[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- eWeek: "Is Open Source Dying?"

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- eWeek: "Is Open Source Dying?"
Date: Sat, 23 Jun 2007 19:01:08 +0200,1895,2148866,00.asp

Is Open Source Dying?  

By Michael Hickins 

June 21, 2007 

Opinion: Some good ideas are too good for this world. Is this one of
On the face of it, open-source software has been gaining ground of late.
The much-anticipated draft of GNU GPLv3 (GNU General Public License
Version 3) has been finally published, giving the open-source community
an opportunity to finally get out of its own way. 

State and local governments have latched onto the idea that having their
documents hostage to a single vendor, no matter how well-intentioned,
might not be such a good idea. Dell recently jumped on the Linux
bandwagon and is offering Ubuntu on its PCs. And Microsoft's attempt to
have its partly-proprietary OOXML (Office Open XML) format
rubber-stamped by a friendly standards body hasn't gone as smoothly as

But behind the scenes, things are not quite as rosy. The Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, which lived up to its left-leaning credentials (didn't
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer famously upbraid open-source proponents for
being Communists?) broke important ground by mandating that state
agencies switch to open-source platforms. There's just one problem: They
can't seem to manage the transition. Sources close to the situation tell
me that former state CIO Peter Quinn's resignation happened at least in
part because of delaying tactics by vendors who publicly support open
source but do their best to scuttle it behind the scenes. 

And why should that surprise anyone? A company like IBM has to generate
$190 million worth of incremental revenues every year, and royalties are
a big part of that number. Royalties like the ones it earns from… you
guessed it, Microsoft. Suffice to say that the vendor community will
support open source only so long as it doesn't interfere with their
revenue models. 

Beyond Massachusetts, the open-source bills introduced in Minnesota,
Texas and the like are stagnant or dead. One of the hiccups is that
open-source software isn't very good at reading documents written using
proprietary software. The state of California is currently testing a new
plug-in; if that fails to impress, open source may be dead in
California, too. 

Meanwhile, Microsoft has begun to wrap open-source distributions in its
suffocating arms, offering peaceful coexistence in our time—but on its
terms and only to selected distros. 

And most people now expect Microsoft to get its stamp of approval for
OOXML, opening its doors to even the most open-source-friendly states. 

The Free Software Foundation and Linux continue to engage in a pissing
match over some of the terms of GPLv3, making the open-source community
seem, once again, like splinter groups of some radical political
organization more interested in winning arcane theological disputes than
actually taking power. 

Meanwhile, while Dell offers Ubuntu on personal computers, it still
refuses to sell pre-installed Linux on PCs for business use. 

Does that mean open source is dying? Of course not. But the open-source
community needs to get over its overweening sense of superiority and
messianic inevitability; the alternative is just good enough that if it
doesn't get its act together, open source may find itself the subject of
retrospectives like "Remember Unix?" 

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]