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Microsoft Software Linux

Open Source Not That Open? 339

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the consider-the-source dept.
mstansberry writes "At the Open Source Business Conference last week, Microsoft's Shared Source mouthpiece Jason Matusow argued the point that open source isn't really open. He said you can't just go changing code on supported Linux offerings without paying extra to companies like Red Hat or Novell. So as Linux is commercialized, it becomes less open. While Matusow made good points during his presentation, many in the open source community are skeptical of the idea at best."
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Open Source Not That Open?

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  • by OSS_ilation (922367) on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:38PM (#13976504)
    on what your definition of "open" is. Same defense, different Bill.
    • Re:It all depends... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rei (128717) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:12AM (#13976675) Homepage
      I can't tell what kind of argument he's trying to make. Is he trying to claim that you have to pay money to get patches or new programs added to the distro? Because if your changes are in the distro, RedHat will support it. Do you think MS will arbitrarily support you if you make random changes that don't have review?

      If they think it's hard to get code in, that's pure nonsense. As a Fedora Extras contributor (fortune-firefly, and coming soon Nethack: Vulture's Eye/Claw) the process is relatively simple, and the people very supportive and responsive. Now, Fedora Extras is certainly less picky than RHEL, but I can't imagine it being too difficult to get code in. If it's not your own package, just simply a package carried by RedHat, you don't even have to deal with RedHat - you just deal with the developers of that package. If they take your patch, then your patch ends up in the distro.

      If he's talking about "you make changes and then expect RedHat to immediately support your changes for you without merging it into the distro", however, that's a pretty preposterous thing to expect. That's not asking for a supportive vendor - that's asking for consultants.
      • Re:It all depends... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dnoyeb (547705) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:22AM (#13976704) Homepage Journal
        The oddest part is that he is talking about 'open' as if being less open is somehow bad.
        • Re:It all depends... (Score:5, Informative)

          by DenDave (700621) * on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @05:21AM (#13977495)
          Actually it sounds like he doesn't get the Open bit to begin with.
          The code is open and you are free to change what you want. Or simply review it for your sunday afternoon leisure. Whether or not some other person or company is happy to give you support is a different matter altogether. This is just more FUD. RedHat is not "less open" it is simply a greater financial gamble if you start changing code in a RHEL supported box, either they support it or they don't. However, this doesn't change the fact that you can freely download Linux and bake it from scratch or use one of the many distros and change the code as you see fit.

      • by lucifer_666 (662754) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @02:10AM (#13977044)
        I think the argument he is trying to make is that even though you have full access to "open source" code, and even though you can make your modifications, they will not be supported by the vendor; therefore, his logic goes, there is no additional value to making the modifications, you can't roll them out world wide for example.

        An IT manager may look at this argument and conclude there is no advantage to open source solutions, in that there is no point having solutions that are not supported. The manager may conclude closed source is a better choice; while no self-modifications can be made, at least the system is supported in its entirety.

        At the end of the day, your average IT manager needs to desperately separate him or herself from the technology. Otherwise, they get completely snowed under doing technical work that should have been delegated. When there is an option to pay for support, most will take it. The argument is powerful in that it contends as there is no option for support of changes, so there is no ability to make changes. So why buy open source as opposed to a fully supported Microsoft product?

        Very smart implication, I think anyway.

        • by NotoriousQ (457789) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @08:31AM (#13978012) Homepage
          Ok, so you do not want any technical work done in house, because it is not supported. Fine.

          The problem of getting locked in to a vendor still remains. When one vendor gives you closed source programs, and then decides that he no longer supports your version, your only choice is to switch to another product. That is a software manufacturer has a monopoly on supporting that software. In open source, any company can support the software...and no one can claim that they will be bad at it because they do not own the code. As the code is publicly available, they can claim that they are as good at supporting the product as the company that sells the software.

          Less lock-in as far as I can see is a good thing.

        • It's not smart, and it's not new. And deciding that because RH won't support arbitrary user-patches you may as well go with Microsoft is a false dochotomy.

          If support is a concern for you, and providing your own fixes is not (and this is true for many, many, many shops, in no small part due to the culture that grows up around proprietary software - you implement workaround, rather than fixing the product directly), then obviously the "open" part of Open Source is of little value to you. That doesn't mean yo

        • Illogical. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LWATCDR (28044)
          "An IT manager may look at this argument and conclude there is no advantage to open source solutions, in that there is no point having solutions that are not supported. The manager may conclude closed source is a better choice; while no self-modifications can be made, at least the system is supported in its entirety."
          With Open Source you can.
          A. Modify nothing had have full support
          B. Modify somethings and have support on what you have not modified.
          C. Can fix problems or ad features yourself and get them adde
    • by AoT (107216)
      This is what it boils down to: Microsoft does not understand that the free in free software is not necessarily free as in beer; and, yes, it may cost more if you decide to go willy nilly on a coding spree and expect your changes to be supported.
      • They understand perfectly. They just are lying and spreading FUD or it could be opposite day.

        Just like how the unions are saying that Proposition 75 [smartvoter.org] is a way to silence union members. What is is is to say that the union can only take money out member's paychecks for political campains, after they get permission. Not jump through hoops to get a refund of polical dues. Or Proposition 75 [smartvoter.org] will cut school funding. But it actually limits the amounts of spending increases.

    • by shanecoughlan (902917) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @03:31AM (#13977254) Homepage
      The thing that really bites about the article, and the reason I disagree with it, is attitude. The open source world (by and large) is about sharing intellectual horsepower. We make something, we share it. Some guy can make it better. We can all get the added value of development. Coherent groups create open source software products (yes, I said products) like Firefox or OpenOffice, and individuals go and toy with the code.

      The Microsoft presentation says something very different.

      "Matusow said opening up software can add value, "but you need to understand why you want to open certain software. We are building intellectual property into software and trying to sell it. We throw code over the wall for the community to build on it.""

      They throw code over the wall?

      It's very patronizing. Instead of regarding the people out there as brainpower with a positive contribution, they regard their internal direction as higher than external voices. I guess this is why ultimately Microsoft is dropping the ball. They just don't listen. You NEED to listen. The world has changed since Win95, or even WinXP. We need more, we need it faster, and we need it to work with the Mac laptop and Linux server.

      Basically, the surge in open source is driven by the fact that it's answering so many of the productivity, communication and search questions of the marketplace. Even Apple realize that, and this is why their baby (MacOS X) is largely available as Darwin (open OS code).

      Just my two cents.

      Shane Coughlan
      Project Leader
      Mobility http://mobility.shaneland.co.uk/ [shaneland.co.uk]
    • Re:It all depends... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FireFury03 (653718)
      He said you can't just go changing code on supported Linux offerings without paying extra to companies like Red Hat or Novell.

      Uh, I dunno what he's been smoking...

      1. The code is open, you can change it as much as you want (it just might not get adopted upstream)
      2. If you make a good patch to fix a bug then it usually does get pulled in upstream (either by the packager, or by the author - if it gets to the author then *all* the packagers get it)
      3. Tied in with (2), if you join the project that's developing a
      • by shawb (16347)
        I think what the MS guy is complaining about is that once you make your own personal changes, then the product is no longer supported by the vendor. In a nutshell that means that there is no reason to pay for support on an open source piece of software over a closed source piece of software.

        I personally understand that there are advantages of the open source model, primarilly in that if the company you had support from goes out of business or stops supporting that software you can still go out and find
        • Re:It all depends... (Score:3, Informative)

          by FireFury03 (653718)
          I think what the MS guy is complaining about is that once you make your own personal changes, then the product is no longer supported by the vendor.

          Well, if your changes go upstream then in *will* be supported by the vendor at no extra cost. In any case this seems like a bogus arguement because the choice is between FOSS (you can make changes but they might be unsupported) and closed software (you can't make changes at all) - clearly FOSS gives the greater freedom and closed software has no advantage.

          prima
    • Not really. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @07:35AM (#13977790) Homepage Journal
      Clinton's defense wasn't a technical fallacy; it was an attempt to mislead by exploiting the logical gaps in the terms of his opponent. The strategy is simple, but you have to be smart and have the force of personality to control your opponent. You look for something that is at least a tiny bit vague in his assumptions or definitions and repeatedly demand he make it more and more precise, until he inadvertently leaves out whatever it is he has in mind that's important to him. Sooner or later, this has to happen because every edifice of human reasoning has at least some rotten timbers in it. You then build a logically unassailable but sophistic argument based on his own definitions that leads away from where he wants to go to where you want to go. If your opponents states, preferably forcefully and emotionally, that an animal is a crow if and only if it is black, then you go on to argue that a black cat is a crow. It's easy to spot the falsehood, but hard to discredit the source of the falsehood if it was yourself.

      The argument in this case is closer to the strategy the cigarette companies used on tobacco's addictiveness. In that one you pick an arbitrary definition of your own -- a straw man -- then quickly move on and hope your audience doesn't have time to realize the definition you've used is loaded. You help this process by passing over it quickly, or by referring to it without ever stating it explicitly, and moving on to emotional or inflammatory rhetoric.

      The distinction is this: in one case you force the other side to provide you with the faulty definition. In the other you rely on the other side carelessly accepting a definition you supply.
  • Finally... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:38PM (#13976506)
    An objective evaluation from the leader in open source.

    Come on... Microsoft!??!
    • Re:Finally... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mateito (746185) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:48AM (#13976804) Homepage
      From TFA:

      Shared source is Microsoft's foray into community development, started back in 2001 when Linux was just a hobby for the blue-haired ponytail set.

      I think everybody except for Microsoft had heard of Linux well before 2001. I first started playing with it in 1995, and had it in production for webservers and other edge type boxes during 1997.

      I've never had blue hair.

  • I'm sold (Score:4, Funny)

    by doxology (636469) <<ude.tim> <ta> <dyzzoc>> on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:38PM (#13976507) Homepage
    It's a Microsoft spokesman saying it, it MUST be true!
    • Re:I'm sold (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DrEldarion (114072)
      You joke, but a lot of people believe just that.

      • Re:I'm sold (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dtfinch (661405) *
        No kidding. I know an MSCE who absolutely won't allow any open source whatsoever on the hundreds of desktops and several servers he manages because he heard that open source was horribly insecure, like spyware and crap. If it didn't come from Microsoft, and it's not Microsoft certified, he won't trust it at all.
  • by bc90021 (43730) * <<ten.12009cb> <ta> <12009cb>> on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:39PM (#13976512) Homepage
    ...if you're running something like RedHat Or Novell. Of course, for those running Gentoo, or Debian, or Slackware, or Peanut, or whatever, it still holds.

    • If your paying for support, which the article implies, then of course if you customize your kernel and system over a standard patch level, then yes, the support should cost more.

      AFAIK, one can still get those distros without having to buy a support contract.
      • by weighn (578357) <(weighn) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:09AM (#13976661) Homepage
        He said you can't just go changing code on supported Linux offerings without paying extra to companies like Red Hat or Novell

        Redhat wont go the extra mile to support some code that they have supplied and I have modified.
        Wow that's preposterous.
        What next? Ford wont honour my new vehicle warranty if I modify the engine?

        • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:46AM (#13976798) Journal
          "Ford wont honour my new vehicle warranty if I modify the engine?"

          Ford will honor your new vehicle warranty if you modify the engine as long as the problem cannot reasonably be connected to the engine.

          For example, if I install a high-flow air filter and a few months later the brakes stop working, Ford will honor my warranty. If I install a high-flow air filter and the cylinders break, Ford might be less willing to fix it under warranty. It would be up to Ford, by the way, to show that the damage was due to the modification and you can take them to court if you don't agree. Depending on what happens, it may not be worth it.

          The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act [enjoythedrive.com] is the federal regulation in this case.

          This may be off-topic, but it's a common myth that if a person modifies their car, they lose their entire warranty. It's not true.
    • The Point (Score:5, Insightful)

      by everphilski (877346) on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:54PM (#13976582) Journal
      The point of contention is open source vs. standardized distribution. Once you make a modification, your code base is no longer the "standard" distribution, be it RedHat, gentoo, or Slack. Therefore you really can't get support for it, free or otherwise (what, are you going to post on a forum "well, I tweaked this and this..."). So as Linux pushes towards standardization effectively the open-ness is still there and available to you but is marginalized in the sense that once you make changes then you aren't standard anymore.

      It's not a distribution thing its a philosophical thing.

      To make an allusion to a situation I have at work: we use a framework for development, and I have a tweaked copy I use for a pet project. But I don't dare ask for support on it, because I made modifications to the code beyond the specifications of the code. I can do that, because I am a developer and have rights to the codebase, etc. but then its no longer a standard. I can't expect it to support other applications built for the main framework and vice versa, etc...

      But in truth he makes a point - the core of the OS in general doesn't need to be messed with, most tweaks and alterations do/should occur at the application level.

      Just my 2 cents worth,

      -everphilski-
      • Re:The Point (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aussie_a (778472) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:27AM (#13976726) Journal
        Once you make a modification, your code base is no longer the "standard" distribution, be it RedHat, gentoo, or Slack. Therefore you really can't get support for it, free or otherwise

        No of course you can't. That's like me saying "I created a program on my computer, can someone offer me support without seeing the code or knowing much about it?" However if you distribute your software, and it gains a wide customer base, then people will be able to offer support on it, and nothing stops you from offering your customers support for your derivative.

        Try doing that with Windows and see how far you get.

        the core of the OS in general doesn't need to be messed with, most tweaks and alterations do/should occur at the application level.

        And open source IS open, because if someone were to make changes to the OS, if the changes were good enough and the people distributing it professional enough, it would gain widespread use, and the other Linux distro's would be welcome to come along, grab his changes, and implement it within their own distributions.

        To me, the MS PR person seems to have created a straw-man more then anything. But then again, why is this a surprise? Microsoft appears to hate the GPL and Linux, because it see's them as a valid threat to their own virtual monopoly. Whenever a MS person speaks, be very careful. He might be speaking the truth, but the likelihood of a spin is great. You should also be careful whenever there's a Microsoft article on Slashdot, because while the summary might be saying the truth, the likelihood of a spin is great. In this case, the summary gave the impression the article was primarily about Open Source not being open, when in reality, it's about Microsoft's shared source license.
        • Re:The Point (Score:3, Interesting)

          by squoozer (730327)

          That's like me saying "I created a program on my computer, can someone offer me support without seeing the code or knowing much about it?"

          Actually I think it's more like buying a car, modding it to hell and back, and then expecting the local garage to do a full service for the same amount. You would have to be a complete loon to think they wouldn't charge you more. This M$ guy has stated the obvious and made it sound like a bad thing.

      • Re:The Point (Score:5, Informative)

        by Alien Being (18488) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:32AM (#13976750)
        You're right in not expecting specialized support on your modified code, but I think you left out some important points.

        If you find a bug in a customized program, you try to reproduce it on a stock version. If it exists, you submit a bug report against that. It's their bug, completely.

        If you modified the code, then you should be able to determine if the modifications are working as expected. If not, it's your bug.

        Maybe you have shared your modifications with others who can help. Maybe it has already been merged into the standard codebase.

        Even when it's not possible to reproduce the bug due to logistical contraints, or to determine whose fault it is, the vendor should still listen to the problem and offer guidance on how to isolate the problem.

      • Re:The Point (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kjella (173770)
        To make an allusion to a situation I have at work: we use a framework for development, and I have a tweaked copy I use for a pet project. But I don't dare ask for support on it, because I made modifications to the code beyond the specifications of the code. I can do that, because I am a developer and have rights to the codebase, etc. but then its no longer a standard. I can't expect it to support other applications built for the main framework and vice versa, etc...

        Depends on what you did, but if you're wil
      • Re:The Point (Score:3, Informative)

        by div_2n (525075)
        Once you make a modification, your code base is no longer the "standard" distribution, be it RedHat, gentoo, or Slack. Therefore you really can't get support for it, free or otherwise

        Not true. Amazon.com uses Red Hat for a lot of internal stuff that they have modded out the wazoo and Red Hat still supports them and even HELPS them mod their source. Of course, I'm sure Amazon pays all sorts of dough for their support contract, but if you are willing to pay, it can be done.
    • by LnxAddct (679316) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:05AM (#13976639)
      Except that everything that Red Hat makes is open source. Even its defensive patents can be used by any open source project (Red Hat gives irrevocable patent permission to any OSS project). The guys point in the article was that if I make a customization that isn't pushed upstream then I have to maintain that customization... no shit. That is true of any software or distro. The difference is... the source is open, I can go to Red Hat's ftp server right now and get the source for everything they've got and make as many changes as I want. The beauty is, if the patch might be more general than to just my specific needs, I have the option of pushing it upstream and if it is valuable enough to whatever project then it will be merged. If it doesn't have mass appeal then of course I'll have to maintain it, you aren't going to get the masses to maintain something specific to your company. Even if the upstream patch is rejected, if I damn want to I'll release my own version of the product (just like Whitebox or CentOS took all the source to Red Hat and released their own version). Lets see how fast Microsoft stops me if I take their source using their shared source license, make a change or two and start a new project called "Steve's SQL Server" and let anyone download it for free. This article is nothing but FUD being cranked out by the good ol' MS FUD machine. If they put as much effort into their software as they did their FUD then the software industry would be flipped upside down.
      Regards,
      Steve
      • by Builder (103701) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @05:59AM (#13977595)
        Except that everything that Red Hat makes is open source.

        I really do wish people would stop propagating that myth! Many of Red Hat's most important products are entirely closed source. Not only do you not have the right to modify the code, you don't even have the right to SEE the source code! Look at their RHN products.

        In addition, it's not just code changes that will stop Red Hat supporting you. Recompile your kernel, and they won't support you until you reboot with a stock kernel.

        None of the above get to me though. What REALLY gets to me is Red Hat supporting machines that have software from other vendors installed.

        I recently had to upgrade the kernel on a batch of machines running RHEL 3 with Veritas storage foundation installed. On the test server, I ran into a problem - during the reboot, the server could not mount any veritas managed filesystems. If I commented these out of fstab and rebooted, I could then mount them fine. Would Red Hat support me, even though I have paid for premium support on all of these boxes ? Not a chance! They told me that it's a Veritas problem - go talk to Veritas.

        Veritas of course maintain that it's a Red Hat problem because everything was working fine before the new kernel was booted, which seems reasonable enough to me. Eventually, after expending considerable amount of my own time and effort, I found and solved the problem. It turns out that Veritas needs to put a bunch of modules under /lib/modules/$(uname -r). On a boot without these, it tries to copy them in place, but as the filesystem is read-only at this time, it fails. So the problem appears to be a shared Veritas / Red Hat problem, but at the end of the day, I don't care - I pay 2 companies for premium support of their products, and I don't think I got this!
  • Err... (Score:2, Interesting)

    Matsuow says: "you need to understand why you want to open certain software"

    Now, presuming that he is disregarding any ideas of software being closed to *hem* increase profit, he doesn't really seem to get the idea...

    I'd say that if anything, you should need to understand why you want to _close_ certain software.
  • by dtfinch (661405) * on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:42PM (#13976527) Journal
    His entire argument is that if you make changes to the source code, Red Hat support won't debug your modifications for you as part of their basic support package.

    I can do whatever the hell I want with GPL'd open source, short of refusing to share my changes when distributing binaries to other users. Microsoft has all these licenses, but AFAIK they've released nothing of worth under any of them. I can't view or modify any significant Microsoft source without signing an NDA and paying millions of dollars, or risking serious prison time.
    • I can't view or modify any significant Microsoft source without signing an NDA and paying millions of dollars, or risking serious prison time.

      Worse... when someone like Citrix or Symantec does a better job with 'closed source' base, MS will change the paradigm and break the better app. Running the better guy out of business. And a new crippled MS version of "Terminal Services" or "Anti Malware" will be born.
    • by twitter (104583)
      His entire argument is that if you make changes to the source code, Red Hat support won't debug your modifications for you as part of their basic support package. I can do whatever the hell I want with GPL'd open source, short of refusing to share my changes when distributing binaries to other users.

      Oh, but there's more. If your mods are excellent and usefull, they might be rolled into the upstream sources and officially "supported" by having others continue to mod and improve things for you. That's why

  • Supported? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paska (801395) * on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:43PM (#13976530) Homepage
    The key word here is "supported", you can't expect Redhat, Novell or even Microsoft to support your modifications.

    If you don't want official support from any vendor, you modify away - and support it yourself.
    • Re:Supported? (Score:4, Informative)

      by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:02AM (#13976623)
      The key word here is "supported", you can't expect Redhat, Novell or even Microsoft to support your modifications.

      The first thing just about any vendor, MS or a reseller, Apple, will tell you when you have a problem with the OS is to do a clean install. If you want someone to fix your Windows install while keeping all your apps and settings intact, you'll be paying a hefty call out fee.

    • by Mateito (746185)
      you can't expect Redhat, Novell or even Microsoft to support your modifications.

      You can't even expect Microsoft to support their own modifications.

  • by jzeejunk (878194) on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:43PM (#13976531) Journal
    Microsoft software isn't all that closed. There are always open holes to exploit.
  • It's open (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Apreche (239272) on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:43PM (#13976534) Homepage Journal
    It's open. You just can't force someone else to change their codebase. If you really want to change it you make and maintain a patchset or your own seperate version of the codebase. Look at how many different kernel sources you can get, yet very few of those patchset ever get applied to the "real" kernel at kernel.org.

    The point is you can do whatever you want with the code, but you can't force someone else to use it. I mean think about it. Imagine a code repository where every developer could write anything and it was fully open. It would never build. Code that is good enough usually gets accepted upstream, that darwinistic process helps open source, not the opposite.
  • by n54 (807502) on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:45PM (#13976537) Homepage Journal
    I'm not a linux zealot (I use Win2000, Knoppix, and OpenBSD and most of the time only the Win2000) but I still say this is pure FUD etc.

    I read the article and it's as thin as water. Nothing to see here (move along), not even anything real to discuss here (except perhaps that /. has begun selling pagehits?).
  • From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. Whatever you think about M$, the distinction between "open source" and "shared source" will be worth knowing going forward, and I'm skeptical of any source that claims Linux was the province of "the blue-haired ponytail set" in 2001. I don't even know what that means.
  • A company buys an 'enterprise' Linux distribution exactly because the rate of change has been slowed, and that they don't want to internally manage the code updates. Redhat has priced their offering based on what they know they support, so if a client wants support beyond that they have to pay for it. However, support for a open source product has an upper bound - the cost to hire someone full time to support it.

    Equivalently, if a company standardized on Debian Stable, then its going to be harder to get a p
  • by kihjin (866070) on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:47PM (#13976550)
    "But if a customer modifies the source code, [Red Hat] can't help you [without charging you extra]. They have to lock things down to provide value," Matusow said. "As open source becomes commercialized, it becomes less open."

    Perhaps. But even so, the end user remains free to make changes. Even if the license (oddly) prohibited redistribution, supplying the source code to software with the software itself will always be better that not. Closed source is a dead end. End users have no choice, they must rely on the vendor to issue security patches and fix software.

    This is not to say that every user will be tempted to change his/her software. The majority of users will be content with what is, and may not even be aware that the source is available. The freedom still exists, however.
  • Guy is full of it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:48PM (#13976554)
    Many distros only come only with open source programs by default. Which you can go yourself and change without paying anyone anything.

    And the Linux kernel is also open. Just don't expect your changes to necessarily go into effect on the 'official' kernel. Just like the MS's shared source code will have 1 official version and then whatever the customers changed out there which they can't even share with each other because they signed NDAs and whatnot up the wazoo just to see the code. Unlike Linux.

    MS, stop attacking Linux and mind your own business. You have less and less credibility when you keep attacking Open Source in general with your FUD and your customers are catching on. It's better to salvage what dignity you have and shut up. If and when you stop spreading FUD, your credibility might go up and you can stop spending billions advertising yourself and attacking others. But then, that would totally go against the grain of what is a marketing company, not a software engineering company.
    • by penix1 (722987)
      "MS, stop attacking Linux and mind your own business. You have less and less credibility when you keep attacking Open Source in general with your FUD and your customers are catching on."

      Actually, this round of FUD isn't aimed at "end-users". It is aimed at PHBs that are considering switching large operations. It makes absolutely no sense to purchase a support contract and then attempt to negate that contract by doing self-modifications. As I stated in my post above, why did you purchase the support if you a
    • by Z34107 (925136)

      MS, stop attacking Linux and mind your own business

      Umm... It didn't really seem to me like an attack on Linux, per se, but more of a defense of shared source. Microsoft fears Linux (and rightly so) as it's up-and-coming competitor - but there haven't exactly been horse's heads in beds, have there? And besides, if Linux is now Microsoft's greatest competitor, how the heck is it not Microsoft's business? (Here, "business" can be taken more or less literally.)

      For the record, the article did make a goo

      • by penix1 (722987)
        "For the record, the article did make a good point. Large businesses that need support can't tinker with the source as freely as other users, as doing so makes tech support more costly. Hence, for this market, open source is less open. Sure, it's common sense - but for large, tech-support-needy corporations, open source becomes little different from shared source. And hence, Mr. Matusow's point."

        yes, that is the point he was making but it is still a null & void one. If you have the "in-house" ability to
      • by rolfwind (528248)

        Umm... It didn't really seem to me like an attack on Linux, per se, but more of a defense of shared source. Microsoft fears Linux (and rightly so) as it's up-and-coming competitor - but there haven't exactly been horse's heads in beds, have there?

        I think spreading FUD or misinformation about something is always an attack on that front.

        And besides, if Linux is now Microsoft's greatest competitor, how the heck is it not Microsoft's business? (Here, "business" can be taken more or less literally.)

        It's like the

  • More MS FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elronxenu (117773) on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:48PM (#13976555) Homepage
    "But if a customer modifies the source code, [Red Hat] can't help you [without charging you extra]. They have to lock things down to provide value," Matusow said.

    That's a new meaning for the phrase "lock things down" that I hadn't heard before. I don't believe redhat locks anything down. The customer might be responsible for fixing problems with their own changes, but that wouldn't affect the support that redhat provides (i.e. so long as the problem was not caused by a customer change).

    In effect, it's more FUD from M$. They really appear desperate now, grasping at any possible argument against Open Source. I didn't see the M$ spokesman telling the audience that Microsoft would support its own software which had been altered by customers.

    So Mr Matusow, please explain again, how a license which allows customers to do more than your license allows is bad for those customers? That's like the RIAA claiming that 20-more years of copyright post death of author is good for the consumer.

    • I don't use a commercial distro, but what if you find a bug, make a patch and work with the vendor to get the patch in the main distribution? Better still, what if you work with the vendor to make the patch in the first place? Does this cost extra? I hope not.

      That's what having the source does - it facilitates collabortion and partnership between you and the vendor.

      Soko
    • There's no reason that someone couldn't ship non-open source software with source in a distro and make restrictions on redistributing that source, but this looks more like Sun's "when we talk about Linux we mean Redhat" bullshit. If you use a distro like Slackware there's no such limitation, so as usual, kindly software giant Microsoft is simply lying.

      Remember this the next time one of their mouthpieces shows up to do with an interview with a Slashdot editor, telling us all how Microsoft is a friend of o

  • Not the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by countach (534280) on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:49PM (#13976559)
    That's not really the point. First of all you CAN alter the source if your need is desperate enough. Thus if some app needs your change you can weigh the pros and cons of blowing support vs getting the enhancement. - CHOICE. Secondly, if Red Hat dies and goes broke you have the source. Thirdly, you can make your enhancement and submit it to the maintainer and with a bit of luck it will come out in the next version of RedHat as the official supported version. Fourthly, somebody else might scratch the same itch and submit the patch which comes out in the next version.
  • by Da w00t (1789) * on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:50PM (#13976565) Homepage
    What TFA [techtarget.com] is saying (while being overly general) is that when you move outside of the box to an unsupported configuration, you lose support -- and if you want support, you'll pay through the nose for it.

    What the article doesn't say, is that M$ [microsoft.com] has the exact same stance. You run 3rd party software with Microsoft Exchange, you lose support from Microsoft on not only Exchange, but probally your install of Windows 2003 Advance Server. Go read your EULAs from top-to-bottom, and you'll see what I mean. For any Microsoft product.

    God I hate people slinging FUD around.
    • This is why people like me bitch about being forced to use Redhat because vendors are retarded and think Linux means "Redhat".

      I'm a fan of portable software. Why, for instance, are tools like Verilog compilers not 100% portable? They're userspace text reading applications. Not like they need something from a kernel other than a heap and a file system.

      Every time someone tells you "I use word" or "We only support $DISTRO" tell them "then you don't get my money".

      That'll curb this idiocy fairly quick.

      Tom
    • Strawman (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      In other words, they're setting up a strawman (by claiming that open source is something it is not), and then attacking that. Very clever, given that few people outside the scene (and not even everybody in the scene) know what open source really is.
  • by rsborg (111459) on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:52PM (#13976574) Homepage
    As the auto-industry flaks from Detroit who claim that Hybrids are bad because you only get 40mpg when 61mpg is advertised... while leaving out that their non-hybrid models are so much more inefficient, and also suffer from the same problems when dealing with EPA estimates (ie, up to 20% decrease in efficiency if you drive it gung ho, or are stuck in traffic).

    In the meanwhile, those who know and care will buy the best option available, while looking at historical data for reliability, TCO, and ownership experience... and then laugh at those who run the American software/vehicle upgrade treadmill.

  • From TFA:
    "Shared source is Microsoft's foray into community development, started back in 2001 when Linux was just a hobby for the blue-haired ponytail set."

    WTF?!
  • Never believe anything to be true, until Micorosft says it isn't.
  • You can make all the changes you want. What he is describing is a limitation on the support certain companies provide.

    It's a bit like saying that Slashdot isn't free to visit - because if you do it at work you might get fired. It's true, you might get fired, but that's because of the terms of your employment, it's not a property of Slashdot.

  • by truckaxle (883149) * on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:57PM (#13976603) Homepage
    Scientist just discovered that air is not completely free! Researchers at Phillips Morris institute have completed a study that calculates the number of millicalories required for each breath of fresh air. This study is demonstrates that the air you breath is not entirely free but requires expenditure of energy and coordination of dozens of different muscles. This study is being release just prior to the companies announcement of a new product that uses a rechargable battery operated turbo-enhanced tobacco injection system.
  • by Decameron81 (628548) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:01AM (#13976618)
    "...Experts said that by addressing the open source community, Microsoft hopes to promote its position that software should continue to be developed in the traditional "closed" way, while at the same time attempting to cash in on the community development phenomenon... ...Matusow said opening up software can add value, "but you need to understand why you want to open certain software. We are building intellectual property into software and trying to sell it. We throw code over the wall for the community to build on it...."


    By reading those comments I get an odd sensation that Microsoft is trying to use "developers, developers, developers" like a bunch of highly exploitable hippie enthusiasts.
  • by miffo.swe (547642) <`daniel.hedblom' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:05AM (#13976636) Homepage Journal
    And i suppose its possible to change the code for a small fee in Windows then? Not? STFU then.

    Ofcourse RedHat cant support somebody elses code, the programmer changing the code might as well be a monkey and there is no way RedHat can magically fix things if an idiot sits down and hits the keyboard with a pillow. What you can do is send those fixes upstream and if the fixes are good it will get incorporated into the next release.
  • Not Surprising (Score:3, Informative)

    by EXTomar (78739) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:06AM (#13976649)
    So I guess they are right: RedHat won't support a patch from out of the blue (say a patch I made for my ultra-custom setup) without testing (which might cost RH consult billable time).

    But that isn't a big deal because MS doesn't either. It isn't like MS will support driver modification from ATI let alone anything I could come up with either so what is the advantage of MS's way?
  • by msimm (580077) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:06AM (#13976651) Homepage
    I'm not sure where the pay through the nose thing came from but between Taos, Whitebox, Centos et al I don't see having a supported distro a big expense. If you want changes that might break something you make sure you don't. Big deal. How Microsoft competing against that? And on what planet wouldn't changes to the core operating system be problematic?
  • Red_Hat != Linux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Foofoobar (318279) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:23AM (#13976709)
    Here they go again, saying that Red Hat equals Linux. Hey I got one word for their comparison... CentOS. It's RedHat EL without all the trademarked stuff. And yes, they could make all the changes and offer it under CentOS if they wish. Their big point is that changes to Redhat's codebase isn't going to go back into Redhat's Final Product necessarilly.

    So? Roll your own distro. Can you do that with Windows? No. Can I tweak XP and sell it as my own? No. Better yet, can I tweak the codebase for Windows Server 2003 so that I have a company wide distro for our internal systems? Hell no.

    I'm sorry but this Microspin Doctor's argument looks to be in beta still. As per usual, I don't expect Microsoft's final argument to be worth anything until the third release.
  • In summary - deviate from the standard and your support costs go up.

    I was in a meeting recently regarding platform development (i.e. the company sells the entire box, hardware and software to their customers). The talk of porting the app to Linux came up and the chief honcho dismissed it as neither a benefit nor a loss.

    His point was that their product requires certain OS-level customizations. They can either purchase these customizations from a proprietary-source OS vendor and pay out the wazoo for them,
  • by Woodie (8139) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:25AM (#13976718) Homepage
    OK -

    first off, the argument went like this:

    Say you're running SAP or some other large enterprise system. Say it's running on Linux. The fact that it's Open Source doesn't gain you much. You're extremely unlikely to be able to change things as companies like SAP, Oracle, etc. all specify exactly which versions of some of the various fiddly bits of Linux they support running their application on. If you deviate from those supported configurations - they don't support it.

    And guess what - it's true.

    Oracle isn't into supporting you bump-reving your kernel, and your upgrading to the latest c lib. They'll test a working stack - identify known issues (and work-arounds) - and that becomes a "known good" configuration. So - while you can do whatever you want with the source, that doesn't mean that other people are obligated to support it.

    In any case - it's sort of a straw man argument. The fact of the matter is (and he even pointed this out) for the most part most people just use software. They aren't interested in actually modifying it in any way (substantively speaking). They aren't going to look at the source code, change it and re-compile it. Only 1% or 2% of software users are in that class. So realistically the fact that you can modify the source isn't such a huge advantage in practice. Other people have cited here what the real benefits are: Freedom of choice - you can still choose to make the change and support it yourself, and security - if the company supplying your software goes away, you still have the source...

    And I see a lot of people reiterating the following OoC (Out of Context):

    "But if a customer modifies the source code, [Red Hat] can't help you [without charging you extra]. They have to lock things down to provide value," Matusow said. "As open source becomes commercialized, it becomes less open."

    What he meant by that - and clarified - was that Red Hat has supported configurations, and other software vendors upstream (Oracle, SAP) have supported configurations. They "lock things down" (not in the literal sense, damn us programmers are always soooo literal - I'm suprised more of us aren't fundies) to provide value - is simply saying they limit the scope of what they support... Deviations from those known configurations are not generally well supported. I'm very curious about how well Red Hat supports the following on the current set of it's "Enterprise" edition:

    1> Downgrade a core component such as the C Lib, or similar library or set of system utilities that a lot of the system relies on.

    2> Upgrade a core component as above.

    3> Crossgrade a component like the file system to a different one.

    Once that's been done, I'm also wondering what kind of support you'd get out of a company like Oracle or SAP...
    • From my point of view this really puts the blame on the comercial vendors. The fact that they only support one configuration on one specifik platform makes the OSS alternatives look much better from a customers view.

      I do alter source code pretty often infact. It has been invaluable to me at work since i can find an error, fix it and continue as nothing happened. I have had problems in commercial software that hasnt been fixed for years and could do nothing.
    • Just a quick response to the points, having seen the boats if not necessarily been in them...

      1. RedHat's distros come with (backward) compat libraries and compilers packages (optional to install) with their enterprise products. I believe the that between the two you have most things covered. The compat libraries are typically required by Oracle ...

      2. You might get away with core upgrades, if it lives on an extras disk. I haven't explored them... anyone? However, if people complain loudly enough and

    • The thing to remember is that not EVERYONE needs to change the source for ANYONE to benefit, ONLY one needs to change the source for EVERYONE to benefit.
  • Arrogance... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 3seas (184403)
    This is really nothing more than another Microsoft expression of arrogance.

    I mean they do have the singularity OS....
    • by argoff (142580)

      This is really nothing more than another Microsoft expression of arrogance.

      I mean they do have the singularity OS....

      You're telling me. FYI, there was once a large retailer who had over 1000 stores whose customer value cards authed thru a central farm of NT servers. The problem was that these servers would crash on a regular basis and arguably cost the company over a million dollars per hour in downtime when it happened.

      To get to the root of them problem, they bought expensive specialized hardware,

  • by aussie_a (778472) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:38AM (#13976771) Journal
    They have to lock things down to provide value," Matusow said. "As open source becomes commercialized, it becomes less open."

    Biased much? No, to provide value they don't need to lock things down (although last I heard DRM wasn't intalled on Linux distro's, you don't need a registration key to use a distro, you don't have to call up to register your installation. I'd hate to see what Matusow claims Windows is, if he believes Linux is locked down). To provide SUPPORT they need to lock it down. Linux has been able to offer value in it's distro's for years without locking it down. Although value is subjective, so I'm sure many MS cronies will disagree.
  • Point He Misses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by putko (753330) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @12:45AM (#13976796) Homepage Journal
    If you go with Open Source, you have the option to spend time/money to fix things. If you really need to fix things, that's what you do.

    If you go with MicroSoft or other closed source products, when you are up shit creek, you are relying on them to give you a patch. Maybe you don't really matter to them (or whatever vendor sold you the stuff) -- in which case, you can go jump in a lake.

    Sometimes the problem isn't that there's a bug in the closed source stuff, but that your stuff is interacting with it in a way that makes it misbehave. Perhaps the system is documented, in which case you need to read a thousand pages in the reference manual, hoping to find the requirement that you've failed to meet -- thereby causing the failure.

    Or you call the vendor:

    You: "it's broke."

    Vendor: "Why? What are you doing? Nobody else has this problem"

    You:"Well, I don't really know."

    Vendor: "Thanks for calling. Please get back to us when you have more info."

    On the other hand, if it is open source, you can fire up the debugger, find the problem, and work aroudn it or fix it -- all of that is perhaps faster than going through the support process. If you do a big project, the odds of you encountering a roadblock like this approach 100% percent. If you are pessimistic about the vendor and believe you can fix things, you pick open source.
  • by Shanep (68243) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @02:10AM (#13977043) Homepage
    GPL licenced Open Source Software is the only kind there is.

    [sigh]

    Microsoft knows full well of BSD [opensource.org] licenced software. They just prefer not to mention it since it would make their bullshit clearly that.

    I guess while Microsoft slogs it out with "Linux", Sun and Apple, this will make BSD the "meek"?
  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @02:23AM (#13977080) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    ``Shared source is Microsoft's foray into community development, started back in 2001 when Linux was just a hobby for the blue-haired ponytail set.''

    Excuse me? Am I delusional or were major, reputable companies already using and supporting Linux in 2001?

    Had this nonsense been coming from one of Linux's adversaries, I would have understood, but this is coming from the reporter!

    I guess, by the same token, Linux was created in 1991, while Microsoft was still struggling to establish a foothold on the PC desktop market.

    Please forward my (and your own) complaints to the reporter and the editor's.
  • by mcrbids (148650) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @02:28AM (#13977099) Journal
    I have a number of production servers to this day still running RedHat Linux 7.2. They are patched and up to date, even though RedHat axed support for RedHat long ago. I spend very little time doing so, because Progeny came to the rescue [progeny.com] allowing me to milk another couple years out of otherwise perfectly happy, capable, production servers.

    Also, there's the Fedora Legacy project [fedoralegacy.org] which has picked up RedHat 7.3 as well, providing yet another option for administrators of "axed support" distros.

    Let me ask you this - what companies or groups have stepped up to the plate to support Win9x after Microsoft's abandoning of the platform?

    I guess Windows is really not that open, is it?
  • by pjrc (134994) <paul@pjrc.com> on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @02:49AM (#13977152) Homepage Journal
    Many years ago, almost everybody was affraid to use Linux because you couldn't get support for it. Or at least so the common risk-adverse wisdom went. On-line community didn't count, "couldn't get support" meant someone you paid who would answer the phone for tech support.

    There also wasn't anyone to sue if something went wrong. And there wasn't documentation. And there wasn't a 5 year road map so nobody was in control of its future. And more recently, you could be exposed to legal uncertainty.

    Well, people aren't buying that old FUD anymore. So now we've got the new and improved FUD.

    Now you can't get support if you've modified the code.

    Next thing you know, there won't be documentation available for your own modification.

    And then there won't be anyone to blame/sue if your own modifications don't work.

    Your whole company will have an uncertain future because your modifications don't have a 5 year roadmap from an industry leader in the software biz (that consistently misses its own goals, but nevermind that detail). No 5 year roadmap = uncertain future.

    Worst of all, your own modifications might have legal uncertainties, possibly infringing upon someone else's patents or other so-called intellectual property. You could be exposed to lawsuits or other frightening uncertain legal woes.

    Be affraid. Very affraid. And also uncertain and filled with doubt!

  • by karlandtanya (601084) on Tuesday November 08, 2005 @07:17AM (#13977753)
    Dang. That'd be a great business model.
    Why didn't we think of that?
    Oh, wait...

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