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Open-source misperceptions live on

Apr 22, 2009, 10:33 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Gordon Haff)

"In part, this is a case of conflating open source of circa 1997 or so with open source of 2009. It also reflects that most of the people who are loudest about open source as a social movement emphasize hobbyist communities rather than corporate sponsorship and in-house professional development. Indeed, these people often decry the latter as a betrayal of free-software principles.

"The reality for most commercially important projects is much different. The bulk of the development is directly funded by IT vendors for self-interested reasons. In the case of the Linux kernel, the work is shared by a large number of companies. Other software, such as JBoss and MySQL, are primarily worked on by developers at a single company.

"Support for major open-source software is similarly commercialized. Although "community support" (that is, forums, blogs, Twitter, etc.) may often in fact be pretty good mechanisms to track down fixes, they're not the only one. A Red Hat Enterprise Linux customer, for example, can get support in exactly the same way that someone with a support contract for Microsoft Windows would."

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