[clug] Interesting OSS guide..

Rasjid Wilcox rasjidw at openminddev.net
Sat Oct 25 14:59:38 EST 2003

On Friday 24 October 2003 21:09, Randall Crook wrote:
> Just read an interesting article in the register about a eu guide to
> migrating to OSS. 

Haven't read the guide yet, but The Register quotes:

"OSS is a disruptive technology. It enables a fundamental change in the way 
organisations provide IT services. It is a move away from a product to a 
service based industry... However if your attitude to IT is 'Who do I sue 
when things go wrong?' then perhaps OSS is not for you."


While possibly true, I think the whole 'Who do I sue when things go wrong?' is 
a _big_ red herring.  Have there been *any* cases where a company has sued 
Microsoft for damages due to defective software, and got anything more than a 
refund?  I'm fairly sure there are not many, if any at all.  If there are, 
why aren't we all launching a class action against Microsoft for all the 
damages caused by the viruses they let propogate with their software?

As far as I can tell, the answer to 'Who do I sue when things go wrong?' is 
pretty much the same for Windows as it is for Linux.  If you are dealing with 
an IT solution provider (Company X) and you have a contract with then to do 
service Y by date Z, and they fail to provide, then you can sue Company X, if 
you so choose.  This is true regardless of whether Company X's solution is 
built on top of Linux or on top of Windows.  (In practice, one might be 
better of working with Company X - at their expense - to get Y finished and 
working, rather than suing them.)  I don't see how the underlying platform 
makes any difference ... except of course that if Company X finds that their 
solution Y isn't working due to a bug in the platform, on Linux they can fix 
it themselves, and on Windows they can't.

If you are dealing with a single 'boxed product' Foo, then it doesn't matter 
whether Foo was sold to you by Microsoft, or Foo was written by open-source 
software writer John Smith and you downloaded it off the net, you are not 
going to get anything more than the purchase price back, even if Foo caused 
your business to fail or the world to end.  Again, regards suing there is 
little difference. Regards actually being able to fix things, there is a huge 
difference, and open-source wins hands down.

A couple of years ago their was a minor bug in a Python library I wanted to 
use.  I looked at the code, and half a day later I had a fix.  I think the 
chances of me being able to do that with MS VisualBasic is pretty remote. 



Rasjid Wilcox
Canberra, Australia (UTC +10 hrs)

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