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Would You Date Microsoft? 247

teslatug writes "Channel9 has an interview with Bill Hilf of the Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft. Hilf argues that the majority of companies advocate open source solely so that they can drive customers to their core business, which is not open source. He calls this his 'donut theory.' Hilf also sees RedHat in this model, with support being their core. He compares this to dating, where you have to offer your date value in order to entice them. In his view, Microsoft offers developers a platform where they can make money selling their software. The virtues of 'free as in freedom' and the value of open source to the desktop users are skirted, but he makes an interesting point about big businesses like IBM and Oracle."
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Would You Date Microsoft?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well folks, i've been meaning to write this down anyway; here seem's like the perfect place.

    Now, I am a 100% Win fan. I love it; things just work. But, I have made the switch to Linux (Fedora Core 5) at home, seeing as it does 99% of what I want. After a couple of months of constant, un-interupted use, my biggest issues with Linux are broadly thus:

    1. No fecking media support! I get XMMS inform me on first attempt at playing an MP3 that it won't because of licensing conflict. Wtf? Codecs for avi's and DVDs w
    • by Schlemphfer ( 556732 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @04:06AM (#16119334) Homepage
      >Now, I am a 100% Win fan. I love it; things just work.



      How was this not moderated "Score 5, Funny"?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ComaVN ( 325750 )
        Because it's mostly true?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by zaguar ( 881743 )
          Because it's mostly true?

          Another +5 funny moderation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Yes, Windows works until it doesn't. Then you're screwed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by westlake ( 615356 )
        >Now, I am a 100% Win fan. I love it; things just work.
        How was this not moderated "Score 5, Funny"?

        Windows as a client OS is designed for the non-technical end user. The user who is not a Geek, who will never be a Geek, and shares none of the Geek's interests and values.

        I am not a Geek, I only play one on Slashdot. In ten years of running Windows at home, five years with XP and broadband, I have made one call to Dell for technical support. I have never paid a dime for support, repairs, or services of

    • Sorry your experience is so sucky so far. It's been a long time since I switched, my poor annoyed friend, so I'll try to help you as best I can.
      1. No fecking media support! I get XMMS inform me on first attempt at playing an MP3 that it won't because of licensing conflict. Wtf? Codecs for avi's and DVDs were a simular story; all had to be downloaded via yum (bloody excellent tool!). Seriously; not good, but fixed in the end.
      Law is the bane of most media in open source -- many codec makers won't tell you how their codec works unless you promise to only write closed-source drivers for it, which is unacceptable for technical and political reasons in the open source world. We're working on automating it more with package-handling tools like yum, but we're not at the windows "automatically get new licenses" level yet.
      2. Why the hell do I have to install a new kernel? Why? I've never had to on Windows - why is Linux different? Is it so buggy? I installed with a factory version something ending 054. Now I have something ending 122 I believe. I did it ok, but that's not the point I'm making; were there really 68 cock-ups so great in the kernel build from release-time until that now they had to re-release 68 times? I'm guessing probablly not, but still.
      You have to install new kernels for the same reasons that you have to buy new versions of windows. (You're not still running Windows 3.1, are you?) You get new drivers, methods, and all those fun things you expect from your operating system. I can write you scripts to mostly automate the process of building new kernels, which should take 94% of the pain out of the process, but it will involve answering stupid questions about new drivers. It doesn't know. Hotplugging is our weakness right now.
      3. Point 2 also breaks my nvidia drivers. I don't want to re-compile new drivers everytime there's a new 'patch'. For the love of god, why?!
      Driver has to go with the kernel for it to work. Nvidia won't provide binary drivers. I'll have to add that to your kernel compiling script.
      4. X-Windows. What a mess. Why do I have to tell it my x & y refresh rates for my monitor? Windows just 'knows'. Many more things here I feel that X-Windows should just 'know' - the number of buttons on my USB mouse for-instance. If Windows can do it, there's no reason why Linux can't. Also, X-Windows 'feels' slower than Windows. I'm sure there's good reasons for this, but I don't care; Windows is snappier.
      X-Windows *IS* a mess. We mostly inherited it from our UNIX-based predecessors and will break too many things if we replace it, since UNIX, (on which Linux's interfaces are based) was intended as a command-line operating system, and GUIs were mostly an afterthought. There are things I can do to make snappier your X-windows. Upgrading to a 2.6 kernel inexplicably made my X-windows much, much, snappier. Also, some distributions have gotten very good at auto-writing an X-windows configuration that is exactly perfect for you with a little probing , a little guesswork, and some minor information from you. ("My monitor is 17", and I use "blah" graphics card.") I also recommend the "xvidtune" application, which helps you find the best sync information, then gives you the line to paste into the configuration.
      5. Lack of decent file-browser. The best I've come across is Nautilus in a mode that resembles Windows Explorer. It'll do for now, but as far as I'm aware, offers no context-sensitive menus for applications (like the Winamp "Play in Winamp" right-click menu on folders.
      Most of us Linux users do our file maintenence in the command line, which is the main reason for the file-browsers being so bad. It's just too far out of our everyday experience. I'll keep your suggestions in mind for how to improve Nautilus and other file browsers.
      • You have to install new kernels for the same reasons that you have to buy new versions of windows. (You're not still running Windows 3.1, are you?) You get new drivers, methods, and all those fun things you expect from your operating system. I can write you scripts to mostly automate the process of building new kernels, which should take 94% of the pain out of the process, but it will involve answering stupid questions about new drivers. It doesn't know. Hotplugging is our weakness right now.

        I haven't b

      • X-Windows *IS* a mess.

        What are your credentials that you can make this claim? X-Windows is a huge software project and it works reasonably well. There are certain people [x.org] out there who are making the source code more modularized.

        GUIs were mostly an afterthought.

        GUIs weren't an afterthought. It's called modularization, meaning that if one piece breaks, the whole system won't come down.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wizbit ( 122290 )
        Upgrading to a 2.6 kernel inexplicably made my X-windows much, much, snappier.

        It's not "inexplicable," the 2.6 kernel was the first to support a preemptible kernel right out of the box (instead of as a patch for the 2.4 series).
    • These questions would perhaps be better answered on linuxquestions.org or similar, but a few points...

      2. Why the hell do I have to install a new kernel? Why? I've never had to on Windows - why is Linux different? Is it so buggy? I installed with a factory version something ending 054. Now I have something ending 122 I believe. I did it OK, but that's not the point I'm making; were there really 68 cock-ups so great in the kernel build from release-time until that now they had to re-release 68 times? I'm gu

    • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @04:49AM (#16119411) Homepage Journal
      2. Why the hell do I have to install a new kernel? Why? I've never had to on Windows - why is Linux different? Is it so buggy? I installed with a factory version something ending 054. Now I have something ending 122 I believe. I did it ok, but that's not the point I'm making; were there really 68 cock-ups so great in the kernel build from release-time until that now they had to re-release 68 times? I'm guessing probablly not, but still.

      How do you know you've never installed a new kernel in Windows? Do you think it has been static, and hasn't been updated numerous times through both Windows Update and new versions of Windows? Do you not think that Microsoft has hundreds of internal kernel revisions that never get out to the public? This is simply the way that software development is done -- the fact that it's noticeable in the Linux world is a testament to its open development model.

      That having been said, I don't know why you "had" to install a new kernel. Did you require a module which hasn't been back-ported? Did some other piece of software have the new kernel as a pre-req? Or did you just notice one come down the pipe when you did a yum update?

      Every OS has kernel updates. Linux is admittedly more susceptible to updates due to the way that device drivers (modules) are tied to it, and the lack of a stable binary interface for drivers (which requires them to be compiled against the kernel you're running). In the end, however, it generally works the same for the end user: updates give you new features, functionality, and drivers. Package management tools like yum make this sort of update process easy.

      I have a lot of problems with Linux on the desktop as well (on the client side, I'm a Mac OS X person), but this seems to be such a silly one to complain about. The Windows kernel is updated all the time via Windows Update -- you just don't see the word "kernel" on the display, and thus don't realize it. Linux is just more open about this sort of thing.

      Yaz.

    • by cowbutt ( 21077 )
      my biggest issues with Linux are broadly thus:

      1. No fecking media support! I get XMMS inform me on first attempt at playing an MP3 that it won't because of licensing conflict. Wtf? Codecs for avi's and DVDs were a simular story; all had to be downloaded via yum (bloody excellent tool!). Seriously; not good, but fixed in the end.

      Blame the patent holders for making veiled threats to sue infringing parties, and to a lesser extent, the Fedora Project for not wanting to get sued for something they don't make

      • by LocoMan ( 744414 )
        On the right click thing, I don't think that's what he means. IIRC when I tried ubuntu I did see the "open with" option, but what I think he meant is that, for example, if I have winamp as the default MP3 player and I right click on an MP3, on the popup menu I have the "play on winamp" and "queue on winamp playlist" option (without going into "open with"). If I have winrar installed, it also adds "compress this file" "compress and zip" and others. Also if I right click on a RAR or other compressed file (aga
    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
      "4. X-Windows. What a mess. Why do I have to tell it my x & y refresh rates for my monitor? Windows just 'knows'. Many more things here I feel that X-Windows should just 'know' - the number of buttons on my USB mouse for-instance. If Windows can do it, there's no reason why Linux can't. Also, X-Windows 'feels' slower than Windows. I'm sure there's good reasons for this, but I don't care; Windows is snappier."

      I've noticed no speed differences in terms of responsiveness between X and Windows. In fact, fr
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Loco Moped ( 996883 )
      1999 just called - they want their Linux FUD back.
    • Excuse me mister, your post wouldn't be a Copy and Paste [slashdot.org] job would it?

      Feel free to formulate your own thoughts and opinions - you are allowed, assuming you are capable.

    • by markhb ( 11721 )
      As far as the nVidia drivers go, you should know about Max Kanat-Alexander's http://www.fedorafaq.org/ [fedorafaq.org] site. He's supplied a yum.conf file that will, among other things, hook you up with http://rpm.livna.org/ [livna.org], which supplies prebuilt nVidia and ATi kernel drivers. In most cases, livna will have the nVidia driver rpm out there within a day or so of the Fedora kernel update being available. They also supply other things like codecs that you mention. You can also look to http://www.fedoraforum.org/ [fedoraforum.org] as a pl
    • by dentar ( 6540 )
      1: Well, because the M$ tax you paid partially went to those licensors, there you go. That's what happens when you use free software. Blame that on RH's lawyers.

      2: Oh, but ever heard of a "service pack?" You're replacing damn near half the operating system when upgrading XP SP1 to XP SP2. Of course, Windows doesn't have the same sort of kernel that linux does. Linux's kernel is "separate" from all the other pieces parts... Windows is this mish-mash of "things."

      3: Call nVidia and bitch. or rebuild the
    • He was doing well until point 4....
  • How many people are employed worldwide producing commodity software? 0.01% That means this 'donut' model is an ideal fit for roughly 99.99% of the world's population. I guess that's tough luck to the unlucky few.
  • Surprised? (Score:5, Funny)

    by mqduck ( 232646 ) <mqduck@mqdu[ ]net ['ck.' in gap]> on Saturday September 16, 2006 @03:48AM (#16119299)
    Wow. So IBM only supports Linux because it thinks it'll make them money? Next you're going to tell me that Apple only sells iPods for the same reason. Or that the purpose of a business is to make a profit.
    • Wow. So IBM only supports Linux because it thinks it'll make them money? Next you're going to tell me that Apple only sells iPods for the same reason. Or that the purpose of a business is to make a profit.

      In addition to trying to make open-source business models seem just like commercial ones, as in "they just change the core of their doughnut" (from intellectual property to support services), this Hilf fellow isn't very accurate (honest?) about the actual core of Microsoft's doughnut. Microsoft's core a
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jthill ( 303417 )

        Still, my cynicism is a bit milder after seeing this interview, I'm not sure exactly why.

        It's because he's a competent propagandist. Notice the lack of transcript? Tone, pacing, body language, carefully sloppily-put questions, ooooh, that Mac running Red Hat so casually, so constantly on screen ... beautifully prepared.

        But right up front he says what he's all about:

        "Our goal, really, is to help change the conversation in the marketplace"

        What's different about the Microsoft way of building software

    • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
      Wow. So IBM only supports Linux because it thinks it'll make them money? Next you're going to tell me that Apple only sells iPods for the same reason. Or that the purpose of a business is to make a profit.

      Yes, I bow to you for being the genius you are.

      Thing is some people don't realize what they are getting on when they are lured to open source software, so it's worth it that they hear it from time to time.

      Open source is of course great, but like anything, too much of a good thing isn't that good. I use Lin
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Sentry21 ( 8183 )
      I'm inclined to agree. It seems this so-called 'donut theory' has a hole in it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 16, 2006 @03:49AM (#16119305)
    ...She has too many viruses :(
  • by Mortirer ( 885969 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @03:50AM (#16119307)
    Only if i can get half of everything after it.
    • by linguae ( 763922 )

      Is all of that money worth all of the pain and abuse from all of those chairs flung at you whenever Microsoft gets mad?

  • Hilf (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tektek ( 829733 )
    Well, I came here for the hilf jokes; don't disappoint me. :)
  • Only if it puts out on the first date...
  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @04:14AM (#16119352)
    Sorry, this is Slashdot. What is this concept of "date" you refer to?
  • My two cents... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Antony-Kyre ( 807195 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @04:15AM (#16119356)
    I don't know exactly what this is about since the article isn't loading, but here's my opinion.

    Regardless of whatever the company does, it is very important they have a competent support staff.

    Let us say you have a problem. You contact support. They answer but fail to resolve the issue. You Google the error, take a few minutes going to sites, and find the answer to your problem so easily. What does that say about the company?

    (The above paragraph is more or less my experience with Microsoft's help staff after not being able to do Windows Update. A Google search found out that slow processors might not work with their latest Windows Update on the web.)
    • ...but I know it says that you can find the answer in minutes online; so why would you pay that $250/year support contract, again?
      So much for the "give the software away, charge for support" meme ;)

      ( yes, yes.. I know 'support' is a broad term and could include making special extensions to the code for just that company blabla. )
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 16, 2006 @04:16AM (#16119360)
    I'd just never let it drive my car
  • About violent chair-throwing temper being a turn off in 5..4..3..2..
  • Date Microsoft? Oh, you'd need to bring some protection, especially the first time. ;) (Antivirus, firewall, etc.)
  • by sentientbrendan ( 316150 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @04:50AM (#16119415)
    The virtues of 'free as in freedom' and the value of open source to the desktop users

    what virtues? He expects the article to touch upon these points, but to many people they have not been sufficiently justified.

    I've been using open source software for years, and have heard many people talk as if there was some moral imperative to release software under the GPL, or other oss license. Catch phrases like "free as in freedom," and "information wants to be free" are bandied about, and it is generally implied that commercial software developers are evil in some unspecified manner. However, these attitudes have never been justified to me with anything more than rhetoric and metaphor.

    Slashdotters, maybe I am a fool. It might be that the moral imperative behind open source is only so obvious that no one can be bothered to write it down. However, I beg your patience and ask that someone take the time to explain it to me.

    Now, to be clear I am not asking how open source helps to develop high quality software. I am already convinced on this point. I am asking for a justification of the commonly observed attitude on slashdot that open source developers are "good" and closed source developers are "bad" in the moral sense. I am asking for a justification of Richard Stallman's position that, as I understand it, there is a moral imperative to develop software under the GPL (or similar license).

    Furthermore, as some suspect that I am already clearly quite daft, let's avoid using metaphorical terms or similes in the argument, as they might confuse me. Instead let us use only actual terms. By this I mean that I ask that responders do not derive some moral truth about computer software design by comparing it to plumbing, or cars, or politics (all of which are popular patterns of argument on slashdot). In these forms of arguments we are expected to accept some truth about an unrelated subject as a premise (i.e. you shouldn't send someone to jail for speeding) and from this premise come to accept some truth about computer software that holds a somewhat similar form (i.e. you shouldn't send someone to jail for hacking into their computer). In my ignorance, I often fail to see how the one proposition follows from the other. Often I even imagine that I see semantic distinctions that render the similitude meaningless with respect to the subject at hand. To avoid wandering into these failings in my comprehension, I ask that responders simply tell me why something is directly, without comparison to other truths.

    Have at it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by unapersson ( 38207 )
      I don't agree with the premise you're putting forward about the programmers being 'bad'. What is bad is less about the programmers and more about the end product:

      a) you're beholden to the original developers to make changes
      b) if the original developer goes belly up you're screwed in terms up updates/changes
      c) you can only run the software where they say you can run it ("We can't be bothered to do a Windows/Linux/BSD/SkyOS/64bit etc. etc. port")
      d) the software won't necessary survive its useful life, it will
      • a) you're beholden to the original developers to make changes
        b) if the original developer goes belly up you're screwed in terms up updates/changes
        c) you can only run the software where they say you can run it ("We can't be bothered to do a Windows/Linux/BSD/SkyOS/64bit etc. etc. port")
        d) the software won't necessary survive its useful life, it will only be maintained as long as it is commerically viable for the closed source developer to maintain it.

        Unless you have the big bucks to maintain your softwa

        • Opensource tends to outlast comercial. You don't need big bucks to maintain a software house, you just need to know how to program. Even if you don't there are lots of people who do. If the program is useful for you it will be useful for other people as well.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rohan972 ( 880586 )
      Well, I wouldn't always be so strong on the point that open source developers are "good" and closed source developers are "bad", but here goes:

      I will start with two presumptions I make.
      1 - Regarding wealth, abundance is good, lack is bad. Note I am not saying that people who lack are bad, but that lack itself is bad. This is the reason that it is generally considered good to help the poor (out of lack bad into abundance good).
      2 - The rule of law is good and necessary. Note I am not saying that all la
    • You'll already have tons of replies explaining other points, but my point will be sharing knowledge. When I first got interested in real world programming (ie something like "how to program a graphical application which does something useful" and not "how to program a mathematical algorithm and execute it from a terminal"), I wanted to know how existing applications worked. It was a mystery to me because it involves so many concepts, and I had no book available (I was 12 then; later, I went to get some). My
    • by Sique ( 173459 )
      It is more complicated than you state:
      1. First, most of the coding you know and learn you do from code someone else wrote already. You won't be able to get to speed that fast if you had to pay for every single line of code you will ever encounter.
      2. There is no point in inventing the wheel again and again, so why not post the description how to build a wheel somewhere, and everyone can go and do more sensible stuff than to design a wheel again? (But if they are actually good in designing wheels, who should
  • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @04:56AM (#16119427) Homepage
    Everytime a Linux article comes up, out comes loads of people who barely use Linux to its fulliest, or at least seems so by their comments. Yet they are more than happy to public bash it on problems that maybe never existed, or no longer. Exist. I use Linux as my primary operating system, and I know for a fact that at least 80% of the common complaints are pure horse manure. You guys can make a guy ashamed to call himself a geek. If Windows is your thing, then go right ahead, but leave the penguin in peace.
    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 )
      "Everytime a Linux article comes up, out comes loads of people who barely use Linux to its fulliest, or at least seems so by their comments."

      The same can be said of Windows, or any other operating system mentioned on here, I'd imagine.

      Welcome to Slashdot, where your operating system is your religion with all the holy wars that it implies.
  • Bill Hilf (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @04:59AM (#16119432) Homepage
    Let me just say this Bill Hilf has an internet persona of an assole. I hope he's a better person in "real life". But his comments seem to always have some overtone against what his official title should stand for. It's one thing to be against open source:that's one decision. But it is total rubbish to be in a team called under the title of an Open Source lab and always be spewing these rubbish sprinkled with some truths.
  • MS is far too jealous. If I so much as look at another OS, he'll get all in their face, like "How DARE you look at my user base! I'll sue your ass for patent infringement!"

    That's if I had to date any of them. The only OS I can think of as female is OS X, and she's an ice queen...

    Wow. I need a life, don't I?
  • Are you kidding?
    I'd hit it!
  • Hilf (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Elektroschock ( 659467 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @05:36AM (#16119488)
    Microsoft's real problem is the trap. They are trapped in a way that regardless what they do in the field of open source everyone believes it was pure propaganda. Which may well be the case.

    Today more open source runs on windows than on Linux machines. Content Management means open source. Cluster computing means Linux. Webserver means Apache.

    In some areas Open Source provides real advantage. Unlike its competitors Microsoft cannot run a real open source strategy. They cannot use open source for their own advantage.

    And what is worse: Microsoft's policy making, its advocacy against open source, against interoperability, money for politicians, money for software patent lobbying and other dirty business provides them with nasty press coverage and they lost the support of the software elites.

    What professional developer likes a company which fights for DMCA style laws and software patenting? Microsoft lost the support of developers. Its technology and progress does not excite us anymore. (Oh, I like MDX but that's very old.) .Net is a nice consolidation of the former plattform but... oh well... that is not exciting. "The better Java" so to speak.

    Open source values developers. Developers run open source. No marketing braggarts blur the field. That is why we love it.
  • Yeah - by cutting them in half and counting the rings...

  • Sharp knees, sharp knees! But I'd still hit it.
  • Before asking us "Would you date Microsoft," you need to ask Slashdotters questions like "Do you actually date?" or "Do you know what 'dating' is?"
  • If Redhat is like "dating, where you have to offer your date value in order to entice them". then isn't Microsoft like prostition, where you pay up front, don't know what you'll get till you open the package, and never know what kind of virus you could walk away with?
  • The reason that I generally trust IBM's support of Linux in a way that I would never trust MS's support of Linux is that IBM has shown that they don't expect any quid pro quo with respect to features being included into mainline or receiving any sort of special privileges. While their broad goal may be to maximize profit, they don't require that each factor of their participation maximizes their profit or give them a competitive advantage. The kernel developers that they employ work on a lot of features tha
    • I think it's there in your disclaimer. Think about the command line. Deprecated publicly and buried three clicks and a typing of "cmd" because Microsoft figured no one would ever want to use it any more. OS X comes out, Linux continues to grow and someone in Redmond realizes that a useful command line and a good shell would be a sales feature. Do they do the sensible thing (like Apple) and put in bash and tcsh? Nope. They go and write a new shell, albeit with potentially more power, and expect, when it's of

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:41AM (#16119946) Journal
    The virtues of 'free as in freedom' and the value of open source to the desktop users are skirted

    Which I will point out as the single most revealing point, by virtue of its absence, of the entire link.

    Virtually every criticism I've seen about open source, "free" software, and Linux in general, centers around a single (irrelevant) point: Not business-friendly.

    You also hear "not ready for the desktop" or "too focused on developers", but those only matter in relation to the POV of trying to sell a product, in that they reduce the potential customer base. Thus even those classics reduce to "not business-friendly".


    Well, I have news for Hilf, and Roland, and IDC, and all the rest who go on about why Linux and open source will fail - open source doesn't exist in a form that can fail. Yes, you have assorted groups with the goal of advancing open source (RMS, Debian), and various companies who have pretended to embrace the idea (IBM), but as much as they may contribute to the underlying idea of free software, they don't embody it in some mortality-inducing way. They can vanish tomorrow, and I can still build my own Linux distro from sources.


    So, when any criticism of open source "skirts" the issue of free-as-in-freedom, you can ignore that criticism without a second thought. Because "open source" MEANS free-as-in-freedom. It doesn't depend on any company or person or government. Laws and patents and liabilities can make it harder to obtain and contribute to, but NOTHING can ever eliminate it completely. As long as a single fourth-world geek with a bicycle-powered laptop can compile a "hello world" program, open source will remain.

    I thank IBM for its massive contributions of code and ideas. I thank RedHat for its PR work. I thank Linus for the kernel itself. But the abstraction doesn't need any of them to survive. Making a profit counts as a nice side effect, not the goal, of open source.
  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Saturday September 16, 2006 @09:54AM (#16119971) Homepage
    I used to write software using Microsoft tools. The tools were expensive, and sometimes buggy. And when I encountered bugs in visual foxpro, I couldn't fix them. They were usually fixed in the next version, which had a new set of bugs. It's not terribly buggy, but sometimes one bug can really cause problems.

    I also did some VB stuff. They went through three different, slightly incompatible database access classes during my use of it. All were written by committee.

    Note that these were the cheap tools, too, I wasn't using sql server or such.

    The world of Free software is completely different. I have control. I cannot stress this enough: I HAVE CONTROL. It's considered a myth that anyone can fix bugs, but I have more than once. I remember well fixing a bug in the pop server that I'm using. It would have taken Microsoft or a company such as that a month or more to fix a bug like that. It took me 30 minutes from never having looked at the code to having the bug fixed, patch sent to maintainer.

    Now, for the stuff that I do nowadays, not only is the control factor large, so is the cost factor. They are correct that Microsoft provides a platform where you can make money. But that means you have to give Microsoft some of your money. If free Free software didn't exist, that would make sense. However, in the presence of an equal or better alternative that costs no money, it makes absolutely no sense to give Microsoft money for their often inferior offerings.

    I have a particular client that I took from another company. It was an ecommerce site, nothing special, frankly. The other company had already billed the client $40,000 and the product wasn't yet working. The client brought me in to help the other bozos with some html. Yes, you read that correctly. So I asked the client for their data set, and three days later showed them a prototype that was more functional than what the other guys had spent three months and $40,000 to accomplish.

    I then made them an offer. They hadn't paid for the Microsoft licenses yet, which were going to run about $15K. I told them that I could deliver the entire thing for less than the up-front cost of the Microsoft licenses. In other words, they could abandon everything that the other guys had charged them so much for and still save money. They decided to play both sides, and a month later I delivered the completed site, under budget. The other guys charged them another $40,000 for time they had spent since the last bill, but still no completed site. I don't know if they paid it.

    I have found that most companies like those do not inform their clients ahead of time that there are going to be Microsoft license fees to pay. They rather find out afterward. In this case, when the guys found out what I was doing, they went to the client and told them falsely that they didn't have to pay for those licenses, that they could just use a free test license.

    There's a lesson there, though. For most larger projects, those license fees are laid out up front (although they are usually dishonest about the ongoing costs, I've found). But think about it. If a client is going to spend $50K on a project, my choice as the vendor is either $50K in my pocket or $40K in my pocket and $10K in Microsoft's pocket. Again, for what? Better yet, I can "undercut" at $45K, still make more money than the other guy and save my client money.

    Note to other vendors: keep pushing Microsoft crap at people. I love it when you do. Seriously.
  • ...given the opportunity, no one here should deny a date with anyone, evil or not.
  • "Hilf argues that the majority of companies advocate open source solely so that they can drive customers to their core business, which is not open source"

    This doesn't make sense. Most companies are not in the software business. Companies advocate Open Source to get customers - yes. Very presient of you to have spotted that. Business are in the business of making money. Is such revenue somehow different that that made by selling solutions to other developers. It's interesting that you are able to divine
  • No thanks. I prefer to remain gonnhosyphiherpilesmonkeyvirus-free, thank you.
  • OK, we know about free speech vs. free as beer. But there is another model,"free as peanuts in a bar". You enter a bar, order a beer, and are served free peanuts with it. You enjoy the peanuts, but they are very salty, so pretty soon you feel compelled to buy more beer. One can argue that IBM consulting busines is much like that. They will provide free software, support Linux, etc, in much the same way the bar tender provides free peanuts. But you end up paying for a lot of expensive beer, in that case con
  • by merc ( 115854 ) <slashdot@upt.org> on Saturday September 16, 2006 @02:12PM (#16120933) Homepage
    But google and I have been seeing each other lately -- I think it might be serious too, we've gone out every night this week.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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