Posted by: Michael Hennessy | December 5, 2005

OSS Groups are starting to Creep me out.

I love Open Source software..I actually use a lot of open source software…even in the .NET world if you can believe that. Yes, Opens Source does exist outside of the Linux crowd. But, it’s not the single solution to world hunger or even to how ALL software should be developed or licensed. It has it’s place is my point…and I think most people understand that.

However, in recent months, I’ve started to really see that a LOT of OSS backers believe OSS is the ONLY way for software to be developed. Their blogs and postings take on a religious fervor, and they pit the evil that they believe is inherent in proprietary software versus the pure goodness of OSS.

Take this recent article on Eweek by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols entitled Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: Microsoft and Open Standards. If you read the article and the corresponding comments, you get a real sense of where the OSS crowd is going. I particular like the comments that compare the OSS attitude towards a commune. In other words, “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours”. That’s all well and good for people who want to join that community, but what is creepy is that they are pushing that belief system at full max on everyone else. For example, the OpenXML license that Microsoft just announced is very good news for developers. They basically are saying, go ahead and use the formats, create apps that use them, we will not sue for using them, they are being sent to ECMA for standardization, etc, but anyone who uses them needs to acknowledge they come from Microsoft. It’s all good. But what do OSS developer say? It’s not THEIR way, and therefore it’s not “Open” because they believe they have defined what “Open” means.

Even though the OpenXML IS “Open” by almost anyone else’s standards, the OSS GPL community dismisses it, and even villifies the nerve of anyone trying to pass it off as Open, per how they define it. It’s creepy, and in the long run doesn’t help customers, developers, or anyone who is looking to develop solutoins that add value, and that can support a business.

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