Like, uh, whatever, I guess


  Tuesday, March 02, 2004
    [9:20:17 PM]

Open versus closed source software

The open versus closed software debate is not a new one, and one that looks to be hotly argued and discussed for some time to come.

Earlier today I noticed this interesting open letter written by Clemens Vasters (of DasBlog fame, amongst other things), directed towards a young software developer he'd met at a conference in Dublin.

The letter basically said that although the programmer was very enthusiastic about open source software, at the end of the day you can't really set out on your career aiming to create stuff that's given away for free. It doesn't put food on the table for instance, and although you might garner some whuffie how is that going to help you catch the eyes of members of the fairer sex?

The letter provoked a big old debate on Slashdot, as well you might imagine, and in fact Clemens published a response letter explaining why he said what he did.

Personally, I'm firmly in the "look at your business model, your costs, your products, your customers, and the staff you need then decide on an OS/package/etc basis what best suits you" camp, and do agree with Clemens.

For instance, the company I work for (and it's by no means unique in this respect), uses a number of closed source systems (the accountancy package for example). We also use some open source software: DasBlog, FlexWiki, and a range of tools that lots of people from sysadmins to developers use. Finally there is a swathe of in-house custom built systems and tools, that serve our specific business need.

Where the open source model works nicely for us, is that it allows us to use what we consider to be the most feature rich blogging tool available at the moment, but any time it doesn't do quite what we would like, or find some bug, we are able to add the feature, fix the bug, and check it back into the main code base. So apart from everyone else benefitting from that bug fix, we don't have to maintain a whole seperate code branch and all the time and resource that involves.

Of course working on something that is out there in the public domain does mean that you can just drop a url onto your cv and any prospective employers can go and see for themselves what you've been involved with, rather than just relying on convincingly explaining what you got up to in your last job. And there is the geek kudos, can't totally forget about that ;-) but it won't feed my cats on it's own.

In the end I think it all comes down to the fact that if you're a good programmer, you should be able to make some decent money using all those skills that make you a good programmer. Problem solving, grasping complex abstract models, lateral thinking, they're all there and more, just hard to define. If you can give a little back to the open source community in your spare time for fun or as a hobby, then why not just perhaps don't rely on it in the first instance.


November 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?  Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com