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Winning Without Winning the ‘Open Source’ Battle

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 4:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Targets keep changing

On target

Summary: When goalposts are being moved to redefine “open source”, how will a triumph really come about? We look at news from Hungary

A few days ago we wrote about Dana Blankenhorn’s concern that Free/open source software loses its meaning due to involvement from those who bend the definition/s. “Will open source be assimilated in 2010?”

That is the question Blankenhorn asks in his subsequent post where he also quotes a company that sells services around fear and helps Microsoft penetrate the “open source” arena/scope.

It also drew a thoughtful e-mail from Tim Yeaton, president of Black Duck Software. He interrupted his efforts to counter OpenLogic’s new open source scanner to say that open source is bound to be assimilated into the software mainstream.

This discussion seems very appropriate now that the Hungarian government opts for more "mixed source" companies like Novell. This time it’s Ingres and CBR has the details:

Ingres and FreeSoft, have won the Hungarian government’s open source software contract that has a four-year, $22.3m budget. During the next four years, the companies will supply the Hungarian government with software worth 4 Ft billion Hungarian forints, which is approximately €15m or $22.3m.

There is already skepticism being expressed.

Experts Question Hungary’s Role As European Open Source Leader

Open source database company Ingres has held Hungary up as an example to the UK and other European countries of how government should be championing the use of non-proprietary software in the public sector.

But some Hungarian experts have pointed out that while the central European country has made progress when it comes to allowing open source players to compete on the same terms as proprietary companies, there is still a long way to go before the Magyars could be held up as leaders on open source.

Nothing is said about the half-hearted commitment to Free software. A lot of those companies which describe themselves as “open source” are not entirely so. This is a subject worth revisiting and exploring more properly in the future.

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  1. your_friend said,

    December 11, 2009 at 4:55 pm


    There is nothing complicated about free software, and the “Open Source Battle” appears contrived because it is. That corporate controlled media mentions free software at all is a small victory. Technical excellence, steadily rising popularity and massive commercial deployments make it impossible for “media” to ignore free software in favor of the controlled distributions owned by Microsoft, Apple and others. Like the “browser wars” of ten years ago, the “Open Source Battle” will involve a lot of heat an passion but be as substantially empty as pro football. Copyleft, which is the main defender of user freedom, will continue to be neglected and unjustly attacked. In the end users either have the four software freedoms or they don’t. The implications of those freedoms are difficult for people to grasp when the public debate is filled with nonsense about “how open is open.” Thankfully, the ability of anyone to dominate public debate is on the decline.

    Attempts to dillute the meaning of “Open Source” to the point where Microsoft can claim to be an open source company are part of a coordinated effort to maintain cultural control. Patent extortion is the other half of this attack. Having exploited, and monopolized previous public domain software, they now seek crush and own the vast body of copyleft software which they can not otherwise control. Free software does not and will not have the obnoxious digital restrictions that twentieth century power structures need to survive.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Novell went further by happily mixing “open source” and software patents.

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