[clug] Your Best arguments please

Michael James michael at james.st
Fri Aug 8 02:31:21 EST 2003

On Thursday 21 August 2003 21:42, Carl Jackson wrote:
>     I'm currently corresponding with an ACT MLA about OSS legislation
> and the MLA has challenged me with the article at the link below .  I
> would appreciate the input of the list Brains Trust on the best
> counter-arguments.  Any and all opinions welcome.  Give it your best -
> there is a vote hanging in the balance here...

I'm working in Bioinformatics an area of specialized smaller-volume software.

There are no shortage of offerings either open or closed source for say,
 experiment management ie Lab notebooks kept in databases.

Trouble is picking the winner among the closed source providers.
Even if you have the expertise to recognize the best solution,
 that is no guarantee they will win or even stay in business.
And if they don't, you're cooked, you have no code,
 just the binaries you are running and no-one else to go to.
Complete disaster, no survivors, back to square one.

After a few times round this loop the line,
 "Just pay us the license fee and all your problems will be solved
 by turnkey package X", is sounding less attractive.

A more robust solution is to start with open source,
 hire staff or contractors to implement it in your context,
 even if it has to be evolved into what you want.
First off, the money stays closer to home.

 Down the track if you loose a programmer/have a row with the contractors
 and there are plenty of computer graduates (not belittling our skills)
 that can get up to speed with your package and carry you on.
If you put your development back into a viable open source project,
 there is an available pool of expertise on the mailing lists.

This is not an argument I have to put, I hear it around me,
 "Locked up proprietary solutions, no way,
 no matter how attractive they sound,
 we poured a stack of money into them
 and ended up with nothing.
Stick to developing within open source,
 slow and steady wins the race."

my .02,

PS:	Privately, and not an argument I'd use:
 the OS "pool of knowledge" sounds like karma,
 a company that releases code into an OS project,
 can draw back from among the project's wider community.
 It's as real as other more recognised forms of goodwill
 and allows "corporate knowledge" to be carried outside the company.

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