Linux and Corporate Development - A Challenge to the Linux CommunityAug 25, 1999, 22:01 (22 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bill Meahan)
[ The opinions expressed by authors on Linux Today are their own. They speak only for themselves and not for Linux Today. ]
Contributed by Linux Today reader Bill Meahan.
Note: The bulk of what follows is from a talkback I posted to an earlier article here on Linux Today. Having thought about it some more, the topic probably needs wider circulation. Hence this article.
Do you know the difference between a "Corporate developer" and a "commercial developer?" No this isn't part of a riddle or bad joke. It's a distinction that has great importance to the acceptance of Linux in the corporate world.
This acceptance is about much more than whether or not Linux has a good spreadsheet or whether one can do word processing, desktop publishing or image manipulation. Having such "office productivity" applications is certainly a prerequisite to full-blown acceptance of Linux (at least on the desktop) but it is insufficient in and of itself! The biggest value of that graphical shell from Redmond (at least in larger corporations, not "Carol's Typing and Resume Service") is the ability to easily develop and deploy applications which support the corporate business practices. These applications are not "products" in and of themselves (that is, not the ultimate thing the corporation delivers to its customer base) but serve the Corporations's own internal business needs. According to several surveys, there are far more "Corporate" developers than there are "commercial" developers. At least outside of Redmond or Silicon Valley :-)
This difference between "Corporate" and "commercial" is crucial because it impacts many of the recurring debates within the Linux community:
Like it or not, for Linux to be fully successful in the "Corporate" world, it will have to support the Delphi's, Visual Basics and Powerbuilders (or their exact equivalents) since these are the tools of "Corporate" development. Even if they do offend the ideological or those with an overdeveloped worship of pure technical merit. And Linux will have to deliver real value (in terms of supporting the business), not just a low (or non-existent) price.
Now, "commercial" development of general-use applications, like the 4,234,526th text editor this month or the 1,256,623rd ICQ client this week, is a whole different story. For that, debate on, O Linux community!
For the curious (or enraged), I am a software development supervisor for a large Fortune 2 (no, I didn't forget any zeroes) company where I've done a lot of specialized programming and development (from high-speed machinery control to help-desk tracking systems) for most of the 27+ years I've worked there. I started programming in 1965 and I've seen a lot of stuff come and go in the computer world so I seldom get passionate about computer-related topics any more. Though new to Linux, I've been around Unix since Bell Labs Version 7 and on the Net since about 1979. Had an AT&T "Unix PC" (aka "3B1") at home for several years and taught my daughters to use GNU Emacs and TeX to do their high-school papers. (Boy, were they pissed to be forced to use WP 4.2 for DOS in college :-) )
I love Free software and snuck Perl 3.0.44 (old numbering system) into the company long before the Web caused it to become a "strategic" platform. And I'll never admit to being the guy who built an entire test-stand calibration system in Perl using gnuplot and TeX for reporting or ran a C-News UUCP node for several years. Nope, not me. So please, send all flames about being a "newbie" or "not getting Linux" to /dev/null. That's where procmail on my home Linux system will send them anyway.