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Has Open Source Jumped the Shark? 250

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the 100-yard-shark-hurdles dept.
AlexGr writes to tell us that Jeff Gould has a somewhat jaded look at the commercial push of Open Source and what that may be doing to the overall Open Source movement. "I've been a Linux fan for years, but lately I wonder if the drum beating from the big IT vendors in favor of open source hasn't finally slipped over the edge from sincere enthusiasm to meaningless — or in some cases downright hypocritical — sloganeering. The example that brought this gloomy thought to mind was a recent IBM press release touting a 'new open client solution' as an 'alternative to vendor lock-in'. Wow. Imagine that. An alternative to vendor lock-in."
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Has Open Source Jumped the Shark?

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  • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:08PM (#18931429)
    From Wikipedia: (Jumping the Shark [wikipedia.org])


    Jumping the shark is a metaphor that was originally used to denote the tipping point at which a TV series is deemed by a viewer to have passed its peak, or has introduced plot twists that are illogical in terms of everything that has preceded them. Once a show has "jumped the shark," the viewer senses a noticeable decline in quality or feels the show has undergone too many changes to retain its original charm. The term has also evolved to describe other areas of pop culture, including movie series, music, acting celebrities, or authors for whom a drastic change was seen as the beginning of the end. These changes are often attempts to attract their fans' waning attention with over-the-top statements or increasingly overt appeals to sex or violence. Some have broadened its use to simply describe any decline in appeal for the subject in question, without requiring a significant "jump the shark" moment.


    More specificly it refers to an episode from the latter years of Happy Days, (if you don't remember the show or it's cultural impact when it was running, don't bother reading further). At the end of the episode Fonzie, in his customary leather jacket 'bad boy' attire, dons a pair of water skis and literally performs a jump over a shark. This is seen by many (especially after the term was coined) as the definitive point when the show went from entertaining to just crud.
  • Re:Jumping the Shark (Score:3, Informative)

    by Himring (646324) on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:19PM (#18931623) Homepage Journal
    I am with you. I thought it was a phrase that only applied to tv series. I think it has to do with the happy days episode where Fanzi tries to "jump the shark" -- an episode which marked the decline, for fans, in the show's writing and staying power....

    Using it outside a broadcast tv show is new to me....

  • Re:Commercialization (Score:4, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:32PM (#18931821) Homepage Journal

    I would point the finger at Commercialization of Open Source instead.

    Openness has nothing whatsoever to do with commercial/non-commercial status. In fact, the term 'Open' was originally applied to commercial systems which were nonetheless based on open standards, or whose source code was available to purchasers of the system on much more restrictive terms than the GPL or BSD licenses.

    Open Source was always commercial. If it wasn't done by a commercial company, then it involved the ability to interoperate with commercial software and/or standards. Now, if you want to talk about the commercialization of Free Software, well, that's a slightly more interesting topic (although, I think, done to death.)

    I think the vendors who (they're not fooling anybody here) are in the end loyal only to their shareholders. If their motives overlap with the community's then suddenly it's an open source project.

    Yes, that sounds quite logical to me. Where there is congruence of interest there can be confluence of effort.

    How is this different from any other system, natural or not?

    Or put in a totally different way, how does one company's misuse of the term "Open Source" ruin it for the rest of us?

  • by ingo23 (848315) on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:48PM (#18932069)
    The blog seems to be even less informative than the press release.
    A vendor offers their commercial products for an open source platform! Outrageous!

    What do you expect IBM to bundle with their open client? An Outlook Express?

    I am not sure about the blogger, but I actually used (and still do time to time) the Open Client. It's not a perfect product, but it is definitely a big step towards an adoption of Linux as an OS platform in a corporate environment. Unfortunately in a corporate world it takes a bit more than a latest Ubuntu release to switch to a different platform.

    Open Client does include a "native" Lotus Notes client, so if this is an environment of choice at your company, it might be a huge reason to look at the alternative to a Windows desktop.

    With certain exceptions, Open Client does provide a working environment, in which I can do most of my job functions (and I am a developer). Yes, it's not as slick as Feisty Fawn, but good luck trying to make your corporate e-mail, IM and VPN work on your own!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2007 @05:58PM (#18933809)
    For example, there's this major media entertainment company where a subdivision of developers started using Red Hat 8.0 versus the corporate culture of Microsoft Windows OS. RH offered performance oriented, easy to access UNIX servers, and a lot of pre-built support for third-party OSS software such as Python for free. These were the days where using anything but Microsoft's Windows stuff was either visionary, or subversive, and independent of Microsoft lock-in.

    Said developers create a semi-successful, self-sustaining MMO using such a platform. Roll 4 years later, developers need to switch from aging but rock-solid RH8 to FC4 to support new generations of hardware. Another division decides to jump onto a corporate RHEL4 contract, and said MMO folks decided maybe they want to link in also for cheap prices and free trained support.

    Meantime, there's some movement to switch to another OS that doesn't tie the third-party OSS with the core OS. This way developers have free rein to pick and choose what multiple PHP, MySQL, compiler versions they want installed (for instance) independent of RPM hell. The operations team could install some base OS once and not worry about what third-party OSS is locked and blessed only on that OS release.

    Movement suggests Debian, Ubuntu, SuSE, or FreeBSD. Such movement is shutdown and buried because it's not conforming to the list of OSs "officially" supported by IT and third-party software vendors. OS selection goes to RHEL4 for the next 7 years even though it does not support PHP5/MySQL5, RHEL5 is now released, and the *BSDs have something magical called Ports.

    Red Hat IS the new Microsoft vendor lock-in. How's that for irony.

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