[TriLUG] Can open source solutions be viable companies?
28 Jun 2002 09:57:32 -0600
On Fri, 2002-06-28 at 08:40, Tarus Balog wrote:
> Vestal, Roy L. said:
> > Question to me:
> > "Do you have pointers to info on how open-source solutions can still be
> > viable companies. There is a big debate in the bioinformatics community
> > about this, and I thought you might have some info."
> I need you to clarify one thing - are you talking about using open-source
> solutions in your company or are you talking about building a company to
> supply open-source solutions?
> I think the former is a definite yes. In fact, I just finished a project
> with a bioinformatics company in New Jersey that was moving all of its
> software from HP-UX to Linux (including Oracle).
> As for running a company that supplies open-source solutions, I believe it
> really depends on the business model. While I may be opening myself up to
> flames here, I would never initially open-source, say, a computer game.
> Why? Because when I buy a computer game, I expect to be able to install it
> and run it with little outside help. Also, the cost of the game is pretty
> minimal, so it isn't a real financial hardship. [Note that this applies to
> the initial release - I can make a case for releasing the code to a game
> after a certain amount of time has passed.]
Well put, Tarus!
I totally agree with the view that open source is great for users and
developers but difficult (though not impossible) as a business model
*IF* your business centers mostly around the selling of software.
I'd also like to point out that there is a continuum between completely
Free and Open projects and those with totally closed (and possibly
draconian) licenses. Sometimes a mix works. It isn't always an
all-or-nothing proposition from either the users' or the developers'
There are a number of companies in my general area (research in
environmental and chemical engineering) that offer closed-source
products that work well on Linux and integrate nicely with many
open-source projects. Heres a sampling of products that our research
group gladly paid (many $1000s) to run on Linux and use in conjunction
with our own home-grown and other open source projects:
While I don't use them, I know that there are analogous closed-source
commercial products for other fields (inc. bioinformatics: databases,
search engines) that work well both on Free/open-source operating
systems and in conjunction with Free/open-source projects.
And while on the topic of which software is used, heres a sampling of
Free and open-source projects upon which our lab depends:
Linux, Apache, PERL, GCC, XFree86, gphoto2, numerous GNU tools
Edward H. Hill III, PhD
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Colorado School of Mines | Phone: 303-273-3483
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