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Re: [K12OSN] OT: Open Source counter-arguments

My responses are below, addressed to the author of this "piece".  This kind of tripe is all over the Internet; probably everyone on this list has already seen these pseudo-arguments multiple times.  It very often either comes from--or is used by--Microsoft's "Get the Facts" anti-Linux campaign.

BTW, who wrote this?

Do you GNU!?
Microsoft Free since 2003--the ultimate antivirus protection!

ahodson wrote:
Hi fellow k12osn - hope you have a few minutes to read and contribute in helping build a counter argument to the post below. I am looking to see
1) has anybody seen these arguments before (authenticity)
2) are you in a position to share counter-arguments (data/experiences/logic)?
3) Do you know of scholarly sources to accomplish #2?
========================== post ============================
"Here is what I have seen from the Open Source Community:

MOST, not all, of the programs are a generation or two BEHIND their commercial counterparts. That is because the open source community is not so much innovative, rather imitative. They wait and see what the big guys are doing and then imitate it. So, if you want to be a generation behind, then you use open source. So be it. That is not a bad thing. However, I prefer to be on the edge, for the most part.

Hmm...I guess that means that the Internet shouldn't exist?  The TCP/IP stack that just about everybody, including Microsoft, uses, came from BSD UNIX, released under the BSD license (a Free Software license) by UC Berkeley.  BIND, the Internet's DNS server and another Open Source package, literally scales to the Internet.  ISC DHCPD (also Free Software) remains the canonical DHCP server for a reason; it's really good.  Apache, the #1 Web server on the planet, came from NCSA HTTPD, which also was Free Software.  Furthermore, Microsoft's own IIS v6.0 Web server took its modular architectural queues straight from the Free-Software Apache, which had been doing for years before then.

Tatu Ylonen's Secure Shell was released originally as Free Software, and the OpenBSD team continues to extend and refine it.  That's why both Cisco and Sun Microsystems use OpenSSH in their products.  Yes, you read that right--Cisco.

As for being "on the edge," that's how you get broken functionality.  We call that "bleeding edge," and it's true regardless of which software package--or vendor, for that matter--that you choose.  Ask any major enterprise outside of Microsoft how often they upgrade their really important stuff.  It's not often.  It's why I run CentOS-based K12LTSP instead of Fedora-based K12LTSP.  I do my initial prototyping with the Fedora version--to see what's new--and the production deployment with the CentOS version.  It's also why all of my Sun boxes run Ubuntu Dapper Drake LTS instead of the latest Feisty Fawn (Solaris failed our usability tests).

IN essence, the OS community uses the software companies as their R&D arms, waiting to see what the next innovation will be that they can write into their software. They then copy the innovation, let it go into the open source world, and say "look how good we are at making something that is ALMOST like the original."

Actually, it's the other way around; see above.  Microsoft wouldn't have had a TCP/IP stack without BSD UNIX.  MS-DOS is itself a complete rip-off from both CP/M and BSD UNIX.  Easily displaying GUI applications remotely was an innovation done by the X11 team, copied later by Citrix and Microsoft.

Also, Microsoft has itself actually engaged in multiple theft instances.  The most famous of them was when MS stole Stac Electronics's disk compression software, which Microsoft claimed to have "innovated" in MS-DOS 6, in total violation of Stac's copyright.  Microsoft called it "DoubleSpace."  Who knows what else they've ripped off, since their source code repositories are not publicly available?

Sounds fair huh?

Well, no.  It is never fair when a firm like Microsoft copies someone else's functionality or even violates someone else's license and claims to have invented it...and then even tries to patent it!  Talk about chutzpah!

Look at GIMP for instance. Whenever Adobe comes out with the latest Photoshop, THEN the GIMP community comes out with an update that tries to match the feature set. Sometimes they do, sometimes they do not. But, GIMP is NOT Photoshop. That is because Photoshop, like many other commercial programs, have an ecosystem built around them that simply cannot be  matched by the OS community. Plug Ins, peripherals, books, training video, websites, all revolve around the commercial products.

Oh, really?  Maybe you'd better tell that to Disney, because they not only are heavy GIMP users, they also contributed to it, creating FilmGimp.  And I hear they're not the only ones....

And as for the "commercial ecosystem," puh-leeze.  I walk into my local Borders bookshop and see so many Red Hat, Ubuntu, and Sendmail books that it's dizzying.  Sendmail has more add-ons for it than any other MTA I've ever seen, and that includes MS Exchange.

I can get something that MAY be like the plug in I want to use in Photoshop, but to say a program IS JUST LIKE another program is in fact, a terrible misstatement.
True.  It's like trying to convince an Apple Mac user (read: most American schoolteachers) to willingly go to MS Windows.  Or that Microsoft Word is "just like WordPerfect."

The correct question is, does the tool--F/OSS or proprietary--do the job that you need done?  For Paul Nelson's graphic arts class, and several others, apparently that answer is yes, the GIMP is terrific.

But if you love Photoshop, I'm not going to try to stop you.

Is a Steak at Ruths Chris Steakhouse the same as a steak at Golden Corral? No, it is not. Yes, they are both steaks, but they are not the same. The experience is different, the taste is different. Yes, they will both fill you up, but...
Depends on the quality of the steak and your abilities as a cook.  I've had $3.95 steaks in Las Vegas--quite often--that were truly delicious!  The best chicken I've ever had was in Turkey, in a restaurant that you'd call a "dive", for $2.00, and the second best was in a so-called "dive" place called El Pollo Rico, in Washington, DC, which makes Peruvian-style chicken (it cost me less than $7.00).  No fancy expensive restaurant has ever come close to either place.  Ruth's Chris is good, no doubt...but I've out-grilled them at home several times before.

What matters to me a whole lot more is that I have the freedom to either go to Ruth's Chris, or grill my own in my backyard without fear of some ridiculous "patent lawsuit" from Ruth's Chris for grilling steaks in my backyard.

Finally, you cannot be in any conversation with an OS person without these words being uttered: "Why should we pay Microsoft for this or that?" Interesting. Why pay for anything? Why pay Dell for hardware? Why pay AT&T for connectivity? Why pay EXXON for gas? I don't understand the aversion to having to pay for something. The entire economy of the free world is based on this. You pay for goods and services.
That's true; why would I pay *Microsoft*...given that I don't want Microsoft's products?  Now, Red Hat, that's a different story; I'll gladly pay them for their product if I find it to be the best solution for my job at hand.  If not, I'll go to another F/OSS support vendor, e. g. Canonical, and buy their package.  Of course, if my staff already know what they're doing with GNU/Linux, then I don't need to purchase said support contract, and I can pour that money into other areas of my business or school, e. g. buying textbooks or printer supplies.

You're right...why would *anybody* willingly do business with Microsoft if they know there's a better alternative?  Maybe they're getting something under the table--"co-marketing dollars", maybe?  :-)

I always go back to the book [], the Cathedral and the Bazaar: A book about how paying for software was so bad...
Cost of the Book: $18.00.
Bull-loney.  That book is about development methodology.  Totally apples and oranges.  The Free Software movement has never been about not making money from Free Software; matter of fact, that's a core freedom that you *must* have.  Richard Stallman himself has made this clear for decades.  Steer yourself on over to http://www.gnu.org's philosophy section.  If you're really not either a Microsoft shill (read: "independent" tech journalist) or an MCSE scared of losing your job, then you'll actually read it.

The aforementioned Red Hat seems to do quite a fine business of making money by selling bundles of Free Software and Support Services for it.  So do the smaller outfits that we have contracted with at my district.  For example, we paid a PERL hacker plenty of good money to add authentication and authorization to NMIS 3.3.3, to use it as a replacement for the (HORRIBLY expensive) HP OpenView Network Node Manager, which we got rid of.  In the first year, that PERL hacker's work more than paid for itself.

Today, NMIS 4.2.12 has that code merged in, and the upstream devs are maintaining it.

It seems paying for something is okay, as long as it is OS stuff..."
No, wrong; it's about not wanting to be forced to pay for something that I don't want in the first place.  What's not okay is forcing a "Microsoft tax" on people who want to buy your computer without Microsoft Windows pre-loaded on it.  I don't want MS Windows, so don't try to "inextricably" bundle it with a hardware purchase.

And since you mentioned Ruth's Chris, perhaps you'd like for them to bundle a chicken with that steak that you ordered--a chicken that you don't want and didn't ask for--and then expect you to pay for it?  Would that be "okay"?

====================== end of post ===================================
Thanks for the help
El Paso TX

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