When is stupid not so stupid?

When is stupid not so stupid?

Summary: Commercial projects are looking at the bottom line, as they should. Open source projects don't have to.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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When it's open source.

Moves that would look foolish for a proprietary vendor make a different kind of sense when made by an open source project.

The reason, in a word, is altruism. Commercial projects are looking at the bottom line, as they should. Open source projects don't have to. They are collections of individuals, or groups, engaged in mutual assistance. Whatever benefits the members is worthwhile.

Exhibit A today is Ubuntu. This month they delivered a server Linux with available support. Dapper Drake is Ubuntu's first "enterprise" Linux, with support available for up to 5 years. There are also improvements to the desktop distribution.

Red Hat says they are not worried. Nor should they be. If Ubuntu were a commercial operation I might say they were making a mistake, spending time on an area where they are not strong, rather than concentrating on their niche.

But Ubuntu is not a commercial operation. It has an advantage over other distros in that it supports many, many languages. Now Linux users in those languages can get an "enterprise-class" Linux which speaks their language, with full support. Together these people do not create material market share. But in the Ubuntu world their desires are what count.

Commercial vendors -- whether proprietary or open source -- don't follow small niches. Ubuntu, as an open source project, follows its users' needs, and since many of those users speak local languages, it tries to provide a wider service to them.

Thus does news that doesn't matter, matter very much.

Topic: Open Source

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7 comments
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  • A step forward.

    The question is how big a step? LTS is great and might account for the baulk of any success.

    Ubuntu is one of the most popular distro's and no matter what happens it will still keep building a desktop for "everyone".

    Not so stupid to me :)
    xstep
  • I just installed Ubuntu 6.06 on my laptop last week, and am using it to

    make this post! This is one great OS, and no need to pay a cent as long as you don't need support! Goes back to what my economics teacher said. If the marginal cost of a good is zero, the proce should be zero or nearly zero. Hence, that is why roads, sidewalks, and parks are free to use. This is also why the basic OS and applications should be free, with only a cost when there is a marginal cost, such as giving support, or customizing.
    DonnieBoy
  • stupid does what is stupid

    *nix is free, you dont have to pay.

    SGI filed for bankruptcy recently (on life support).
    SUN is repeating SGI story in slow motion.
    IBM no longer wants to develop and maintain an OS (which is a good thing because they cant).
    zzz1234567890
  • Support for 5 years?

    Thats a far cry from Microsoft's 10 years of support.
    PB_z
    • Microsoft provides 10 years of support?

      Try to tell that to the Windows 98 and ME people that were just dropped by Microsoft.
      rsteiner@...
  • It's not altruism

    Altruism doesn't work. Open source does.
    Erik Engbrecht
    • Altruism Does Work

      Been to a library? A public school? A church? Of course altruism works. Altruism is a powerful motivator.

      The assumption that profit is the only motivator that works is just wrong.
      DanaBlankenhorn