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LinuxWorld.com: Open source tries to regroup at annual event

Jul 22, 2001, 17:57 (14 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Matt Berger)

This is a fairly jaundiced take on the upcoming O'Reilly Open Source Convention, beginning tomorrow. The article focuses on VA Linux's recent troubles, the exclusion of the Free Software Foundation from the headlining debate with Craig Mundie, and the MySQL AB/NuSphere conflict, which a Gartner analyst is on hand to characterize as part of a broader cultural clash in the open source world.

"Despite an effort to focus on the progress of open source, it will be hard this week to ignore its weaknesses, which have wounded -- even toppled -- open source companies in the face of shrinking IT budgets and a sour economy.

VA Linux Systems Inc., for example, recently ditched its hardware business selling Linux servers and workstations in the face of a dwindling dot-com customer base and new competition from major vendors such as IBM Corp. and Dell Computer Corp., which have embraced Linux. Open source desktop software developer Eazel Inc. also failed with the model, shutting down in May after failing to secure funding. And open source software and services firm CollabNet Inc. faced setbacks which resulted last month in its decision to close SourceXchange, a marketplace for open source projects.

These missteps have raised concerns over open source penetrating the enterprise. "It's almost a contradiction in terms to speak of commercial distribution of open source software," said Jon Rubin, an analyst with Gartner Inc.

"How do you add value to a product if it's the same as all the others?" he asked. "It shows the inherent problem that any open source segment has to overcome in order to achieve commercial viability."

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