Open-source Software

The end of idealism

Von John Parkinson
Zwar ist das frühere Graswurzel-Entwicklungsmodell für Open-Source-Software mittlerweile gereift. Aber die größten Schwierigkeiten bei der Durchsetzung am Markt stehen offenbar noch bevor.

Quelle: (USA)

WHEN LINUS TORVALDS sat down in 1991 to write a version of Unix that would run on Intel chips, he probably didn't think too much about creating a whole new way to develop and maintain software. Yet the act of opening the code to anyone interested and willing to make a contribution has had a revolutionary impact.

The concept of software as a public good wasn't invented by Linus (that honor probably goes to Richard Stallman with the publication of the GNU Manifesto in 1985), nor was Linux the first open-source Unix (that would be Minix, developed by Andrew Tanenbaum in 1987). However, the creation of a practical and effective process by which source code is shared on a noncommercial basis essentially came from his efforts. It's also clear that his willingness to maintain the essence of the open-source process through his active participation has been critical in expanding and maintaining the community.

Fast-forward to 2001. Linux is in the core strategy of most major vendors (including Hewlett-Packard, IBMIBM, Intel, OracleOracle and Sun Microsystems) and is increasingly the platform of choice for many server applications. Open-source development products (JBoss, FreeSQL, Tomcat) are widely available and in some cases (such as Apache) widely used. There are at least 30 Linux distributions available. MicrosoftMicrosoft is even acting as though it's at least mildly concerned. Alles zu IBM auf Alles zu Microsoft auf Alles zu Oracle auf

So has open source come of age? Are we beyond the idealist and early adopter stage? Should corporate users be looking seriously at open-source processes and products alongside vendor-owned solutions? First some issues to consider.

To cast the open-source discussion as "free" verses "paid" software is inaccurate. Open-source software is free in the sense of "free speech" (which carries with it the connotations of certain rights and obligations), not "free ride" (which implies something for nothing). In reality, both approaches result in cost to the customer; the difference is in where users first incur—and then recover—their costs. The reality in a competitive market is that users should, and most often do, make their decisions based on the total cost of operation and the return that they can expect on their investment.

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