Monday, May 22, 2006

And now for a commercial break... Ok then, just give me a break from the misuse of the word commercial. This is something that is starting to piss me off, people, notably proprietary software companies, using the term 'commercial software' to describe proprietary software when making comparisions to Open Source. As if software from companies like IBM, Novell, Redhat and Sun are somehow noncommercial because they're open source. The implication is that Open Source Software is somehow not as good because it's written by amatures and hobbyists. This is completely untrue, to infer that Linux, Apache, MySQL, OpenOffice.org, Hula or any of the dozens of other commercial Open Source packages are coded by developers who are anything less the professional is insulting to the IT pros across dozens of companies, who work on these packages, and shows a deep lack of understanding of the way Open Source software is developed. The Open Source community is the ultimate meritocracy. Where a proprietary software developer can bury crappy code in a proprietary binary, away from prying eyes, Open Source by it's very nature is open to pier review, those who are able to make valid, high quality, contributions are recognized their participation is encouraged by their piers. Those who commit crap code are easily identified and quickly marginallized, the quality is what matters when everyone can see what you did. Eric Raymond said that "many eyes make all bugs shallow", I'll go him one better and say the very prospect of many eyes keeps developers on their toes and conversely the prospect of no one seeing the code leaves developers the temptation to leave in that ugly little fudge they threw in pre alpha to get it working. This is why it really bugs me when people misuse terms like commercial to infer poor quality or reliability in open source software, it simply isn;t true.

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