DaveNet: What is Open Source?

“Today we swing back to the discussion of what is and isn’t open
source. It became a big issue for the software industry in 1998
when Netscape released the source code to their browser, with much
fanfare and press coverage.”

“It hailed a new beginning for software, tossing out all the
rules that came before. It promised that individual programmers
would melt into a utopian whole, personalities would no longer be
an issue, a ouija board would write the stuff, and people would
come and go from projects, everyone happily working for free, the
users would be empowered, Microsoft would be routed around. No more
bugs, no more dictatorial leaders, and a swarm of Internet
programmers working for free, would take Microsoft out of the
browser business once and for all….”

“Most users don’t care if the source is available. I am a
programmer, if the code were available for the programs I use, I
would never look at it. I’m busy. I have lots of other things to
do. But users were intoxicated by the hype of open source. The
promises sounded good. This undermined conscientious commercial
developers, to be so vilified. When users demanded the source code,
and we had to say no, they often punished us, so the hype hurt. I
don’t think this is well-appreciated.”

“While the open source hype was targeted at Microsoft, the
people who really got hurt were commercial developers who work hard
to create software that people love. Of course the users got hurt
too, because the developers of the software found it hard if not
impossible to get investors interested in their software while the
open source hype raged through the investment world. The open
source hype added new barriers, just as the fortresses of the big
commercial companies were crumbling. So sad that we couldn’t have
just let the freedom be, that people had to try to control it,
monetize it, and stand in the way of people working together.”


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