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Re: [OS:N:] OSS Business Letter
- From: jmcdermo redhat com
- To: Chris Hever <eldridgelinux yahoo com>
- Cc: open-source-now-list redhat com
- Subject: Re: [OS:N:] OSS Business Letter
- Date: Mon Feb 25 10:51:01 2002
To start with let me just throw out there that these
are my personal views and not necessarily the views of
those within my company.
This looks like a great start in the right direction.
If I may, let me point out a few things that may help
influence people in the right direction for their business.
Also if any of this comes across as harsh please dont
take it that way, this looks like a great idea, and looks like
it would really help get the message out there. Please interpret
any criticism that comes off wrong as too little coffee on my part:)
Chris Hever wrote:
> Dear OS:N members:
> Please criticize and check this letter for errors
> before I fire it off to anyone, as I don't want to
> earn a bad reputation among Fortune 500 businesses...
> Dear sir or madam:
> Have you heard of open source? If so, you have almost
> certainly heard a deluge of adamant debates exchanged
> between the advocate camp of open source and its
> opposition, Microsoft and its constituents.
Dont point out that there is a difference of opinion between
these two camps. They will get that themselves, or not,
and it does not affect one way or the other the fact that we
can do everything they can, for free, and usually better. The
fact of the matter is that someone new to Linux that is looking
into opportunities for their business may very well want to keep
a hybrid environment of desktop/servers. We should in no way
discourage this as it gets us in the door. Once there our merits
as a Desktop will allow the admin to decide if they want us on
all of their internal machines.
If you want to go down the desktop road point out Ximian,
evolution, Lotus Notes, Open Office, kisio, and any other
products which appear to be direct replacements with all
the functionality and some.
If you are comparing for the server market I dare say do
not waste your time comparing us vs. them as they are
not really qualified to compete in this area. Whereas, us
vs. UNIX brings up several good points. First off we are
an Enterprise ready OS which happens to be free. Second
of which we can save you a ton of money over other UNICES
which inherently means we save money over any license
based OS out there.
> purpose of this letter is to inform you on the
> advantages of open source as a business element, in
> addition to dispelling the myths that persistently
> surround open source. The focus of this letter is an
> open source operating system known as Linux, which you
> have probably heard of before, if not substantially
> cognizant of it. The letter will be formatted into
> rhetorical questions with answers, somewhat like a FAQ
> What is open source software?
> Open source software is the practice of widespread
> distribution the source code of one's programs with
> the intention that they will be improved, expand, and
> be repaired by the collective thousands of programming
> minds willing to participate,
This is a very important point to make, but can easilly lead
to questions such as do they(programs) need to be "repaired" from
the start? The answer is simple, we are all students and only
the very foolish believe they know everything. Thus all programs
can be improved, always, and in a continuing manner. This is
however way to much of a concept to try to accuratley put
forth in a short introductory letter. Instead perhaps you could
point out that since our code is open from the beginning, anyone
with coding experience can contribute to add the features they
would like to see, or enhance the product in ways which would
be immediatley relevant to the business market. In addition to
this for business software it means a speedier time to market
for their products and changes which can be made overnight,
or a short term, rather than waiting for a release usually slated in
> under the terms of an
> array of open source licenses, such as the BSD
> license, the General Public License (GPL), the Corel
> Public License, the Qt License, and so forth. There is
> a major distinction between open source and freeware;
> open source simply means that the program's source
> code is distributed in some manner, whereas freeware
> means that the program is in the public domain and
> must not be distributed for a fee. Most open source
> licenses, including the two most prominent of them
> all, GPL and BSD, allow for fees. However, open source
> is well known to be inexpensive and often free.
This is great, to the point without getting into to much detail
other than the end result. I would probablly add one case
where this directly affects the business owner though just to
send the idea home.
> Is OSS communist?
> I certainly hope not.
--No. Just a simple no, there is no reason to insert doubt
with a "hope" statement when it is simply not the case.
There is nothing communist about Open Source, it is just
another business model which has not been fully explored.
> Science's method of development
> has resembled the open source routine of distributing
> source code since its Balkan infancy, but especially
> since the introduction of the science journal in
> France during the 1700s. If open source is communist,
> did communism originate in Greece? No, I think that
> was democracy.
This is a good point, though if you are trying to give business
owners a fast overview of the benefits this may be too much.
I am not sure who your audience is though, I would rely on
that fact to decide the use of this.
> If it's cheap, isn't it of poor quality?
> Well, not neccesarily.
This I would again point out No. In fact the truth of the matter
is it is good because it is cheap. Since many of the coding efforts
for programs come from the community, it is far more useful to have
a free product that can constantly be downloaded and improved, than
to charge a bunch of money for it and make it that much more difficult
for the people to make the changes they require.
> A book called the Linux Network
> Administrator's Guide, a very commendable book, is
> available in bookstores for the average price of
> $40.00. On the other hand, the book is available for
> free on the Linux Documentation Site,
> http://www.linuxdoc.org. The content is of the same
> quality in both situations, so I doubt that criticism
> of open source is at all valid.
> Aren't it's developers scr1pt d00dz and l33t h#ck3rz?
Again I would point out that if your audience is corporate
dont even go down this road. The fact of the matter is many
l33t h#ck3rz get hired up by proprietary corporations because
of their skills.....thus if they are part of our development
community are we not getting the best of all worlds for nothing
more than the love of Open Source?
The truth is anyone can be a developer under Open Source, whether
that be a minor contribution, or major day to day contributions, or
documentation, or QA, or packaging etc... So we have all kinds and
do not discriminate against code, just make sure it is the best you
> If one has even casually glanced at the bustling
> activity of open source and Linux in particular, the
> aforementioned notion vaporizes into thin air. There
> is not a script kiddie alive who could create such
> renowned technological marvels as:
> Perl - originally implemented as an open source
> language interpreter for system administration
> obstacles. Now one of the most popular web programming
> tools in use; your website probably uses it.
> Beowulf - an open source Linux cluster application, a
> program which integrates the processors of upwards of
> hundreds of machines to concentrate on a problem that
> very well may pertain unraveling the black contrivance
> of the Universe itself; high-ranking in the National
> Center for Supercomputing Applications most powerful
> supercomputer list, and a preferred workhorse of NASA,
> and while I'm speaking of NASA:
> FlightLinux - a NASA Linux project which facilitates a
> link between Mission Control and the spearhead of our
> first international ventures towards taming outer
> space, the International Space Station.
> Apache - The predominant web server at well over 50%
> server market share, object of countless derivatives
> such as Stronghold and thttpd, and the preferred web
> server of root DNS servers such as rs.internic.net.
> Script kiddies cannot keep a historically substantial
> piece of metal in orbit, nor can they acquire half of
> the world server market.
I would just point out the below paragraph, no need to hack
on script kiddies, as they can contribute in some ways to.
> The people who develop opne
> source are dedicated, talented, and what's more, the
> work of theses thousands essentially costs you
> How do I know the volunteer maintenance and
> development of Linux will endure?
> Why not ask Bill Gates himself, who, although
> frequently detracting the open source movement,
> underwrites National Public Radio, a movement that
> wholly relies on volunteer efforts?
> Will OSS fragment?
> Yes and no, depending on the project. As long as there
> are tight controls on an open source project and
> standards such as POSIX to comply to, fragmentation is
> not probable. Let's examine Linux:
> Tight controls - In respect to the official releases
> of Linux components, such as the kernel, or core of
> the operating system, the maintainers of the website
> for the kernel, http://www.kernel.org/ hear about any
> changes in the source that a programmer wishes to
> make. If they do not disrupt or undermine normal
> operation of the system and adhere to good programming
> practices, they will be included in the next release.
> Thusly, there can be scores of unofficial versions of
> the kernel with no central control whatsoever, but
> changes to the official version of the kernel are
> always approved by a central point of control. As a
> result, neither the Linux kernel, nor GNOME desktop,
> nor GNU C Compiler have fragmented.
> Standards - Linux complies to POSIX as well as the
> Linux Standard Base. See http://www.linuxbase.org.
> [more to come later...]
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