Forum OpenACS Q&A: Response to Open Source sales doc

Posted by Yon Derek on
A piece of propaganda if I ever saw one.

"I have used closed source and proprietary products and found them unwieldy, impossible to troubleshoot"

Well, I have used open source products and found them unwieldy and impossible to troubleshoot. I don't see, however, how your (or mine) personal opinion makes much of an argument.

"The money expended results in a savings down the road and products that do not go away if you are suddenly strapped for cash."

Yeah, I still have the shakes when I recall how my Oracle installation went away when it found out I'm running out of cash. Taken as it is written, this sentence means that proprietary software somehow destroys itself when you don't have the money. ?

"Programmers can complete your in-house projects much faster by taking an open source and free project that fits 90% of your requirements and customize it the final amount and fulfill your needs with a higher quality product in a much shorter period of time."

Care to provide any examples to backup this statement? Do you have any proof that existing open-source project fit 90% of requirements for a typical in-house project or did you just invent it to support your argument about the superiority of open-source? Do you have a single example of such thing happening? If yes, why it's not in the document?

"and in a hulking majority of the time these projects will not have to be rewritten or upgraded as os versions change. try that on windows"

Aka. upgrade myth. Any examples of programs that need to be rewritten when the version of Windows changes? Microsoft is religious about backward compatibility. I can take a DOS program compiled 10 years ago and it'll probably run on Windows XP. Not try *that* on Linux. Read$117, Joel's piece for one example of that (in short Microsoft added special code to Win 95 to make SimCity work despite the bug in SimCity (which happened to work on Win 3.x because it didn't have memory protection)).

Linux is much worse in the upgrade scenario than Windows. Every major kernel release requires re-writing and updating user-mode utilities. Upgrading a compiler or C library is stricly for risk takers who want to bleed on the leading edge. Binary compatibility virtually doesn't exist even within one distro (due e.g. to change of the executable format, at least one binary API-breaking change to libc) and you can't even dream about cross-distro compatibility in Linux. +1 for Windows in this case.

Command line interface for system administration. +1 for Unix (which is != open-source, by the way, you can say the same about Solaris/HP-UX/AIX so it's not strictly a pro open-source argument).

"Help desk personnel can troubleshoot and fix problems remotely easily. Unix-like open source operating systems are built such that anything that can be done sitting in front of the computer can be done by the help desk person at their desk."

Not true. If a user has a problem with a GUI app help desk person won't help much. Remote Assistance in Win XP is much better in such scenarios. +1 for Windows.

"In contract the number 2 web server, a closed source product, has been riddled with security holes and is very expensive to implement."

A typo. Security problems: +1 for Apache. Do you have any evidence to backup the statement that IIS is "very expensive to implement". Very expensive as in "free"? Very expensive as in "requiring less knowledge to setup and deploy"?

The feedback: if you make statements, provide evidence. Without the evidence (and you provide none, just assertions that the reader is supposed to take for truth) this document has all the quality of a Slashdot post. -1 Informative. There's little in the document that shows how open-source is better, none of it is backed up with any kind of evidence and some parts are off-topic. Don't mistake wishful thinking for argument making.

Writing could use some improvement. Some statements ("Your network infrastructure can benefit from the knowledge that built the internet.", "world of contrived obsolescence", "impossible license management") just don't make sense and a lot of it (like the introductory rant on Windows) does not advance your argument in any way. Sentence like "You can tell I have a high opinion of myself" has no place in a general advocacy article not to mention that it just doesn't follow; there's nothing in previous paragraphs that indicates that you have high opinion of yourself. In general, cut such self-important stuff (like "You'll thank me later").

As a strategic advice: if you try to show that X is good, don't point out weak points of X. At least not if you want to get a PR gig in the future.