[kwlug-disc] interesting piece on the power of open source

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Tue Dec 1 16:07:12 EST 2009

Lori Paniak wrote, On 12/01/2009 2:38 PM:
> On Tue, 2009-12-01 at 10:59 -0800, Raul Suarez wrote:
>> Lori,
>> I think that you are reducing FLOSS to "Desktop Software"

Of course. That's all that, in the end, matters. That's where the 
eyeball's of the masses are.

>> Even then I find a lot of FLOSS software I use to be production
>> quality. There are new things coming all the time, so there will
>> always be something in Beta but at the same time most of the time
>> there is a stable version.

So what.

The central point I took from Lori's original post, more than any 
other was:

Lori Paniak wrote, On 12/01/2009 1:25 PM:
 > Maybe "open source" will always be a synonym for "perpetual beta"?
 > That's OK for the lab and server room, but probably not good enough
 > for Best Buy.

And until it is good enough for Best Buy, nothing will change.

So Rob's:

Robert P. J. Day wrote, On 12/01/2009 1:50 PM:
 > On Tue, 1 Dec 2009, Lori Paniak wrote:
 >   and yet, microsoft has made a living out of being nothing more
 > than "good enough."  not spectacular, not great, just good enough.

I disagree. MS has made a living because it's there. It's on the 
appliance they just bought. And that's all computers are.

>> On the desktop, the 70% working is not FLOSS's fault but HW
>> vendor support. As FLOSS is more prevalent, this support is
>> increasing.

Sure it's FLOSS' fault. MS took over control of its environment, so 
can deliver that hardware support. Somehow it solved that problem.

In some ways, FLOSS' silo attitude (stdin/stdout/pipes) means when 
something says I did my job, it's a bug in the pre- / post- processor, 
or the problem lies elsewhere and not with my code, it's somewhat 
self-defeating. In the end, the user doesn't get where they need to 
go, and it's incumbent upon them to figure it out. When it all needs 
to 'just work.'

>> We are not there, I think we will never be at a 100% FLOSS just
>> because different people have different value systems.

I'm not sure I agree. We will never be there because a critical mass 
can't be hit because it isn't purchasable at Best Buy.

> I think everyone has agreed that FLOSS (for lack of a better
> handle) software has won a large and stable piece of the server
> room.

So what. Big deal.

> Your note brings to light a subtle difference between what I mean
> by the "70% problem" and what others interpret it as.  I do not
> mean stable software vs unstable, rather the missing 30% is in
> features, polish and the dreaded "user experience".

Agreed. It comes down to, can I get it from Best Buy, which implies 
Best Buy's willingness to carry it. Which implies just a whole host of 
other mostly sales / distribution infrastructure issues.

> FLOSS makes great tractor. But can it be taught to dance?

We know it can. Technically. Practically? I suppose only time, and 
from current/past track record perhaps we're STILL talking decades, 
will tell.

> Under the hood, Apple OSX is just some BSD distro.  What makes
> people line up and pay big $$ for it?  Whatever it is is in the
> missing 30%.

And they're now in Best Buy. And they're marketing well, including 
good commercials.

ipod (itunes?) was a huge marketing success, and they're leveraging 
it. I do wonder with ipod/itunes where Apple would be today.

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