On Sun, Jul 22, 2007 at 10:54:58AM +0900, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky wrote:
> Chad Perrin wrote:
> 
> > There are cases where, in a strictly technical sense, the
> > benefits of a given piece of software *do* overcome the detriments, but
> > for my money this is not one of them.  This in no way means that whether
> > or not something is open source is the only, or even biggest, concern,
> > but rather that whether it's open source is simply an *important*
> > concern.
> 
> To me, viability and energy of the development team are more important
> than whether I can hack on the source or not, except for software in
> very specialized areas. For example, there are a lot of Petri net
> analysis and modeling packages out there that are freely available to
> the academic community in source form but not for commercial users.

For the most part, whether or not *I personally* can "hack on the source"
is secondary to many of the other benefits of open source software, since
I personally don't even see any of the source of about 98% of the open
source software I use.  For instance, I've never seen the source of GCC,
and maybe I never will (though I'm trying to find the time to contribute
to another open source C/C++ compiler project).  It still has benefits
due simply to its status as an open source project that are not shared
by, say, the Microsoft C/C++ compiler.


> 
> I'd like to hack on such stuff, but I can't. But I *don't* want to hack
> on an IDE, or a word processor, or a browser. In those cases, open
> source only means I probably don't have to pay for it and I return the
> favor by filing bug reports rather than trashing them in my blog. * :) I
> want IDEs and browsers and word processors that do my bidding and make
> easier hacking on the stuff I want to hack on. :)

That's a pretty clear indication of one of the benefits: unlike with
something such as Visual Studio, you could file a bug report with the
developers of an open source IDE (like Camelia, Eclipse, or KDevelop, as
examples) and actually have some reasonable expectation it'll make a
difference.  I prefer software that gets fixed in response to complaints
from users over software that just gets a bunch of unnecessary -- and,
often enough, annoying -- new misfeatures with the next release.

Not all closed source software suffers that fate, of course, but unlike
the case of open source software, if the developers start behaving badly
with proprietary software you can't just fork it (or hope someone else
will do so).


> 
> * Except for Firefox and OpenOffice -- those I *have* trashed in my blog. :)

OpenOffice.org's only problem is that it's an office suite.  There's no
such thing as a good "office suite".

Firefox, alas, is the best of a tremendously bad breed.  I wish there was
something better out there, and I've toyed with the idea of creating a
GUI web browser of my own just so I won't have to suffer with what's
currently available, but it's going to have to wait on me having more
free time.  Lots more.

-- 
CCD CopyWrite Chad Perrin [ http://ccd.apotheon.org ]
Isaac Asimov: "Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is
completely programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest."