The Case for Commercial Open Source Software | SUSE Communities

The Case for Commercial Open Source Software



There does not seem to be much organised crime in Newbury, (away from the racecourse). The closest to this is the mass gaming of the “free” coffee offer, by the elderly generation, in the Waitrose next to the Micro Focus HQ. Officially this curious Business Plan allows a loyalty card holder one hot beverage per day, with or without a purchase. Add in to the caffeinated heady mix, unattended self-service coffee machines, bring your own (BYO) cup and Cup for life. This leaves wide open the opportunity to fill any suitable receptacle with freshly ground coffee on tap. For those with time on their hands, this provides a totally cost free day out, especially with the over 60s bus pass, and as much coffee as they can handle.

The antithesis of “free” is especially evident in Shadid Khan’s £70 million superyacht which is back on the Thames. Items can be very expensive, such as a work of art, without being like a vacuum bomb for resources, both in the physical sense and labour. This is conspicuous consumption at its pinnacle. His team, the Jackonsville Jaguars’ play against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. The Pakistani-American business, who is also chairman of Fulham Football Club, brings the Kismet to the Thames for the American football fixture at Wembley. The 390 foot vessel, is one of the World’s 25 largest superyachts. Bombproof superyacht ‘Motor Yacht A’ owned by Russian tycoon Andrey Melnichenko, worth over $320 million, recently moored at the same spot on the River Thames. It costs a mere £2,000 per day to moor downstream from HMS Belfast.

Open Source Software is “free”. So is water and the air. Almost all of us breathe air without a second thought. There may be pollution concerns or inner city issues. However, only in extreme cases, such as elite athletes sleeping in oxygen rich bubbles, or stars like Michael Jackson who invest in air consumption.

Water is a different matter. We may swim in the sea, lake or river, but we definitely make a judgement call on the state of the water before we dive in. Drinking water is a wholly more different matter. In the developed World the water has been treated and is delivered via the tap or perhaps a fancy designer bottle. Would a Mother or Father take their child to a river to drink directly from a river?

The Open Source Initiative is a marketing program for “free” software. It is a pitch for “free software” on solid pragmatic grounds rather than ideological tub-thumping. Subscription customers of commercial open source companies, like SUSE, are allowed to use the software in production environments, and get minor and maintenance releases which include bug fixes and security patches, as well as support and legal indemnification. Only they get the source code for these minor and maintenance releases. The water analogy is the water from your tap or designer bottle. The water has been purified, checked and maintains reliable standards so you can completely trust the water to consume yourself or quench the thirst of your own child.

Peter Levine, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz has argued that the open source business model is flawed because selling maintenance and support subscriptions does not provide companies with enough revenue to differentiate their products from the underlying open source software or to compete with the sales and marketing efforts of proprietary software companies. Levine’s argument only has a case for companies commercialising open source software using GPL-type licenses. He is clearly wrong. He does not consider the passion, drive, intellect and enthusiasm of those that work and represent the competing distributions.

There are two significant, very differently structured and backed, distributions in the Linux World. The Green corner is more than ready for the battle and to serve SUSE customers better than the competition.

Go Green. Choose SUSE for your Linux distribution, OpenStack project or non-tier 0/1 storage.

SUSECON is in Washington, D.C. November 7-11 2016. Have you booked your place?

Jon Speirs, SUSE


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