies like IBM fund OSS because they benefit from it. IBM makes tons of money by packaging Linux as part of their business solutions. They package Apache as IBM HTTP Server as part of their Websphere solution. They aren't going t
    • by RickHunter (103108) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:32AM (#12643915)

      The other thing about the services model is this... Not everyone wants the same set of features. With proprietary software, if it doesn't have a feature you want, you might be able to submit a request, but usually, you just have to suck it up and deal. With open-source software, you can pay someone - usually the creator - to implement any features you need on top of their (presumably) mature codebase.

      Never, ever underestimate the massive value of this.

    • by epiphani (254981) <epiphani&dal,net> on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:58AM (#12644206)
      But if the world goes to 100% open source, innovation goes to zero. The open source guys hate it when I say this, but it's true."

      You didnt quite nail it - so lets see if I can...

      The reason us "open source guys" hate it when he says that is because its a fucking insult straight to our face. You basically just told me that I cant innovate, my software is reverse engineered from others, and if it wasnt for others my software would suck. I dont spend thousands of hours of my time in order to be told that I cant innovate.

      And the twit wonders why we hate it.
      • by hackstraw (262471) * on Thursday May 26, 2005 @07:21PM (#12650009)
        The reason us "open source guys" hate it when he says that is because its a fucking insult straight to our face. You basically just told me that I cant innovate, my software is reverse engineered from others, and if it wasnt for others my software would suck.

        Maybe your OS software is different, but I would say that most OS software has little innovation in it. A majority of the time its an "embrace and extended" version of some closed source code.

        Offhand, I cannot recall a GNU licensed product that is innovative. OK, I'm trying hard here. Maybe rsync, could be seen as innovative in its day. I'm still trying, and I can't think of anything else offhand. For the record, I'm a UNIX/Linux admin, and have been for a few years now. I use and often prefer OS products over commercial ones, but I believe that I prefer the lack of innovation and the tools are more simple and chainable for scripts and whatnot.

        Now that I was frank about the situation, mod me as a troll like always.
  • ..this guy would be on -1 Flamebait.
  • by maharg (182366)
    I for one cannot think of a single innovation to have been made in the open source sphere ;o) tosser.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 26, 2005 @08:57AM (#12643602)
    What a great way of reasoning. The more I read from that guy the better I think it is that Linux kernel development got rid of his junk.
  • But.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 26, 2005 @08:58AM (#12643606)
    Thats just like your opinion man...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:00AM (#12643623)
    that open source/free/libre software is not just about innovation - it's about freedom. I agree with RMS on this one. I would rather have a piece of software that has some features than a closed piece of software that has many.
    It's unfortunate that many people - even open source advocates - don't realize that "open source" is a methodology. Software freedom is the goal and the end result of the FSF/GPL.
    • by btarval (874919) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @10:09AM (#12644361)
      What's also interesting is that McVoy's response here is the same exact response that closed-source vendors ALWAYS make when Open Source starts costing them market share. McVoy's statements are nothing new; just a variation on a them.

      Let's see some examples:

      Microsoft. The OS, Webserver and IE are all classic examples.Their attacks on Open Source are in a league by themselves, including the "stifle innovation" argument of McVoys'.

      Windriver. These folks bashed Linux mercilessly while their marketshare dropped from 35% in 2000 to 14% today. They threw in the towel and went with Linux last year (though VxWorks is still around, it's clearly not the priority).

      GreeenHills. These folks have been bashing gcc for years, as the embedded market has moved away from speciality development tools except in certain small areas where the performance is required.

      So McVoy's response is nothing new here. He must be feeling the pinch of people moving away from his software.

      Now, if Slashdot would only stop giving him free publicity, we'd be all set. McVoy has already stated that everytime he's mentioned on Slashdot, his "sales go up".

  • Counter examples (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:00AM (#12643624)
    But there are so many counter examples to "Open Source is not innovative" and so many examples where people's favourite proprietry systems have copied ideas first seen in Open Source. There are a lot of innovative people out there. Being in a software company is not a pre-requisite for having an imagination. Open Source has grown despite all the people saying how bad it is.

    In fact I think the situation that will kill innovation is one where only one proprietry vendor wins. Without competition there won't be the need to innovate. Bring on software rental and patent protection and then innovation in the industry will die. That scenario will bring about legally enforced vendor lock-in with the vendor able to just sit back and rake in the rentals.

    Don't believe me? Look at how Internet Explorer stagnated when Microsoft thought it had no competition. Look at the innovation in Firefox.

  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy&tpno-co,org> on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:00AM (#12643626) Homepage
    The open source guys can scrape together enough resources to reverse engineer stuff. That's easy. It's way cheaper to reverse engineer something than to create something new

    Wha..?

    Not in terms of man hours, nor tools require, nor expertise of the people involved.

    I'm calling this one: Bullshit.

    But if the world goes to 100% open source, innovation goes to zero. The open source guys hate it when I say this, but it's true.

    I'm trying, I'm really trying, to see how this one works. If I can have the source to anything I'm working on, and I decide that I like it better this way, and everybody else agrees with me, isn't that innovation? Hell, isn't it innovation even if NOBODY agrees with me? So, by the sheer numbers of casual programmers like myself in the world, doesn't this mean innovation actually sky rockets with the more code we have access to?

    Newsline next week ( and remember, you heard it here first! ): MS buys out bitkeeper!

    Ok, that was supposed to be a joke, but it makes a weird sort of sense, doesn't it?
    • If I recall correctly, all that was "reverse engineered" was the client-server protocols. This is the same sort of thing that the EU is currently yelling at Microsoft to release to the world, as keeping it quiet is a great way to lock people in to a product.
  • No innovation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by akadruid (606405) <slashdot@thedruid.co . u k> on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:00AM (#12643628) Homepage
    True innovation is rare amongst computer software, and none of the big players can claim much. Microsoft and Oracle for example, made their millions from tweaking and marketing the ideas of others. Can anyone tell me if BitKeeper contains any innovations?

    It's not a curse of open source, just the way things are made.

    Not that these things matter, since Free software is about making good software available to everyone, not about innovations.
  • Chortle... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:01AM (#12643636) Homepage Journal
    McVoy will stop the give-away, saying it has been costing him nearly $500,000 per year to support Torvalds and his programmers.
    I think Larry must use the RIAA's accountancy methods for coming up with the cost of these things.
    • Re:Chortle... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jobsagoodun (669748) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:37AM (#12643960)
      Hee hee. Especially when you read the bit on bitmovers website about hosting the kernel sources...

      All of this activity is hosted on a small relatively inexpensive PC. We build our own machines here and this one cost about $1500 in 2001; a similar rack mount machine would probably cost about $3000 today but be about 3 times faster. The fact that such an inexpensive machine can handle this level of activity underscores our message about total cost of ownership.

      What a twat.
      • Re:Chortle... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by horza (87255)
        Then you subtract the value he bought in marketing and publicity, which is the only reason he did it in the first place.

        Phillip.
  • I mean, just look at Bittorrent, completely non-innovative if you disregard the fact that it is currently the most efficient way to grab large files for package upgrades. Hmmm, maybe I should take this article to heart and go back to downloading my updates at 100k/sec for my home box. Nah screw that, I'll use the torrents for my updates. It will be a matter of time before the back end for the transfer of this code will work it's way into other means of transferring large files.
  • importance of git (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qwertphobia (825473) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:02AM (#12643641)
    The article completely misses the importance if git.

    Yes, Linus is a limited resource, and if he takes time to work on a development tool, kernel releases are delayed, but that doesn't mean overall kernel development has delayed overall.

    But the importance of git should not be overlooked.

    Linus and friends have been making a custom tool designed to fit their hands perfectly and accompany them in the way that they (the developers) work. In the long run, git will be a better tool for them because they designed it to meet the way they work instead of using an existing tool and changing how they work to match the functionality and nuances of that tool.

    Look forward to more efficient development in the next year, that's what I say.
  • What part of using XML for window layouts was reverse engineered?
  • by akadruid (606405) <slashdot@thedruid.co . u k> on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:05AM (#12643676) Homepage
    From TFA:
    To be sure, a few open source companies are successfully generating revenue and even (possibly) profits. But none of them generates enough money to do anything really innovative, says McVoy, 43, an industry veteran who has developed operating system software at Sun Microsystems, SGI and Google.

    Of course, having working at Google, he would know what a curse open source is. No wonder Google make no money with all that OSS they use (and create).
  • Non-innovative? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Noryungi (70322) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:06AM (#12643685) Homepage Journal
    Sure, the Open Source community is non-innovative.

    Let's see... BitTorrent?

    Hmmm... that sounds pretty innovative to me.

    OpenBSD's pf? CARP?

    Hmmm... that sounds pretty innovative to me.

    Rsync? SpamAssassin? Encrypted file systems, such as cgd? Zope? Stable journaling file systems, such as ReiserFS and ext3fs? Or even Arch, Monotone and other source management programs?

    Well, I guess some innovations come from the Open Source community, after all...

    Frankly, big corporations (Microsoft comes to mind) do not 'innovate' either. They slavishly copy whatever worked for the competition.

    I think this gentleman is just angry that some people decided to copy his precious SubVersion. But guess what? That is the nature of Open Source. If the 'community' likes something, it is going to copy it, and then improve on it.

    And, in the case of OpenSSH (for instance) the copy actually is better than the original. I rest my case.
    • Re:Non-innovative? (Score:3, Informative)

      by gclef (96311)
      ummm....not that I'm disagreeing with you, but McVoy didn't write Subversion. SVN's an open-source project much like Arch, Monotone, etc. McVoy did Bitkeeper.

      (just doing fact-checking....we now return you to your normally scheduled slashdot discussion)
  • by heller (4484) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:07AM (#12643690) Homepage
    Oh Yea. . .Necessity is the mother of invention. Had he remembered that then he would realize that the source of innovation in a 100% Open Source world would be new things that are required and not some desired cash as things stand now. Personally, I would rather see things being innovated because I NEED them, not because some company wants to put a "New and Improved" sticker on a box to justify a price raise.

  • by cagle_.25 (715952) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:08AM (#12643699) Journal
    His claim is that the profit motive is required to drive innovation. But a simple fact refutes his claim: UNIX preceded Windows. A large part of the original Unix OS was open source [faqs.org]. From the link:

    Later, Doug McIlroy would write of this period [McIlroy91]: "Peer pressure and simple pride in workmanship caused gobs of code to be rewritten or discarded as better or more basic ideas emerged. Professional rivalry and protection of turf were practically unknown: so many good things were happening that nobody needed to be proprietary about innovations". But it would take another quarter century for all the implications of that observation to come home.

    There really are other motives besides money!
  • As a troll... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:09AM (#12643709) Journal
    I'm taking notes here. There's lots of good stuff to really get under people's skin:)
  • Define innovation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:19AM (#12643804) Homepage
    This is ridiculous. Sure, I can pick and choose open source projects and say, "They're not innovative." I can do the same of a billion commercial apps. Is Word innovative? It depends how you define innovative. Is Linux innovative? Again, it depends how you define it.

    There are truely innovative apps that began as open source. But there are also a lot that have been created specifically to provide an alternative to commercial equivalents. Every new application is not meant to be about innovation. It's meant to fill a need. Clearly open source fills a need, otherwise it wouldn't exist.

    This guy's an idiot.
  • by saigon_from_europe (741782) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:27AM (#12643881)
    I think that people in SW industry (or in IT in general) believe that 'get paid for time you spend working' is not good enough for them. Do they (we) identify themselves with big CEOs like Gates od Dell, or they just believe that current SW business model (develop once, sell n times) is God-given to make them instantly rich? What about good old 'working per hour, at defined rate'?

    I believe that software is service. This guy complains that if you make some program easy to use, most of the users will never call you for service. Ok, they will not call you, but how they hurt him? They use his software, but does that takes money from his pocket? Did they burned his house using his product?

    Let us make some example. Guy 'A' spends 1000 hours making some program, for general purpose. His software is somewhat complicate to use, so his user base is 1000 people, but every 10th has to call him to for some kind of support. It makes him, say, 100 x 2h x(his rate) per month of possible income. There is second guy with his own program, which is better, so only every 100th user needs some support. But as a result, his user base is larger, so he may have 100.000 users, so he may get more consulting hours. We cannot say for sure, but it may also happen to him to have actually less consulting hours comparing to the first guy. But as a result (not taking into account initial investment of time spend for writing code[*]) both of them get paid for time they spent working.

    What's wrong with that concept? Why should I expect for someone to pay me for doing nothing? When they spend an hour for their costumers, costumers pays them. Is this guy McVoy too noble to be paid per workhour?

    [*] Initial time investment could be significantly decreased if you use open source development model, as we know.
  • by wazzzup (172351) <astromac&fastmail,fm> on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:42AM (#12644020)
    Well, let's take a look at an open source desktop that any one of us might set up in somebody's home or office...

    Linux kernel = Unix knockoff
    KDE = Windows knockoff
    GIMP = Photoshop knockoff
    Open Office = MS Office knockoff
    Gaim = AOL knockoff
    Firefox = innovative (sorta, see below)
    Apache = innovative
    PHP, Python, etc. = innovative

    Firefox is shaky because tabbed browsing was introduced by Opera (a commercial comany). It didn't bring the browser into mainstream awareness like, say, Adobe did with graphics and DTP software. It is, however, the freshest face on the browser scene which has seen a much-needed revitalization as a result so I'll throw it in on the innovative side. Yes, IRC was around before AOL but AOL brought internet chat awareness to the masses so they get the credit. History is written by the victors ;) Apache, PHP, Python are all very cool projects that you or I may may love but is of limited use to most people. Where email is concerned, I can't think of any whizz bang email program that sets itself apart from most other email in an innovative way. Okay Outlook, but that's only innovative in the virus and trojan propogation field ;)

    Don't get me wrong, open source is a fantastic and vital field in computing. Having access to a software library that is free in both the money sense and the libre sense is a big deal and in particular, those that cannot afford a quality commercial version such as developing countries.

    On the other hand, commercial software is where most of the innovation and R&D takes place. They have to offer fresh and compelling reasons for us to part with our money. They have to be better than their competition (including open source). I know, I know, Microsoft isn't better than the competition nor are they innovative. True, but they are one company in a sea of thousands that would fall under the software industry umbrella and their monopoly status makes them an exception.

    Open source needs commercial software and commercial software is recognizing the importance of and becoming more reliant upon open source. There is room for both. McVoy is right. 100% OSS would stagnate as its current model seems to be copying the work of others. Its strength lies in its license, not its feature set. As for the other extreme, we only have to look at Microsoft to see the effects of a commercial software dominated world.

    Monoculture is bad and that goes for Linux as well as Windows.
  • by SysKoll (48967) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:45AM (#12644057)
    But if the world goes to 100% open source, innovation goes to zero.

    Oh, how insightful! What wisdom!

    There are plenty of examples to prove the man right. Take a look, for instance, at the unfortunate, stagnating world of physics. For some silly macho reason, all physicists have to provide their experiments, their data, their calculations, their data and their conclusions in excruciately detailed papers that are submitted to journals for all to see. This process is glorified with noble-sounding terms such as "peer review", "refutability" and "sound science". Physicists pretend this allows them to build on their predecessors' results.

    But, as you have guessed, this is just another example of open source. That's right, folks, physics is plagued by a generalized use of the dreaded open source! The source is not code here, it's data, theories and calculations, but the principe is the same: let's face it, physicists don't know how to keep things proprietary.

    Which explains why the field is so totally devoid of innovation. Ah, if only physics was practiced with a decent proprietary attitude, like back in the good old time when Galileo taunted his colleagues by hinting about wonders he had observed with his new expensive telescope! Or when alchemists jealously kept their recipes and processes a secret! By now, we would have wonderful machines, such as vehicules flying in the air, devices carrying your voice on a wire, and calculators weighing only a fraction of a ton!

    Verily, physical sciences needs to get rid of its openness to finally become innovative. And that is also true for computer sciences, of course.

  • by attobyte (20206) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:54AM (#12644167)
    He was never a friend of opensource and only in it for the $$$$. I will put our ideas against any company. What as M$ created in the last 15 years??? I can't think of one thing that wasn't a knock off of something else.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @09:56AM (#12644190) Homepage Journal
    I will start out that I think the Bitkeeper open version was evil. The idea that if I used it I could not try and write a better CVS system was just wrong and should never have been accepted.

    Frankly a lot of what he has to say makes perfect sense. The world will never be 100% open source. And unless you make it illegal "so much for freedom" to charge for software closed source will always be around. That is not a bad thing.
    Open source will also never die.
    I work for a company that produces closed source software. Not one of our customers has ever asked for the source code. They also pay us $600 a year for tech support and updates. Most of them are happy with our software and we provide documented file formats so their data belongs to them. There is not a single open source product that competes with us. So guys the market is wide open if you want to jump in.

    One thing that really ticks me off in the FOSS community is the idea that OSS has to be free as in beer. It does not. What it does mean is if you pay for OSS you get the source and the right to give it and the source to whom ever you want. And yes you can charge them as much as you want.

    The other thing is if you do not contribute code, money, documentation, or at least good bug reports to the project you are a freeloader. I want to smack people that I hear complaining that this free program or that lacks this or that feature or that the guy that wrote it is an idiot. SHUT UP AND ADD THE FEATURE YOURSELF! Or pay the developer to add it if you want it. But do not sit on a message board complaining about what you are getting for free.

    Before any of you RMS fan boys jump on me let me say one thing. I have released a few FOSS programs I wrote. The first couple where not GPLd because the GPL was not written yet but I gave away the source. I have contributed to a few more GPL programs since then. The world will never be all open or closed source. People that think it should be are like those that think the world should forced to all be one faith.
  • by cahiha (873942) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @10:01AM (#12644250)
    But McVoy says open source advocates fail to recognize that building new software requires lots of trial and error, which means investing lots of money. Software companies won't make those investments unless they can earn a return by selling programs rather than giving them away.

    Software companies don't make those investments at all. The institutions that make those investments are the government and a few large private research labs. Almost all the software and almost all the innovation you see around you ultimately comes from those sources.

    People like McVoy and other self-proclaimed innovators are adding little gimmicks and tweaks on top of that massive, publicly funded innovation. The question we should be asking is why we should let people like McVoy continue to leech off the investments that taxpayers and a few private labs are making.
  • I have a feeling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by C_Kode (102755) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @10:11AM (#12644386) Journal
    His hostilities are because he is getting customer backlash. I bet he is losing customers due to this mess.

    I have no problem with commercial software. I think it's a good thing. I think ol' Larry was just absolutely stupid for the way he has handled this whole thing. The guy is obviously a smart and innovative programmer, he is just business stupid. It's why you keep real techie types out of the board room. (most of the time anyhow)

    It's like when all those companies release versions of products for other countries not realizing their logo, trade mark phrase or whatever else is "inside" is insulting to that culture. Larry wants the OSS community to use his product. His view and OSS view didn't line up. instead of working to get something worked out (beyond the half assed attempt made) He insulted the OSS community and he is getting burned in the process.

    Cause and effect Larry. "Think before you speak" isn't just a word jumble. It's how you are supposed to conduct yourself.
    • Re:I have a feeling (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MikeBabcock (65886)
      I'd have to agree -- I was more than willing to recommend that my partners and I check out BitMover for source control in-house, until he started mouthing off on the kernel list.

      Guess what McVoy, lots of us read the Kernel Traffic [kerneltraffic.org] summaries who aren't necessarily involved. I don't like companies with bad attitudes, period.
  • by killmenow (184444) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @10:17AM (#12644441)
    ...and I'm sure to be modded into oblivion for it; but, McVoy is just a cocktease. That's his problem right there.

    He had this tool he teased the OSS crowd with. When some of them decided there were other fish in the sea, he got royally pissed because his tease no longer held any power. So not only did he run away pouting, he literally joined up with some of the worst hacks out there...specifically, Daniel Lyons. Mr. Lyons is well regarded as a talentless hack who hates anything that brings to light the truth of the matter: his relevence is waning and soon he can fade to black and nobody will miss him.

    Can't say that I blame them. If my career were pinned to the software publisher business model of the 80's and 90's, I'd be scared as shit right about now and willing to say anything, stretch any number, exaggerate any claim, and basically claw and scrape as long as I could to maintain my position before I found myself out of work, out of money, and out of options.
  • Proprietary guys (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StormReaver (59959) on Thursday May 26, 2005 @11:08AM (#12645085)
    These guys crack me up when they scream about their so-called innovation. Did Larry invent the convept of source control systems? Hell no. He took the ideas of others and (apparently) improved upon them incrementally. That's not innovation. It's what we all do, regardless of how we license our software.

    Most new ideas in software are incremental improvements in processing. There is little real innovation, ever. All improvements in software are inevitable. Someone, somewhere will get peeved enough with the status-quo to change how something is done, and the state of software will creep forward. That is the nature of having conscious thought.

    Money is not going to create an idea. Nor will the absence of money destroy an idea. A programmer with a software idea will pursue the idea regardless of most circumstance.

    What McVoy is really pissed about is the fact that he isn't all that creative, and he's watching the scientific process shatter his perfect little delusion.

    Writing software is physically cheap, and has only one natural scarcity: time. All physical resources for writing software come at essentially no cost by comparison, and that is one of the reasons that software as a revenue generating product is not naturally sustainable in the long term. McVoy must be ignoring this to sustain his perfect little delusion.

    The services model is a naturally sustaining model in the absence of artificial constraints such as software patents. People are lazy, and they don't want to know how to use their software. However, they know they have to have that same software to make their (non-software) operations run. More than not are perfectly willing to pay other people to keep that software in order. That is the whole impetus for maintenance subscriptions.

    Open Source, however, addresses the one big issue people have with subscriptions to proprietary software: control.

    People don't want to have to maintain their own software (and hardware, for that matter), but they also hate the overbearing cruelty imposed upon them by proprietary vendors. Open Source gives customers the best of both worlds. Someone else takes care of the headaches, while the customer retains all the power in the form of the ability to switch service providers. This keeps vendors honest.

    None of this is a replacement for keeping knowledgable staff on the payroll, but it's the next best thing.

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