[svlug] Re: Open Source Criticism Questions

Steve Hindle steve at itsage.com
Thu Aug 21 10:22:54 PDT 2003

Personally, I think you should have asked your original question to begin 
with - If your talking about using Open Source for something other then 
'fun' (ie say you want to run a server...) then you should definately 
subject it to the same criteria you use for the propreitary software.

for instance, I 'play' with a lot of OSS, just to see what it can do.  But 
when I have a 'problem' to solve - I pick packages based on a totally 
different criteria.  For me, stability and 'support' are usually more 
important then 'feature set' - so I look for projects with active, 
responsive developer groups.  While OSS developers don't 'owe' me anything, 
some groups are definately more responsive then others - and that makes up 
for a multitude of sins with me.


--On Thursday, August 21, 2003 10:06 AM -0700 Daniel Howard 
<dan_howard at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I'm still analyzing responses to my post and will
> probably continue to analyze into next week, just to
> be sure.
> My questions were oblique.  Rather than ask the actual
> questions directly and get answers that the community
> thinks that I want to hear or hopes are true, I asked
> questions about writing reviews that would elicit a
> more genuine response.
> My true question was: When I consider using open
> source software, should I give the feature set,
> quality and professionalism of the code the benefit of
> the doubt (i.e. do minimal due diligence) or should I
> view it skeptically (i.e. throughly check out every
> piece)?
> I was worried that SVLUG was just say: open source is
> the same or better than commercial software so, sure!,
> give it the benefit of the doubt.
> For the past 4 years, I've treated open source
> software and commercial software that same way; I've
> given both the benefit of the doubt and done minimal
> due diligence.  But, within the past 3 months, I've
> been given reasons to question the wisdom of that
> policy on open source and have considered switching to
> a policy of viewing it skeptically and thoroughly
> checking out each and every piece of software.
> Apache, Linux as a server, Tomcat, PHP and MySQL
> originally convinced me that open source software
> didn't need to be thoroughly vetted.  As I saw it,
> professional software engineers sat down, wrote great
> code in their spare time, took the time to do it right
> and produced software that was the same or better than
> commercial alternatives.  I adopted a policy based on
> this.  In any case, I will continue to use these and
> am glad that I jumped in feet first, rather than
> waiting until I had time (probably never) to exercise
> the software thoroughly.  I had hoped that my current
> doubts could be disspelled and I could return to that
> feeling of trust for most well-regarded open source
> software that those originals inspired in me.
> But I'm more in doubt than ever.  I'll study it more
> before making my final determination.
> If I do change, I will still try new open source.
> But, I'll avoid recommending it or relying on its
> apparent feature set, quality and professionalism
> until I've verified them myself.  I'll also likely
> spend and recommend that others spend something like
> one month verifying new software rather than just a
> few days.  This will probably result in less use by me
> of open source software, especially when time is of
> the essence.
> (Some may question my minimal due diligence with
> regard to commercial software but my career-long
> experience says otherwise.  Although I've had my
> difficulties with FUD, outrageous claims, crashes,
> viruses and bugs, most commercial products do what I
> expect them to, with a satisfactory feature set,
> quality and professionalism.  I'm not sure why others
> have such bad experiences; there could be a multitude
> of reasons.)
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Stephen Hindle
I.T. Sage
"Enlightened Solutions for Open Minds"

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