Open source vs

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-03-08 Print this article Print

. open standards"> Another thing is this whole issue of commercial development versus open source. I listen to Marc Fleury from JBoss [LLC] talk about professional open source. How do you view that? Well, its not versus. Theyre two different axes. Theres commercial development versus noncommercial development. And theres proprietary development versus open-source development. Commercial versus noncommercial is about whether youre trying to make money. Proprietary versus nonproprietary is whether you have an open-source or a closed-source license. These are separate axes. And all four categories exist. There is open source for profit, theres open-source nonprofit, theres closed source for profit, theres closed-source nonprofit. All four of these categories exist, and trying to smash those four axes into one, the way Microsoft would like to do, really misrepresents the situation. Theres not open source versus commercial; its open source versus proprietary. Commercial is a different axis. So you have no problems with the open-source guys who are out to make money?
Absolutely not. Absolutely not. And furthermore, I will state with confidence that I am representative of my community on that.
Well, Jason Matusows [manager of Microsofts Shared Source Initiative] whole thing is that there are elements of "proprietary-ness" in pretty much all open-source projects. And, frankly, I think thats pretty much a dishonest argument. That is just game-playing with semantics. He knows perfectly well what it is people mean when they talk about proprietary versus open source. Its the issue of who has control, the customer or the vendor. I really think thats dishonest, and every time he does that in public when Im around, Im going to take a two-by-four to it. Because there are honest arguments Microsoft can make. Theyve got the honest argument that the proprietary model is the only way that you sustain enough capital input to produce software at the scale that they want to do it. I happen to think that argument is wrong, but its an honest argument. Its not an argument that tries to flimflam people by confusing the debate. But this business about "All software is proprietary," thats just flimflam. Thats an attempt to confuse the terms of the debate. Do you expect Microsoft to open up? No. Ever? No, it would be like a battleship trying to turn around in the Suez Canal. Their whole culture is against it. I dont think theyll ever do it until so late in the game that it wont save them. Next page: Other overarching issues in the open-source world.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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