Re: A cautionary note on open-source development

From: Arthur Keller <voting_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Wed Mar 16 2005 - 14:20:08 CST

"Open-Source Movement Now In Hands of Hired Guns"
  Investor's Business Daily (03/15/05) P. A4; Brown, Ken Spencer

  Corporate programmers have for the most part supplanted volunteer
programmers as developers of core open-source software. IBM committed
$1 billion to the development and promotion of the open-source Linux
operating system four years ago, and has since made over 500 software
patents and 30 software applications freely accessible to open-source
programmers. "As Linux goes mainstream, the market gets bigger and
the dollars available around the world grow, it becomes a great
business opportunity," notes Open Source Development Labs CEO Stuart
Cohen. Many companies are devoting their developers' time to the
improvement of Linux in the hopes of ensuring that the OS is
compatible with their hardware and software, while Cohen says some
firms are gambling that increasing demand for Linux will in turn
raise sales of related products. Corporate involvement benefits Linux
by enhancing the OS with industrial-grade features that volunteer
programmers would take years to develop. Linux creator Linus Torvalds
is not concerned about any company dominating the development of
Linux so that it gains a competitive advantage over rival Linux
firms, because open-source development follows a democratic model to
guarantee that only the best ideas prevail. In addition, improvements
to the software are available to anyone through Linux's open
licensing scheme. Andrew Morton, a chief deputy of Torvalds',
maintains that most programmers, even commercial ones, develop a
sense of loyalty to Linux that is stronger than corporate fealty.

At 11:27 AM -0500 3/14/05, laird popkin wrote:
>My instinct would be that it'll be easy for OVC to attract reviewers
>-- any academic with any connection to voting issues would jump right
>in, IMO. But getting people to build a certifiable system is (IMO)
>more than can be done on a pure volunteer basis. But if we can pay a
>core of developers to keep things rolling ahead, I would expect to see
>lots of people building useful stuff around that core (e.g.
>translations, adding features, etc.) similar to the way that the
>Mozilla project as a core of paid developers with tons of volunteers
>(and companies) making skins, plug-ins, etc.
>On Sun, 13 Mar 2005 00:16:18 -0800, Arthur Keller <> wrote:
>> Volunteer scrutiny is a lot easier to achieve than volunteer
>> development. In fact, simply being open for scrutiny is itself
>> somewhat of a check on the development process, independent of
>> exactly how much scrutiny actually materializes.
>> There is also the potential that such scrutiny will be provided by
>> closed-source vendors who want to discredit the open source system,
>> although they are more likely to disclose potential problems right
>> before an election rather than early enough to fix before one. The
>> potential for such a bombshell imposes quite a burden on the software
>> development and testing process.
>> Best regards,
>> Arthur
>> At 9:17 PM -0800 3/12/05, Ron Crane wrote:
>> >Yes, strictly speaking. But proper public review of OVC's software
>> >(and any hardware upon which it runs) will require volunteer
>> >participation, so it's not entirely off the mark.
>> >
>> >-Ron
>> >
>> >On Mar 12, 2005, at 4:15 PM, Arthur Keller wrote:
>> >
>> >>Isn't that really a cautionary tale on *volunteer* development, not
>> >>*open source* development?
>> >>
>> >>Best regards,
>> >>Arthur
>> >>
>> >>At 4:08 PM -0800 3/12/05, Ron Crane wrote:
>> >>>This was blogged by one of the core reviewers of Firefox:
>> >>>
>> >>>"This is bugging me, and its been bugging me for a while. In
>> >>>nearly three years, we haven't built up a community of hackers
>> >>>around Firefox, for a myriad of reasons, and now I think we're in
>> >>>trouble. Of the six people who can actually review in Firefox,
> > >>>four are AWOL, and one doesn't do a lot of reviews....
>> >>>
>> >>>continued at .
>> >>>
>> >>>The Mozilla Foundation and associated groups are open source
>> >>>pioneers. It's worth seeing what they have to teach.
>> >>>
>> >>>-Ron
>> --
>> Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4507
>> tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
>> _______________________________________________
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>- Laird Popkin, cell: 917/453-0700
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Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA  94303-4507
tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Thu Mar 31 23:17:07 2005

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