- What are the trade-offs?
The closed-source approach allows you to collect rent from your
secret bits; on the other hand, it forecloses the possibility
of truly independent peer review. The open-source approach sets
up conditions for independent peer review, but you don't get
rent from your secret bits.
- How do they interact?
- When the rent from secret
bits is higher than the return from open source, it makes economic
sense to be closed-source.
- When the return from open
source is higher than the rent from secret bits, it makes sense
to go open source.
- The payoff from open source
is harder to measure and predict than the rent from secret bits,
and hence often grossly underestimated.
- Five discriminators in favour
of openness (Eric Raymond, The Magic Cauldron)
- correctness of design and
implementation cannot readily be verified by means other than
independent peer review
- the software is critical
to the user's control of his/her business
- the software establishes
or enables a common computing and communications infrastructure
- key methods (or functional
equivalents of them) are part of common engineering knowledge.
- The risks of closed source
(Alan Cox): http://www.linux.org.uk/FEATURE/risk.html
- How can proprietary software
help the open source movement?
- ISVs that benefit from a
level playing field (e.g. Linux) actively support the OSS developer
community with equipment and cash
- ISVs sometimes pioneer useful
new technology that the Open Source movement can emulate (e.g.
Adobe Acrobat, MS Office)
- Vendors of major packages
(e.g. SAP, Oracle, IBM, Rational, CA) achieve larger market share
on the back of Linux and other OSS technologies, so e.g. give
away free licences to developers on OSS platforms
- "Linux is the root,
the endorsement of major ISVs is the trunk" (Nicholas Petreley)
- Commercial organisations
are beginning to commission the development of specific Open
Source applications (see e.g. SourceXchange)