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Sunday, November 18th, 2007, 2:28 am

I’m Almost Done with ”Open Source”. It Lost Its Way.

WHAT would you say if someone offered you a car replacement that is merely the same car with a crowbar?

Open Source has begun losing — at least judging by what’s out there ‘in the wild’ — the goals considered throughout its inception stages. Open Source has assimilated too much to what we already have in many areas, so there is too little distinction. The value of approved “Open Source” does not matter as much as it used to and those suffering include those who stick to the roots.

Back to “Free Software”

What’s truly being ruined is Free software, whose impact is forgotten because of the success of open source, which is lenient. Open Source can claims success, but is it truly the open source that founders of OSI had in mind?

I think I’m about to give up on Open Source altogether. Not Free software. Not GNU/Linux. I’m only referring to the increasingly diluted and meaningless thing that is nowadays known as “Open Source”. It used to be better. The ‘club’ opened its door too wide and it now includes unwanted members that do something which is akin to freeware with a premium edition. The ‘club’ also opened to door to its worst foes.

As I take a look at my “Open Source” feeds I come to find “open-sources software” (not the same as Open Source), companies that suppress participation by the outside world but call themselves “Open Source”, companies that boast .NET technologies with Microsoft licenses (thank you, OSI, for shooting yourselves in the foot). The latter is a case where the software depends on a whole ‘fat’ proprietary stack just to be able to run. In order to just run this case, one needs to throw wads of cash at a monopoly abuser and then be locked in. There are many other examples, but generally, the distinction between truly Free (and open source) software and proprietary software is no longer there. It’s fuzzy and confusing. The words are abused for their hype.

Advice

If you call yourself “Open Source” and you also fulfill the conditions of Free software, then you are encouraged to rename and change your identity. Set yourself apart from the crowd that is too dense for you to be seen.

Case of point: The “assembly required” business model is among those that make open source software quite repellent and fuels FUD against it. Examples include quite a few popular packages (maybe even Asterisk). They really ought to learn from Red Hat’s model, but that said, Red Hat has, at some stage, made deliberate errors to earn money from support. It was a long time ago and it’s possibly just a rumour.

The Good Bits

This post is not a statement favouring BSD/GPL ans saying that it’s a case of “all or nothing at all”. It’s close to this though. There are exceptions to all of this however. Putting aside the nature of the licence at hand, Google’s Android seems quite exciting and the early video previews are impressive. Here is one article of interest:

Google releases Android SDK preview

As expected, Google has released an “early look” version of its SDK (software development kit) for mobile phones. The Eclipse-based Android SDK lets users write Java applications that run on Dalvik, a virtual machine designed to run on top of Linux in embedded applications.

What is interesting about this product is that it not only enables end users to control the code, but it also brings choice to the selection of a carrier. It represents openness. It’s not just open code, but actual portability, which many open source projects continue to lack (Open Solution Alliance, anyone? Not a twit heard from it).

Microsoft is already threatened by Android. Just as FUD was spread by Steve Ballmer about the iPhone before its arrival, FUD was being spread about Android before it was even understand.

Microsoft’s FUD is clearly a case of sour grapes. After so many years, Windows Mobile has an abysmal market share of 4-6% and Microsoft hides its mobile division (through merging) in order to hide corresponding losses from the investor’s eye.

In case you did not know, the future is mobile (the desktop loses its role and significance). The future of mobile devices is Linux, so Linux need never conquer the desktop. The revolution will come in a way that nobody foresaw when Linux was born (1991). Companies begin to realise and acknowledge this.

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