CyberTech Rambler

August 8, 2006

Open Source Too Complex For Business?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 1:17 pm

According to ZDNet Asia, Microsoft (and its partners, particularly those that converted from Linux to Windows) says that Open Source is too complex. The point of contention: Too many distributions.

Before we start saying Microsoft is spreading FUD again, we have to see whether MS does have a point. I am struggling a bit on the different GUI environments and their libraries when compiling UI programs from scratch, but there are a lot of pre-compiled programs just works across different GUI environment, so the problem is technical knowledge. There is no point arguing that technical knowledge of Linux is growing, but to recognize that distributions has the potential to become a stumbling block which should not be there in the first place. Take for example, the location of your CDROM, it’s different for different distributions and thus, can cause problems.

One problem highlighted by the article is while one’s customers can run different distribution of Linux and some goes out of the way to run customized version of Linux, they still expects the same level of support from you, the vendor. This makes your business case in the area of Technical Support difficult. There is a point here. Moreover, it is difficult to find enough people with the technical knowledge for the distribution you finally decides to support. However, it is wrong to think that this is not a problem with Windows: I think the “DLL Hell” is still here with us. With different favours of Windows already available (WinCE, Windows Embedded), and new ones (the 6+ favours of Vista) being introduced, I believe that Windows will be heading towards this problem by diverging into different favours while Open Source tries to deal with it from the opposite direction by converging efforts such as Free Standard Group. That is, unless Microsoft is going to tell us there is not much difference between the 6+ favours of Vista. [If so, what am I paying for in the more expensive versions?]

Linux and Unix distributions has their own strength and weaknesses. Market will eventually finds an equilibrium where some responsibilities to resolves problems rests with the users, other with suppliers. Competitions to Linux are right in pointing out Linux weaknesses. Linux and other software can and will learn from it. That’s one beauty of competitions. It points out where your weakenesses are to allow you to improve on it, all in the name of discouraging customers to go with you and go with them. In this blog post, I am doing exactly the same.


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