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ActiveState Returns to Open Source Roots 89

constab writes "ActiveState, the Sophos-owned company that makes free distributions and commercial programming tools for programming languages like Perl, Python, PHP, Tcl and Ruby, has been sold to a Canadian VC firm. According to the article, ActiveState will go back to its open-source roots and continue development of ActivePerl, ActivePython and ActiveTcl. A full set of Mac OS X on Intel downloads is also in the works."
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ActiveState Returns to Open Source Roots

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  • Good news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cerelib ( 903469 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:35AM (#14657673)
    This sounds great. Hopefully they will open up, at least make free(beer), some of their more advanced tools. The Perl dev tools are really good. Only time will tell.
  • Value (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MarkChovain ( 952233 ) <> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:42AM (#14657701) Homepage Journal
    It would be interesting to know how much it was sold for, and how much Sophos valued the anti-virus technology.

    $23 million is not really a huge number in the scheme of things, but not the kind of money that a company the size of Sophos would throw away lightly!
  • by outZider ( 165286 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:34AM (#14658116) Homepage
    I would say that most perl users on the Windows platform are still very much using ActiveState.
  • by SilentMobius ( 10171 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @05:29AM (#14658421)
    Actually I've been working with perl on and off for 8 years now and I'd say that at least 80% of the perl devs I've met (myself included) used activeperl whenever they needed perl on windows (which we would generally try to avoid mind you) for everything from UI apps that used the same framework as our web apps to mobile demos on windows laptops for the sales guys. It kept everything quick and easy, which gave us more time to work on the core engines for the products we were working on.

    But yes, I wish CPAN wasn't quite so flakey
  • by AWG ( 621868 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:01AM (#14659019)
    I have been using ActivePerl for 5 years now, and ActivePython for 1.5. Komodo is a great IDE, but what makes ActiveState great is basically just the fact that they are ActiveState.

    In a corporate environment, using software from an actual company makes managers and IT folk feel warm and fuzzy. And yes, I realize that ActiveState is just mostly just nicely packaging up available open source software... but I don't tell anyone that. Corporate types tend to like it when they can buy something from someone, or at least point to a (stable) company that sells the product. Saying I'm using ActivePython goes over much better than saying I downloaded something from community-based And no, I'm not saying any of this makes sense, but it has been my experience for the past five years.

    If it weren't for ActiveState, I would be forced to write in VC++ or VBA. Thanks to them, I'm using perl and python for my job every day. And that is pretty awesome.

    So, keep up the good work, ActiveState!
  • by kabz ( 770151 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:26AM (#14659116) Homepage Journal
    Oi, I use it in my personal dev chain at work, and I've pushed this out to , errr, another 5 people or so.

    I'd be more worried about the fact that ActiveState will be used and dumped by the venture capitalists. For those with short memories, look at what happened to ArsDigita [], the company started by Philip Greenspun.

    In a sentence: take successful/profitable open source company and run into the ground by imposing expensive dinner consuming and buzzword spewing venture capitalists. Stand well back.
  • by simong ( 32944 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:46AM (#14659198) Homepage
    For that matter there was a perfectly good Windows perl port before ActiveState. ActiveState have added a nice IDE and, because they worked with Microsoft, produced a lot of MS/Windows compatability modules that would either have not existed or would have been based on guesswork. If they can do the same for OS X it will be worth the port. It's more for talking to Excel and Word rather than Windows32 filesystem calls, obviously but it's a viable port IMO.
  • by smallpaul ( 65919 ) <paul AT prescod DOT net> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @11:31AM (#14659875)

    I don't suppose Sophos would have sold them if there was any mileage left.

    This statement makes no sense economically. There was a buyer and there was a seller. Your claim is that the buyer would not have sold it unless it was worthless. According to this theory, nobody should ever buy used cars because people would not get rid of them until they are about to break down. Nobody would sell houses until the pipes are about to burst. Etc. But an economist would say merely that the buyer values the acquisition more than the seller. In this case, the buyer is a company that claims to believe that ActiveState will succeed if it is allowed to focus without the distraction of being part of an anti-spam company. The seller claims to agree. Why should we doubt them? The buyer, in particular, has no incentive to lie, and I presume that they've done more analysis of ActiveState's growth potential than a random /. poster.

  • Corporate thought (Score:4, Insightful)

    by typical ( 886006 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @12:33PM (#14660355) Journal
    In a corporate environment, using software from an actual company makes managers and IT folk feel warm and fuzzy.

    Second this *ten times over*.

    I've been suggesting perl for producing test harnesses for ages (writing them in C is just a waste of time), but the folks running things just don't *trust* perl. Until someone discovered ActiveState. I walked in one day and found them using the commercial Komodo, happy as a clam, and talking about how great perl was.

    Confused the hell out of me.

    The only thing I can guess is that if you have business roots, you're always trying to figure out the other guy's angle. Why is he doing something for you? What's he planning to get? If business folks can figure this out, and decide that it's aligned with their own interests, then they feel okay accepting the deal.

    Open source software just doesn't make any sense in a model that only recognizes human time and direct monetary value. So you get people who *never* have worked with hobbyists who like producing free stuff. They've never worked in an environment in which the marginal cost of production and distribution can approximate zero. It's very reasonable for them to look very dubiously at software, thinking "I can't figure out how this guy is going to profit from this, so I'd better stay the hell away, since he might try some sort of horrific extortion down the line. Who the hell would write software for *fun*? I have to yell at people to get them in on time to meet our deadlines!"

    On the other hand, doing a deal in which the other guy is clearly making a profit means that they don't need to imagine ways in which they can get stabbed in the back later. They can be comfortable believing that the other guy is simply happy making the deal.

    It's a weird mentality from a hobbyist standpoint, but it's the only way I can explain why so many companies look at Debian and walk away quickly but are happy as a clam buying Red Hat Enterprise Edition. /me shrugs

    As long as I get to use something at work that I can freely use myself the rest of the time, I'm all for it.

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