David A. Wheeler's Blog
Sat, 15 Jan 2005
January 2005 release of “Why OSS/FS? Look at the Numbers!”
I’ve made another release of my paper
“Why Open Source Software /
Free Software (OSS/FS, FLOSS, FOSS)? Look at the Numbers!”
I made many changes, here are some of the highlights:
In the section on governments, noted various documents
useful for governments who choose to use OSS/FS,
the short article by Adelstein:
European IDA’s migration guidelines.
Added a longer
explanatory essay, noting that
software isn’t normally
owned by its users, and thus the term “total cost of ownership”
is misleading. A proprietary software user, in particular,
doesn’t have the normal rights of ownership: they can’t view
for understanding, modify, or redistribute. An OSS/FS user
isn’t an owner either, but their rights are at least somewhat
more similar to an owner’s. Included a link to the
trusted computing FAQ by
Ross Anderson; see the text for details.
Added a section on the relationship of standards and OSS/FS, and in
particular noted that
OSS/FS can sometimes be considered an “executable standard”.
After all, you can use it (so it’s useful as it is), AND you can
also see EXACTLY how it works (helping to counter the problem of
ambiguity that occurs in far too many standards).
This is particularly obvious when a standards group creates an OSS/FS
project to showcase how to implement a standard.
- I noted some alternative abbreviations of OSS/FS in the title.
I’ve noted them for years in the text, but thought it’d help some people
if the title itself acknowledged them.
I actually like “FLOSS” (Free/Libre Open Source Software) as an abbreviation;
but I didn’t think of that when I originally wrote this paper, and I
figure that changing its title (or content) now would simply make the
paper harder to find, as well as being a pain for me.
info from Massachusetts on OSS/FS legal issues, and quoted
“Use of either open source or proprietary software poses
some legal risk to states. States face fewer risks in
connection with the use of open source software compared
to their private sector counterparts, and the risks that
they do face can be managed.”
Torvalds is named one of the best managers of the year.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange example.
Referenced Committee for Economic Development, which mentions
OSS/FS relationship to innovation. See
Added reference to
Gave examples under support of some companies that provide
commercial support for OSS/FS; including MozSource, AdaCore,
MySQL AB, various Linux distributions, etc.
Noted the lists of consultants for Debian and OpenBSD.
I can’t list everyone; the point is just that this is an option.
Added information on bounty/sponsor systems and software ransoms.
Added reference to Coverity study on flaws.
Improved the TCO section, e.g.,
noted Cybersource update to their TCO study.
Noted switching costs issues; this drives most companies to start
using OSS/FS on new deployments instead of existing ones to
start with, since then there’s no switching cost to pay.
Noted the humorous article “Total Cost of 0wnership” (note the zero), and
added reference to “Wisdom of the Crowds” book.
Noted various OSS/FS business opportunity, and an interesting report that
salaries of core contributors are 5-15% higher.
Added reference to Koders.com, and an interview about it.
I put it in the innovation section - it’s much easier
to innovate by being able to reuse all that pre-existing code
for the “other stuff” — all you have to implement is the new
idea, not the piles of “other” stuff.
Referenced IBM’s Blue Gene/L supercomputer.
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