OReilly: Open Software No Guarantee for Freedom

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2004-07-28 Print this article Print

At Oscon, Tim O'Reilly says in the new world into which the open-source community is moving, open and free software does not guarantee freedom.

PORTLAND, Ore.—In the new world into which the open-source community is moving, open and free software does not guarantee freedom, especially when applications depend on the network effects and data lock-in more than on software secrecy, said Tim OReilly, CEO and founder of OReilly Media, at the OReilly Open Source Convention here Wednesday. Giving the opening keynote to several hundred attendees at Oscon titled "The OReilly Radar" and dealing with issues of concern to him and on his radar, OReilly said that while free and open source software is supposed to be the "Intel Inside" of the next generation of software applications, he questioned whether it actually is, saying proprietary software is now increasingly being built on top of open source software. The open-source software industry needs to realize that the Internet, not the PC, is the platform. While many applications are built on top of open source, they themselves are not open source, OReilly said.
"What does it really mean to be open in a world where an application runs on 100,000 servers? Thats the current reality. In the new world we are moving into, open and free software does not guarantee freedom when applications depend on the network effects and data lock-in more than on software secrecy," he said.
Attendees need to invite the community and their users to help build their services and data, not just the code. "If you are committed to openness, set bold standards for user control of data. Big questions remain about who is going to control the data, who is going to control the key namespaces. Vendors like Red Hat had to look beyond Linux to the entire stack and address the integration of the entire open-source stack," OReilly said. Turning to social software, OReilly said the community needs to "Napsterize" the address book and the calendar, otherwise social software will ultimately lead our personal data to ownership by centralized players. "We also need to rethink e-mail and IM as social software. We need an open-source iSync clone and figure out open standards for the types of data we are looking at," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms Linux & Open Source Center at http://linux.eweek.com for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

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Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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