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Torvalds Criticizes Open-Source Wannabes 228

Posted by Hemos
from the blasting-away-at-them-all dept.
Wonko42 writes "In his address at Internet World '99, Linus Torvalds threw some harsh words at Microsoft and Sun, criticizing Microsoft's thoughts of opening portions of Windows source and making his feelings known about Sun's restrictive new community license. He also spoke some about the future of commercial software, and dodged lots of Transmeta questions. "
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Torvalds Criticizes Open-Source Wannabes

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  • Linus's comment that the long winters make for higher tech "because there's nothing else to do" makes one wonder when Alaska will take it's rightful place as the world leader in technological innovation. ;-) Seriously though, as a Minnesotan, I can relate to the long winters being prime programming time...
  • The bit I picked up on was when he called Silicon Valley a third world country when it comes to technology. He's right, and it's really strange considering the availability and low cost of technology in the US.

    One of my pet peeves is that people over here *still* use cheques to pay all their bills instead of direct funds transfer. I'd almost forgotten how to write a cheque before I moved here, but hardly anyone does direct debit so I'm forever writing the things out and stuffing them in envelopes (not post-paid of course). Sometimes I think the cheapest commodity in the US is a customer's time :(

  • ..which I'm sort of surprised you didn't just come out and say: How many of us would prefer going back, slashing, then completely reworking all of the code for Windows so that it is actually a viable, stable operating system that does something useful besides, well, look pretty? GNU/Linux (and a multitude of other good OSes, like *BSD) are already stable, and with a nice selection of desktop environments and window managers, I think can make a lot of them pretty, too. ;)

  • Then I will berate them endlessly as a shareholder, as well as a customer (we've got a few sparcs around here). Pride goeth before the fall and all that...twould be a shame for the maker of all that nice hardware to fail.

    Jeff
  • My own reply last night, was a tempered one, i didn't even finish nor make sense of what i wanted to say, i must have had 40 email responses telling me i was idiot.. so now a nights worth of rest later, and a good cup of mocha, i can really say whats on my mind.

    I believe suns license is VERY acceptable, and even MORE acceptable to the enduser and developer then the GPL license.

    The sun license restricts you from distributing your own piece of solaris, but it does not prohibit you from selling a service to provide these modifications as a business much like redhat doesn't really sell its own version of linux, but customizations that it feels distinguishes.. its just under sun, you would sell a commercial package and provide a service, instead of provide free software and provide a service.

    The sun license opens up solaris to the End User, thats who we are. The only people who should be scared of there license are people selling Operating systems to compete with Solaris. As the license strictly prohibits selling modified sources/versions of the OS. Again, if your smart, and can modifiy solaris, you can use that "open Source" business model to sell your services.. Your just taking the credibility and legal ramifications of your services in your own hands, which is what sun is protecting itself.

    Open source is "Open Source" you got it, its truely WSYWIG.. you can't get any more Open Source. Free software on the other hand is a totally different issue. And doesn't follow Sun's business model that its investors are following. Sun has just as much of a bind to its investors as does redhat to there's.. there business models are different.

    Once you include the unmodified GPL license in your program, your code is effectively licensed to the Free Software Foundation and GPL. You are not personally legally the licensee of the software since it doesn't reference you as the licensee. So if i stole all your code, and sold a program in binary format, YOU couldn't hold me up on anything in court, the FSF or GNU foundations would have to provide legal interest and support since it is licensed to there foundation and guidelines.

    There is absolutly *NOTHING* wrong with suns license, it does what everyone needs it to do, and works with there business model

    There is *SOMETHING* wrong with people who constantly praise a license, and don't even stop to think about who owns that license, and why they would put someone else license under there software.

    sure you may be giving your code to the community, but again, if your protecting your code, the GPL doesn't help you one bit unless you can rely on them in court.

    so since you got the code, and sun has complete protection from liability and missuse of what they gave you, tell me.. whats wrong with that?

  • I have had the pleasure of talking to many youngsters, (11-13) in third world europe countries who code in assembly languages and run unix os. I should transfer to a finland for school, I will get a better education and for cheaper money, when I am done with my BS, just come back to the states, spend a year get a Master, and I am ready to roll.

    Now that was truly incoherent. FYI, the term "third world" originates from the Cold War, when you had the "first world" (US & allies) versus the "second world" (USSR & allies), with everybody else lumped into the "third world". As most of these 3rd world countries were poor, over time the term came to mean a poor, undeveloped country (which is what Linus meant). Not a single country in Europe is truly "third world" by either definition, although Albania might come close. And I also don't buy the argument that Europe has worse computer equipment than the US, here in Finland public Internet access is certainly more widespread and funding for school computers is usually quite generous.

    And while I'm at it, a quirk of the Finnish higher education system for engineers is that there is no B.Sc.: the first step on the academic ladder is "diploma engineer" (DI), which takes 5-6 years to complete and is considered roughly equivalent to M.Sc. The next stage is a "licentiate of technology" (TkL), which has no US equivalent, and finally just "doctor of technology", which is the same as in the States.

    But your education would certainly cheaper -- it's free for Finnish citizens.

    Cheers,
    -j.

  • "Silicon Valley is supposed to be the center of the universe when it comes to technology," he said. "It's a third-world country."

    How pathetic is that ??
    How come he ended up in SV instead of his native Finland.
    People should realize that his knowledge of economy and related issues is basically null.
    I really think he should stick to coding ...

  • Protect every developer involved with the project. If the company wants a license other than GPL, they should pay all the "employees" that contributed.
  • Probably number one on the list [of things to add to Windows] would be symbolic links

    Note that Windows has symbolic links in a way, as you can create an alias to another directory. While this works in the File Open/Save dialogs for navigation, it has the unfortunate side-effect of replacing the file name with the link name which makes it a lot less useful than it could be.
  • Good God people, the name is LINUS not LINUX. One more time... L-I-N-U-S NOT L-I-N-U-X. Linux would be the very popular OS, whereas Linus would be the dude who created it.

    --
    Child: Mommy, where do .sig files go when they die?
    Mother: HELL! Straight to hell!
    I've never been the same since.

  • the Linux kernel is way more intrincate and carefully put together than any swiss watch. try reading "the cathedral and the bazaar" one of these days.
  • It still doesn't change the fact the as soon as he got famous he moved to the place where "things happen". There is got to be a reason for that.
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @04:04PM (#1633426) Homepage Journal
    Darren,

    I think the point you are missing is that sun is asking for Community participation as there is with Linux, but they are not giving the community the same quid-pro-quo that they get with real Open Source software. So, people of that community have a right to say:

    1. I am not going to work on this because I don't think the license offers us a good deal, and I don't think you should work on it either.

    2. Hey, you out there who don't understand about Open Source but have been hearing about it! We want you to know this isn't the real thing!

    The only reall difference between SCSL and GPL in this instance is that with the GPL you can go your own way and distribute it anyway [if Linus doesn't like your change].

    I can't stress how important a difference that is. The right to change software without someone's approval can be abbreviated to "the right to change it", period. For Sun, it's a control thing - they can't stand the thought that Microsoft might participate in Open Source and make its own changes. This even though everyone else would have access to MS's changes in that case and could clone the good ones.

    There's also the matter of circumvention. If I don't like what Red Hat is doing with some GPL software, I can circumvent them and distribute my own version, which I continually develop and for which Red Hat gets no money. When you work on SCSL software, you're essentially working for Sun - paycheck or none.

    Sun sells hardware. They can afford for their software to be Open Source if they just keep making good hardware. They are going to control-freak themselves right out of the market if they keep on this course.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • You are completely out of line here dude ...
    Linux is just a guy who knows how to write C code ... "STUPID GUY" was much much more than that.
  • and one more thing ...
    I was born in Europe, moved to US 8 years ago and, no , I don't watch TV ( I watch lot of video movies instead.) Your generalization is widely off the mark this time ...
  • good point, wouldnt it be funny if they os'd pieces and someone found gpl code in there and they had to open the whole thing!
  • One sure way to get your Karma way down is to mention anything positive about NT. It works every time.
  • Wouldn't your analogy be better suited to a plumbing supplier saying "Hey, all 1/2 PVC Plumbing Widgets 50% off"...

    If you are a plumbing supply companys and that's your core competency, what are the odds you can write decent software anyway? If you are so good at writing software, why are you in the plumbing business in the first place? Now if you were writting some sort of "e-z plumbing ordering app" that was tied to your company's ordering system, I can see giving that to your customers, but if you open source it (or make it free) your competition can grab it, modify it, and use it, in which case, why did you do that in the first place?
  • ...or Solaris is un oeuvre (masterpiece). :)

    You mean un chef-d'oeuvre. "Oeuvre" is the piece part of "masterpiece". "Chef" mean master, leader.

    Anyway, this is getting off-topic. Sorry all, I could'nt resist.
  • by Booker (6173) on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @12:38PM (#1633434) Homepage
    ... I think he is right to criticize them for saying one thing, but doing another, in an effort to get some free publicity and/or damage a competitor.

    I too am a firm believer that the author of a piece of work has the right to distribute it under any license they choose.

    However, announcing to the world that you're going to open up your source - when the world is just finally learning what that means - but actually "opening" it in a very closed and restricted way - is disingenuous, and deserves criticism.
  • Yet More Myths about Linux.
  • Wow. You just type that all in?

    This [one.net] is a riot in a more digestible format that may describe the fustration towards big evil software companies.
  • He's not criticizing them for choosing their own license, he's criticizing them for choosing a not-so-open license and calling it open source.

    slight difference, but important.
  • "...his [Torvalds'] company..." is just an expression.

    This is all speculation, of course: I'm sure they gave Linus a nice chunk of stock, but he doesn't own all of it or even a controlling interest. It doesn't seem to me he'd want one.

    Paul Allen was a founder, right? He's prolly got a nice big chunk.

  • by Effugas (2378) on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @12:48PM (#1633439) Homepage
    People seem to be getting into this "good enough" attitude regarding whether Sun's Community Source License is open or not.

    It Just Isn't, and here's why.

    StarOffice, recently licensed under Sun's Community Source terms(so I've heard), possesses an excellent charting component. While the GD Library is good for many tasks, the charting component of StarOffice is clearly superior, and would be inordinately useful for the myriad Linux/Unix based web servers out there.

    Unfortunately, Sun's license restricts any productive work from being done that could web-enable StarOffice on the server side. Apache could never be bundled with mod_starchart, and fellow coders can't put out their own, less memory hungry versions of the component.

    The only thing Sun lets you do with StarOffice is fix problems for them, and if Sun doesn't want the problems fixed, the most you can do is release a bulky and semi-difficult to apply patch to repair it.

    I believe they even end up owning your patch as well.

    Now, StarOffice appears to be a very well put together app, and I don't want to slight it for its licensing terms. But the bottom line is: StarOffice is not Open Source. It's nothing like Open Source. Using the words "Community Source" is a cynical and slimy attempt to undermine the core advantages of the open model. While Sun is allowed to derive benefit from the community, the community is placed in a state of perpetual legal risk(and thus, extortable circumstance) should they do anything at all with the code beyond mailing in fixes.

    Sun's License means no web charting component for you. It's that simple.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com


  • Silicon Valley is supposed to be the center of the
    universe when it comes to technology," he said. "It's a third-world country." Torvalds cited online banking, saying it's still a slow, and often paper-based, process.


    On the other hand, he quipped, Finnish companies are working on advanced technology because "winters are long and dark. There's nothing else to do."


    I dont know about online banking in Silicon Valley, but some of my friends were mighty amused when about 2 years ago they read the news that a major bank in Japan was first to launch continuous availability for its cash dispensers (meaning they are open 8-19 monday to friday :)


    Here we were all used to the luxury of all major banks having 24/7 availability in that sector for several years already. The same for online banking.


    And we are not even Finland but a 5 times smaller country (Estonia) next to it, that had been annected by Soviet Union from 1940-1990. (We do speak a language that is quite similar to Finnish though, and like them have near 100% literacy attributed most likely to not dubbing foreign movies but instead presenting the translations in written form in the lower part of picture ;)


    I suspect that the announcemant by the Japanese bank was a little innacurate, but even the ability to make such a statement seemed to indicate some to some degree the state electronic banking.


    It would be interesting to hear peoples comments on the state of online banking in both Americas, Europe and Asia.
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @12:53PM (#1633441)
    First, not everyone is criticizing Sun because they aren't open. They are criticizing Sun because they IMPLYING they are open ("Community License", indeed) when they really aren't.

    Second, why can't I criticize Sun's choice of license? They are a business providing a product. If I don't like the product I am free to explain why. Example: You buy a car from GM and it turns out they covered the interior body with cheap plastic that cracked a few years after the purchase date. Would you say "he who makes the car picks the interior body design"? Or would you complain about poor manufacturing?
    ---
  • (A) I don't play games, so I can't and didn't say what's better.
    (B) Microsoft can't force game companies to do anything. Do you really think John Carmack cares what MS's policy is? Windows games are attractive because the burden of writing device drivers is off the game developers' backs.
    (C) You can't spell idiot. Nice try.

  • i wrote:

    by comparison, the GPL restricts companies from developing software based on GPL stuff and selling it--even if consumers would readily pay for it. please learn that it is not always that what is good for companies is bad for people!

    --end quote--

    okay, this is a mis-statement--fine. what i mean is that a company cannot build on a GPL thing and then claim that they own the final product. why not? it doesn't change the fact that what that company built on is *still* out there, and available for free!
  • Well, I live in Finland since almost one year, and I have entered a bank only when I opened my account. I have NEVER filled out a check, or any other sort of paper. I pay, of course, all my bills online. BTW. MANY other things can be done online, and actually, WITH YOUR MOBILE PHONE!
    Well, on the other hand, I bet my colleagues in The Valley make much more money than me, so they can take the inconvenience of not having these services :o)

  • by gjt (93855) on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @12:15PM (#1633450)
    What's MS going to open source? The dir command?
  • Hidden API's are not going to make their Windows Media player any better. It is all about the compression and streaming technology they use. Microsoft's current Media Player is good because they purchased all the best players in the streaming world, and utilized their technology to produce a superior product. While you can argue that this isn't fair, it is a different problem than them having superiour access to Window's source code. Hell, the product is even available on the Macintosh, and they DO NOT have access to Apple's source code.
  • Talk is indeed cheap, but since open source or free software don't fit anywhere in traditional business models (not only are they not a piece in the box with the other jigsaw puzzle pieces, they're in another aisle completely. Maybe even a different store), it's a rational response from corporations. Rational -> Right is not necessarily true.

    Maybe in a few years, if genuine openness proves (as many here think it will) to be a profitable, genuine business model, then corporations will start to come around. If not, expect them to follow the money. What else can they do?
  • The Linux source might be GPL but at the end of the day if Linus or his advisors don't like the changes you suggest it won't get into the official kernel.

    True, but many Linux vendors don't ship an 'official' kernel and instead fork it with add-ons that Linus hasn't gotten around to including yet. (e.g. ISDN and NFS fixes)

    One thing I have noticed reading linux-kernel is that the development process is only 'open' to those coming with working code. That is, bug reports and feature requests are usually ignored unless there is a patch attached to the message. (Fine, because linux-kernel is about engineering, not marketing.) Commercial vendors, on the other hand, have mechinisms in place for bug reports and 'enhancement requests'. However, such reports typically disappear into a black hole from a user perspective - there is very little feedback until a fixlist emerges for the new version.

    Sun is embarking on an opportunity take the advantages of both open source and commercial development practices. However, if Solaris patches disappear into the same black hole as enhancement requests, it's not going to work.

    I would hope that (1) Sun starts an open list, similar to linux-kernel, to discuss Solaris development issues and review patches, and (2) there is an open central repository where users can download submitted patches. (Similar to the way Linux users get access to 'unapproved' stuff like ISDN or NFS.) Even if someone can't redistribute "MacMillian Solaris", if users have to wait for Sun's blessing to get access to patches, it's not going to work.
  • If Redhat were selling a closed product, then I doubt I'd have much interest in buying it. I doubt others would be as interested either. It wouldn't be as valuable to me.



  • At some point you have to tell people to fix their broken code because the bugs, compatibility hacks and obsolete features their software depends on have been deprecated and will disappear in the next major release.

    Except that time and time-again the PC userbase has chosen backwards-compatibility over a better product. See OS/2. See Windows NT. Both products had pretty good backwards-compatibilty, but not good enough for people to flock to them in great numbers on the desktop. Microsoft has to sell upgrades, and therefore backwards compatiblity is job #1. (Prediction: Watch Win2000 beta get watered down over the next few months to try to get ye olde software working.)

    The root problem is the broken applications. There are just too damn many 'business critical' applications in use for which there is no longer vendor support or perhaps no longer a vendor. (And no source code, either, so forget about fixing the problem.)
  • I wouldn't characterize the use of checks as a fault of Silicon Valley, but rather of the banks and companies involved. You as a consumer have the right to make your opinion heard- if your bank doesn't offer direct debit, complain! Similarly, if a company that you do business with does not handle direct debit, complain! Maybe then they'll wake up and join the 21st century.
  • guys, the slashdot community is not so huge that they can dictate what it means for something to be 'open source'. some of you may think that it is not enough for a company to merely publish their code. for you, they must give up all of their rights to the intellectual property which they paid for the development of. this is truly disingenuous.

    by comparison, the GPL restricts companies from developing software based on GPL stuff and selling it--even if consumers would readily pay for it. please learn that it is not always that what is good for companies is bad for people!
  • The crucial point you make is that what is really not so clear to businesses is that open source can be a viable product of a business.

    I'd say it's obvious that viable business models for free software exist (the support model (ala redhat) being the most obvious and oft-discussed). But, these models are radically different for models used in the software industry, and must look somewhat alien to a microsoft or a sun (witness the "community source license"), when they think of the software itself as being their core asset.

    Until it becomes obvious, through prior example, that a company can thrive as a company that produces software, and be compliant with all the principles of Open Source software, few big companies with a vested interest in the proprietary/ownership model are going to do anything other than posture and try to 'jump on the bandwagon.'

    I see the trend as moving towards software as a service/commodity rather than as a product. That's probably not exactly a blinding revelation. But with examples like redhat, IBM, mozilla and such, it should become more apparant to the corporate mindset that this idea can work.
  • Sure, maybe. But for him to legitmately do that, there has to be a clearly defined and industry accepted meaning of open source. Otherwise, that term will go the way of "hacker", and pretty soon won't mean anything.

    And that still doesn't take care of the peons who are criticizing sun not for calling it "open source" (have they done that?), but for the license not being open enough...

  • "That MS guy" doesn't work there. He helped fund the founding of the company IIRC. Not exactly the same thing. Linus Torvalds, however, is indeed an employee.

    If you're really interested in finding out all you can about Transmeta, I'd imagine doing a search on Google or Slashdot for "Transmeta" would give you a good amount of information. Personally, I'd choose the latter. You can read all the "relavent" articles and see all the wild-eyed speculation, as well.

  • > How many of us would prefer going back, slashing, then completely reworking all of the code for Windows so that it is actually a viable, stable operating system that does something useful besides, well, look pretty?

    Actually I probably WOULD hack on the Windows codebase(s) because then I could finally fix that damn NT 4 memory leak which SP5 STILL doesn't fix!
    (And maybe hacking DirectX 6 into NT4 would be nice too for all those stupid games that require Winblows95/98 and DX5 ;-)

    It's kind of interesting that we have already have a few Open Source Projects of MS's Operating Systems and APIs:
    http://www.reactos.com
    http://www.freedos.org
    http://www.winehq.com/

    Cheers
  • IMHO they shoud first give away reasonable data
    of they G4 machines for operating system porters.
    After that, perhaps I would consider 'em OS


  • The japanese case is probably because Japan has fallen behind North America and Europe when it comes to networking and the like. It's more a cultural thing than anything else; Japan does very well when it comes to other aspects of computing.

    The world has quite a bit of variance when it comes to access to computing facilities - really, when it comes to telecom facilities at all. I recall seeing a map which showed that most of the world has only limited access to the internet - most of africa, for example, is UUCP-only. No doubt that's changed in the intervening years, but the problem remains that almost nobody is going to make money off wide availability of internet services to that part of the world, so you're unlikely to see it happen.

    --
  • Finland isn't a third-world country. Finland is first-world country, and has been for a long time. If you call Finland a third-world country, you might as well say that Sweden and Canada are third-world countries. It would be very hard to say that Finland is a second-world country.

  • As far as I'm concerned Microsoft can keep their bloated, unreliable source code. If they somehow think the open source community will embrace their code I think they are sadly mistaken IMO. At anyrate, who really wants to work with MS buggy code when we have Linux. I can see MS open sourcing some crappy code just to take away developers from Linux or Free BSD etc. Yeah right, when pigs have wings and fly.

  • You can get bankbook updaters in Canada, too. :) They're not uncommon, at least in major centers (I live and work in Toronto).

    --
  • > but even to this day people choose backwards compatiblity and games over a superior OS.

    Partially true. Developers have wanted MS to release the FULL hardware accelleration of DirectX on NT for YEARS, but MS refuses to. It is only recently that they will on NT 5, aka Windows 2000. Don't even get me started on the HUGE OpenGL vs Direct3D debate from just a few years back.

    Could it be because they are milking the customer base with Win95 OSR 2 (ala Windows 96), Win98, and Win98 SE (ala Windows 99) and laughing all the way to the bank? Hmm, we seem to reached the same conclusion!

    Hopefully Windows 2000 will put an end to this peice of crud called Windows 9x once and for all.
    At least DirectX7 is NOT intentionally backwards compatible with DX3 D3D. Die Executive Buffers, Die ! ;-)

    Cheers
  • I agree somewhat. Although Open Source can be a great business model for certain companies in appropriate situations, it is not perfect for everyone. While a lot of people quote the age old examples of Redhat selling docs and support, or hardware companies selling hardware with Open Source drivers/software etc, that is not the extent of all software development.

    Not all software development is intended for big commercial use (in which case the companies buying the product would *need* the security of support etc.) Not all software is so complex that it *needs* support or docs. With smaller software projects, it is much easier to copy a piece of software, than if it had a huge code base, leaving the person producing the software and trying to sell it in a shaky position.

    Open Source is not for everyone, although great for some, so stop criticising people for doing what THEY want to do with THEIR code which is a by-product of THEIR invested capital into R&D etc.

    If I'm wrong, please feel free to correct me with facts.
  • I doubt that Silicon Valley is on a totally different banking system than the rest of America (where people who don't know better are legion). If SV is, feel free to disregard my comment.

    The main problem for direct billing systems - well, the main problems - are twofold.

    First, we have the problem of liability. Banks, especially banks, have to know who's going to pay if something goes wrong. They like to divide up and preferably cap liability before such a system goes into operation. Bear in mind that many large organizations, such as banks, self-insure (that is, rather than pay a certain amount of money to an insurer, they are big enough to merely set money aside and act as their own insurer), and that increases the stakes.

    Second, we have the problem of incompetence. Most software projects are failures to some extent - nearly a third get trashed because they don't satisfy spec, or the direction of the corp changes, or they're just plain not used. This doesn't mean that online banking services isn't a possibility, but you don't want to fail while doing this kind of thing. In other words, it's likely that online banking will remain in beta for half of forever.

    To the second point you can add the observation that the cheque-clearing and banking laws in the US drastically and desperately need rationalization - there are few provisions for banks with no physical presence to operate in an arbitrary state. But YMMV.

    --
  • Using a mobile phone is secure because transfers in the Finnish system are authenticated with one time passwords.
  • Seriously, if Windoze was really open, like they gave out all the source necessary so that you could compile something that would run any Windoze applications, I would expect that very quickly this source would be modified to add missing Unix functionality.

    Probably number one on the list would be symbolic links, and a scheme so that the filename "/A/" means the same as "A:/".

    fork() (merged with their threads)

    Removal of the case-insensitive filenames, or at least a hack so that files with different cases can exist at the same time and the closest match to a typed is used.

    Fix libc so that writing text files does not insert CR characters (reading them can still strip them for back-compatability).

    There are probably dozens of others. All little things that MicroSoft has put in there purposely to make it difficult to port software back and forth. The result would not be Unix, but it would make the system play nice with Unix and still run Windoze programs.

  • "FascDot Killed My Pr" writes:

    "I HATE direct bill pay systems. There's no way in hell I'm letting Vast Conglomerate A ask Vast Bank B for some of my money."

    Where does it say Linus was talking about "direct bill pay systems"?

    I think it was something else entirely he meant: Easy bill paying in ATM-like machines. Once you've pushed in your ATM card and validated it with your PIN code, follow the easy on-screen prompts and type in the recieving account number, amount, optional reference number for the receiver's bookkeeping, and desired payment day. Of course the account number is translated into the account holder's name on the next screen, and there's a quick-select "immediately" option for the date, stuff like that. And even better: All that is encoded in a printed bar code on most bills, so you just hold it in front of the machine's bar code reader, check that what the machine thinks it read is what it says on the bill, and press OK.

    Sure, I suppose stuff like that exists in America too -- now. But in Finland, they've had stuff like that since well before I moved here. Something like a DECADE, I think, perhaps more. The things are on every damn street corner, like ATMs.

    Now isn't *that* being "ahead of Silicon Valley" on the technology curve?


    Christian R. Conrad
    MY opinions, not my employer's - Hedengren, Finland.
  • I think Linus forgot to mention Apple's half-hearted attempt at Open Source.

    Sure, they open sourced part of their attempt at a me-too modern OS, but it's only to try to leverage some free work from the community. It's obvious that there's no real commitment to the Open Source principles.

    If Apple wants to get taken seriously, they should release something unique and ground-breaking, like QuickTime 4 and QuickTimeVR.
  • I kind of had to. After about the 70th time it overloaded my brain =)

    Charlie


    --
    Child: Mommy, where do .sig files go when they die?
    Mother: HELL! Straight to hell!
    I've never been the same since.

  • the time frame was a fair time before qt2.0
  • Disclaimer: I don't live or work in Silicon Valley, but I AM a programmer at a bank.

    Here's the reason SV doesn't have the advanced banking tech: because programmers know better.

    I HATE direct bill pay systems. There's no way in hell I'm letting Vast Conglomerate A ask Vast Bank B for some of my money. Trying to fix a problem would combine the worst aspects of dealing with a teller and calling tech support. There would be no way of fixing it short of closing the account--and even then I probably would never see that one payment again.

    I ALWAYS opt for the "bill me" or "check only" option. If there is no such option, I do without the service. If I can't do without the service (cf. my recent cable modem purchase) I keep bugging the company by asking when I can stop the auto-debiting.
    ---
  • One of my pet peeves is that people over here *still* use cheques to pay all their bills instead of direct funds transfer. I'd almost forgotten how to write a cheque before I moved here, but hardly anyone does direct debit so I'm forever writing the things out and stuffing them in envelopes (not post-paid of course).

    Get a different bank! Both Wells Fargo and Bank of America let you pay any bills online, and those are the two most common banks in the Bay Area. I'm sure many others do as well.

    The way it works behind the scenes is that they'll do an electronic transfer for those payees who can accept it, and they'll print and mail a check for you for those who can't (the first check I had them write was for $1 to myself, just so I could see what the paper copy looked like...)

  • Here's the reason SV doesn't have the advanced banking tech: because programmers know better.

    Well, but it does, because all these banks are national. There's nothing special about SV.

    But anyway, I think it's safe to say that no large company's business decisions are ever influenced by reasons like ``because the programmers know better.'' You must work at a very unusual place if that's how they operate there.

    I HATE direct bill pay systems. There's no way in hell I'm letting Vast Conglomerate A ask Vast Bank B for some of my money.

    Who says you have to let them ask? Instead of letting the recipient pull, you instruct your bank to periodically push. That way you only have one vast conglomerate capable of screwing you over (and it's one who already had the capability to screw you over anyway, since they already have all of your money.)

  • If you think open source software is something that has some thread of ethical or moral content, then consider yourself a "fringe" element of the open source movement. The main thrust of this movement is driven by the commercial requirement that no one company be able to control the means to the success of any other company.

    How soon we forget! The Open Source movement (note capital letters) is the fringe movement to the Free Software Foundation that was started 15 years ago. The main thrust of which is decidedly not about protecting companies from one another.

    Before you get all wet about some company releasing open source software, figure out whether or not the software they are offering is important for the correct operation of other parts of the system. If not, then who cares?

    I care. Even if there is some software the the "other parts of the system" aren't affected by, I will be affected by non-correct operation. Therefore I want every piece of software I use to be open source.
    ---
  • by Anonymous Coward
    He probably doesn't know stuff about Transmeta.

    Does anybody seriously think Linus is high-ranking in that company? Hell, he's a good hacker, but Transmeta could probably get the best benefit for having him on the payroll from keeping him out in a plexiglass case in the lobby.
  • You know what I meant... (too used to typing in linux at that lilo prompt)... the first line of the story claimed linus is retiring, something I haven't heard before.
  • He probably owns a nice piece of it. Making it very much "his" company.
  • I'm not saying Bank of America looked at SV and said "Man, you can't pull the wool over the eyes of them smart programmer dudes, let's don't even try to scam them with automatic billpay". I'm saying that programmers in SV, being smart and mroe to the point-knowledgeable, have largely opted to not USE the automatic billpay, meaning banks (and vendors, don't forget vendors) don't offer it anymore (if they ever did).

    As for push versus pull: True, it cuts down on the NUMBER of companies doing the screwing, but it still increases the chances that a screwing will occur. If every transaction against my account MUST pass through my hands to get posted, I have a lot more control and information.

    Let's put it this way: I don't weld the hood down on my software, my car or my bank accounts.
    ---
  • by mattc (12417)
    Don't you mean Doctor Torvalds? :-)
  • True, but many Linux vendors don't ship an 'official' kernel and instead fork it with add-ons that Linus hasn't gotten around to including yet.

    I can testify to my direct experience with this.

    I used to try to run Red Hat (back in the 5.1 era) and always jokingly said I "ran RedHat for about the first fifteen minutes after an install" because I'd rip out their modular scheme and plug in a monolithic kernel tuned to the hardware I had.

    One of the things I discovered quickly was that the RedHat Kernel Source had default settings radically different from a stock kernel that you can download from places like kernel.org. For the brief period of time I ran SuSE it was even worse. There seemed to be modifications to the config script (when you ran 'make menuconfig' that just plain refused to let you make certain changes.

    My experience is that the "distributors" crowbar the kernel source in ways I don't approve of.

  • you know what--i never saw sun even saying that they were 'open sourcing' their code, or that they were going to make it 'open source TM' compliant. only that they were publishing their code under their own licence. if 'community source' sounds too close to 'open source', too bad.

    hey, i'm all for linux, and open source. but i do find it sad that such a popular licence, the GPL, isn't actually freely redistributable. i know that some other (let's leave them unnamed) licences are. it just means that there will be less high-quality commercial software out there for me to use on my linux box.

    cheers

    -sh_mmer
  • If MS opens Windows, I will have to assume Hell froze over. :)
  • Nope, I don't believe this. Linus is not that kind of person - he's an honest, ethical guy who cares most about Linux being the best-written operating system. He's not a business person, and he doesn't work for a Linux company.

    And I'm not writing off the chance of Solaris, Java, etc., going fully Open Source. It's not really in Sun's own best interest to hold back, they'll eventually realize that.

    Bruce

  • I see a lot of posts from people seeing GPL equated with free (as in free beer). They seem to have the idea that because the license requires you to distribute source, that it also requires you to give up intellectual property or that you cannot charge money for the program.

    This simply is not the case. First, let's look at intellectual property.

    Let's say you develop a whiz-bang Unreal-killing 3d engine, and decide to GPL it. Now you might be thinking, how do you prevent people from looking at the source and writing their own engine? Well, you don't. Of course, if they want to put in the time/effort to write their own engine from scratch, more power to them. By the time they finish their engine, yours will be obsolete anyway. If they actually decide to use your GPLed engine, you have two possible sources of income:

    Sell them a closed license

    Consultant fees for support of the engine

    Now, for the myth that you cannot charge money for GPL software.

    Well, Redhat seems to be doing okay charging $85 for a Redhat distro on CD. You can even take their distro, customize the default options/packages, rename it to BlueFez, and sell it yourself (or give it away!).

    Sure, maybe nobody would shell out $50 for Enlightenment. But, they might shell out $50 for Enligtenment, printed manuals, 24/7 technical support, and an automated update utility. It's all in the value you provide along with the GPL'ed software that will determine wether people will buy it or not. In other words, it is market forces, not anything inherent in the GPL, that will limit what you can charge for GPL software.

    Just remember: It's Free as in ideas, not as in free beer.

    Nathan
  • BSD licenses are trying to create a sort of Software Title Deed. Much like there is no license forcing me to reveal the workings of an improved muffler I created by fooling with parts from the car I OWN, I shouldn't have to reveal the source to my changes to code.

    Problem: Hardware is material and visible. Software is invisible. The only thing that might inhibit one person from tweaking their car is a lack of training.

    There's a heck of a lot more obstacles to software. Think about how newbies blame the computer (or rarther the case, or the keyboard or the monitor even) when we would know it was the OS that was broken.

    Until that gap is crossed, the BSD isn't going to achieve anywhere near the Bell curve in results.

    Besides what final product? No company would ever say this is the last version of our software you'll ever need...

    Seriously though, it is not the company who should own the final product but the person WHO PAID FOR it.
  • I've always agreed with Linus' "you write it you license it" idea. To me KDE is an app that runs on top of an OS like mySQL, Oracle, BRU or CDE.

    I've never considered it a Linux component at all, especially since it will run quite nicely on BSD, Solaris or even HP-UX (according to the FAQ).

    I guess this could lead to a rehash of "where does an OS begin/end" argument. Great fun to discuss but pretty irrelevant in the end.
    -------------------------------------------- -----------

  • Remember the Linus of the bad old days when Qt had a non-OSD-compliant license? The Linus who said "whoever writes the code gets to make the license" and seemed to be mostly unconcerned regarding whether or not some Linux component would be Free Software or not?

    Well, I like today's Linus a lot more than the old one.

    Am I alone in percieving a change? Would anyone like to speculate on what brought it about?

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • I'm just asking for flames by posting this, but I'm curious, why would a company want to go open source? I mean, a company is ONLY in existence to make money, and if it happens to be a software company (let's say Microsoft for some interesting "discussion" hehehe) that's means their cheif product is software. How do you intended to make more money, by giving out something for free? Yes, you can make money with support, but why not make money with support AND software? Or say I make "Really nify program 2000". I could
    A: Give it out for free and have other people improve it
    or
    B: Sell it for X dollars and go buy some new computer hardware.
    I personally would take the computer hardware anyday. Sure, my software could get better, but I'll remain poor. I know that some of you will say that I should code because I like to code, but I like to eat too. Am I selfish, probally, but I think most of the world is too. Another example, Red Hat. Yes, they are succesfull, but think about if they weren't open source, and made you buy their "Red Hatix". Then they could get even more money then they did by just selling "Red Hatix" to people who were new to "Red Hatix". I guess I just don't understand why someone would OS their software, when they could sell it. I think it's this thinking that keeps most companies from going Open Source, they don't see (like me) what's in it for them, financially.

    PS. Please don't call me a c*ck sucking *sswhore because I don't see the point of Open Source, it only pushes me (and other who are still undecided) farther and farther away from it. Fight my "stupidy" with facts, not FUD.
  • ..but I seriously doubt "open sourcing" Windows would go a very long way toward making it a more viable OS than the alternatives. Too messy. I'm sure there would be some interest, however, due to a variety of reasons. :)

  • But the old Qt license was "free but not free enough" too, so I am seeing a different reaction to a similar situation. I agree that Sun is attempting to blur the boundary between Open Source and non-Open-Source.

    Honest proprietary software that doesn't represent itself as something it isn't and doesn't use strategies that block the creation of an Open Source equivalent is nicer than non-Open-Source software representing itself as Open Source.

    Actually, I'm trying to get to have an argument with Bill Joy. There's someone who knows him and is trying to arrange that. Scott McNeally can come after Bill Joy.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • While Sun is allowed to derive benefit from the community, the community is placed in a state of perpetual legal risk

    Did it occur to you that perhaps the "community" referred to in the Community Source Licence is not the same community that comprises the Linux/GNU user base? Just because they mention "community" and "source", there is no reason to make the egotistical leap that they are talking about the "Open Source Community".

    There is a very large, and very valid community that can benefit from Sun's SCSL. Namely people who depend on Sun products and don't give a shit about redistribution or forking or winning the hearts and minds of Linux users. If that's not you, why should you care? Source for Solaris can mean bugfixes today and not when Sun gets around to it, allows more code optimization, makes it easier to write device drivers, and so on.

    (Note - Same argument goes for those who flame Apple's source licence.)

    Furthermore, you appear to be demanding that Sun should start giving away commercial software simply because it would be useful to you and others. Why pick on Sun's SCSL chart module? Why not demand the dozens of other commercial closed source chart programs (like MS Excel)? Are you trying to flame Sun until they GPL all of their software just because the SCSL makes them seem amenable?
  • Take, for example, a company that sells plumbing supplies wholesale, and provides Free software to its customers to manage specialized plumbing equipment inventory. If you were a plumbing supplies retailer, the availability of this software and its acceptance by said company adds to the value of the proposition of purchasing and managing your supplies from this corporation.

    If you are adding value for someone else, and not charging for it, then you are an idiot. Yes, I know free means you can charge for it, yada yada yada, this leads to the correlary: If there is free software out there and you pay for it, you are also an idiot.
  • On the surface of it, you're basically correct. There isn't a whole lot of motivation to go Open Source as long as your product continues to sell very well. But when the competition starts heating up and you're losing market share to the Open Source competition, that's when it begins to make sense. Or equivalently, as Open Source becomes the dominant paradigm (I've been waiting to say that all day) in various sectors of the software industry, companies will be forced to go Open Source in order to get any users. For example, why did Sun just decide to SCSL Solaris? Not out of charity, or because they would rather not sell their software. They are simply having their hand forced (albeit slowly) by the consumers' increasing expectations of having source code for their OS. Or for example, why did (I forget the name of the software company) release CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) under the GPL instead of just trying to sell the thing? Well, because they are trying to compete with a bunch of existing Free software products. In order to get any interest from their target market, they had to follow that course. Some markets are still clear of viable Open Source / GPL competition, such as the office software suite market, where Corel, Microsoft, and StarOffice are the only real products out there. When more viable Open Source alternatives are out there, there will be increased pressure on some of these players to Open Source their software (in a more meaningful way than SCSL).
  • If this is the case then sun should stop deceiving people into thinking that this is open source. Whenever Sun talks to the press ...

    You are going to have to provide a reference to prove that - I couldn't find one.

    Sun's standard PR bit on SCSL says:

    The CSL model is the result of Sun's continued commitment to the open development of key technologies, and is based on Sun's community source principles, which include immediate open access, increased innovation, faster commercialization, and access for students.

    ZDNet (referenced by /. a few days ago) makes the comparision with Linux, but they're ZDNet, not Sun. They quote someone from Sun:

    At the end of the day, the issue is how you allow innovation, but also have a reasonable process by which the community sticks together on the core as it evolves," said Anil Gadre, general manager of Sun's Solaris division.

    Neither statement looks like an appeal for the support from Open Source (TM) advocates or developers. AFAIK, they didn't enlist Eric Raymond or make any appeals to Linux developers.

    And, they will probably get some free labor, although it will be from commercial developers and hardware manufacturers, not the OSS crowd. Which makes sense, because by-in-large Sun doesn't make any money from the OSS crowd, so why should they care?
  • Uhm, Hello?

    Open Source = "My source code is open, you can browse me, modify me, and turn me into whatever you want"

    Suns license maintains ownership of the code and direct results from the code, in commercial and non commercial aspects.

    GPL controls the source code in the same fashion, just can't be used in a commercial package.

    Whats the difference? Either sun is gonna get your money, or the FSF is gonna get your money.

    Open Source doesn't mean free from restrictions, nor does it mean strings attatched. Sun is progressing.. i thought progression, technology, and freedom of your choice was what it was about.

    i didn't think stealing was the issue.. why else would you want to use something you had absolutely no part of in the development cycle.

    Linux is a community project, its built from the ground up for whatever reason people see fit to spend there own time on. Solaris was built from the ground up to be a Commercial OS, and for SUN to maintain its support, its quality of service, and its confidence of the customers and vice versa, they feel they *NEED* complete control of THERE OS.

    Sun is 100% a commercial company, selling a hardware and software based solution from workstations to enterprise class database servers. I don't think sun would be happy if some joe schmoe hacked up solaris, sold it as original and it breaks the compatibility and ultimately sun becomes responsibale for a fortune 500 company loosing 100,000,000 dollars because of an OS glitch.

    This is my opinion, moderate me down and you may was well call this slashcensord.org

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @01:45PM (#1633550) Homepage Journal
    the slashdot community is not so huge that they can dictate what it means for something to be 'open source'

    The Open Source community has broadly accepted the Open Source definition, and we really don't like people trying to re-define Open Source for their own selfish purposes. As a community, we are big enough to give Sun a real problem in the market as their customers jump ship to Linux en masse. The SCSL is a band-aid that might reduce the hemmorage of users, but won't cure it. Sun needs to get over its Microsoft paranoia - the only reason for the SCSL is to keep Microsoft from stealing the show.

    by comparison, the GPL restricts companies from developing software based on GPL stuff and selling it

    No, it doesn't.

    What the GPL does is enforce a quid-pro-quo. Take the example of my Electric Fence malloc() debugger. I give the product and source code away to anyone who asks, and I allow people to sell it. If you want to develop something based on it without paying me, you must give the source code away to anyone who asks, and you must allow people to sell it. If you want to do it under a commercial license without giving it away or giving people source code, you give me some money and I give you another license than the GPL.

    What you are looking for is something more one-sided, where I give the software away, but someone else can take it, not give me any money, add their own changes, and then sell the result without giving me back the changes or giving anyone the source code. As the original author, what possible reason would I have for making myself someone's dupe - a sort of unpaid employee who gets no benefits - that way?

    In general, free software authors write free software so that there will be more free software. They aren't interested in facilitating non-free software unless there is some obvious benefit to free software or themselves, and I can't think of why they should be interested in that.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • Oh, my. Where should I start?

    >Open Source = "My source code is open, you can browse me,
    >modify me, and turn me into whatever you want"
    >
    >Suns license maintains ownership of the code and direct
    >results from the code, in commercial and non commercial
    >aspects.
    >

    So far so good.

    >GPL controls the source code in the same fashion, just can't
    >be used in a commercial package.

    Nope. Who controls the source code? Exactly who do you
    think "GPL" is? Is it an organization, a person, the FSF?
    You seem to be confused. GPLing your code gives control to
    no one.

    Furthermore, commercial software can be GPLed. You can
    charge for GPLed software.

    >Whats the difference? Either sun is gonna get your money, or
    >the FSF is gonna get your money.

    FSF != GPL. Now how exactly is the FSF going to "get your
    money"?

    >Open Source doesn't mean free from restrictions, nor does it
    >mean strings attatched. Sun is progressing.. i thought
    >progression, technology, and freedom of your choice was what
    >it was about.

    Open source means allows free from restrictions (except the
    restriction that it always be free from retrictions). You
    can sell it or whatever, you just can't prevent other people
    from doing the same.

    >I don't think sun would be happy if some joe schmoe hacked
    >up solaris, sold it as original and it breaks the
    >compatibility and ultimately sun becomes responsibale for a
    >fortune 500 company loosing 100,000,000 dollars because of
    >an OS glitch.

    I'm sure that "Solaris" is a trademark. How exactly would
    someone sell their modified version of Solaris as
    Solaris(TM)? That fortune 500 company would be none bright
    to fall for this. If someone did do this, Sun would have
    grounds to sue them.

    What the GPL allows is that someone could sell their own
    improved version of Solaris. The customer would know that
    this was not Sun's version. If this new version is better
    than Sun's version then there is pressure on Sun to take
    improvements from this version and merge them with their
    version.


    You really need to spend some time to figure out what the
    GPL means. I don't thing you have the idea yet.

    >This is my opinion, moderate me down and you may was well
    >call this slashcensord.org

    Given the amount of disinformation you spewed out you should be
    moderated down.
  • (been using Linux 6mo.s, and I play games (win98))

    Anyway, for multimedia streaming files (*LOUDCOUGH*) Windows Media Player, blows the pants off (*cough*) the competition. Being aware of previous Microsoft tactics (and the tendency to incorporate everything into the OS) I would not be surprised to find special APIs that Real,Quicktime and the others don't ever see. If they open some of their code (and I think they have to at this point, they're losing too many developers) some of this might come to light. At the very least it's more ideas to...evolve from.
  • by sterwill (972) on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @12:27PM (#1633575) Homepage
    This isn't true. Open Source software (in a GPL-sense, even) fits perfectly well with many, many existing business models. Open Source software as a product of business does not fit with existing proprietary software business.

    Free software (Open Source products) may or may not generate revenue directly (consulting is just one established business model in which Free software can pay the bills), but that doesn't mean that it can't make existing services or products more attractive. Take, for example, a company that sells plumbing supplies wholesale, and provides Free software to its customers to manage specialized plumbing equipment inventory. If you were a plumbing supplies retailer, the availability of this software and its acceptance by said company adds to the value of the proposition of purchasing and managing your supplies from this corporation. The fact that this software is Free allows this company's customers to tailor and customize it for point-of-sale workstations, integration with payroll or other inventory systems, etc.

    Red Hat is an example of a company that exists in that orthogonal world, as you mentioned. But to say Free software does not fit anywhere in "traditional business models" is ignoring centuries' traditions of marketing, customer relations, and a services-driven economy.

    --
  • by Effugas (2378)
    Programmers ought to be paid to create new stuff, or generate new modifications of existing code.

    The concept that it's a good thing to have millions of programmers redoing millions of lines of code is rather ludicrous; Open Source makes for the ultimate Code Reuse system.


  • I'm not so sure it's a change.

    I tend to think of this Linus as the one who says "Whoever writes the code gets to make the license" followed by "but shouldn't lie about the license terms in order to capitalize on the hard work lots of people have already done to make the World A Better Place." The second part just wasn't necessary before.

    At least, that's my understanding of what he said. I don't speak for Linus Torvalds or my employers or many other people.

    As a side note, maybe you ought to call up Scott MacNealy and remind him that being able to look at some source code doesn't necessarily mean that Solaris is libre. (ouvre?)

    --
    QDMerge [rmci.net] 0.4 just released!
  • "If you think open source software is something that has some thread of ethical or moral content, then consider yourself a "fringe" element of the open source movement."

    I guess I'm way out there on the fringe then, because I believe *most* actions have a moral or ethical component, albeit small, including the choice of license for a project.

    I wouldn't go nearly so far as to say only open source licenses are ethical or moral, but they *do* help convince me the company is interested in the good of their customers as well as their pocketbooks. That kind of thing used to be called business ethics, back when it was in vogue. Companies were said to have a good reputation when they acted ethically, and they spent considerable time maintaining that reputation.

    Open source licenses promote freedom and choice, encourage open standards, make software available to more people, increase quality, and help prevent monopolies. I consider these social goods, and therefore give open source licenses a moral and ethical plus. I am *not* saying that closed source software is evil, more like neutral, except in the case of licenses that egregiously exploit end users or interfere with consumer choice.
  • Ummm. Bruce. Not quite.

    Linus doesn't seem to have changed his mind at all. What he seems to be saying (to me, anyway) is: "Either be a wolf, or a sheep. But don't play dress-up. Don't pretend to be open-source if your licence is really non-free".

    It's a valuable point. If you write your own license, you shouldn't pretend it's free if it isn't. It brings everything down.

    As for Microsoft's push to make parts of Windows free: I think they've missed the point. We need the whole to be free, or nothing. If only inbuilt, interdependent components are free then we still can't do anything.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @02:00PM (#1633591) Homepage Journal
    There has certainly been a lot written about the "why". Try Eric Raymond's stuff at opensource.org [opensource.org]. Once you finish that, try my essay on the Open Source Definition [perens.com].

    The short answer is that it is a better (faster, less buggy, more trustable) way to develop software. People can make money off of services, hardware, etc., rather than directly from sales of proprietary software, so they do that.

    Bruce

  • Yeah, I think the problem is that relatively few payees in the US accept online transfers. I have it down to two checks a month, though; car and rent. The hardest part is finding the correct checkbook after it has sifted down into the pile for 29 days.

    I'd have to guess that Finland, like many other European countries, enjoys some benefits of being relatively small and homogeneous. Once something like online payment reaches critical mass, it's easier for it to permeate the entire society. There are some cool technologies that are far more widely deployed in Europe, but that doesn't exactly make the US a technology backwater.

    On the other hand, I'm not offended by Linus' wisecrack, either.
  • Well, you can look at it from two perspectives: from that of a hardware vendor and that of a software vendor.

    The hardware vendor should definitely go open source. Most likely they have patents on their hardware; while the source may give someone an edge in reverse engineering their hardware, it's not really that much of an edge, nor will it be a *competitive* edge. That is to say, no one is going to compete with Company X if all they do is copy what Company X does, merely two years later. Technology moves too fast for that.

    For software companies, it's a different paradigm. Consider that most big companies, such as IBM, make a substantial chunk of their software dollar by providing systems integrations and customization on said software. Companies like IBM have more work than they can bother to do - that's why they develop "business partner" networks. There's substantial money to be made by going open source with your product and making money by supporting it. Is it sufficient to give away the software in its entirety? It is for some, probably not for others.

    Likewise, very few companies are going to take your custom job, with open source, and distribute the source to it, even if they have the right to. Their competitive edge is tied into having your software - not to mention that it's worth quite a bit of money.

    Consider the case of WordPerfect, which became the dominant word processing application by foregoing the copy protection which other such software was using. WP tacitly encouraged software piracy in order to build their install base; open source just extends that principle. The greater market penetration you have, the greater chance of an organization (because we all know, corporations are where the big money are) standardizing on you and putting money in your pocket for support.

    It is possible that they could go to someone else for support or customization. Which is a fair risk. But I doubt that that would be the first choice; very few other companies are likely to know the application as well as you do.

    Would Red Hat would make money if it wasn't open source? I don't think so; they'd have to deal with the expense of developing and maintaining a fairly huge body of software in-house. Operating systems development is not for the weak: it takes money, it takes bodies, and it takes time. Going open source, while it doesn't make for a guarantee that bodies and time will come your way gratis, at least gives you a decent chance.

    --

  • Bruce, you're spot-on right. The only explanation I can offer is that Sun is a Bigger Deal than Troll Tech. If a big proprietary vendor with a nice Unix (admittedly a loss leader for nicer hardware) can open things up a little bit, that's a validation of what we believe in (that the bazaar is better than the cathedral in certain circumstances), that is a major achievement. To find out that it isn't really the case, but rather a marketing-type of move... well, that smarts more than having to use lesstif or GTK.

    That, and a lot of us are kinda disappointed with Java and standards.

    --
    QDMerge [rmci.net] 0.4 just released!
  • by Foaf (1882) on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @12:31PM (#1633608) Homepage
    There are a hell of a lot of Windows apps that proabably wouldn't have come about or been as useful without looking at the Windows source.

    Citrix WinFrame comes to mind. IIRC Citrix did a deal with MS to get access to the source for Windows. This basically meant they could fix bugs more easily.

    I've read various discussion groups where Sun developers are happy about Sun's decicision to open up Solaris because it will help them with their application developement. The same would go for Windows developers if MS, by some miracle, decided to let people see the source for Windows.

    IMHO, the bulk of software developers, especially those who write for Windows, aren't really interested in helping maintain their OS of choice. They just want to make their software run better, with less bugs. Any access to OS source, no matter the license, will help them make this happen.
    ------------------------------------------------ -------

  • There's a reason people don't use direct funds transfers. It's a rip-off. In case you idiots haven't noticed, most banks charge extra for direct debit

    Yikes! You really do live in a backward country! :-) Here in the UK, banks charge less for direct debit, because it saves them paperwork. Utilities typically offer around a 5% discount if you pay by direct debit for the same reasons -- it saves them money. A recent survey showed an average family in the UK will save the equivalent of around US$400 a year by paying bills with direct debit.

  • I have friends all over the world, thanks to the internet, and I must agree with his remark about these third world countries being more advanced than us. You may disagree, but what do I care of what you think? when I know what I know? In USA today, in classrooms we get to use PIII500mhz with 256mb of ram, and 20inch montior with windows. In third world countries we are broke, and get to use 386dx 40mhz with 16mb ram and 100mb drive. Because of the low quality of the machines, we try to make up for what we don't have, when we code, we don't use visual basic because it will be bloated, we run other better OS to utilize the hardware best, ie bsd/linux not windows. In USA, everyone gets spoiled with fine hardware and crap.
    I have had the pleasure of talking to many youngsters, (11-13) in third world europe countries who code in assembly languages and run unix os. I should transfer to a finland for school, I will get a better education and for cheaper money, when I am done with my BS, just come back to the states, spend a year get a Master, and I am ready to roll.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday October 06, 1999 @03:48PM (#1633625) Homepage Journal
    there has to be a clearly defined and industry accepted meaning of open source

    I'm trying to figure out if you simply don't know that it exists, or if you reject it. There is an Open Source Definition that was announced, by yours truly, in the same announcement in which Open Source was announced. Before then the only phrase used to refer to this stuff was Free Software. The definition is on the opensource.org web site. It has broad industry acceptance.

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • The president of the Internet Press Guild tells me that they did use "Open Source" at the StarOffice press conference, and then they stopped using it soon afterward. He was there and seems to be a trustworthy person.

    Bruce

  • sounds like *cough*Netscape*cough*
  • Why is it that everyone feels that is their right and duty to criticize businesses who decide to take a risk and open up their code (Apple, Sun, etc) because the licenses aren't what YOU feel they should be? Is everyone forgetting the saying "he who writes the code picks the license"? It would seem even Linus is forgetting that one now.

    Cripes, we should be happy that they are even giving us a chance to look at source code. If you don't like the terms of the license, then for god's sake don't bother making changes... It's not like 95% of the people bitching could even make a change, much less understand half of what they would be looking at anyways.

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. -- Francis Bacon

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