open source awareness [was Re: [FoRK] Fwd: [Processing] download the new beta release!)

Justin Mason jm at jmason.org
Fri May 20 10:38:08 PDT 2005


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Luis Villa writes:
> On 5/20/05, Lorin Rivers <lrivers at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Veering off into the wilderness...
> > 
> > Luis,
> > 
> > There are people for whom OSS is a religion, there are people who are
> > quite happy OSS exists and use it, and there are people who couldn't
> > care less.
> 
> Oh, certainly. I try in general to pretend to be in the second group
> but am aware I regularly fall into the first. I guess my question was
> 'is there a fourth category who don't even know'?

Well, I ran into a real, honest-to-ghod MS fanboy this week; he *looooved*
C# and *haaated* Linux. Apparently Linux' APIs are oriented around
"functional programming" (sic) instead of "O-O" (sic).  Also there were
too many Linux APIs.  That makes them much worse and much harder to write
non-buggy code with.

Unfortunately there was no discussion of licensing; I don't think he'd got
to that stage yet...


PS: licensing; I think James may be right, that for many developers OSS is
just a marginally nice thing until they run into a situation where the
issues on either side become clear.

The "fixing bugs" example has already been noted.  Here's another one:
Marimba's "Bongo" product.  I've FoRKed it before -- an excellent Java GUI
framework, with WYSIWYG builder.  It was commercial.  We built a product
with a GUI component that used it extensively, and released.

A year or two after our product was released, Marimba got bored with
Bongo, their VCs made them reorient around "push", or something.  Whatever
happened, Bongo was quietly dropped.  We, being a small customer with no
leverage, were SOL.

There were calls from the Bongo user community for them to open source the
codebase so at least the people who'd relied on Bongo could fix bugs, keep
it working with newer versions of the Java platform, etc. As far as I
know, they never did.

Thankfully, I'd long moved out of that team by that stage so I didn't have
to worry about it ;)   But the lessons for a company are clear, in my
opinion -- don't build your products using other people's closed source
components, unless you have more control over them than a typical
vendor-customer relationship.

- --j.
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