Ted Leung on the air
Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Tue, 23 Sep 2003
Open source, irrelevance, and Sun
Recently, Jonathan Schwartz has been saying lots of things that are irritatating open source folks. I'm surprised that no one has picked up on this one. Schwartz discovered that you need MS Word to submit a patent application. Of course, this is a problem for him because Sun doesn't use Microsoft Word. What Schwartz wants us to do is use StarOffice because the file format is an open standard. Of course, StarOffice only costs $79, but that's fine because we're not paying Microsoft for the privilege of submitting a patent application, we're paying Sun, and that makes all the difference.

Open source comes into it because he claims that open source people think that open source will magically fix things like this. Not. Open source doesn't influence which file formats are used by the patent office. And much as Schwartz claims to the contrary, having an open standards file format won't fix the problem either. If the file format were StarOffice, we'd have just as much trouble or more, because most of the rest of the world doesn't use StarOffice and can't write StarOffice files, because the rest of the world is using MS Office, which is closed source and can't be adapted to write StarOffice files. Open standards only matter if they are adopted.

Let's look at more of his argument:

At least for my customers, purchasing decisions are never made on the basis of the licensing convention used to build the product-customers care far more about product quality, price/performance when compared to the competition, and (especially of late) their security attributes. None of those issues have anything to do with open-source any more than whether Sun employs left-handed engineers to build the products, or marketing folks who work weekends (we do, both).
Excuse me, but open standards don't influence product quality, price/performance, and security. If you take the narrow view that open source is about licensing conventions, then I suppose you might come to some of Schwartz's conclusions. But if you view open source as a kind of software development process, they you might conclude that there is a relationship between open source and product quality, price/performance, and security.

Open source ,ay not be relevant to the reasons that the PTO chooses a patented file format for submissions. But its very relevant to the production of high quality software.

Otherwise, the only conclusion you can take away from Schwartz's article is that Sun is the industry's single largest contributor to irrelevance.

[14:14] | [computers/open_source] | # | TB | F | G | 4 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
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I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
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