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Does your boss believe open source is better?

By FreeLinuxCD.org in MLP
Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 08:06:55 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

If you are developer using open source software such as PHP, MySQL, Linux etc, you may be having a hard time explaining your upper management why you want to go with open source instead of proprietary closed source software from the software giants.

There's a great article in InfoWorld talking about how open source is gaining ground. While the article is not perfect, it is clear enough for your boss to understand without knowing a lot about open source and free software. The company I work for currently makes use of PHP/MySQL/mSQL/Linux/FreeBSD but they are considering Windows/ASP/Oracle because that's what everybody (they know) is doing. I think this article will help me a lot when I have to make a point about staying with open source solutions. I would love to hear from people working in big companies that make use of open source software.

Oktay Altunergil
Founder of the Free Linux CD Project


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


I use PHP because ..
o I am not a real programmer. 8%
o I am lazy. 1%
o It's simple. 3%
o It does the job and does is it well. 32%
o My web host supports it. 0%
o This is a lame poll... 54%

Votes: 109
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o article in InfoWorld
o Free Linux CD Project
o Also by FreeLinuxCD.org

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Does your boss believe open source is better? | 40 comments (32 topical, 8 editorial, 1 hidden)
Correction to the article... (3.00 / 2) (#7)
by Holloway on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 07:36:53 PM EST

PHP (personal home page)
Nope, it stands for Hypertext Preprocessor (yes, I know). I've emailed the author.

== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

Close (4.25 / 4) (#8)
by zantispam on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 07:41:21 PM EST

PHP Hypertext Preprocessor.

Ahhh..wonderful recursive backronyms...

Free Duxup!
[ Parent ]
PHP Hypertext Preprocessor (3.66 / 3) (#9)
by FreeLinuxCD.org on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 07:42:25 PM EST

I had mailed the editor in the morning.

cool signature by the way. I think that's what kuro5hin *editors* do to you.

[ Parent ]

Correction to the correction (none / 0) (#13)
by simmons75 on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 01:52:12 AM EST

I wish I could find the interview, but I found an interview with one of the main instigators of PHP, and apparently at one time PHP stood for Personal Home Page, but is just PHP now.
So there.

[ Parent ]
Open source && closed mind (4.00 / 10) (#10)
by abdera on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 07:56:19 PM EST

Why should you need to use open source as a crutch? Why not explain why PHP is better than ASP and MySQL is better than Oracle? Being cavalier about an open source "movement" just makes the open source "movement" look just plain silly.

Instead, it would make more sense to research the benefits of BOTH products with an impartial eye and propose the better of the two. In doing so you'll have plenty of evidence to support your choice.

Personally the only reason that I prefer PHP/MySQL/FreeBSD to ASP/Oracle/Windows is because I know a little bit about how they work. The only reason for that is that I didn't have to fork over a bunch of cash to get my hands on it. This is certainly a great benefit for me to use those particular tools, but I certainly wouldn't use that as my only reason to convince management not to use the alternatives. That smacks of the "but I only know Windows" mentality.

You will not be able to convince any respectable employer to use a tool because it's open source. You need to tell them why a product will benefit them, not the open source 'community.'

BTW a lot of open source software sucks.

#224 [deft-:deft@98A9C369.ipt.aol.com] at least i don't go on aol

I agree with this sentiment... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by Sairon on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 11:30:55 AM EST

My boss is firmly in the Miscrosoft trench because it makes him money. That is, before I came.

I inherited a death-march database application written completely in Access 97, which will soon be based on MySQL. Why? Because it performs better and I could prove it. I got one of senior developers on my side by showing him how MySQL works, and all the tools available for interoperability of Access and MySQL. He was rather impressed. He was even more impressed when I told him what it would cost us.

We are also an ISP. Recently our customers have noticed some slow-down leading our net admin to look into a caching server. Keep in mind this man is little concerned with Linux or Open Source, and knows Windows in and out. His choice for the caching server? Squid. Does it run on Windows? No. Am I helping him set up a linux server with Squid? Yes.

The only way anyone can forward an open source ideal in a business is to highlight the benefits of the specific product that is better than the alternatives, THEN show them the price, then show them that with your knowledge and the source code, most problems can be solved.

It's nearly the same as convincing an employer to open their source up. The project I'm working on, I hope to bring open source. I've developed the pricing structure for version 1.0 so that service and support is more profitable than pure sales. This, I hope will lead the way to free software from my company.


[ Parent ]

explanation doesn't matter (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by gregholmes on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 12:21:41 PM EST

The problem is that even when the superiority of a given solution is explained, it doen't seem to matter.

Due to the politics involved I don't want to get too specific in my examples ... it just seems that if no rep shows up with a PowerPoint presentation and a lunch budget, no one listens.

I've been so tempted to put on a mustache and a visitor's badge ...

[ Parent ]
Limited choices (5.00 / 2) (#28)
by abdera on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 03:12:31 PM EST

If your boss refuses to use demonstrably superior software for something as trivial as a spiffy ppt and a full belly, you have 2 choices. Suck it up and drive on, or find yourself a better boss. Not a choice that anyone relishes.

The moustache and visitor's badge route seems workable, but remember to put a lot of flashy, swooshy animations in you ppt and be sure to use the racecar "vroom!" sound a lot.

#224 [deft-:deft@98A9C369.ipt.aol.com] at least i don't go on aol
[ Parent ]

open source in the business world. (2.33 / 6) (#14)
by rebelcool on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 02:22:36 AM EST

Depends on what *kind* of open source, but for the moment I will assume GPL'd open source. GPL is bad for business. GPL is about as good for business as communism (i'll save that for another discussion)

Why is this? I shall quote from the license:

"This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details."

No warranty. What if something doesn't work? Who do you turn to? Where is the liability? Where does the blame go? Let me relate my own problem. Some of you may have heard of GNUJSP. I've been trying to make the latest version of it work. I have repeatedly e-mailed the list. No replies. One of the authors *finally* wrote me. I wrote him back..still no reply. Time is money. I cannot sit around and wait 2, 3 weeks for somebody to get around to answering my questions. And neither can a business. This is why businesses will spend thousands of extra dollars just so they have someone to turn to in case something fails.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Open source in the business world (4.16 / 6) (#15)
by kaemaril on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 05:32:29 AM EST

"This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE"

Is this a problem with the GPL? I've seen much the same wording used in commercial licenses.

As to apportioning blame, liability, etc... well, most companies I've seen go out of their way to make absolutely certain that even if their software nukes your PC from low-earth orbit, it's somehow not their fault. Microsoft, anyone?

If companies were truly up for supporting their software, you wouldn't need to spend thousands on after-sales support contracts, you'd report a problem and they would fix it.

After sales support is where a lot of these companies get their money these days. Personally, I have a sneaking feeling sometimes that it's in their best interests to introduce a bug or two...

Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?

[ Parent ]
It's common practice. From the IE 5.5 License: (5.00 / 3) (#16)
by lucas on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 07:01:48 AM EST

>This program is distributed in the hope that it will be
>useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the
implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A
>PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License
>for more details.
>No warranty. What if something doesn't work? Who
>do you turn to? Where is the liability? Where does
>the blame go?

This would have taken just 5 seconds to verify.

I mean, while in this web browser, just check out your IE 5.5 license - I assume you're using Windows (under "Help -> About Internet Explorer -> Copyright").


No software has a warranty... and if you don't cover your ass with a disclaimer, you are setting yourself up for trouble.

>GPL is about as good for business as communism

If you're going to make a statement like this, back it up with some sort of substance. I use it in my business with much success and I also use proprietary software such as Quickbooks (e.g., for double-entry accounting), too.

Maybe you should try owning a business before making statements about what is good and what is not good for business. Having no strings attached, for instance in your example, is great for business. As service-providers and other vendors rush toward your new business (as they know that people who have just started are often ignorant), right and left, trying to get money out of you, you'll find that GPL'ed software is refreshing. No salesperson will call, you won't get put onto a mailing list, and no information is transmitted about you over your Internet connection. I bought a software package at a particular place only to have the manufacturer of the product call me up and try to sell me more (the store sells the business information to the manufacturer). Larger businesses can (and will) do very unethical things to smaller businesses that they would not be able to do with consumers, particularly in software.

[ Parent ]

gpl and communism. (2.66 / 3) (#26)
by rebelcool on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 01:18:25 PM EST

For the record, i'm not anti-gpl, or anti-communist. They both represent utopias. But this is a capitalist world currently, and business is about money. GPL'd software in my opinion isn't good for alot of businesses. This isn't true for all of them, but my own experience with it is what shapes my views.

No warranty. IE doesn't come with a warranty..but is IE critical for your systems? My main problem with not having a warranty is when you've got servers running that NEED the software (gnujsp in my case, is such a piece) for your business to be successful. When uptime is money, quick and accurate support is needed. And businesses (particularly large ones) will pay the extra for that.

The GPL is communistic in the way it enforces the way that you can't make money from it. You cannot sell GPL'd software. You may sell a *medium*, but with broadband connections widely available, whats the point in buying that when you can download it? You get a book perhaps? The internet is full of much more information than you'll find in a book.

This is why companies such as RedHat are going down the drain. Their investors finally realize there is something flawed about trying to make money from something you cannot legally make money from. It wouldn't be so bad, except RedHat is not exactly diversified in their products.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

however (4.50 / 2) (#17)
by gregholmes on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 07:09:20 AM EST

I would agree with you completely, if I had not seen with my own eyes the complete opposite.

We get varying levels of support, mostly crappy, for the expensive licenses we purchase. We still have a large IT department that does all the installing, configuring, testing, troubleshooting, etc. it is just that we do all that and pay huge license fees, that makes no sense.

I just got the "who to sue" argument in a meeting two days ago, and it is as absurd as it has always been. We have never sued IBM or Microsoft (or Sybase or Oracle or ...) and we never will (successfully, anyway). Of course IANAL, but I have eyes.

So basically, we should pay these huge fees in the hope that some court somewhere will invalidate the part of the license protecting the vendor? Unethical and financially stupid all at once.

And if you want a counter experience, htdig's top developer has responded to my questions two or three times in less than a day, including suggesting a small but powerful change to the source that made my life a lot easier after recompile.

[ Parent ]
Good! (3.66 / 3) (#18)
by TheLocust on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 09:02:26 AM EST

This is good MLP, and frankly, I'm in the same boat along with him. I have tried (unsuccessfully) to get a little Apache/Linux/PHP setup here at my work (a web development company), but little stock is put into "non-commercially support software", as they like to call it.

Someone needs to write a Linux-Advocacy-for-the-Workplace HOWTO.

.......o- thelocust -o.........
ignorant people speak of people
average people speak of events
great people speak of ideas

Commercial support is available (none / 0) (#27)
by abdera on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 03:02:51 PM EST

Apache has commercial support available as does MySQL. Haven't seen any for PHP though.

#224 [deft-:deft@98A9C369.ipt.aol.com] at least i don't go on aol
[ Parent ]

Unfortunately... (none / 0) (#32)
by TheLocust on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 04:18:55 PM EST

that was a sticking point with them, though PHP's documentation is second to none on the web. And frankly, I don't know of ANYONE who has called MS Tech Support over a VBScript issue...
.......o- thelocust -o.........
ignorant people speak of people
average people speak of events
great people speak of ideas

[ Parent ]
ASP.NET (3.50 / 2) (#20)
by madbilly on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 11:10:07 AM EST

Maybe this time my comment won't be deleted.

I use ASP.NET and c# because it has more functionality and is much faster, in my experience, than PHP. I continue to use PHP and MySQL on my personal page, however, because they are perfectly suited for this.

It is for these reasons that my company switched from using PHP to ASP.NET. Yes, it's still beta software, but it looks promising.

your comment.. (none / 0) (#22)
by FreeLinuxCD.org on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 11:55:34 AM EST

Why would your comment be deleted?

[ Parent ]
hidden comment. (none / 0) (#34)
by Defect on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 07:49:09 AM EST

The comment was rated 0 by a bunch of people and all comments that have an average rating of less than 1 are hidden from the general public. The only users who have the ability to rate less than one and see those comments are trusted users (check the faq)

The comment (which consisted of four words, ASP.NET is king) was kind of borderline for a zero rating. (zero ratings are reserved for spam, hardcore trolls, and other nuisances.) It didn't offer any insight as to why "ASP.NET is king" and it sounded like more of an advertisement than anything.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
[ Parent ]
Haha! (2.50 / 2) (#23)
by AgentGray on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 11:58:43 AM EST

My boss is so enthralled with Macintosh, she has no clue.

However, there have been few instances where she jumped at it, and it has benefitted us in the long run.

Off-Topic: Macintoshes (3.50 / 2) (#25)
by titivillus on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 12:54:20 PM EST

My first real computer was a Tandy 8088, but my first real cool computer experience was with Macintosh. My first degree was Journalism and Mass Communication with a News-Editorial focus, and at that time (~1990) the layout business was Mac. So I started with Mac, and my first post-school computer was a Mac Performa.

Since then, I went back and got a degree in CS. In my home, I have 3 PCs running Win98, a Linux router and a dual-boot Linux/Be system. I also have a Mac Classic, the Performa, a 030 machine, and an early-PPC mac. None of the Macs currently receive power.

I was looking for a NIC at the local CircusCity and overheard a couple of older (I'm 31, and these guys had at least 20 on me) guys talking about Macs. One of the guys said "I'd gladly pay extra for a Mac."

This comment got my goat. It shouldn't have, but it did. Not just because the fastest Mac I own is maybe about 66MHz. Not because I'm offended that a computer might be bright green or something. Not because I believe that everyone should have the same kind of computer.

I think it is the closed-mindedness of it. I've tried Mac and like 'em, but the cost increase doesn't come with too much added benefit. I've tried Windows (the rest of my family's machines at home, NT at work) and while the underlying OS sucks donkey scat, the user interface is mostly acceptable. I use Linux and Unix and Be, but I am not dogmatic about others using them.

And "I'd pay extra for a Mac" is directly in conflict with "not much added benefit", I guess.

I guess I felt those two, at least, were smug and annoying. A fairly common feeling about that generation, I hear, and also a common feeling about Mac users. Perhaps I'm just decending into stereotype. Just what I need. I just hope I didn't sound like that when I used Macs. And that I don't sound like that when I talk about Linux.

[ Parent ]
Nice... (3.00 / 2) (#29)
by jdtux on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 03:46:22 PM EST

Well, the problem I'm having at the moment is trying to get OSS into school, particularly, Linux. Basically, we don't have a real sysadmin at school, and the teacher's that decide everything about the comps are too stupid and won't listen to me anymore. They seem to think that the novell network works fine, when the proxy server is continually going up and down, and our software is so outdated, it's not even funny. Latest software: PSP6 and MS FrontPage(blek!!!) 2k. We still use claris works 3.0 and wordperfect 6 as office suites....

Anway, good luck!!

P.S. I got sick of ASP because I tried using it with the crappy little PWS that comes with win98, and it REARELY ever worked right, and when it did, not for long. I finally got into PHP after looking into MySQL, because they're both free :) and apache for windows is nice and stable(even though I do all my development in Linux now...)

PHP use (1.50 / 2) (#30)
by delmoi on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 03:52:31 PM EST

I do *not* use it....
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
but (none / 0) (#31)
by FreeLinuxCD.org on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 04:17:48 PM EST

it kind of wouldn't be an appropriate answer when you look at how the poll question was designed, would it?

[ Parent ]
re: PHP use (none / 0) (#33)
by xriso on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 06:18:43 PM EST

In that case, do *not* vote... :)
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]
Problem with Open Source Software (OverHyped) (3.75 / 4) (#35)
by darthaya on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 12:12:41 PM EST

1: No motivations for opening a business: For everyone one new OSS company out there, there will be 4 or 5 or even more CSS company. And the chances are the CSS company will survive, until the day people figure out how they can make a living out of OSS business model. I work in a small software company, we LIVE on our source code. The company policy includes not to bring the source code out of the office, much less to make it OPEN to our competitors. And every successful company grows out of a small shop.

2: Lack of talent: Yes, there are lots of deadly smart people writting OSS, but think about it, they dont make a dime out of it. (Does Linus get paid for writting Linux kernels?) And for the people who actually do, (like the mozilla people) they take a lot of accusations and pressure from the geek communities. (For all the shit that got shoved on mozilla, if i were them, i would have said "fuck it" and quit) Most of the OSS people write software on their free time, though, how many programmers working in a professional world, would come back home and do the same stuff again as they do in the office? And dont tell me they can then do the thing they like to do. Programming isn't about programming for some specific platform. It is a creation of art. As long as you are comfortable with your tools, you will be comfortable with your job. (which is not the case in Linux, but I will leave that to later)

When there is no money, there is no motivations for participation. (you can't strut your ego for too long. people living like ESR are just bad for capitalism system) And without careful management and face-2-face contact, there is no design in large projects. I haven't known many great/originaly OSS out there. Even the greatest Linux, is just a clone out of the good, old UNIX.

3: VERY poor documentation and lack of technical support: I am in a project for porting our company's flagship product to linux. In the early stage, I even had to look hard for the documentation on datatypes.(Dont we wish there is somethign like (L)inux (D)evelopment (N)etwork)

For the technical support part. What if you have problems with one of the OSS you use? People dont have to take responsibilities for the stuff they write. So basically, you will have to take the 10,000 source code, and swallow it. Now that is something nice to tell your customer: "you have a problem? Take the source, and fix it yourself! Just dont forget to send a patch so that we can have our OSS reputation".

I can't simply count how many times OSS crashed on me. Surprisingly, my NT box can stand for quite a long time. BUt that contributes to the lack of talent, and lack of devotion. The software I was using was probrably written by a sophormore who used a lot of malloc but forgot to free somewhere. There was no code reviews, no senior engineers helping you. You practice on your customers. <shiver>

Sorry about this long rant. I have had enough from the typical slashdot-type sys-admin people who started the spam of "Winblowz" and "Lirox". It is finally a time to take it off my chest. OSS is so overhyped than the stock market. Because when it crashes, people still don't realize it.

Re: Problem with Open Source Software (OverHyped) (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by b15h0p on Sun Dec 31, 2000 at 08:42:06 PM EST

Hi, I just want to comment briefly on your comments:

1. I don't see the correlation you try to make between using OSS in a business (what the article is about), and having a business model based on selling OSS (which seems to be what you're commenting on). In general, I would agree with you, it would be difficult to make enough revenue off an OSS product(s) to keep a business running. The obvious exceptions, of course would be the distro companies (Red Hat, Debian, etc.)

2. In regard to lack of talent in participation, I would say that this is a broad overgeneralization. Sure, most developers and project managers that are worth a darn are going off to make the big bucks. However, that doesn't prevent some of them from volunteering their time back to the OSS community. Also, there are many people involved because they see it as a great way to get themselves noticed, to build a portfolio.

3. Poor documentation, well, this is hard to argue with. But, this is not unique to OSS. There is a ton of documentation for Windows, and a great deal for Linux. I could list a large number of CSS application that don't have decent documentation and have terrible support. Also, the crack about testing on customers isn't unique to OSS - it's called Beta. I'd be concerned about a product not tested by customers. And no code review? It's called Open Source for a reason - you get to look at the code. If it's buggy, don't use it!

My point is, for every negative example of OSS you give, I could come up with one of CSS. The difference is, OSS requires a different paradigm to fully understand its value. It's not for everyone, there're a lot of bad examples out there, and it will be a while before you see the number of good OSS apps that you find in CSS. But, there are a few very good ones out there with great support that can fill a need in many companies. I've seen case studies of situations where it was more cost effective for a company to take one of those good OSS apps and let their internal developers provide support than to pay licensing for a commercial product.

[ Parent ]

Another article... (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by FreeLinuxCD.org on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 05:07:31 PM EST

Another infoworld article about open source databases.

Oktay Altunergil

bosses without prejudice are easier to convince (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by neurophage on Mon Jan 01, 2001 at 07:41:06 AM EST

like duh, right? :) I just wanted to say that I'm working for a web-based project physically located in South Asia (that's right, not America :) which is run NOT by a corporation, but by a big, venerable (around for about twenty years, I believe) NGO. The NGO in question is, of course, non-profit, and though it has a sort of communications-for-development theme, this project (located at www.ctrlaltesc.org and just about moving out of beta, thank Bob) is their first ever web project. It was intended (before they hired the geeks) to be a general web-community thing. After they hired us, we suggested that they shift the entire thing to Linux, Apache and Slashcode, which they did after asking only a few, fairly reasonable questions about open-source vs. closed-source. I think in America and Europe there's a lot of counterpropaganda being circulated by er, vested interests, in the memepool against open-source, which is lacking in Asia, where Linux seems to be picking up speed quite quickly- the project I'm working on isn't the only OSS-using one I know of that's due out this year. and while I'm here, can I put in a shameless plug for www.ctrlaltesc.org and ask for your comments and -dare I say it- participation? :) much obliged.
http://www.ctrlaltesc.org | hey, I just work here.
Reasons for working on OS projects (none / 0) (#39)
by slaytanic killer on Tue Jan 02, 2001 at 05:58:08 AM EST

Reading the comments to this article, I think that no one ever explains why people work on open sourced projects. People say "Open Source" so often, that these become mind-numbing phrases.

There are many reasons... getting money for something often requires significant infrastructure and responsibilities that have little to do with the program itself... investors are even worse than slashdot kiddies, whom one can ignore... more room to learn... letting the widest possible audience see your code, sort of like open advocacy in science...

My boss believes that Open Source is Free (none / 0) (#40)
by PenguinWrangler on Tue Jan 02, 2001 at 07:23:47 AM EST

That's as in "Costs Nothing". And that's good enough for him. This is why we have Linux on our firewall, web server, DNS machines, and a Linux fileserver standing alongside our NT server (If Samba get the PDC working properly, and I manage to teach our Support department how to use it, we may use linux as our primary fileserver).
The head of the company is no great Microsoft fan, and if we can have something that works as well as or better than, and which comes without a big price attached, that suits him down to the ground!
This was how I got Linux into this company in the first place.

"Information wants to be paid"
Does your boss believe open source is better? | 40 comments (32 topical, 8 editorial, 1 hidden)
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