As part of the open source course I’m taking at Seneca our professor, David Humphery asked the students to read an article, watch a video and listen to an audio file as the very first assignment for the course.
I found all of them to be quite interesting and informative, although I had already watched the aforementioned video in the past. Nonetheless they sculpt an intriguing perspective concerning the rivlary between the open source and proprietary ideologies. At the forefront of this war are the two Operating Systems, Linux and Windows.
The author of the previously mentioned article talks about how linux development is like a bazaar with different parties who have differing priorities and agendas fighting with eachother. I have to agree with him when he says that it is simply a miracle that a coherent and stable OS can result from such a mess. Here in lies the weakness and, in my opinion, the strength of open source development. Open source is meant to be chaotic and unorganized. When many people are working together from different locations with the internet as their only communication it is only normal for problems to develop. Many times there is no collective vision for open source projects which leads to arguments. However, this can also be considered a strength because this openess allows everyone to contribute their ideas and suggestions. The whole concept of open source software is that anyone that wants to, can add their contribution to the project in anyway possible. This is what makes open source development different and in a way, better than proprietary development methods.
The video takes an in depth look into the early years of open source development. I have to say that, like others I am quite disappointed in how Linux has failed to scale the Microsoft wall. In the early years there was so much promise but so far Microsoft seems to be indestructible even after considering the relative failures of Vista. In fact I would that think the people disillusioned by Vista have made the Jump to Mac instead of going over to Linux. Now why is this happening? There are many answers to this question. It could be because the average user doesn’t know much about Linux or how the abundance of Linux flavors confuses non-techies. Fact is that what we are doing is not working. Something needs to change for Linux to enter the main stream. I am sad to report that even I don’t use Linux at the moment.
Overall, this course is looking very promising. It is different and more realistic. I think I am going to enjoy it very much. I know its going to take a lot of hard work and dedication, hopefully I am up to the task.