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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 Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday April 30, 2007 @02:39PM (#18930921) Homepage Journal
    IBM's talking about an "Open Client Solution" doesn't mean Open Source at all. It might mean Open Standards, it might just mean multi-platform. This one happens to use Linux, but it is clearly Linux hosting propreitary software.

    Lots of companies use Open Source to make a buck in some way, and some of them either mis-represent what is Open, or they don't get it at all. I saw an Oracle representative give a talk on "Free Software from Oracle" in Belfast last year. It turned out that he thought Free Software was software they don't charge for. Fortunately, Richard Stallman was out getting a massage, he gave his own talk an hour later. The audience tore the Oracle guy to shreds and insisted that he say "cost-less" instead of "Free" for the rest of the talk. IMO it was a pretty low moment for Oracle.

    But what does this have to do with the Open Source / Free Software community? Not too much. IBM and Oracle would say the same thing about "Data Mining" or "Self Healing" if that was the buzzword that would help them make a buck that day. It's just outsiders misrepresenting themselves. Yes, outsiders. Even if IBM participates in Open Source projects, selling Lotus is an outsider activity. The best thing you can do is point it out, but don't blame it on Open Source.

    His sympathy for Red Hat being "exploited" is wildly absurd and shows his failure to understand who made the software in Open Source products. Red Hat did not, for the most part, make the system they are selling. People like me did, and Red Hat did not pay us for it. And if you want to use that software in Debian or CentOS, that's fine with us.

    Overall, he doesn't show much of an understanding of how Open Source is paid for and where the innovation comes from.

    Bruce

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It might mean Open Standard...

      Ummm, that's what "open" meant for a decade before the term "open source". It's a bit unfair to complain that people haven't stopped using it. I realize that 14-year-old Linux kidz don't understand that, but you should.

      Fortunately, Richard Stallman was out getting a massage...

      Now, there's a terrifying mental image.

      The audience tore the Oracle guy to shreds and insisted that he say "cost-less" instead of "Free" for the rest of the talk.

      Stallman hasn't been made dictator yet

      • mod parent insightful -
        they never said open source. The whole article seems to be based on assumptions of things not said.
      • by Coryoth (254751) on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:15PM (#18931551) Homepage Journal

        The audience tore the Oracle guy to shreds and insisted that he say "cost-less" instead of "Free" for the rest of the talk.

        Stallman hasn't been made dictator yet, you know, not even in Cuba. We're still allowed to use "free" in its normal meaning.
        Sure, but it seemed pretty clear that the conference in question was a Free software conference, and while you are allowed to use free in its normal sense there, you can expect to get heckled for it. If I go to a math conference promising a talk on "Group Theory" and then start talking about the behaviour of mobs of people, well, I can expect some flak for that. That doesn't mean mathematicians control the meaning of "group", but it does reflect the fact that you should really have a clue about your audience and what they mean by key words -- just as the Oracle guy should have done.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by syntaxglitch (889367)

        Stallman hasn't been made dictator yet, you know, not even in Cuba. We're still allowed to use "free" in its normal meaning.

        Speak for yourself. Some of us, who perhaps regard freedom as more significant than money, would consider Stallman's definition to in fact be the "normal" meaning.

        Has there always been this many anti-RMS trolls on /.?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hairy1 (180056)
          Say you go shopping, and in the local store there is a stand of tomatoes and a sign saying "Free Tomatoes". Inanimate objects cannot be free in the "not detained" sence. Therefore the only definition of free that makes sence is without cost. If you see a movie and a man is released from prison, and he says "thank god I'm free", it doesn't mean others can purchase him without cost, it means he is no longer detained.

          The point I'm making is that the distiction between the definitions is made on the basis of wh
    • The audience tore the Oracle guy to shreds and insisted that he say "cost-less" instead of "Free" for the rest of the talk.

      They should have made him say "free-as-in-beer"[1] instead, since costless isn't accurate -- reduced usabilty of code is a cost, for example, as is overcoming vendor lock-in.

      I know it's semantics, but it's very important that businesses who might want to use open-source software understand that closed-source software, even if provided free-of-charge, is nowhere near costless. If anyth

      • Zero INITIAL cost (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:06PM (#18931389) Homepage Journal
        Old movies of the 60's and 70's used to portray a drug pusher giving someone a hypo of heroin with a 500-dollar bill wrapped around it. Shoot up and the money's yours, but the pusher will get it back soon enough, 'cause you'll be hooked.

        I think of a lot of zero-initial-cost proprietary software that way. If you're not going to pay for it, you'll pay for the limited set of stuff that it's compatible with. It's interesting how many corporations are addicts, and how their management isn't faulted for that.

        Thanks

        Bruce

        • by anomaly (15035) <tom.cooper3@gm a i l . com> on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:25PM (#18931705)
          Bruce,
          With all due respect, it seems to me that all software costs. Your distinction about initial costs would directly apply to F/OSS too.

          I used to work for a company where vendors were excited to say "used by company XYZ" or they wanted us to assess whether the product was worthwhile for enterprise deployment. Even assessing the compatibility of those tools costs something - our time ain't free, even if the vendor asks for no money!

          You also mention "the limited set of stuff that it's compatible with" My experience with F/OSS as a whole is that it tends to be compatible only with the one use case that represents the itch the author needed to scratch. Of course, it is possible to take the source and scratch my own itch - if I want to invest the labor to customize a hack to solve my problem, but many times it's less time and hassle to pay for the packaged work.

          There was a time when I thought "who would pay for a TV show on iTunes?" I found myself in the middle of a "part one of two" episode, and didn't see part two on the program guide in the near future. I started to think about illegitimate P2P downloads, and then realized that for a mere $2 I could save myself the time and hassle of downloading for "free" (copyright violations aside.) My time and my integrity were well worth $2, and that's been my experience with software, too. Many times the "fit and finish" of commercial code is worth much more than the actual dollar cost to me.

          All software costs. Sometimes F/OSS costs more, sometimes less. Sometimes commercial software is a better deal than F/OSS. There's room in the ecosystem for lots of business models.

          Respectfully,
          Anomaly

          • My experience with F/OSS as a whole is that it tends to be compatible only with the one use case that represents the itch the author needed to scratch. Of course, it is possible to take the source and scratch my own itch - if I want to invest the labor to customize a hack to solve my problem, but many times it's less time and hassle to pay for the packaged work.

            The point of Free Software (and to a lesser extent Open Source) is to achieve source code compatability. Binary compatability is a "nice to have" but it is not essential to allow any user to benefit from the software.

            That's not to say that you may save money in the long term by having a provider package your software for you and charge you a fee for doing so - but that's not the point of Free Software.

            All software costs. Sometimes F/OSS costs more, sometimes less. Sometimes commercial software is a better deal than F/OSS. There's room in the ecosystem for lots of business models.

            F/OSS costs you NOTHING to acquire. Whatever happens after that, you still have the software, the opp

        • To a certain extent, the same is true of the support-based revenue model for open source software. The difference is the ability to go elsewhere for the service.

          The key, I believe, is that people (and organizations) who purchase software need to account for the full cost...
          It's interesting how many corporations are addicts, and how their management isn't faulted for that.Well, we all know that current cost-savings is valued more than potential future cost-savings. It's also hard to concretely demonstrat
        • Replace the first bag of heroin with an inkjet printer and you've just described the printer industry.
    • by zyl0x (987342) on Monday April 30, 2007 @02:58PM (#18931279)
      "It turned out that he thought Free Software was software they don't charge for."

      That's what the rest of the world thinks when they hear "free". Just because the OS community has a different meaning for it, doesn't mean the word's definition has been permanently changed. "Buy one get one free" doesn't mean the second one is promised to be hand-crafted by the community.
      • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:11PM (#18931499) Homepage Journal

        "It turned out that he thought Free Software was software they don't charge for."

        That's what the rest of the world thinks when they hear "free"

        Yes, but he was speaking at a conference organized by FSF Europe and organized by people like Ciaran O'Reardon. He very clearly had not done his homework.

        Bruce

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JonJ (907502)
        So, when you think of free speech, you only think of cost?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by maxwell demon (590494)

          So, when you think of free speech, you only think of cost?

          Of course: If the cost of saying something is the danger of getting in jail, then that speech is obviously not free.
      • by iabervon (1971) on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:53PM (#18932139) Homepage Journal
        Nonsense. People worldwide know about the meaning of "free" as "acting without compulsion". It's just that they tend not to expect people to be providing software that acts without compulsion, unconstrained by the desires of the user or anybody else. The problem with "free software" as a term is that, with the correct meaning of "free" and the standard compositional grammar, it means something like SkyNet, not something like Linux. It is supposed to be interpreted by analogy to "free speech", but that's an idiom, which was fixed by the phrase "freedom of speech" being well-known and actually making sense (people have "freedom of speech", which means the people, not the speech, are free, and are free in the sense that "freedom" goes exclusively with). If OSS users were commonly said to have "freedom of software", maybe "free software" would be interpretable, but as it is, there's only one grammatical reading that makes any sense, and that reading is not what's intended.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by wall0159 (881759)

        >That's what the rest of the world thinks when they hear "free".

        Really?!? So _that's_ what they mean by "the land of the free"...

        Now I get it..
    • by McDutchie (151611) on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:04PM (#18931367) Homepage

      Lots of companies use Open Source to make a buck in some way, and some of them either mis-represent what is Open, or they don't get it at all. I saw an Oracle representative give a talk on "Free Software from Oracle" in Belfast last year. It turned out that he thought Free Software was software they don't charge for.

      Um... in spite of Richard Stallman's rather pathetic attempt to redefine the English language, that is what the term "free software" actually means. You cannot legitimately criticize the Oracle representative for using the English language correctly.

      • by Coryoth (254751) on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:23PM (#18931673) Homepage Journal

        Um... in spite of Richard Stallman's rather pathetic attempt to redefine the English language, that is what the term "free software" actually means. You cannot legitimately criticize the Oracle representative for using the English language correctly.
        Given what Bruce was saying, I think it was implicit that this was a Free Software conference (Stallman was there, giving a speech, and the audience knew, and cared deeply, about the distinction between Free and free). Under those circumstances I think you can very legitmately criticise the Oracle guy. If I go to an Oracle conference and spend my time talking about Delphi (that's where the oracle [wikipedia.org] was after all) and Pythia, and the latest archaeological findings, I think I can reasonably expect to get criticised, despite the that I am using the English language meaning of oracle correctly. Have a little awareness of your audience, and the context in which you are speaking...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DaleGlass (1068434)
        So what do you call the "free as in freedom" software in English, then?

        Languages like Spanish and Russian have different words for "freedom" and "it doesn't cost money", but English seems to be lacking in that respect.
        • So what do you call the "free as in freedom" software in English, then?
          It's not very common, but how about "karmaware"?
        • by Sax Maniac (88550)
          So what do you call the "free as in freedom" software in English, then?

          The word is right there in front of you: it's called freedom. Sure, it's a noun, not an adjective, but we verb nouns all the time so it stands to reason that we can also use nouny adjectives.

        • by jayayeem (247877)
          autonomous, independent, self-governing, separate, sovereign, freeborn; delivered, emancipated, freed, liberated, manumitted, redeemed, released; unconquered, ungoverned, unruled, unsupervised; empowered, enfranchised;

          I like the idea of Unsupervised Software.
          • None of those are really appropiate.

            Freedom has very specific connotations, while all those confuse the issue quite a lot. Say, independent from what? "Ungoverned", "unruled" and "unsupervised" don't work, take the kernel for instance, which has a very clear structure. "Sovereign" is weird. "Liberated" is probably the closest meaning, but it has the connotation of that it wasn't free before and now it is. That perhaps applies to Blender, but doesn't make sense for software that was Free in the first place.

            N
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I disagree that Stallman has attempted to redefine the English language. He himself noted the ambiguity of the word "free", and clarified his intent with the (in)famous quote "Free as in freedom, not as in beer."
        • by ozbird (127571)
          So call it "freedom software" - then there's no potential for confusion with "free (as in beer) software". (See also Microsoft's Office "Open" XML "standard".)
          • So call it "freedom software" - then there's no potential for confusion with "free (as in beer) software". (See also Microsoft's Office "Open" XML "standard".)

            That's a more awkward phrase, which is why it wasn't used. There's nothing wrong with the phrasing "Free Software" other than a slight ambiguity of the sort that's rampant in the English language anyways. If people have trouble with a word having multiple meanings the problem is with their borderline illiteracy, not the word itself.

            • The fact that some people use "freeware" to refer to free-beer software doesn't help the confusion.
          • So call it "freedom software"
            Freedom is a noun so it cannot be used to describe an attribute of something else. The word "free" is an adjective.
      • by MightyYar (622222)
        Stallman isn't the only one to use other definitions of "free". I'm not a huge fan of the guy, but come one... he's actually using the older meaning!
      • He was using the English language ambiguously. Other languages have no problem. "Libre" is free as in freedom, "gratis" is free as in beer. He should have been more careful in his use of the language. I'm sure he will in the future.
      • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

        Um... in spite of Richard Stallman's rather pathetic attempt to redefine the English language, that is what the term "free software" actually means. You cannot legitimately criticize the Oracle representative for using the English language correctly.

        Just who is trying to redefine the English language? "Free" [google.com] has more that one meaning. The exact meaning is largely dependent on context [slashdot.org]. The Oracle representative was entirely in the wrong context.

        Sometimes this ambiguity of context is an innocent misunder

      • Um... in spite of Richard Stallman's rather pathetic attempt to redefine the English language, that is what the term "free software" actually means. You cannot legitimately criticize the Oracle representative for using the English language correctly.

        Yes, because the word "free" has precisely one definition, no others. A free man is one who can be acquired without cost, and free speech is being able to talk without paying for the privilege. Stallman, it seems, has used things called "dictionaries", unlike many people on slashdot.

        "Free Software", in capital letters and in the context of the sort of event that RMS attends, is pretty unambiguous, despite your own attempt to muddy the waters. Good job on doing exactly what you accused Stallman of!

      • Re: Cuba Libra (Score:3, Insightful)

        by value_added (719364)
        Um... in spite of Richard Stallman's rather pathetic attempt to redefine the English language, that is what the term "free software" actually means. You cannot legitimately criticize the Oracle representative for using the English language correctly.

        It's always amuses to read posts from people who bandy about terms carelessly while invoking the phrase "the English language".

        Allow me to put on my pedant hat for a moment. If you're looking to understand a word, you'll have to go a bit farther than picking up
      • Um... in spite of Richard Stallman's rather pathetic attempt to redefine the English language, that is what the term "free software" actually means.
        The meaning of the word "free" as Stallman likes to use it has existed long before Stallman was even born. He's using the language as it currently exists, not redefining it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "The audience tore the Oracle guy to shreds and insisted that he say "cost-less" instead of "Free" for the rest of the talk. IMO it was a pretty low moment for Oracle."

      So, when 'The Free Software Association' starts talking free, we should be able to tear him a new one and force him to say "I Dictate The Terms To Which You Can Use This Of Which You Are Not Free To Agree Or Not To If You Decide To Use Even A Single Line Of Code".

      I'm sorry but not costing anything is closer to free than the GPL. I like the G
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I used to be a pretty heavy user of GNU/Linux. But then I kept seeing more and more crap like this. On one hand, we have people on mailing lists, newsgroups or other forums who'd go on and on about how the GPL "maximizes freedom". Of course, they fail to realize all of the restrictions that the GPL imposes. They say that the restrictions are there to guarantee freedom. At first I believed them. But then I realized that they're just full of shit.

        So now I tend to use BSD-licensed software wherever possible. Y
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Angostura (703910)
      " It turned out that he thought Free Software was software they don't charge for. "

      Which is a perfectly valid meaning of the word "Free".

      I see your last paragraph starts with the word 'overall'. I've no idea why you bought up the topic of a one piece work garment in your post, but please don't do it again. It is confusing since one word can only ever have one meaning.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by g1zmo (315166)

        It might have been confusing, were this a Dickies [dickies.com] message board. But the sales guy's misunderstanding of the term 'free' as it would be used at an FSF event is clearly his own fault.

    • by LordNimon (85072) on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:12PM (#18931501)
      It turned out that he thought Free Software was software they don't charge for.

      And he's right!

      If he had said "open source software", then you'd have a point. But he just said free software, which only means software that is provided without charge. Sorry Bruce, I normally agree with everything you say, but not this time. The open source community has no right to redefine common English words.
      • by multisync (218450) on Monday April 30, 2007 @04:05PM (#18932305) Journal

        he just said free software, which only means software that is provided without charge. Sorry Bruce, I normally agree with everything you say, but not this time. The open source community has no right to redefine common English words.


        Funny, when I look up the meaning of the word "free," I see many definitions:

              1. Not imprisoned or enslaved; being at liberty.
              2. Not controlled by obligation or the will of another: felt free to go.
              3.
                          1. Having political independence: "America . . . is the freest and wealthiest nation in the world" (Rudolph W. Giuliani).
                          2. Governed by consent and possessing or granting civil liberties: a free citizenry.
                          3. Not subject to arbitrary interference by a government: a free press.
              4.
                          1. Not affected or restricted by a given condition or circumstance: a healthy animal, free of disease; free from need.
                          2. Not subject to a given condition; exempt: income that is free of all taxes.
              5. Not subject to external restraint: "Comment is free but facts are sacred" (Charles Prestwich Scott).
              6. Not literal or exact: a free translation.
              7.
                          1. Costing nothing; gratuitous: a free meal.
                          2. Publicly supported: free education.
              8.
                          1. Not occupied or used: a free locker.
                          2. Not taken up by scheduled activities: free time between classes.
              9. Unobstructed; clear: a free lane.
            10. Unguarded in expression or manner; open; frank.
            11. Taking undue liberties; forward or overfamiliar.
            12. Liberal or lavish: tourists who are free with their money.
            13. Given, made, or done of one's own accord; voluntary or spontaneous: a free act of the will; free choices.
            14. Chemistry & Physics.
                          1. Unconstrained; unconfined: free expansion.
                          2. Not fixed in position; capable of relatively unrestricted motion: a free electron.
                          3. Not chemically bound in a molecule: free oxygen.
                          4. Involving no collisions or interactions: a free path.
                          5. Empty: a free space.
                          6. Unoccupied: a free energy level.
            15. Nautical. Favorable: a free wind.
            16. Not bound, fastened, or attached: the free end of a chain.
            17. Linguistics.
                          1. Being a form, especially a morpheme, that can stand as an independent word, such as boat or bring.
                          2. Being a vowel in an open syllable, as the o in go.

        So I guess context is important.

        In Bruce's example, the context was a conference organized by FSF Europe and the talk was on ""Free Software from Oracle." Which definition of "fee" do you think attendees of such a conference might consider relevant?
        • So clearly everyone misunderstood him and he was saying that his software was good for the company in the nautical sense.

          This is "favorable" software for your company. Such a tragic mistake on all sides to have misunderstood the way he meant "free".
    • These days it is important to be saying trendy things. Wall St is a cat-walk of fashionable corporate behavior and you have to be doing some of the right stuff, be that offshoring, diversifying, core competetncy etc. These fashions will sometimes change 180 degrees within a year (eg. diversification to focussing on core products). These days you also must be doing something Open.

      So what does "Open" mean? Different things in different contexts.

      And while I'm typing... why does RMS think he has the right to de

    • by Ryan Amos (16972)
      [quote]His sympathy for Red Hat being "exploited" is wildly absurd and shows his failure to understand who made the software in Open Source products. Red Hat did not, for the most part, make the system they are selling. People like me did, and Red Hat did not pay us for it. And if you want to use that software in Debian or CentOS, that's fine with us.[/quote]

      And even people on the CentOS boards will tell you that if you're doing mission critical stuff that absolutely must be stable, buy RedHat for the suppo
    • I saw an Oracle representative give a talk on "Free Software from Oracle" in Belfast last year. It turned out that he thought Free Software was software they don't charge for. Fortunately, Richard Stallman was out getting a massage, he gave his own talk an hour later. The audience tore the Oracle guy to shreds and insisted that he say "cost-less" instead of "Free" for the rest of the talk. IMO it was a pretty low moment for Oracle.

      I am highly amused. Was it only 10 years ago that it was thought that 'Fr

    • I love this. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by StarKruzr (74642)
      La-dee-da, randomly reading Slashdot stories, BOOM, Bruce freaking Perens gets FP. Only on Slashdot.

      I think the real question the article was asking was "Has the Linux-in-business buzz jumped the shark?" I think the answer is unequivocally yes, not because Linux is overrated, but because it is so widely deployed and such a fact of life in business now that trying to sell yourself as "OMG WE DO OSS SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS TO MAXIMIFY YOUR CAPITALIZATION POTENTIALIFACTION" is just redundant and useless. Great,
    • by asninn (1071320)

      Red Hat did not, for the most part, make the system they are selling. People like me did, and Red Hat did not pay us for it.

      I'd really like to see some breakdown of your contributions to the Linux kernel vs. those made by Red Hat employees (at work, not in their spare time); same thing for other important projects, like glibc, GCC and so on. I don't want to say that you haven't contributed anything - far from it! -, but to insinuate that Red Hat hasn't contributed anything (or, at the very least, not m

    • I don't know.

      To me they sound like crazy zealots and very PC.

      I guess if they control decisions on purchasing they can define the words to be what they want to be.

      But if I don't have to pay money for a product, I'd call it "free".
  • by mhall119 (1035984) on Monday April 30, 2007 @02:40PM (#18930931) Homepage Journal
    So IBM announces that Lotus Notes is portable across OS platforms and the author somehow equates this to Open Source, by some twist in logic I can't even begin to understand.
    • by t0rkm3 (666910)
      Are you not familiar with the term Open as in multiplatform? Go work at a shop that had a lot of mainframes and you'll broaden your definition of Open systems very quickly.

      Clarity of vision is often increased by opening one's eyes.
      • by t0rkm3 (666910)
        I hate to reply to my own post but:

        # Open systems are customarily defined as those systems that can be supplied by hardware components from multiple vendors, and whose software can be operated from different platforms. They are opposite to closed or proprietary systems.
        dereng.com/tlas_glossary.htm

        # Open Systems is used to describe information systems with the following characteristics: - the products used conform to relevant internationally agreed standards; - the standards are non-exclusive, non-proprietar
  • Commercialization (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Monday April 30, 2007 @02:40PM (#18930941) Journal
    I don't think it's necessarily 'jumped the shark' for to do so, it would have had to do something inherently dangerous or stupid as a grasp for attention (like the writers for the Fonz). Rather, I would point the finger at Commercialization of Open Source [slashdot.org] instead. You can read everyone's views on that from the conversation from Saturday if that helps.

    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. Problem is, that project cannot fail for it would hurt the company's edge and prospective foothold. As a result, you see hilarious press releases like you cited.

    Once again, the community is usually in good standing with good intentions until a member (usually a vendor or large company) mangles something. Blame the mangler, not the group working together. They're the attention whores and their motives are not to promote open source but are really shady/hilarious Machiavellian moves to deepen their pockets.
    • 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 fatduck (961824) * on Monday April 30, 2007 @02:42PM (#18930973)
    End times?
  • by Zeebs (577100)
    I may be missing something, but what? If you don't want to work on a commercialized open-source project, ummmm I don't know... How about don't?

    Take the source and make hippie-love-fest-2.0 thats the point of open-source no?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888)
      Take the source and make hippie-love-fest-2.0 thats the point of open-source no?

      Is that gonna be like hippie-love-fest-1.0 except with even more user interaction? If so, count me in!
  • by sirwired (27582) on Monday April 30, 2007 @02:44PM (#18931013)
    The IBM press release mentioned nothing about open source, other than to mention that open source envrionments (in this case, referring to Linux) worked with the announced offering. (The only other occurances of the word "Open Source" in the article refer to the VP's job title.) It did not claim that the offering was open source. The use of the term "open" (as used here) to refer to products that will run on multiple operating environments is not new, and substantially pre-dates the term "open source".

    IBM is simply announcing a client offering that will run more-or-less identically on multiple OS platforms. No, this isn't very big news, but it isn't as bad as the article author made it out to be.

    SirWired
    • by wrook (134116)
      And this is why the use of the word "open" is difficult and misleading. Potential users of this software can easily misunderstand the point behind using open source software just because of the name. I think we need a name change. We need a name that suggests the liberty and freedom you get from using open source software.

      I suggest that we call it "free" software! /me hides

  • Jumping the Shark (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CokeBear (16811)
    Jumping the shark has jumped the shark.
  • by richg74 (650636) on Monday April 30, 2007 @02:45PM (#18931027) Homepage
    As others have already pointed out, this announcement really isn't about Open Source at all.

    Nonetheless, for some of us who are old enough to have done business with IBM in the 1970s and 1980s, having them talk about avoiding "vendor lock-in" is a useful test to see if the old irony detector is still working.

  • I think that as long as the community is able to keep companies on their toes and incapable of creating too much trouble or confusion in the open source market place then I want them contributing. Even if there intentions are disengenous or self serviing as long as an open source project gets a leg up or another industry standard, piece of hardware or killer app gets implemented as open source we all benefit in the long run.

    Keeping companies honest, to use Linus's phrase, is probably akin to herding cats bu
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shaitand (626655)
      'Keeping companies honest, to use Linus's phrase, is probably akin to herding cats but unless all OSS projects everywhere are ready to "just say no" to any and all help, financial or otherwise, from all corporations I don't see how the community at large, or even just one project, can afford to refuse help from big business.'

      Exactly. It isn't the job of open source, free software, or the community to keep companies honest. It's the job of the community to maintain the integrity of the community. Hitler coul
      • Linus himself is probably the most clear cut example of this. Please don't misunderstand, I'm not intending to put down Linus in any fashion,

        I do understand what you're saying and I tend to agree. Linus definately has it hard, he's about as high profile as it gets. I still think he does a pretty good job of staying unbiased though, at least as much as I can tell from my place on the sidelines.

        And now this is going to sound like bashing, but I can't hold back, to me the name that comes to mind first and fore
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday April 30, 2007 @02:47PM (#18931077) Homepage
    No longer is the common image one of a dirty geek coding away with some beer in their home after work. It's now a corporate sponsored coder in many cases. The populism has been defeated, which is a good thing. Populism usually fails to amount to anything because it expects the world to change for it, rather than for it to compromise with the world.
  • The rant is lame & is muddling distinctions.

    On another note... I know plenty of college students who end up with Lotus on their new laptops because it is a cheaper bundle than MS Office.

    So Lotus can now be bundled with Linux machines. Nice.

    Baby-steps to the elevator.

    Regards.
  • I confess I don't know what this expression means. Does it have anything to do with Henry Winkler and/or the Fonze?
    • by owlnation (858981)
      Yes. It's a TV expression. It usually refers to the point in a TV shows run where it began to go down hill. Or where the studio introduced characters or plot lines that are preposterous, to garner ratings - invariably resulting in the alienation of all previous fans.

      Vis a vis - the point in Happy Days where The Fonz jumped a Shark on waterskis.

      Sadly, it has no reference to laser beams - because a few aimed at TV execs wouldn't be a bad thing.(especially Fox ones - Firefly, Drive etc...)

      In the conte
    • by 2short (466733)
      "I confess I don't know what this expression means."

      It means something is past it's prime. Typically it would refer specifically to a TV show, and would mean said show had exhausted whatever decent premise it may have had, and was now resorting to silly gimmicks, like jumping a motorcycle over a shark.

      Try not to be confused by the usage in the article summary, which doesn't make any sense.

      "Does it have anything to do with Henry Winkler and/or the Fonze?"
      Yes, everything.
  • What the heck does "Jumped the Shark" mean? This is the first time I have heard this phrase.

    If we're going to have a sensible discussion we need to understand the terms - especially those used in the original question that kicked it off.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chyeld (713439)
      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 cr


  • If Linux was to become more then a hobby OS it needed to get commercial interests involved. The unpaid OS developers can and have done a lot, but they can't do everything.

    Naturally, the marketing departments play fast and loose with the meaning of words - they always have. If you are looking for accuracy in marketing then you'll be looking for a long time.

    I personally would not be interested in Linux if it decided to stick its head in the sand and play the corporate game. I want something I can use both
  • Open Source is a buzzword (buzz phrase?), like XML before it. For a time, it will be used to seem "inovative", in tune with trends, all that happy PR speak.

    The result will be that people who would have never heard the term will recognize it, but still have no clue what it means. This is the fate of all buzzwords.

    It's nether good or bad, it just mean I get to continue to torture sales reps when they vomit up sales speak like, "our Open Source, standards compliant system works only with our exclusive, paten
  • Who got the idea that closed-source IT companies would prop up open source projects just to promptly kill their own business models? The author is clearly an idiot or a naive idealist.

    These companies prop up Linux and FOSS because they want an open platform, that is, a standard platform that's not controlled by any one vendor, so that they can have complete control over their product. If you have a Windows-only app and Microsoft decides to screw with you, you're SOL. Similarly, Oracle wants Linux to free i

  • by postbigbang (761081) on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:08PM (#18931437)
    Open source is just barely starting to mature. That commercial influences are in the mix is a happy thing. Coders will continue to do what they love, and for all of the reasons that have made OSS and collaborative development a good thing.

    Any coder-- any human for that matter-- can get burned out. Self-rejuvenation is a good thing and isn't limited to programming, development, and engineering. All of his diatribe points to frustration and stress. The basics haven't changed, but they have matured. Along the way, we get to shape this. He's seemingly feeling powerless against the Big Boys. That's natural, and the basics of doing code because you love it and want to contribute haven't changed. ANYBODY gets to use the code, subject to licensing-- little guys like me, and big guns like IBM and so on.
  • Open Source Progress will be right back. We're just napping while GNOME and KDE finish providing suitable commodity desktop environments to emulate and replace Windows. Once there is a base, we should be able to site some higher mountains to start climbing again. Sorry we've been so rediculously lame and havent spurned any major revolutions in the past 5 years, we're getting right on it, love open source.
  • by Bandman (86149)
    This article is the kind of mindless drivel that makes me not want to ready slashdot.

  • I just bought a Pioneer plasma TV this weekend. Some things of note in relation to this story:
    - the TV picture is kick-ass. Great!
    - the TV runs Linux. Great, though it is not hackable.
    - the manual has a long section reprinting the various GPL and other OSS licenses from their embedded OS. Great!
    - the TV has a Home Media Gallery which can connect to a media server and stream audio and video. Great!
    - The TV's tuner has audio and video MONITOR OUT jacks. Great!
    - However, the audio and video MONITOR OUT j
  • by Foofoobar (318279) on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:18PM (#18931599)
    Well for the preachers of the virtues of open source, yes. It has jumped the shark in a sense but also no it has not because every now aand then a new group of apps come along that make even us jump up and pay attention again.

    And keep in mind (and I know I'm about to get flaming causes I can feel the heat), we are still a minority when it comes to people outside of IT. Those people still have never even heard of open source, have no idea what it is or what ir means and don't even know that they are already using it and what the benefits are.

    However, due to the fact that even politicians in several states now are calling for open voting machines, open document formats and other open processes and formats, it seems that they are beginning to get it and for them, it hasn't even begun to jump the shark. In their world, Fonzy just got his first leather jacket.
  • You might as well ask "Has the automobile jumped the shark?" The answer to that question would be just as informative. Just as the article points out things like Open Source should become the "well duh" part of certain software strategies.

    From a marketing perspective the marketing concept of "Open Source" may have jumped the proverbial shark... but from a marketing stand point the Automobile as a new and innovative buzzword concept jumped the shark about the time Speed Racer [wikipedia.org] came out.

    Nobody runs aro
  • 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 m

  • by sameeer (946332) on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:50PM (#18932099) Homepage
    Boy, I better think twice before asking people to open the door. Somebody might think I'm asking them to break it into pieces and distribute it to the neighbors.
  • This is a completely meaningless article. It's jaded with itself first of all.

    It doesn't really matter what you think of 'open source'. Whether you snigger with hatred, howl in defense or yawn at the recurring fads that surround it: it's perhaps the most singularly influential concept, terror, saviour and slayer facing the conventions of so-called information technology - and even human culture - today.

    Pass it on.
  • When thousands of marketers are being supported indirectly by Open Source software, you know Open Source is here to stay. The marketers are simply a manifestation of the larger trend. First they laugh at you, then they attack you, then they join you. The fact that large corporations are spending so much money marketing their Open Source bona fides, using "open" lingo, and trying to outdo each other as Open Source companies is good for the Open Source movement.

    Perhaps Jeff underestimates buyers' ability to

  • It's just a model for software development, a base to step on.

    There are more than enough commercial companies willing to "take responsibility" and provide support. Yes: just grabbing some source code from teh internet isn't a replacement for the services a full-blown software corporation may offer to you as a customer.

    But who the hell claimed otherwise (except some geeks, that noone listens to).
  • With more people voting for their favorite singer in the tv-program Idols then in local elections has democracy and the idea of one-man-one-vote finally jumped the shark?

    What a load of nonsense this article is. First off he doesn't get the difference between opensource software/code and open standards and then he mistakes an idea for a product.

    Hell, it would even be silly to say tv has jumped the shark. Does he even know what the term means?

  • Back in the '80s and early '90s, Open Systems were the latest good idea the marketing people noticed, and they embraced open systems aggressively... but not by actually opening up their interfaces and protocols, no, what they did was far more radical.

    They changed the name of their products!

    So you had "MVS OpenEdition" from IBM, and "OpenVMS" from DEC.

    This is just more of the same. It has nothing to do with Open Source (still a good idea) or Open Systems (still a good idea) or anything else of substance. It'
  • It's always been a sort of vague mass of largely compatible concepts. Some people like getting free software. Some people want to have the freedom to modify it. Some see it as an ideal. Some see it as a business opportunity. Some just have an idelogical opposition to entrenched monopolies. It doesn't really matter.

    free software has never been opposed to commercial software, and neither has the related concept of Open source. The FSF just wants to ensure people are freeish. They like commercial i
  • by YouHaveSnail (202852) on Monday April 30, 2007 @09:22PM (#18935853)
    Given the contributions that IBM has made to Linux and other open source projects and the fine work that IBM and its lawyers are currently doing to reduce SCO to a small pile of quivering ectoplasm, I hardly think that IBM needs to be held up as an example of a corporation that lacks serious commitment to open source software.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp

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