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

“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

“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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