This is open source?

Story: Ics to Buy, Open Source Project.netTotal Replies: 4
Author Content

Feb 11, 2006
5:08 AM EDT
I apologize for sounding like a broken record. As with OpenMFG,'s definition of "open source" is troubling. It seems that these sorts of things are becoming the norm in our industry.

Quote from the article:

"ICS will continue to sell commercial licenses of the software to customers who need the support that comes with it. 'We don't think if you're going to bring thousands of users up that you're not going to want support,' said Winston. 'If you're a small company with ten to twenty users, have fun with it. But when you look to scale, you need support.'"

OK, so what is it about this application that makes it impossible to scale beyond a few users without paying a fee to the software vendor? How can such a thing be said to be scalable?

It sounds like this company is going to release the source code of their software and offer no help in installing and running it without a fee. How is this open source? Where is the community of developers and users who are getting their needs met by developing the software? Why would anyone contribute to such a project if their contributions are going to be sold to others without any compensation?

Open source magic occurs when there is no software vendor charging fees for essential services. The community must create and care for the application it designs, writes, uses and supports. Charging fees for necessary support creates a dependency that robs the software users of their freedom.

To be open source, it is not just the source code which must be “open”, but the essence of the application itself. The application must be designed to work in an open environment where there is no central software vendor.

I mean no offense to anyone who charges fees for access to software. I just think that people who use such software should understand what freedoms they are giving up when they do so.

Feb 11, 2006
8:17 AM EDT
Honestly, I really do not know the meaning of open source (or Open Source or OSS), but you are confusing charge where even Free (as in freedom) says it is not precluded. If you are looking for strictly no charge software, it exists but it usually is neither open source nor free in the sense used on this site.

If this is your only problem, then your concept is in error not their offering. The ironic part of the quote is that larger entities knowledgeable in Unix may not need the support to scale the product.

Feb 11, 2006
10:42 AM EDT
Open source is not free as in “no cost”. The "cost" of participating in an open source project is contributing to that project. This means you must, at a minimum, spend time working on the project. Since "time is money", there is a real cost in contributing to an open source project. This is what is meant by "free as in free beer" -- if I give you beer to drink, it cost you nothing. If I give you the ability to make beer, you must purchase the ingredients and maintain the equipment. This is another kind of freedom, which has a definite cost. This is “free as in free speech”. In some parts of the world, free speech has a very high cost indeed.

What ICS is offering is "free as in free beer": you can use the software until you grow beyond a basic use. Then they charge you a fee. ICS's reason for existence is the collection of fees. This distinguishes them from an open source project which exists to get a job done, without charging fees.

There is nothing wrong with ICS's model, it is just not open source.

Feb 11, 2006
1:24 PM EDT
Reread my message, I am not the one confused here. Your statement of what you assert is open source is fiction.

A bit of history: ESR (a.k.a. Eric S. Raymond) and Bruce Perens were cofounders of the Open Source Initiative, which reason for being was to entice business to adopt free software (not the no charge type) where the requirement that they contribute back their enhancements would NOT be required. No where is it required that you become an active contributor to a project to fall under one or other so-called Open Source licenses. Open Source has to many definitions and just because you do not like see a monetary charge (for whatever reason) does not negate the "Open Source" marketing as long as the source is available to the user.

Only Free in the GPL sense requires a distributor to contribute back its enhancements. Note a company that makes changes to a GPLed application that is employed solely in-house need not send its code for possible addition to the core code. I have a number of links to the startup the Open Source Initiative, here are a few: ESR John G. Drummond "History of the OSI"

And a few definitions of Open Source Software: Bruce Perens

Now show me in either the Free(dom) or Open Source where there is a requirement that one participate. Moreover, note the near complete absence of any discussion of payments.

Feb 12, 2006
10:26 AM EDT
OK. You win!

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