Network Computing: The Open Source Mystique

“A while back, I wrote about Microsoft flirting with the idea of
opening its source code to Windows, and about Netscape throwing
open its source code… After all the fuss, it was, for the most
part, much ado about nothing. At least I haven’t heard of any
significant new customers or developers beating on Netscape’s door
just to get at the source code. Having Microsoft on the Open Source
bandwagon hasn’t yielded much either…

“No doubt there is a strong appeal for the fruits of the Open
Source movement. So much so that Apple, Netscape, Sun and even
Microsoft have felt the need to court its devotees. But what,
exactly, is so appealing? For some folks, it’s the access to the
source code. Others use it as a form of documentation (quite a
statement on their impression of the documentation received from
vendors), or make changes to the source code to fit their
organizations’ needs, or just want the source as a last recourse if
something goes wrong. I believe, however, these reasons represent a
fairly small fraction of those using Open Source products.”


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