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GartnerGroup: Debunking Open-Source Myths: Origins and Players

Jan 28, 2000, 16:47 (12 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by N. Drakos, M. Driver)

"While the hype that surrounds specific products like Linux soars, many other open-source efforts are shrouded in myth and mystery. We perform a reality check on the origins of, and the current players associated with, OSS...."

"Myth 1: Open-source development is a new fad. Freely available and extendible software has existed for many years and in many forms. In particular, creating and sharing software was synonymous with the development of Unix. The decision by AT&T to commercialize Unix in 1984 prompted the first attempt to organize the concept of free software ("free" as in freedom, not free of charge) around a license and a development project (see Note 2). The Internet infrastructure itself is the result of open-source efforts, both in terms of the protocols and standards that emerged from IETF's "open house" processes and of the vital software servers for e-mail, Web-serving and name resolution...."

"Myth 2: OSS products cost nothing. There are two separate cost issues. The first concern is acquisition costs. Although an OSS product is typically downloadable free of charge, it can also be sold and distributed for a charge. For example, with Red Hat, Linux can be downloaded free of charge, although Red Hat also sells it under various pricing schemes. What the user pays for in the latter case is not the right to use the software, but for accountability and support from the vendor. Another important but frequently overlooked issue with the cost of "free" software is that the price of acquisition is a fraction of the product's TCO. Deployment, training, support and decommissioning costs must be factored into any total cost formula...."

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