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Discussion on Open Source.

Matt and I tend to have some interesting discussions via Instant Messenger. Here is one I thought would be nice to share as we discuss Open Source and IBM’s move with Gluecode against JBoss. Enjoy!
The Matt Man: Jim, what do you think?: http://www.forbes.com/home/intelligentinfrastructure/2005/06/15/jboss-ibm-linux_cz_dl_0615jboss.html
Jim McKeeth: Interesting.
Jim McKeeth: A taste of things to come
Jim McKeeth: Consumer wins
Jim McKeeth: Not true: “This is what open source software is all about: creating knockoffs and giving them away, destroying the value of whatever the other guy is selling. ”
The Matt Man: I agree not true
The Matt Man: Plus the statement about it being more expensive in the end
The Matt Man: IF the software does what you need it to do and you got it for free what EXTRA money do you spend?
Jim McKeeth: Only 3% to 5% of JBoss customers buy support contracts.
The Matt Man: If the feature set doesn’t meet your needs in a year or so then buy some development time to make the changes you want… (how is that more expensive than replacing an open source system with a proprietary system anyway???)
Jim McKeeth: Their comments about businesses operating at a loss is misleading
The Matt Man: Or replace it with a commercial app … which means you put off buying one for 3 years or so
The Matt Man: I think your right, are they profitable or are they not profitable
The Matt Man: And the 3 to 5% is a bit scary sounding but I’ll bet you most of their downloads don’t ever get used so you can’t say 3 to 5% of their customers pay if you are measuring their customers by downloads
Jim McKeeth: The only people who loss when a business is not profitable is investors. All the employees got paid.
Jim McKeeth: You are correct.
The Matt Man: PLUS where’s this guys cost analysis and ROI analysis of non-open source software??
Jim McKeeth: Well, and little to no taxes are paid.
The Matt Man: Good point
The Matt Man: I do think there must be a better business model out there for open source
The Matt Man: but I also think that most of the real problem is the lack of acceptance(read:fear) by the business community of Open Source software
The Matt Man: If you planned on spending support costs on a piece of commercial software then why not dispense with the initial fee and JUST pay the support costs?
Jim McKeeth: The issue is when the free software doesn’t really meet the needs, but they use it anyway because it is free.
Jim McKeeth: Then they are like “This isn’
Jim McKeeth: t what we want”
Jim McKeeth: But for many people the free software does meet their needs just fine, but they are out numbered by the people who don’t plan ahead.
The Matt Man: I think your right, with free software there seems to be some thought process that says “If it doesn’t do everything better than any commercial application then I got what I paid for and it’s therefore a piece of junk”
The Matt Man: So if it doesn’t meet all their needs, as you mentioned, its treated as a major negative
The Matt Man: But with proprietary software if it doesn’t meet all their needs it’s a minor inconvenience
Jim McKeeth: In all honesty, the way to pick a piece of software is line of all your requirements and put $$ amounts on them. Then evaluate what value each package gives you. See if the difference in price justifies the difference in value.
Jim McKeeth: Exactly.
The Matt Man: I completely agree
The Matt Man: I was just talking to John the other night about Knowledge Base software. I told him that I have only looked at Open Source* solutions
because it doesn’t make any sense to me to look at proprietary software first. Once I find 3 or 4 very solid open source applications then I can have a base to compare the commercial apps to that will tell me what the feature set of the commercial app is really worth.
*(and I mean actually open source because I think it’s a really big value to be able to customize the software if needed),

The Matt Man: If the feature set of an open source app is just as rich as a commercial app and I can pay to get support on both then the licensing fee for the commercial app is a complete waste of money
Jim McKeeth: Yup
Jim McKeeth: It is like the new MSA and the high deductible ins
The Matt Man: Medical Savings Account? and high deductible?
Jim McKeeth: Yes, for the insurance. Most people would save money on the MSA and a high deductible insurance, but it takes away their security blanket.
The Matt Man: Ah, I see
The Matt Man: yes I agree it’s really similar
The Matt Man: people want security and they think that paying money to a product maker gives them security
The Matt Man: The truth is there are as many companies out there who don’t care about their customers as there are that do… they just have good marketing departments to make us think they care
Jim McKeeth: When choosing between freedom and security, if you choose security you get neither.
Jim McKeeth: Ben Franklin said something similar.
The Matt Man: 😀
The Matt Man: Yea you mentioned that the other day… entirely different context but still fitting
Jim McKeeth: That is a quote by Robert Allen there.
Jim McKeeth: Open Source is all about freedom.
Jim McKeeth: Of course this isn’t referring to secure software
Jim McKeeth: but secure businesses
Jim McKeeth: Security is always an illusion though.
Jim McKeeth: Even in software security. The weakest link is always the user.
The Matt Man: Maybe Open Source needs to keep their licenses all the same but start using the term ‘Free Licensed Software’ or maybe ‘Open License Software’
Jim McKeeth: If the user writes down their username and password, or gives it to a complete stranger for a chocolate bar then it makes no difference.
Jim McKeeth: GNU uses the term Free Software Foundation
The Matt Man: I know that’s even worse
The Matt Man: And I definitely agree about security
The Matt Man: True, 100% security can only be gained by not participating (if that’s even possible), the only secure business is one that is no longer in business, the only secure software is software that was never written
Jim McKeeth: true
Jim McKeeth: 9/11 proved you are not safe from plane crashes even on the ground, and flying is still the safest way to travel.
The Matt Man: The only 100% secure country is one that ceases to be a country…
Jim McKeeth: true
Jim McKeeth: You know, this conversation would make a good blog post.
The Matt Man: 😀
The Matt Man: What’s a blog
The Matt Man: lol
Jim McKeeth: Just cut and paste the whole thing.
The Matt Man: Your right it would
The Matt Man: Do it