Rumors of Open Source Death Greatly Exaggerated

Isn’t it fun when the mainstream press figures out what you have been up to for all these years?  The New York Times carried an article today about the “elusive” business model of open source software, focusing on acquisitions like Oracle/Sun/MySQL.  The NYT piece in turn prompted this blog post saying that open source is “dead” as a business model.

Just for the record, getting acquired is not a failed business model, nor is it a dead one.  Maybe I’ve been in Silicon Valley too long, but getting bought for valuations in excess of those justified by revenue or profit is what we call success out here in the Wild West.  In fact, producing a high-quality, low-price alternative to an existing product, and being bought by the existing product’s owner, is an old and proven game.  It doesn’t matter whether the alternative is open source software or just a better mousetrap.

Anyway, I love any prediction that open source is dead.  The last time someone said that to me, it was 2002. 

Microsoft Open Sources .NET Micro Framework

Microsoft released Version 4.0 under an Apache 2.0 license.   The .NET Micro Framework is a “development and execution environment for resource-constrained devices.”  .NET is a generalized development system (including standard libraries) for Microsoft platforms, and resource-constrained devices mostly means embedded systems or single-purpose devices like cable boxes, medical devices or kiosks.   The .NET Micro Framework enables development of .NET applications on these devices.

TCP/IP stack and cryptography stack were omitted  from the open source release.  The TCP/IP stack was third party software not available for open source release, and the cryptography stack was described as replaceable. 

Microsoft re-releases code with unintentional GPLv2 compliance problem

Microsoft announced that a Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool contained GPLv2 code.  The code was introduced by a contract developer and was apparently not caught by Microsoft prior to release.  Accordingly, Microsoft re-released the tool under GPLv2.

Let’s see if anyone in the free software community acknowledges Microsoft’s good faith in resonding to this, particularly after Brad Kuhn’s posting this week urging giving GPL violators the benefit of the doubt.

Google releases open source programming language

Google launched GO, a programming language it describes as fast, safe, expressive, concurrent, and garbage-collected.   

GO is general purpose programming language alternative to languages like C, intended to address C’s lack of “garbage collection” — which means eliminating unnecessary memory usage during the running of programs.  “Safe” means fewer cases of memory errors.  In contrast, a language like C allows very direct access to computer memory, but if you make a mistake in doing this, you get very bad programmatic results (like crashing).  “Concurrent” means the ability to run many procedures at a time, which in turn causes memory management problems in languages like C.  “Expressive” means, generally, the ability to accomplish tasks with less code.  C, in contrast, while very powerful, tends to be more long and formulaic than “high level” languages like PERL.

The GO compiler is open source — released under a BSD-style license.