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November 22, 2000

QOTD and Editorial

Installing Mailman, by the way, was a barrel of laughs. Like most open source software, "it's only free if your time is worthless." Sob.

Joel Rosenberg

I partially agree with this sentiment, but it isn't that bad. I tend to side with Cameron Barrett, who linked to an article whose headline was "Free Software Isn't Free". His one-word editorial comment: "Duh!"

I don't think I'll be giving away any secret advantage to say that IC Station uses an open source XML parser, called expat. That was painless. I'm currently evaluating a scripting language with GUI bindings which are all open source, and there is a bit more work required on our side to make this commercially robust on all the platforms we want to use it on. But I expect this much when there is no organized vendor driving things.

And commercial software is no better. We have more headaches with HP's workstation OS, HP-UX, than I care to enumerate (note to lawyers, this is my opinion [and a lot of other peoples'], get over it). So open source is just more of the same.

I'd say the key distinguishing trait of open source software is that the documentation is often less than complete. If you were looking to volunteer on an OSS project and make your name, would you choose documentation? Of course not. That's boring. It ain't glamourous.

So if you're preparing to use OSS, be prepared also to dig for documents. Scour DejaNews, search for mailing lists for the software in question, especially archives. Generally, just dig. You'll probably even end up looking at the code. Gasp! "qbullet.smiley"

Posted by dpwakefield at November 22, 2000 12:46 AM