Bad Economys Good for Open Source

By John Taschek  |  Posted 2001-03-26 Print this article Print

Now that the economy has encouraged computer technologists to re-enter reality

Now that the economy has encouraged computer technologists to re-enter reality, its time to take a look at how open source will weather the downturn. A prolonged bad economy will be bad for everyone, including open-source programmers. It will be especially bad for those who work at companies whose business models are based on Linux.

Although Linux deployments will continue to grow, many companies that are simply resellers of the operating system will fade away, leaving their programmers to find other work.

Theres good news, though. For one thing, this change will give the dogmatic Linux fanatics a dose of reality. Its flat-out wrong to get hyped up over an operating system. Those who have found religion with their pet operating system should seriously rethink their values.

The only people who are interested in operating systems are Linux bigots and Mac nuts, who think OS X is the second coming. Yet, these people dont do real work. They write scathing but baseless diatribes on the news forums and produce no quantifiable work. (Yes, I understand the deep irony here.)

Take SuSE, for example, which Contributing Editor Roger Hartje reviews in this weeks issue. Its a fine operating system. It works, for the most part, and it includes a good bundle of software. But it doesnt do anything else.

Open source, however, is much more than Linux. The melding of the open-source development model and a capitalist economy will bring the most exciting changes to computing that weve ever witnessed.

The first change well see is investment in open-source technology thats based on solutions and not an operating system. Digital Creations, for example, has developed an open-source language called Python and built an open-source application server out of it called Zope.

Do you think Digital Creations is going to make money off either of them—either does the company. Thats why it has built a content management system based on Zope. Its faster, its cheaper, its not Vignette, but it does the same thing, and the code comes with it. Digital Creations, however, charges for the integration. Thats the future.

As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

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