Will Open Source survive the economic crisis

Will it ?

Conventional logic would say, Yes ! I mean, Open Source is free, right ? Everyone should infact be only using Open Source in an economic crisis.

Well, Andrew Keen doesn’t think so and he’s on Slashdot right now for thinking the way he does. Now, Andrew is entitled his opinion and all that jazz, but, seriously, I think the article is a load of bull****.

The reason Andrew’s thought process doesn’t make sense to me is because he completely and conveniently has chosen to forget the very reason why Open Source even exists. Andrew thinks opensource is for making money and since money is scarce these days, it will not survive. And he’s confusing web 2.0 with opensource.

For the lazy ones, I’ll summarize, Andrew says that the tough economic times that we’re going through will spell the end of the “free” web 2.0 days. That we won’t be seeing any websites providing free services anymore. Fair and square.

He also goes on to say that Open Source is free labour and since it is free, it won’t survive the economic downturn either.

The hungry and cold unemployed masses aren’t going to continue giving away their intellectual labor on the Internet in the speculative hope that they might get some “back end” revenue. “Free” doesn’t fill anyone’s belly; it doesn’t warm anyone up.

Now, first of all … praise where its due. That’s a nice headline you’ve chose for this post Andrew. I mean, Copywriting-101 … Nail it with the headline. But, I don’t think you took the rest of the class, because the rest of your article is full of half baked assumptions that come through pretty clear.

OpenSource is not Web 2.0 and while Web 2.0 does use a lot of opensource at it’s core, they’re both different. Web 2.0 also doesn’t mean making a website and then giving away the services for free. Free services have always been a part of the web and will be.

Web 1.0 or whatever they called it back then was about the Internet finding it’s feat and Web 2.0 has been about cleaning up the house, making the designs plain and simple, making sure the visitor can find what they’re looking for and giving the visitor a reason to pay and come back again. Flickr, 37signals and smugmug are Web 2.0. Sure the 1.0 guys made mistakes, but then that was 1.0 – IT IS EXPECTED 🙂

Now, coming to OpenSource. Andrew, my man, you really have to understand that people don’t contribute to OpenSource for the money. Sure, some people do. But, that’s not how opensource survives. It survives because it has a community. You know the kind, where like minded individuals come and discuss ideas and stuff. Well, in the 21st century, they code, apparently !

A lot of these opensource contributors actually like to code. Not, because they get money out of it, but because they like to … well … code. And make friends in the process. Now, friendship is a weird concept. Give stuff away for free and make friends doesn’t actually endorse the idea of OpenSource but then people who get the idea of OpenSource … just do. And that is the power of it. It doesn’t change the world but it goes a long way towards it.

Did I tell you that it is free ? Does it make sense now ?

The problem with your theory is that it goes beyond any logic I’ve heard about or can think about. Oh wait, there IS NO logic in your theory.

GNOME 2.24 released

The GNOME foundation has released the new version of the GNOME Desktop environment, version 2.24

This release features a lot of bug fixes, performance improvements and new software.

This is also the first release of the GNOME mobile platform which is already a part of the various Linux based mobile device platforms such as Ubuntu Mobile, MoblinMaemo and others.

The GNOME desktop focusses on ease of use, stability, internationalisation and good accessibility support and the new release only goes to prove the commitment of the developers behind this awesome piece of software. 

Version 2.24 includes a new instant messaging client based on the Telepathy Framework. The client called Empathy Instant Manager is clean, fast and simple to use. 

There is also a time tracker application which can be added to the GNOME Panel to make tracking your time easier.

GNOME 2.24 also features the new release of the Ekiga audio/video conferencing client, version 3.0.

All said, this is still an incremental release, fixes a lot of bugs while bringing about some performance improvements. The developers have already started planning for GNOME 3.0 and that is something I’m definitely waiting for.

Canonical Offers Sale of Proprietary Codecs for Ubuntu

Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, has decided to offer it’s users the option of purchasing proprietary media codecs. It doesn’t matter if the users purchase their copy of Ubuntu, download it or bought a computer pre-installed with Ubuntu.

There is an animated dicussion going on about this news at slashdot and other places.

Canonical has definitely opened a can of worms with this move and we will have to wait and see how the open source community in general reacts to this decision. This decision to sure get a lot of attention by the opensource community.

Canonical, it should be made clear, is not going to develop proprietary codecs. Canonical is only streamlining the process of installing those codecs and charging a small amount for it. Most of the actual codecs are developed by a company called Fluendo and the DVD playback is being offered through a version of Cyberlink’s PowerDVD software.

I should clarify that Fluendo and Cyberlink have both been making the said software since a long time and Linux users have always had the option of purchasing PowerDVD or Fluendo’s media codecs.

Software codecs and DRM are a touchy issue. It is sad that a user with legally purchased media cannot play it on a computer, unless he/she also purchases software to play it. Sad but true.

Ubuntu has also always offered a way for users to easily install most media codecs, for free, using a relatively smooth process, but depending on your country of residence, that could have been illegal. Now, all Ubuntu is giving to its users is an option to, instead, purchase those codecs legally and be able to enjoy whatever media they own or come across on the Internet.

Ubuntu is not stopping the users from downloading illegal codecs and using them on their machines. The open nature of the operating system is still there. The option of purchasing this software just makes it easier for the non-geeks and paranoids among us to be able to enjoy the benefits of Linux without getting bogged down by the technicalities.

Legal codecs on Linux also make it simpler for system integrators to offer a decent out-of-the-box multimedia experience. The geeks among us who are used to the free and open nature of Linux can still download and install whichever codecs they want, legal or not.

I think this is a win-win situation, and not a compromise, for all the parties involved – Canonical, Ubuntu and the users.

I know there will be always be purists who will rally against Canonical for this decision and I’m sure the company is ready for some flak, but if Linux has to compete with Mac OS X and Windows, they had to make a start somewhere and this looks to be the right way to go.

TechCruch's Tablet PC – And what we really want

[tablet] Michael Arrington from TechCrunch recently posted about a tablet PC that he wanted built. And I have to admit that the mock up looks very cool.

Michael Arrington from TechCrunch recently posted about a tablet PC that he wanted built. And I have to admit that the mock up looks very cool. And he wants to sell it around the $200 price point, which is doubly cool.

What is not so cool, however, is that our man Arrington hasn’t put in much thought in the product itself. Don’t get me wrong here, I, more than anyone else, would love to have a gadget like the one that is being talked about, but I just don’t think it is technically feasible to make such a device right now. And given the cost of the parts it is highly unlikely that the cost can be anywhere close to $200. I’d  have been less skeptical if Michael had spoken of a $1000 price point.

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The winner of the Data Center OS wars

If you came here looking for THE one definitive answer, I’m sorry to disappoint you. There is none ! There are lesser contenders for the title than, say, two years back, but the battle is still on.

Microsoft released its new virtualisation offering, Hyper-V, on thursday and has decided to take on the golliath of the virtual world, VMware, head on. Friday saw VMware’s stock at NYSE crash by almost 14%. Granted Friday wasn’t good for most tech stocks at NYSE, but the writing on the wall is clear. VMware has some tough competition on it’s hands. And the markets seem to agree.

For almost a decade now, VMware has been the undisputed leader in providing virtualisation solutions. So much so that the company’s revenues have been growing more than 80% YoY since the last 5 years. The company commands a 90% share of the over $1 billion virtualisation market. VMware’s IPO last year was arguably the biggest tech IPO ever after google. VMW debuted at an almost 100% premium and soared to a high of about $125 over the next few months. The stock is now valued at a relatively modest $51 and the hype appears to have cooled down and the stock was doing quite well till Friday after MS’s announcement of a product which is in direct competition with VMware’s flagship solution.

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