I had a lovely chat today with Laurent Gharda, COO and co-founder of Open Country. (You will note he is also what I like to call a Truly Handsome Man. Grass don't grow on a busy street, kids.)
Open Country's OCM 3.0 offers valuable services for Linux system managers. It can set-up and manage remote desktops, push patches, and compare systems to identify problems. Open Country is also the exclusive sponsor of the Webmin project, open source access control for a variety of operating systems.
But OCM itself is closed source, Gharda said, and it should stay that way.
"System management falls into a unique category," he said. "There are no open source system management tools readily available that manage multiple systems at once."
The power to remotely protect hard drives, in other words, is also the power to destroy them. This is too great to be trusted to an open source process. What if someone with bad intentions used this kind of software to do bad things?
It's a good question. I have my own opinions, but I'm more interested in hearing yours. Are there functions, like systems management, which should never go open source? And if that is the case, can open source ever really catch up?