February 04, 2003

Commercial versus open-source and productivity

Productivity Gains? What Productivity Gains? - David talks about some differences between open source and commercial software. I’d like to archive this to show people whenever they raise an eyebrow at the various OS components we use.

The answer to that is complex but it's clear that big commerical product teams can learn a lot from examining the build-install-config processes of the best open source projects. One could even argue that open source projects benefit from a lack of marketing people.

I don't think this is true for all open-source projects -- how many times have you been bit by bad or nonexistent documentation for a pre-1.0 project? But for infrastructure projects (which is most of what I use), I couldn't imagine dealing with a commercial version. But the point is that the people who deal with the technology have to be given greater leeway in the tools we use and the foundations we build on. Refusal to grant such leeway sometimes indicates a fatal lack of trust from management.

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