Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Diversity, Choice, Competition

In a LinuxInsider Linux News Commentary, Open-Source Projects Are Not All the Same, Frank Hayes makes the important point that, while both Linux and OpenSolaris are both really Open Source, they differ in important ways. Different models, different communities, different licenses. Diversity is good; competition can only improve both.

The article has a couple of errors though.

The first error is the statement that:

But those patents can only be used with Sun's code. Changing the code means losing the patent protection.

Which is plain wrong. The patent protection stays with the code. That's the whole point of the CDDL.

The second is the statement that both are competing for the attentions of the same developers. They aren't (and it continues the myth that Linux is a volunteer project - interestingly, the OpenSolaris community outside of Sun does have a lot of individuals rather than being largely corporate).

In the same vein, James Governor makes the point that there is no single Open Source Community. There are lots of communities. And, when asked

Don't other open source communities wonder at the vocal minority of Linux fans talking for them?

Yes, we do! But it's not Linux fans, as such - it's just a noisy minority who presume (incorrectly) to speak for the community.

There's not just choice and diversity in code and licenses. There's choice and competition from different products. Like the recently released Solaris 10 and Red Hat's RHEL4. Our friend SJVN builds this up as a great battle with this provocative quote:

"It's the beginning of the end for Solaris in the enterprise,"

The reality is somewhat different - Solaris is wildly popular, while RHEL4 isn't exactly bowling all reviewers over. The reality is that both are going to be around, and have success, for a long while.

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