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Smart Partner: Opening proprietary code doesn't come easy for HP

Mar 06, 2001, 23:22 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols)

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"Open source is growing up, but adulthood doesn't come easy. In a unique case, Bruce Perens, Hewlett-Packard's senior strategist for Linux and Open Source and former leader of Debian Linux, along with some of the top open source developers and executives have been debating what can be done with HP's proprietary Open Mail program, which is now close to retirement. Their answers may surprise you...."

"The HP open source advocate hits a critical issue there. Simply open sourcing software doesn't guarantee that anyone will ever actually work on the program. Open source programmers are volunteers, and if a project doesn't interest them, it will remain as dead as it would still locked within a company without funding."

"Perens also commented that while open sourcing OpenMail might help with efforts to build an open source Exchange compliant mail server, it would probably be a "lot less expensive" and "without any of the legal encumbrances that OpenMail has probably acquired" to do so without opening up OpenMail...."

"Ted Ts'o, VA Linux principle engineer, has a slightly different take. He thinks that, "Open Source solutions (using proprietary protocols like MAPI) can be used to wean companies away from proprietary standards and towards open standard protocols." He wryly notes that, "Microsoft uses the same strategy, with packages such as MS-SFU (Services For Unix). The problem with SFU though is that it is specially designed and engineered to make it easy to migrate from Unix to Windows, but not vice versa. Funny that!"

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