Monday, October 19, 2009

OStatic: Windows (L)users Are People, Too

In the world of open source, there's a narrative that has predominated since the time that the term open source was coined - that being the need for the underlying platform to be open source. We can tolerate proprietary software on an open platform, such as Linux, much more than we tolerate free software on a closed platform, like Windows.

For all of open source's self-professed pragmatism, there is a noticeable gap between how Linux users are supported and how Windows users are supported. If we are truly as pragmatic as we like to think, perhaps the time has come to close that gap.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

From OStatic: The Great Software Freedom Debate...

It seems that we can never quite get away from our industry's version of "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin." Namely, how open source are you? Or, as it is usually expressed: I'm more open source than you. I'm 'the real' open source, whereas you're just badgeware/runtware/freeware/fauxpen source. Sun's Simon Phipps has re-opened this debate by proposing a software freedom scorecard that the OSI can use to gauge the openness of open source participants.

For the most part, I agree with Simon's proposal, with some reservations, and I'll explain why.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

From OStatic: Linux Marketing - or lack thereof

Reading Sam Dean's piece on the absence of linux marketing brought back memories, many of them painful, of my involvement in Linux International, back in the day. For you kids today who only know your Linux Foundation, Linux International (LI) was founded by Jon 'maddog' Hall as a vendor-driven organization to, among other things, protect the Linux trademark. One of LI's initiatives that began in early 2000 was a marketing plan to be jointly funded by the vendors. You can read my call to action from that time begging and pleading for the members of LI to band together to do *something*.

Then, as now, the problem was the cacaphony of noise from various vendors, each with their own spin on Linux. Was it a desktop thing as Eazel and Ximian proclaimed at the time? Was it an enterprise dark horse as backed by IBM? Was it a really great web server, as VA Linux and Red Hat were promoting? All of the above? While multiple Linux markets have continued to grow since then, there does not appear to be a solution to the general problem.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

From OStatic: More on Open Core

Many of the responses to my previous blog post "Open Core or Open Snore?" were in agreement, and some were not. As is often the case, the more interesting ones expressed disagreement. Some took issue with my post by pointing out open core companies that might be termed success stories: SugarCRM, Alfresco, Mindtouch. But then, I never wrote that open core cannot be successful, but rather that any success will be limited by nature of the model. Open core effectively places a cap on community development turning open source efforts into a viral marketing play, when it can be so much more.

One critique that did resonate was how much open source dev models actually impacted the bottom line. A company's success is impacted by a myriad of factors, including open source strategy and tactics.Seeing as how some companies will succeed with practically no open source development at all, it's only natural to concede that an open core approach will succed in some markets. However, if I were creating an open source community strategy in a crowded, competitive market, I sure wouldn't want to place an artificial handicap on my community development practices. I'll use 2 case studies to illustrate my point: Red Hat / Fedora and CollabNet / Subversion

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

From OStatic: Open Core or Open Snore?

If you had asked me in 1999 if we would still be having discussions on the viability of Open Source business models in 2009, I would have looked at you incredulously. It seems like we're taking an awfully long time to learn the lessons of what works and what doesn't. Take, for example, the recent discussions around Open Core (see Andrew Lampitt's original post). I have to concur with Tarus Balog at OpenNMS when he says it's fauxpen source.

What we should be asking ourselves is not what the VC's want nor what makes us ideologically pure, but rather 'what's best for our respective communities?' If communities are indeed the lifeblood of Open Source projects, doesn't it make sound business sense to maximize community success?

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