It was a surprise to see Richard Stallman's signature on a letter to the European Commission calling on them to block the acquisition of MySQL by Oracle with its proposed acquisition of Sun. The surprise wasn't primarily because of that position. Clearly we are all concerned, and clearly there is scope for free software advocates to differ in their conclusions, as the intervention by leading European free software lawyer Carlo Piana shows.
In my previous posts, I've drawn an analogy between open source software and organic food, hinting that in both cases the rush to create a working brand lost some of the essence of the vision. I've suggested that having businesses identify "open source" purely on the basis of one "input" - using an OSI-approved license - is no longer adequate, because the success of the open source approach has led so many different companies to want to exploit the name.
I read Sun Tzu's The Art of War more than 10 years ago, and there is one bit of advice that I still use daily in my business dealings. It can be paraphrased as "when attacking an entrenched competitor, you need four times the force. Ten times the force is better." Thus, when Red Hat was building its enterprise business, I made sure that our sales people were focused on customers who could immediately measure 2x the performance at 1/2 the cost (yielding a 4x performance/cost advantage), although 10x performance/cost was more advantageous. It seems that Sun Tzu's math has been understood by the London Stock Exchange, who are seeing a more than 6x improvement in the all-important measure of latency, whilst gaining an impressive 2x cost advantage. No wonder they are switching from a proprietary platform to one based on open source software!
When I wrote about Organic Software recently, I was largely eulogising the community dimension of open source software. But there's another way in which the idea of "organic software" is helpful to understanding the dynamic in free and open source software. Here are the comments I have been making at Open World Forum here in Paris.
This week I'm speaking at Open World Forum in Paris on the subject of open source and the digital recovery (la relance numérique), and for a change I'm going to try writing down all my references before my talk rather than after it.
This weekend we went to Winchester Farmers' Market. It was a beautiful day and the season is especially rich so there's a wonderful range of produce on offer. Our larder and fridge are now full of produce grown nearby: onions, squash, courgettes, beans, fir apple potatoes, garlic, watercress and plenty more.