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Open Source in the Mainstream

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OSS

A few things have appeared from various sources lately resurrecting the old discussion of whether Open Source software is “safe” or “right” for mainstream adoption. Whilst many of us consider this issue to have been dealt with long ago, there still seem to be some out there who want the debate to continue.

The problem is, however, that such debates often get muddled, confusing discussion of the Open Source approach with the pros and cons of specific Open Source solutions. It is relatively common, for example, for people to use the terms Open Source and Linux interchangeably.

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context is key

I think it is important to remember what the context that Linux and other open source solutions grew up in and what are their strengths. They key reason why Linux is getting the commercial backing and getting software open sourced is directly related to the monopoly of the desktop by Microsoft, the lack of quality in its offerings, and its attitudes with how it wants to do business. This gives the three main factors driving Linux adoption. Not to say that customers aren't switching many times from other *NIXes, but even that is indirectly related. It was started 20 years ago when the likes of Sun and SGI decided no one would want a personal computer because of their arrogance and from the incapability of the likes of WordPerfect, Netscape, and Novell to be able to have enough business sense to keep Microsoft from being a monopoly. Basically it is too late to be able to stop Microsoft in any other way than to beat it at its old game in a way that they can't compete. Compete on upfront costs - free and free distribution and modification as well as quality - something Microsoft can never compete with.

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