Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Open Source Oracle Sun Microsystems

Open Community vs. Open Code 141

Posted by kdawson
from the fork-that dept.
snydeq writes "Recent silence regarding the future of OpenSolaris under Oracle's hand has InfoWorld blogger Savio Rodrigues questioning the relative importance of open code. 'Source code availability is a central factor in establishing trust in the open source community, as knowledge that the source is available can often allay fears about the future of a particular open source project or product. And yet, this trust can often be overstated,' Rodrigues writes. Members of the OpenSolaris community have been agitating for Oracle to clarify its plans for OpenSolaris in the wake of its acquisition of Sun, with some suggesting a fork as a way of severing ties. But, as Rodrigues points out, 'The community around an open source project or product can certainly be vibrant without having the resources to support a fork. In fact, this is true for many open source communities, which count numerous members, very few of whom would be qualified to develop the open source project further should a fork occur. Worse, even fewer would be interested in doing so.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Open Community vs. Open Code

Comments Filter:
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drolli (522659) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @01:39AM (#31885636) Journal

    So the short and neutral for of this article is:

    A company opening the source to a given product at a given time may decide that - upon seeing not enough external developers jumping on - that it may be not worth continuing this effort. And the "community of administrators and users" complains they dont have enough programmers to fork it on their own.

    How to say: Congratulations. But you know that *working* open source ecosystems also include programmers.

  • Recent talk regarding the lack of stability in MSFT's stock price under Steve Ballmer's hand has Slashdot commenter questioning the relative importance of closed-source code. 'Having availability of large assets is a central factor in establishing trust in the business community, as knowledge that the assets are available can often allay fears about the liability of a particular business product. And yet, this trust can often be overstated, the commenter pint out. Members of the business community have been

  • Let's not forget that Sun bought MySQL, which competes with Oracle's core database products.
    • by fm6 (162816)

      Does not. Completely different user base.

    • And AFAIK the originators of the whole project are already forking it... Oracle can try to kill MySQL off but due to community having both code and programmers, its not really possible.
    • by jadavis (473492)

      In contrast to MySQL and OpenSolaris, PostgreSQL is one of the most open communities around. The core members are spread among several companies, it's BSD licensed with no requirement to assign copyright, and the community is made up of a wide variety of people. Not only that, they have established, effective, and written policies for release management, patch review/acceptance, etc.

  • If you choose a GPL app for your critical infrastructure, you're pretty safe. If the vendor, sponsor, developers and everybody else involved drops it you can support it yourself until you can migrate to another platform or just become the primary fork. Choosing GPL means never having to say "oops", unless you're the kind of fool that wants to take a GPL app proprietary.

    A commercial closed-source app? No, you're maintaining legacy hardware that supports it until you can't get parts on Ebay any more, and

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by im_thatoneguy (819432)

      Assuming development continues. If the open source app isn't staying competitive with alternatives then you're in just as bad of straits as being a closed source customer.

      I've seen numerous open source projects just completely die. I've seen numerous closed source projects just completely die. Usually unless you're a top 5% company you can't afford to continue development yourself long enough to make any meaningful contribution. It's usually easier to adjust your infrastructure than it is to continue d

      • by symbolset (646467)

        Maybe you need a remedial education in Turing.

        Despite what software vendors like Microsoft and Oracle would tell you, bits don't actually rot. Software doesn't age. It's a mathematical construct that works or doesn't. If it worked once then it always will and if it didn't who cares?

        Open projects that have no utility are out of scope for my comment. If you use it and you need it, naturally you'll adopt it. And if nobody uses it or would adopt it maybe it's best stored in the archive against future nee

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          The bits may not rot, but the speed and power available can be more than the program can handle. If a program was designed around a 1GHz X86 and a 100MHz IDE drive with 64-128Mb of RAM, and you are running octa-core x64 with SSD and 16Gb of RAM, can you fix it if it messes up? Would it even work correctly or at all without a total rewrite?

          Open Source or not depending on how the program was designed it may or may not have the ability to run on the uber fast machines of today, or be able to deal with the ne

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by greg1104 (461138)

          All non-trivial software nowadays is built with an enormous reliance on some set of shared libraries. As time marches on, those libraries will diverge from the ones the software originally compiled against. Eventually, some API will drift enough that code stops working, and that's where the most difficult to avoid bit rot comes from.

          Yes, you can keep code going without rot forever if you can completely freeze the build/deployment environment. But that's rarely practical. Eventually you will need a newer

        • Despite what software vendors like Microsoft and Oracle would tell you, bits don't actually rot. Software doesn't age. It's a mathematical construct that works or doesn't. If it worked once then it always will and if it didn't who cares?

          Software doesn't age but our competition isn't standing still.

          If we were still using 4 year old software we would be less efficient and create less work every day. Being slower. Being more expensive and less profitable would cause us to fall behind. Lots of software today is advancing at an incredible rate. What would have taken an hour a few years ago can now be done 15 minutes. If your software can't keep up then you're wasting money.

          Development is expensive so we only spend our own time and money

  • Forked to death (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aws4y (648874) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @02:06AM (#31885708) Homepage Journal
    I am wondering, why OpenSolaris should even continue?, its not like there is no open UNIX available for x86, you have the BSD family, and even though its not a UNIX you have GNU/Linux. If you are running on Sparc hardware it may be worth it but methinks that oracle might have been interesting in Solaris as a way of getting away from linux.
    • ZFS.
        • Re:Forked to death (Score:4, Informative)

          by this great guy (922511) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @05:00AM (#31886102)

          First link: author is vague and incorrect; OpenSolaris supports most common onboard SATA controllers. I have personally run it on nVidia MCP55 and above, Intel ICH7 and above, AMD SB600 and above, and OpenSolaris usually support all these very common chipsets/onboard SATA controllers.
          Second link: the author is using unsupported dev builds of OpenSolaris.
          Third link: the post is 2 years old and evidence suggests unreliable hardware.
          Fourth link: the author complains about FreeBSD, not OpenSolaris.
          Fifth link: the author concluded corruption was caused by unreliable hardware.

          Search for "$NAME_OF_TECHNOLOGY unreliable" and google will always return thousands of results.

          Personally I have a rather pleasant experience with ZFS. I have been using it for 3+ years at work and at home on 5-6 machines with about 50 drives total. It has been rock solid so far. And it has saved my life a couple times when drives died.

          • Thanks for looking at each of those links. If this is the best FUD that can be brought to bear on ZFS, it's actually very encouraging. I searched myself for horror stories a few weeks ago, and did not find any that I thought were conclusive.

            I've been using FreeBSD for several months now, specifically for ZFS. The more I play with it, the more I like it. Of course, if it wasn't for the few years of running Ubuntu, I wouldn't have built up the skillset or the patience to tinker with things until they work,

            • by makomk (752139)

              It's not the worst horror stories out there. One sysadmin a few years ago discovered that, if you get the right corruption in a ZFS volume, the ZFS driver will cause a kernel panic when trying to mount it. The data's still there and can be recovered, it's just that you can't do it without manually delving into the filesystem and cleaning it up: the ZFS driver wasn't robust enough. This has probably been fixed by now, though.

          • Also note the parent poster's first link is a couple of years old, in addition to your comments.

            ZFS *can* run into problems if it's run on cheap hard disks that try to boost their performance numbers by returning immediately from a cache flush request instead of actually writing the data to the platters first, but that's not a problem with ZFS itself. Most of the issues that I've seen regarding ZFS have been the end result of the storage subsystem not honoring flush semantics, or the result of a RAID co
      • by calzakk (1455889)

        Is that it? Isn't there something else OpenSolaris offers that nothing else does? Anything?!

        If that's truly the case, then it's already dead and ZFS will soon/eventually get into Linux, if indeed it's actually worth it.

        • Right now, OpenSolaris is the only operating system that supports ZFS in the kernel *and* is capable of being a Xen dom0, in addition to offering its own native VM capability via Zones. FreeBSD supports ZFS and recently achieved the ability to run as a domU, but you're SOL if you actually want to host VMs on it under Xen, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

          Linux already supports ZFS via FUSE, but the performance sucks and can't really get much better since it's limited to running in userspace.
          • by Xtifr (1323)

            The GPL and CDDL (which ZFS is licensed under) are fundamentally incompatible with each other

            That's true at the moment, but the company which just bought ZFS is known to be very active in Linux development, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to think that the license might change in the not-too-distant future, especially if Solaris looks to be reaching end-of-life.

  • Free as in Future (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kainosnous (1753770) <kainosnous@lavabit.com> on Sunday April 18, 2010 @02:29AM (#31885756) Homepage

    There are many reasons why Open Source is good. The availability of developers is only one reason. Even if there seems to be a lack of competent developers ready to take over the project, simply having that potential can mean all the difference. If nothing else, the more eyes on the code, the more likely that bugs can be found and reported. At some point all closed source software will become unmaintained because technology changes, and there is only a finite set of resources. OSS, however, is always available to tinker with, even long after it seems to be worthwhile. As a comparison, think about older cars. They don't have all the bells and whistles, but still have value because they can still be worked on long after their respective companies moved on to newer models.

    As a user of OSS, I prefer it even if there is a slightly better closed source alternative. Even though I very rarely look at that actual code, it's nice to know that it is there. It also says a lot about the company when they close up the code. I'm sure that others feel that way too. I don't mind if you sell your product, but I feel that once I buy it, it should be mine to take apart.

    Sadly, Microsoft is a great example of how well closed source and good marketing can be. That is why I secretly want that giant to fall. I still think there is an unfortunately large number of people who don't care where their stuff comes from and what the real cost is as long as it works for the short term.

    • by GF678 (1453005) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @05:03AM (#31886112)

      I still think there is an unfortunately large number of people who don't care where their stuff comes from and what the real cost is as long as it works for the short term.

      There's a reason for that - the open-source community hasn't been able to successfully present a long term disadvantage to using closed-source tech that people can relate to.

      I'm still using Windows because I honestly can't see a long term disadvantage in doing so. By using it I have all the software I could possibly want, guaranteed compatibility with current and future hardware, and so on. I've tried Linux and all I end up with is compromises to tangible things I want to do with my computer. If long term issues become foreseeable with Windows, then I can give it the flick and change to something else.

      You HAVE to present to people a tangible long term issue with using closed-source software that they can UNDERSTAND. Geek ideology isn't enough, and if that's all that you've got, then no wonder closed-source tech is still going to dominate.

      • by devent (1627873)

        If you really using MS products you can't change to something else. If it weren't for open source software, you couldn't switch to OpenOffice.org, you couldn't access files on Windows with a Mac. There were no way that Firefox became a real competitor to IE if the code of Mozilla wasn't opened up.

        My tangible long term issue which closed source software is that you never end the upgrade path. Need a new Windows? - You need a faster computer. Need a new Office CD? - You need to buy the latest Office version.

        • by siride (974284)
          How is that any different from the problems you face in the OSS world? To take your points one by one...

          If you really using MS products you can't change to something else.

          Yeah you can. When was it ever true that you couldn't? This doesn't even make one lick of sense.

          If it weren't for open source software, you couldn't switch to OpenOffice.org, you couldn't access files on Windows with a Mac.

          It's true that Mac uses Samba and the OSS NTFS drivers, but if those weren't available and they wanted interopera

          • by centuren (106470)

            And as for needing a faster computer, well, bloat is increasing just as fast in the OSS world as in the closed source world, unless you limit yourself to simple and old fashioned apps.

            I was recently quite pleasantly surprised to discover that this genuinely isn't the case. I've been running Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit on my desktop for a while without a dual boot, since I had only been using my desktop for gaming. A few weeks ago, I found a lot of inspiration to start working on various projects again, so I wiped one of my hard drives and installed Linux on it again. The Ubuntu beta actually, which reminded me why it's a good choice immediately after install, when in GNOME's system tray, I

            • by Blakey Rat (99501)

              If you compare Windows 7 to its predecessor Vista, it's actually the biggest reduction in bloat I think I've ever experienced in an upgrade. :)

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Here's a very significant tangible benefit open-source software gives you: free and easy-to-install upgrades. Of any established product. Also, open-source software doesn't come in 5 different versions (e.g. Home, Studio, Office, Professional, ...), it comes in 1 version, with all the features in it, what one guy smarter than me called "Awesome Edition".

        An idea of how ridiculously easy upgrades are: I was working with Ubuntu (Gutsy Gibbon), and a notice popped up in the corner saying "Do you want to upgrade

        • by bhtooefr (649901)

          Being highly resistant to viruses has nothing to do with it being open source, though.

          It has everything to do with Linux being a minority OS. Security through obscurity, really.

          OS X is less secure than modern versions of Windows (which is the first platform to get pwned in Pwn2Own, every time? OS X,) yet there's very little malware for it. Why? Because it's also a minority OS.

          • by dkleinsc (563838)

            No, it has a lot to do with being open source.

            The standard example of this: Microsoft IIS is a minority compared to Linux running Apache, yet IIS generally has a worse track record on security.

            Some of the reasons why it being open source help are:
            - Lots of eyeballs on code means that fewer mistakes last very long.
            - When a problem does arise, you have hundreds if not thousands of people capable of doing something about it, and as a result fixes tend to happen in less than 3 days. With a close

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rockoon (1252108)

          Also, open-source software doesn't come in 5 different versions (e.g. Home, Studio, Office, Professional, ...), it comes in 1 version, with all the features in it, what one guy smarter than me called "Awesome Edition".

          hmmm..

          Ubuntu, Slack, Fedora, Suse, Debian, Mandriva, Gentoo, ...

        • by siride (974284)

          Lucky you. Often times distro upgrades are a disaster unless you are on a rolling release distro like Gentoo (which has its own host of problems). As for the versions, uhh, there are half a dozen commonly-used distros and they do actually have different editions, such as a separate server edition, not to mention frequent releases. OSS does not and never has had one edition (and I certainly wouldn't call it "Awesome" since so much of the desktop software is half-working, limited in features or buggy) and

      • by linguae (763922)

        You HAVE to present to people a tangible long term issue with using closed-source software that they can UNDERSTAND. Geek ideology isn't enough, and if that's all that you've got, then no wonder closed-source tech is still going to dominate.

        I agree completely, and I would like to point out one area that open source can make some inroads in: file formats. Many users of closed-source software use applications that store their data in proprietary file formats. While this may not be a serious problem for us

    • by devent (1627873)

      I think you mean, how well locking in and marketing can be. I personally wouldn't care for MS at all, and would like to use some of their products, if they would use open standards. If I would know that I can safety use their products and can switch to a better alternative.

      But because the case with MS is the exact opposite, I try to avoid anything MS related at all cost. OSS is really good and I prefer open source software but a open standards is a little bit more important to the consumer, I think.

  • Natural selection (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gdshaw (1015745) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @02:29AM (#31885758) Homepage

    Worse, even fewer would be interested in doing so.

    A telling statement. If enough programmers find the program useful, but in need of improvement, then it is very likely some of them will improve it. If enough non-programmers think that way then they can pay to have it improved. If this doesn't happen then maybe the program wasn't so very important after all.

    This is merely natural selection at work, and for the most part the outcome will be as it should be — unlike closed-source products, which live entirely at the whim of their creator.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mathinker (909784)

      > unlike closed-source products, which live entirely at the whim of their creator

      I find it silly that you believe that there is no form of natural selection which drives the development/maintenance of closed-source products. In most cases, such selection forces exist and are largely economic in nature.

      So, no, both open- and closed-source products are subject to natural selection, it's just that the selection forces on them are somewhat different.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gdshaw (1015745)

        So, no, both open- and closed-source products are subject to natural selection, it's just that the selection forces on them are somewhat different.

        In a sense that's true, yes, but the distinction I was trying to make is a finer one. Open source software is directly exposed to competitive pressures. Closed source vendors may be exposed to such pressures too, but closed source software is not — except indirectly through the vendor.

        Now I don't want to argue about terminology, but there is a world of di

    • by Americano (920576)

      This is merely natural selection at work, and for the most part the outcome will be as it should be — unlike closed-source products, which live entirely at the whim of their creator.

      Yep, I heard Microsoft is thinking of killing off Windows and Office because Ballmer wokeup one morning with a sour stomach. Anybody using those products better get with the times and move to open source alternatives now, because it's only a matter of time before Microsoft decides to kill off its product for fun.

      • by gdshaw (1015745)

        Yep, I heard Microsoft is thinking of killing off Windows and Office because Ballmer wokeup one morning with a sour stomach.

        Er, hardly the best of examples. As I mentioned above they did kill off Windows XP, and because of product activation and OEM licensing it won't be long before it is really quite difficult to obtain and use a copy legally, let alone fix any problems that arise. Granted the decision probably had more to do with profits than alimentary secretions, but from a customer point of view it ha

    • by Rockoon (1252108)

      A telling statement. If enough programmers find the program useful, but in need of improvement, then it is very likely some of them will improve it. If enough non-programmers think that way then they can pay to have it improved. If this doesn't happen then maybe the program wasn't so very important after all.

      One of these models is better for the consumer than the other:

      Vendors each compete to satisfy demand.
      Demand selects from competing vendor bids.

      The former is the retail side of the closed source world as it is today, springing to life variations on the theme which then competes with the others.
      The later is the contract driven side of the closed source world, springing to life a single solution which often contains the absolute minimum feature set required to satisfy the contract.

      While both are used

    • We've been in a similar situation. It's gotten to the point where our customers want an integrated Point of Sale with our service. We spent 2007 integrating with other POS's for specific clients, but to integrate with just the top 10 point of sales in our market was going to cost us well over $100k in SDK's and licenses. We looked to Open source and found only one point of sale solution and it had the basics, but lacked a bunch of basics like employee time tracking and required a manger to know XML and s

      •       I'm curious about the project you forked from. Were they interested in including your code, merging branches, etc.?

    • by evilviper (135110)

      A telling statement. If enough programmers find the program useful, but in need of improvement, then it is very likely some of them will improve it. If enough non-programmers think that way then they can pay to have it improved. If this doesn't happen then maybe the program wasn't so very important after all.

      The problem is one of organization... A program can be extremely important to a large number of people, BUT if the user base isn't all looking for an open source option at the same time, there may SEEM

  • but if there isnt demand for it, there will be no use if you allocate numerous paid developers to it.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      There is plenty of demand for a high end photo manipulation and editing package.

      While gimp is pretty good (it would certainly take a man year or two to catch up to it), its still like 10 years behind photoshop and even paintshop in most of the meaningful ways. The problem is that the demands being filled is not the same.

      The developers of GIMP are fulfilling developer demand. There is no advantage to fulfilling professional or consumer demand, even though there is PLENTY of both.
      • by unity100 (970058)

        thats an important developer culture problem. developers are creating stuff that would appeal to developers, in developer mindset. if we want open source to really take off as a culture, we need to learn how to work for the needs of the common man, without despising it or harboring elitism.

  • by straponego (521991) on Sunday April 18, 2010 @03:52PM (#31889894)
    ...which is to completely change direction every year or two. x86 on, x86 off, linux is crap, we're the biggest linux vendor, screw linux, solaris, opensolaris, change licenses, x86 off...

    I do understand that Solaris technology is excellent, but anybody who counted on Sun maintaining consistent support for it hasn't been paying attention. So if Sun made you happy before, then Oracle should make you happy now; nothing has changed, the strategy spinner is still spinning.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.

Working...