James Governor says open source is like a personal trainer for commercial software. For instance:
MySQL is pretty damn busy; it has DB2 and Oracle on the treadmill, and it got Ingres to do some serious cardio work too.
Yes, that's a positive effect of open source software. Proprietary software has to prove its worth and it must be we worth the price. One powerful example is apple. I was amazed at the number of apple laptops at last year's python conference.
Laptops are hardware, but in this case it is also apple's partly-proprietary operating system (unix-based) that matters. Most python-related software is developed on linux, but for laptops apple seems to be really compelling. Compelling enough to lure a lot of open source developers into its fold :-) A linux-using friend whose opinion I trust is also enthousiastic about his apple powerbook.
Apple is probably giving windows a workout, but is itself continually threathened by the likes of KDE, a good linux desktop. The progress and innovation I've seen over the years in KDE is amazing. Apple 's got to have a pretty decent stamina to keep ahead!
I think, however, that open source software has some pretty strong points of its own. It's not just good for giving the "commercial" guys a workout. In many ways and for many fields it is actually a better choice. Take for instance investment security: open source won't go out of business. There's no real safety in big players. Even the likes of peoplesoft get bought, causing uncertainty in many companies. You won't have that kind of worry with a good open source project. One-man projects with unreadable code: that's unsafe. But, for instance, Zope or Plone with its big number of developers, well-documented interfaces, well-tested code: you won't be left floundered as a company that bets on that. Guaranteed.
My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.
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