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Modern Thoughts on Open Source (artagnon.com)
22 points by artagnon 2850 days ago | hide | past | web | 9 comments | favorite



[Apple] realized that keeping WebKit closed and exclusively pumping money into it was pointless. So they opened it out...

Webkit started as a fork of KHTML (part of KDE and LGPL licenced) their mishandling of it is a good example of how not to work with open source.

Andriod is another. As Google isn't developing it in public they're carrying the full cost. And their re-creating of userland libraries to avoid the LGPL is pretty much the opposite of your argument (though possibly inherited from before Google bought Android).

Aside from your examples I agree with your point. It's similar to one Doctorow makes in Makers that everything turns into a commodity after a few years and it doesn't make you money anymore. However it can still act as a barrier of entry so examples like Chadaustin's can still make sense if maintenance costs don't dominate.


Thanks! I've updated the article now :)


Chrome OS might be a better example of a project created to commodify. No-one sells a browser but Microsoft still makes a lot of money selling desktop OS's. Unlike Android they don't seem to have any market goals for themselves.

Ironically Chrome OS is Ubuntu (and Chrome is based on Webkit) so they are also examples where commodification has already happened.


The problem with the pure service model is that only RedHat and a few other companies have been successful at it. The argument “I created it, so I can service it best” doesn’t hold anymore- too many people have technical expertise in open source software. So unless your service is the cheapest and the best, it’ll be killed off by other service providers.

I've seen this claim quite a few times ("the service model only works for Red Hat") - is it actually true though?

Sure, there aren't that many billion dollar companies built around services, but I've seen dozens of smaller lifestyle businesses built around consulting against open source projects.

Off the top of my head...

Hwaci for SQLite: http://www.sqlite.org/support.html

Dozens of companies for PostgreSQL: http://www.postgresql.org/support/professional_support

Revolution Systems for Django: http://www.revsys.com/services/django/

Spring Source for Spring: http://www.springsource.com/

Lucid Imagination for Solr/Lucene: http://www.lucidimagination.com/

Lemur Consulting for Xapian: http://www.lemurconsulting.com/

Then there's the fact that a bunch of the current NoSQL efforts (MongoDB for example) are getting funding, which suggests investors still believe you can build a business around open source support.


Agreed. Many of the examples you've cited seem to be niche/ boutique companies. I suppose there aren't too many organizations the size of RedHat relying on the pure-service model.


Thank you! I'm convinced the AAA video game industry of the 90s and 00s crippled itself by religiously opposing most open source. This forced every company to write its own graphics engines, physics engines, and foundational platform libraries.

At the local, per-company level, these anti-open-source policies may have made sense. However, they had some global effects:

* the industry wasted tons of money reinventing solutions to solved problems.

* to start a AAA game studio, you must license or invent graphics, physics, threading, etc., too expensive for long-tail innovation.

By leveraging and encouraging open source, you can lift all boats, improving the world in which we compete.

In short, on my deathbed, leveraged open source means a lot more than closed source would.


Surely most companies licensed Id, Unreal or Duke engines or used the ones supplied by Sony / Xbox.

Early Id, Unreal & Duke Nukem 3d are all OSS now.


I have developed games professionally for both PlayStation and Xbox, but haven't heard of these engines supplied by Sony/Microsoft you are talking about. Are you sure they exist?

By the way, the other engines you mentioned are all geared towards first-person shooters.


ehe no I'm not sure, I thought PlayStation came with an engine.




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