Is open source a scam against itself?

Is open source a scam against itself?

Summary: Forbes says it so it must be true. Open source software is a scam that open source software companies are running on themselves.

TOPICS: Open Source

Forbes says it so it must be true. Open source software is a scam that open source software companies are running on themselves.

The "news hook" here is IBM offering its recently-acquired Gluecode code free, in a move that seems aimed at JBoss. Author Daniel Lyons finds himself practically laughing at JBoss chief Marc Fleury (left), catching him in a moment of self-pity.  "Where does this all end? When the whole deck of cards, the whole software industry, falls apart?"

In fact, JBoss is moving smartly into Asia and into government markets. I wrote about JBoss in March. They're not backing down from a fight with anyone, even IBM. Customers will benefit from Gluecode's free code and from JBoss' offerings. One statement of exasperation is not despair, unless that's what you're looking for.

It's true that open source brings what I would call Moore's Law efficiencies to software for the first time. It's speeding the industry's evolution, and since IBM is the biggest player it benefits. Open source may indeed be bad for industry revenues overall.

But it's the old, proprietary, EULA-based, closed source world that was the scam, not the open source world.

Topic: Open Source

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  • Using weapons in a war

    has happened for thousands of years. THis is but another iteration.
    Roger Ramjet
  • wasted resources

    Operating systems have been getting so much attention that user interfaces have suffered, if they spent as much money on the software that people actually use, instead of OS wars, maybe we would see some applications that take advantage of 64 bit computing, wider buses, more memory, and a host of other stuff that gets left by the wayside as everyone tries to keep up with the shifting sands of OS mania.
    • Shorthand

      The "OS Wars" that you refer to are largely a shorthand expression for entire families of software. "Linux" isn't being used to refer to the bare kernel or even the minimal operating system (init, sed, grep, awk, etc.), for instance, any more than "MS Windows" means a bare system without GDI.

      The "Linux" as mentioned in ZD columns includes KDE or Gnome,, and a whole host of graphical applications too long to list.

      As for applications that benefit from 64-bit, they're here already. Almost all of the "Linux" applications need nothing more than a recompile. I'm posting from a 64-bit Red Hat system that I use with EDA software running in 64-bit mode, for instance.

      The reason you don't see many applications that require 64-bit operation is that there aren't that many that can use more than 4 GB of memory. After all, how many users [b]have[/b] more than 4 GB of memory?
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • applications for 64 bit

        I use a host of graphics and 3d rendering programs, alias, autocad, adobe suite, pro-e and solidworks, all of which I can imagine can run on 64 bit machines, but will they run twice as fast???? (which would be logical, but not likely)
  • How does one survive in Open Source?

    This is from the Forbes link you provided.

    "No wonder no one is making any real money at this. JBoss operates at a loss, as does MySQL, the open source database company. Novell (nasdaq: NOVL - news - people ), the No. 2 Linux distributor, is losing money. After a decade of losses, Red Hat earned $45 million last year on sales of slightly less than $200 million, but 40% of its profit came from interest income rather than operations."
    • Services and Implementation

      Not just selling the tools and walking away, but by actually building something useful, and then standing behind it, George.
      • Difference between customized implementation and off the shelf product

        What you're proposing is that Open Source developer makes their money doing custom implementations on top of the OSS stack. Which, if you really follow and understands the market, spells almost a ZERO chance. We're no longer in the late '90s where money is freely/easily distributed and instead, customized software always will and have a higher cost then off the shelf products.
        • Off the shelf...

          Just doesn't do it for many applications. Customized services, customized software, is a necessity in today's world. You want MS off the shelf (with it's inherent weaknesses) running national security? (I know, the US Airforce is supposed to be using it now, what a disaster, surpirsed the US hasn't been taken over already.) And even for SME's, there is a lot to be said for customization and (relatively simple) program modification for that sort of application. MS talks about TCO, but the truth is an OSS solution can be set up rock solid and run for 10 years doing what it is supposed to do for a business, (exactly, without crashes or the influence of feature coveting, and with the advantages of customization to the task at hand) day in and day out, for a reasonable input of resources at the beginning. The difference is in mentality and capability.
      • How do you compete against IBM global services?

        I understand that completely, but how do you compete against IBM global services? As a small developer or small company, you write the OSS and IBM Global Services grabs all the sweet fortune 50 deals using the very OSS you sweated over. Do you honestly think you can compete with their marketing, sales, and prestige?

        You can't live off the crumbs that IBM might throw your way every once in a while. At some point, you'll have to make like Daniel Roberts.
      • Except we all know how well the "service economy" has been going...

        less and less pay, nobody making anything but servicing/fixing what others make. Or whatever we place or remove "value" from at each turn.
    • There are many ways to make money in open source

      You can re-sell equipment, you can be contracted to provide a full solution, you can do support, you can get an hourly contract, or a retainer.

      It is true that many companies aren't making as much profit as before. That's not the same thing as no one is making money.

      But it is more of a hardship for more people to see prices falling to zero, and for old business models to fade away.

      Fact is it's not about the supplier, in any market. It's about the customer. Hardware companies resist lowering prices, too. They're helped in dropping prices by lowered costs. But open source also lowers costs.
      • You can do all these things, but does it always put a roof over your head?

        If you're a programmer, I doubt that you would want to spend your time being a support tech or salesman. You'll have to hire people to do this, and you'll almost always be out done by the big boys.

        When you're single, it's easy to be idealistic and struggle along living off pride. I lived as a starving artist until 5 years ago and I?m no stranger to the concept. But when the little ones come and you need to pay insane prices for a home, reality hits. I guess that was the whole point of your subsequent blog on Daniel Robbins. I have a lot of respect for people who are willing to put their heart and soul in to an open source project and do it for the love of coding. I just have to be a realist and point out that there aren?t a lot of financial success stories of individuals or small companies who give away the family jewel. Their stock prices might be artificially inflated by continued ?irrational exuberance?, but the point of the Forbes story is that easy venture capital won?t last forever. At some point, they will need to turn a profit.

        Consulting companies like IBM global services live off consulting, and they can freeload off the backs of the OSS movement all day long and collect the fruits of OSS. Once in a while, they?ll toss in a freebie to kill a company like JBoss.
    • The same as in any other model

      "How does one survive in Open Source?"

      The same as in any other model.

      You make it sound like heaps of companies were making huge
      dollars in the proprietary world, which is BS. MS is the only ISV
      supporting huge margins and we know how they got that.

      Producing software independently has always been a real
      struggle. I know having been in and out of various start-ups for
      over 15 years.

      Even in the close source world nothing prevented companies
      from stealing an idea and produce a cheaper, or free, version
      and releasing it into the same market. There is no shortage of
      major examples (free bundled IE destroyed Netscape, bundled
      WMP attempts to destroy Real, Apple and dashboard, etc).

      The advantage I see of open source is it allows quite small
      companies to have a real go. Yes they have to be careful about
      their revenue model, but mySQL wouldn't exist but for its open
      source model.

      Yes George it would be so much easier to simply accept slings
      from your MS overlord, but there is only so much of this that
      people can stomach.

      Playing against the big boys is has always been difficult, and why
      they attract antitrust scrutiny. But we keep giving it a go, and
      some are successful, some hugely so (eg Google, and built on
      open source infrastructure - Linux).
      Richard Flude
      • Built on but then closed up

        Face the consequences when rooting Linux (or jailbaiting iOS, whose foundations came from open source software as well...)

        And who said anyone was truly free? Not you because you know you really aren't in the end. Nobody is...
  • Amen, brother...

    Forbes is about cold hard profit, and is written by those who live to pursue it (or at least know and share that mentality.) A selfish person can never understand generosity, and likely will resent it strongly, because it shows up their own flaws.

    OpenSource is about learning and growing. Without it, an entire generation of users and developers would have been at the beck and call of corporate giants, learning only what they were piped, and being even more strongly ostracized for hacking and learning. Big Brother society, anyone? May OpenSource continue it's rampage of disruption, leaving enlightenment in it's wake...
    • Forbes

      [i]Forbes is about cold hard profit, and is written by those who live to pursue it[/i]

      Well, actually no. Forbes is economic porn: the readership is the crowd who will never be really sucessful, so they like to read and fantasize about what they imagine the real high-rollers do.

      Real business magazines don't carry hacks like Lyons, who is much more about pandering to his own attitude than about the real world.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • I think Forbes is about spin...

        And the spin that somebody wants Forbes readers to read about is that OS is somehow "bad for IT business." But what piece of media out there has integrity anymore, really? Forbes is about "big business" and "big business" is about "cold hard profit", ergo my statement.
  • Yet another...

    ..example of how Forbes is quickly turning into a FUD magazine. How they stay in business is beyond me unless they are being read as comic's?

    And Mr. Lyons. What is his problem with open source? It is obvious he doesn't understand it but come on to get it so wrong time after time must take real skill.
  • Competing againts IBM

    "IBM Global Services grabs all the sweet fortune 50 deals using the very OSS you sweated over."

    If you are, as you say, a small developer or small company, you don't have the resources to handle a Fortune 50 deal. I worked for a dot,.com startup that died because the founder had delusions of Fortune 500 deals.

    Stay small, stay agile, and concentrate on smaller customers. There are 23 or so MILLION companies in the USA. Give the Fortune 50 to IBM and that leaves 22,999,950 for you.
    Tsu Dho Nimh
    • Not just the Fortune 500

      IBM global services grabs the smaller businesses as well. Anything that is of meaningful size they will grab.

      If you read the story linked in Forbes story, it has stats for JBoss where something like 5% of the JBoss users buy support and everyone else are just free loaders. This is often true in most OSS implementations.