If you can't beat them, fine them II

There's a little debate going back and forth about the topic I posted about here. For my part, I have no issue with most of what the EU has been able to accomplish with respect to Microsoft abusing its monopoly position. In fact, I give them kudos for stepping up and taking a stand where the DOJ failed to. What scares me is the possibility of a Government being able to assign a value to what it perceives as innovation (or lack thereof). Even if they are correct in this particular case, it just seems like a precarious precedent.

Tory Party promises an Open Source Britain, if elected

Matthew Aslett points out that in reality, politicians are leveraging Open Source in their campaigns. This runs contrary to the potential fantasy the Mr. Enderle cooked up. From the article:

Conservative shadow chancellor, George Osborne, has promised “that an incoming Conservative government would create a level playing field for open source software in the UK, in a move which could save taxpayers more than £600 million a year.”

Incredible scenes, as Glyn Moody has noted.

According to a speech made by Osborne at the Royal Society of Arts:

“What it is about is better and more effective government. The problem is that the cultural change has not taken place in government. There isn’t a level playing field for open source software. As it stands, too many companies are frozen out of government IT contracts, stifling competition and driving up costs.

“Taking into account the experience of companies and public sector bodies, it is estimated that the Government could save at least 5% of its annual IT bill if more open source software was used as part of a more effective procurement strategy. That adds up to over £600m a year. The internet age is transforming politics and has the capacity to transform government. Let’s start being open source right now.”

Osborne also announced the appointment of Mark Thompson, of the Judge Business School at Cambridge University, to advise the Party on how to make Britain the open source leader in Europe.

Now, there is no guarantee that the party will win (they haven’t in well over a decade) and the election might not be until as late as 2010, but the fact that Open Source has now made it into political campaigns is an indication of just how mainstream and accepted it is. If you’re still blindly flighting it (which is different than wholesale agreeing with it), you really are fighting a rising tide.


If you can't beat them, fine them (The EU's wrong policy on Microsoft)

While I’ve agreed with many of the decisions the EU has made with respect to Microsoft, I have to admit that I don’t agree with this one. From the article:

Neelie Kroes, antitrust chief for the European Commission, tried again last week to show Microsoft Corp. who’s boss. She declared that the software giant is overcharging other companies for access to technology that, in her opinion, doesn’t represent “significant innovation,” and threatened another massive fine: perhaps €1 billion or more. Ms. Kroes’s new assertion of power to assess innovation and to regulate its pricing should get the attention of businesses everywhere. When government officials feel comfortable second-guessing markets on such decisions, no business is safe and no property right secure.

Things like this should be decided by the market, not by Governments or courts. When a monopoly abuses its power, that’s one thing. In some situations like that, the court is the only one who has enough leverage to remedy things. I don’t think anyone, be they Open Source proponents or proprietary vendors, want courts and judges deciding what is “significant innovation” and what value should be placed on it. We’ll have to see how this plays out.


Is EnterpriseDB an Open Source Company II

A follow up to this post. The debate continues. It's certainly a somewhat complicated issue with nuances that people interpret differently, especially at the edges. I still think coming up with a solid category name may help to alleviate the debate a bit, but alas have not come up with a name I like. While I can see that a company like EnterpriseDB is not what Matt is calling “open source bona fide”, can they really be considered “proprietary bona fide”? Andy Astor suggested “Open Source-Based” but that doesn't put things across in the clear succinct manner that I'd like. Anyone else have an idea? I'd agree that the discussion and issues being discussed here do matter. As I've said before, consumers in the IT space are getting more educated and more demanding (in a good way) by the day. A new dawn is rising. If you are even considering selling into that space, I hope you realize it matters a whole lot. I look forward to discussing some of these issues at the upcoming OSBC, which I'll be attending and LQ is a sponsor of.

Google offers employees true choice on the desktop

Sure, the fact that “when you start work at Google, you get to choose whether you want a Mac, Windows, or Linux computer” shows how fundamentally Google gets some things. That’s not why I find this article interesting though. There are two very good snippets in the article:

“It strikes me that the fact that this level of choice is so unusual is a fundamental reason why Linux is struggling to make an impact on the desktop.”

There are other factors of course (such as application availability) but the fact is that for many businesses, Windows continues to be the desktop operating system of choice simply because it is currently the desktop operating system of choice.

I don’t think this factor is taken into account often enough. Companies are averse to change, even if that change is good for them. The “no one ever got fired for purchasing $COMPANY” mentality is pervasive in upper level technical management at many companies. We don’t just need to create a better product – we need to overcome hurdles like the one above.

“For many uses Windows may well be the best solution, but its difficult to think of another business asset for which managers would not even consider an alternative when it comes to renewal time.
In this regard businesses are doing themselves a disservice. I am not suggesting that Linux is a better option, but I am once again arguing that businesses owe it to themselves to consider the desktop requirements of their users before making a sweeping decision about desktop requirements.”

This drives home a point that I have thought about before but failed to put so succinctly. Why is it that for most assets, there is a considerable evaluation process and procurement procedure, but when it comes to choosing a platform that will run a considerable part of your operational infrastructure you don’t even think twice about deployment options. A disservice indeed. The question becomes, how do you overcome these obstacles. In many areas, we already are. Desktop Linux is not one of them. Yet.


Is EnterpriseDB an Open Source Company

Sparked by a post mentioned here, there is now a healthy debate going on about whether companies like EnterpriseDB are Open Source or not. Allison is one who says yes, while Matt Asay says no. As usual, CBR has some very good coverage.

I’ve thought about the topic a bit and have come up somewhat in the middle of the two opinions and think a new segment of company may need to be defined. I’d agree with Matt that companies like this are not true 100% Open Source companies. Allision makes a good point when she says the following though:

It seems a bit hypocritical to extoll the greater freedom offered by the BSD license (as its supporters do), and then look askance at companies who use the rights granted to them.

To me it’s clear that companies like EnterpriseDB are also not what I would call true proprietary companies either. Not even close. It’s not just that they base their product on Open Source that makes me feel this way. It’s that they donate to the greater Open Source project they are part of in significant ways. They employee some people full time to work solely on the Open Source code, they donate money and resources and they are a part of that community. While not all of their code is Open Source, they absolutely live and die by their ties and reliance on an Open Source project. Some companies simply extort Open Source for their gain. Those companies to me are in no way Open Source, whether or not they use or support Open Source code. It all comes back to intent here for me.

So, what do we call companies like this? I’m still thinking about that, but I do think that companies that truly benefit the ecosystem they are a part of and really do foster the Open Source project(s) that they work with do deserve a large amount of credit. The distinction between “true” Open Source company and Open Source company is not clear enough. We need a name IMHO. Any ideas?

Whatever you call companies like this, I do think they deserve a shot at being at OSCON.


The LQ Wiki is now an OpenID Consumer

As promised, the LQ Wiki now allows you to log in using OpenID. You can convert an existing account if you have one, or simply login with an OpenID as a completely new user and start editing. I’d like to thank Evan, whose extension made adding this relatively painless. One thing to be aware of if you are thinking about implementing OpenID (you should be) and are planning to use curl. Some versions deal with RFC 2818 – 3.1 Server Identity differently than others. A snippet:

Matching is performed using the matching rules specified by [RFC2459]. If more than one identity of a given type is present in the certificate (e.g., more than one dNSName name, a match in any one of the set is considered acceptable.) Names may contain the wildcard character * which is considered to match any single domain name component or component fragment. E.g., *.a.com matches foo.a.com but not bar.foo.a.com. f*.com matches foo.com but not bar.com.

What does that mean to you? Well, I was using jeremy.lq.myopenid.com to test. In some implementations of curl (7.12.1 in this case), the *.myopenid.com cert works fine for that domain. In other implementations (7.10.6 in this case), you get a error:

certificate subject name ‘*.myopenid.com’ does not match target host name ‘jeremy.lq.myopenid.com’
Just something to be aware of as many of the gratis OpenID providers seem to allow this situation to happen. Hopefully you’ll come across this blog post before banging your head on your desk for 10 minutes wondering why code works in some places and not others.