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WIRED: Open Sourcers Shy From Criticism

Jul 26, 2001, 15:21 (31 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to Anthony Awtrey for this link. ] A WIRED reporter says open source advocates don't like to hear people who disagree with them, and uses an example from the O'Reilly Open Source Convention to make his point. Regular reader Anthony Awtrey provided us with the link and a brief response.

From the article:

"Why? Because Baker is full of it, a greedy corporate shill who -- like all those company yes-men -- is intent on crushing the open movement?

That's not likely -- he chaired the Internet Engineering Task Force, and he knows computers, and what works and what doesn't work in tech. He doesn't have a personal interest in crushing the open movement. And he did have a point -- many open projects are managed by commercial companies, and it shouldn't be inflammatory to say so.

So what accounted for the coders' very adverse reactions? They were blinded by their love for open source -- and that kind of thing, no matter how happy it makes you, can't be good for a movement."

Complete Story

Anthony Awtrey writes:

Reporter Farhad Manjoo asked an open question at the end of the article and then attempted to answer it for the Open Source movement. He got the answer wrong. This is a copy of what I sent to Wired as a reponse to his story.

My company specializes in Open Source / Free Software solutions. Our experience that software developed using the methods described in Eric Raymonds 'Cathedral and Bazaar' provides better software than commercial vendors, including Mr. Baker's Cisco. Open Source / Free Software is typically more flexable, provides better features, very high reliability and reduced costs.

For instance, my company deploys what we call an 'I.D.E.A.L. Office Gateway' that provides a rules-based firewall, shared Internet access via NAT, auditable records of all web sites visitied by employees on the network, automatic network client configuration and support for Microsoft's PPTP and the IPSec standard for virtual private network (VPN) access back into the corporate network. All these features can be remotely administered for the customer from our offices over encrypted communications channels for a modest monthly service fee. The software that provides these services are Free and we can deploy the solution on our hardware for about the cost of a standard PC or on existing hardware (486 with 16MB RAM minimum) for the price of our time to set it up. We regularly have these systems running for hundreds of days between reboots or any real changes apart from occational security updates conveniently provided by 'apt-get update ; apt-get upgrade'.

The software that allows us to offer these functions is derived from the Open Source community and the Free Software Foundation. A sampling of non-commerical projects and software in this solution includes the Linux kernel, Squid, DHCP, PPTP/PPP,FreeSWAN, and OpenSSH. None of these projects have or have needed corporate leadership in the up to 10 years some of them have been under active development. This evidence flies squarely in the face of Mr. Baker's claims that quality software inevitably requires corporate oversight. Perhaps the reactions of the coders Mr. Manjoo cites would have been the same if Mr. Baker claimed the moon was made of cheese?