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Open Source Software Up the Stack

Dennis Byron

BBC Buys into Sun Spin on Open Source Software

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Some technical editor at the BBC has been snookered three ways by Scott McNealy of Sun (JAVA) in this January 21 "news" story. The open source blogoblatherers in European Union are multiplying the effect.

First, there's the sentence in the article that says McNealy has been asked to "prepare a paper" by the Obama administration. Assuming the U.S. government works like the rest of the world (not necessarily true as U.S. taxpayers are well aware), being asked to "prepare a paper" is probably like saying "Don't call us; we'll call you."

Second, the jist (or is it gist) of the BBC article is that, according to McNealy as quoted by the BBC:

"It's intuitively obvious open source is more cost effective and productive than proprietary software. Open source does not require you to pay a penny to Microsoft (MSFT) or IBM (IBM) or Oracle (ORCL) or any proprietary vendor any money."


In fact that statement's not at all obvious, nor is it even true (in multiple dimensions). There is no reason you should expect open source to be more cost effective since the open source concept relates to "free as in air, not free as in beer." And since software is software, how can the way it is licensed make it "more productive."

Third, it's Scott McNealy promoting open source!!! He's arguably the most proprietary guy in IT industry history since.... I dunno, maybe old Tom Watson. He's glommed onto open source to try to save Sun and its billions of lines of "proprietary software" from going down the tubes.


He's backed in the BBC story by quotations from a Red Hat (RHAT) vice president. See a trend here: Red Hat and Sun want to sell hardware, storage, software and services to the U.S. Federal government.

I hope they are successful. And I don't have any concerns that IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP (SAP) and other open source software suppliers larger and smaller than Sun and Red Hat don't know how to play the game with the U.S. government too. (Actually some of the smaller suppliers of open source software might think things happen "before someone sells something." But not the smart ones.)

But this article makes the BBC staff look like pretty naive.

-- Dennis Byron

Dennis Byron’s blog on open source software: A longtime market research analyst follows what “the movement? means to business integration—in applications, infrastructure, as services, as architecture and as functionality.

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