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Is Open Source Different In Europe Than In the US? 399

An anonymous reader writes "The first Europe Open Source Think Tank just concluded and Larry Augustin posted some interesting observations on open source in Europe versus the US. Essentially, he says that users in Europe care more about the open source nature of a product than do US users. US users are just trying to save a buck while European users actually care about access to the source code. Do Slashdot readers observe the same thing? Are the reasons for using open source software different in other parts of the world as well?"
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Is Open Source Different In Europe Than In the US?

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  • For shame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by illuminum ( 1356693 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:01AM (#25136257)
    Are we Americans really this stupid on this many levels?
    • Re:For shame (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:03AM (#25136281) Homepage Journal
      Yes. From TFA:

      Primary reason for adopting Open Source:
      -(Europe) Avoid vendor lock-in.
      -(US) Cost.

      Key driver of commercial Open source business creation:
      -(Europe) Creation of a local software industry.
      -(US) Venture capital/entrepreneur-driven to create big business and make money for investors.

      Dual licensing business models.:
      -(Europe) Not true open source. Proprietary business models using Open Source for PR and marketing.
      -(US) Widely accepted as the most common Open Source business mode

      Software sales model.:
      -(Europe) Channel oriented: VARs and SIs.
      -(US) Direct.

      Open Source business models.:
      -(Europe) Service and support subscription focused; 100% open source software.
      -(US) Don't want to be in services business. The focus is on products, typically proprietary add-ons or an Enterprise Edition paired with an Open Source product edition.

      Expectations around "Open Source" products:
      -(Europe) All code is available under Open Source. There is often a community governance of community participation model.
      -(US) Same, but not necessarily all products are available under an Open Source license. Commercially licensed versions of the products are commonly available. Projects are managed by a commercial vendor.

      ...and the best reason for using open source anywhere: Not having to worry about those pesky BSA raids []!

      • Re:For shame (Score:5, Insightful)

        by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:24AM (#25136645)

        Primary reason for adopting Open Source:
        -(Europe) Avoid vendor lock-in.
        -(US) Cost.

        ...because let's be brutally honest here: the US cares less about sending money to Redmond, Seattle than Europe does. For Europe it means a loss of value on the continent, but for the US the money stays 'at home', and contributes to local jobs, taxes, etc.

        So yes, Europe cares about Open Source in a different way than the US. It might very well be the only way that serious software development in Europe can compete with the US...

        • Re:For shame (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:41AM (#25136925)

          In all honesty being that I work for a Global company, Europe has I think a much higher quality of life. They are not rushed, they take their time and smell the roses. They have more free time as well and vacations. I am a geek as well and as a geek when I take vacation I typically end up looking into a new technology or exploring something I do not have the time for while working. However I get interruptions while I am on vacation from work as well.

          Therefore, they take the time to look through the source code. Here in the US, we do not have the time, so basically we just buy something that gets done what we need to get done open source or not. Even if had the source code we wouldn't look at it. There are applications we have purchased in the company that we also purchase the source code for, however when we have problems we do not look at the source we call support, because we need an answer and we need it now.

          • Re:For shame (Score:4, Insightful)

            by ZTiger ( 682967 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:39PM (#25141159)
            I'd agree that most American's are workaholics. I work for a multinational company and our IT guy that does site installations always comments on how he rushes to get through an installation while the Euro guys are looking at him like he is crazy because he will stay at work 12 hours while he is there. We have a good laugh when he went to Spain and they were gone for 2 hours in the afternoon and came back with alcohol on their breath. I wonder how a 24x7 IT shop that has business critical systems compares between America and Europe?
        • Re:For shame (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:56AM (#25137263)

          A loss of money to the continent? Who the hell thinks of Europe as a single financial entity. Where the money is going is the last thing that anyone ever thinks about.

        • Re:For shame (Score:5, Insightful)

          by somersault ( 912633 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:08PM (#25137467) Homepage Journal

          Your first paragraph makes no sense. If it were true, then things would be the other way round - Europe would be worried a lot more about the cost of software than vendor lock in. As it is, if this article is correct it means that Americans don't care about feeding money into their economy, they only want stuff to be free and don't care as much if there is vendor lock-in. While Europeans are happy to pay money to American companies as long as it means they have a choice.

          It's also pretty funny that you somehow think American software is magically superior to any equivalent software coded in Europe, unless that software is open source? Games perhaps aren't "serious software" but they tend to require more serious coding skills than developing other commercial client-side software, and there are plenty of talented European and Asian development houses. I don't know a lot of commercial office software, but how about SAGE []?

          Sure, most big software houses have their headquarters in the US, and Europe is the home of Linux and a lot of good open source apps. But look back again at your quote, and you could see that is because the US cares about money, and Europe cares about encouraging innovation and giving people good products. It is not necessarily because Europeans somehow can't code good code unless they are doing it for free.

          • The price of freedom (Score:4, Interesting)

            by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:46PM (#25140331) Homepage

            Your first paragraph makes no sense. If it were true, then things would be the other way round - Europe would be worried a lot more about the cost of software than vendor lock in.

            No, not at all. There's a distinction in the European culture between freedom and costs (as demonstrated by the non ambiguous words in most european languages to describe what in english collides under the single word "free").

            Freedom is very important, whatever the costs.

            Vendor lock-in is much more important because of the independence that open-source gives us towards the US (= where all the commercial software is developed).
            If we were going for the cheap, we would go for whatever costs the less upfront - longterm implication notwithstanding.

            If we go for a different solution, maybe cheaper but that still locks us with an oversea partner, we would still be dependant on that partner, not in charge ourselves.
            If we potentially go for a situation which costs loads of money but is *our* solution, developed *here*, we would still go for it even if it would cost more, as long as it let us get rid of the Microsoft dominance.

            That's also why all this FUD-studies about the TCO for Linux doesn't have such a strong effect in Europe, and that's why you regularly hear articles on /. about this or that german/french/whatever municipality which has decided to go completely open-source.
            Well, maybe the cost of migration will be big, but the gain over long term of getting independence and relying on solutions and software that we personally can control is what matters at most.

        • Re:For shame (Score:4, Interesting)

          by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:57PM (#25138361) Journal

          While your post "sounds" reasonable it makes no sense.

          No european company cares where the money is going to (to another european service or product provider or to an US one).

          Only (if at all) the governments might think about issues like that. Most big european companies are multi national anyway.

          There is still 100 times more money going to Microsoft, Oracle, IBM than to any OS software (or that is saved by OS software).

          I think one big reason behind OS in Europe is: 90% of commercial inhouse software development is done in Java and Python, and not in C#. While OS software like iBatis exists for .NET and also for Java there is still 100 times more high quality Java software (see than there is anything for .NET.

          With tools like Eclipse and the numerous plugins you simply start working. For no cost, for no vendor lock in. Everything that is used to drive your data (hibernate, iBatis) everything dealing with XML, everything regarding internet (HTTP, Mail, FTP) is available as OSS.

          Everything regarding MDMA or MDSD (Andromeda / Open Architecture Ware) is OOS ...

          The next prime factor is: human resources. You always find some one who has a deep experience in a specific OSS product / tool.

          Looking at my ivy repository: I see roughly 120 OSS java libraries used. About 5 from other vendors in my industry, and about 5 from commercial vendors like Oracle.

          Why should I pay for a commercial PDF formatting library when an OSS version with a more thought out and easier to learn API exists?

          The software we write simply would not have any chance to be written in a reasonable amount of time if we would not use OSS libraries. Where is the closed source alternative to ivy or if you prefer the other one, maven? Where is it for ant? Jython? Grovvy? And well, strictly speaking Java was not OSS when we started using it, but without Swing our software would be written in Qt likely ...


        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by DittoBox ( 978894 )

          Where the hell is "Redmond, Seattle"?

      • Re:For shame (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kadagan AU ( 638260 ) <kadagan@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:34AM (#25136813) Journal
        But were there Americans involved in these discussions, or just a bunch of Europeans talking about what Americans think?
      • Re:For shame (Score:5, Informative)

        by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:39AM (#25136889)

        Also from TFA:

        This isn't a scientific survey, but reflects opinions I heard consistently from multiple people over the two days of the conference:

        I have a salt shaker if you'd like a grain with that.

      • Re:For shame (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Bat Country ( 829565 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:16PM (#25137605) Homepage

        This just in: Americans like money

        Seriously, why is this surprising to anyone? In the US of A it's always been about the bottom line, at least as far back as the railroads. We're a country which, culturally speaking, wants to get something for nothing, be totally financially independent and not have to work particularly hard to either get on top or stay there once we get there.

        So naturally, the first thing we look at is cost - we can pay $1500 per seat for all of our software, or get free alternatives for about half the stuff. We're wired like that. Maybe we're not all so cavalier about it or proud of the idea, but, uh, let's reverse the situation from reality to prove a point. Show of hands, anybody born and raised in the USA:

        Who would pay extra for a product which came with the source code if you could get closed source freeware which did the same thing?

        I don't see anywhere in the article that they bother giving numbers on preference or who in "Europe" they were talking to. Speaking purely in terms of cultural mindset diversity, saying "Europeans" is rather like saying "Asians..." Not particularly illuminating. Depending on what part of Europe you're talking about, you may be talking about a much smaller, far more technically savvy populace who have been programming since they were 10 or 11. Of course access to the source would be important to them. But that's not to say that if they had to pay to get the source, they'd necessarily still consider it a bargain.

        The question isn't one of greed, it's of expertise and interest.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nine-times ( 778537 )

        Primary reason for adopting Open Source: -(Europe) Avoid vendor lock-in. -(US) Cost.

        In fairness, could it be an issue of what people choose to talk about as much as how they make the decision? If I start telling my boss that we should use an open source solution to avoid vendor lock-in, he'll ask me why he should care about vendor lock-in. He'll want a practical reason, and since it's a business, that practical reason should probably have something to do with making money or losing money.

        Now if I explain to my boss that vendor lock-in is bad because it'll mean that some outside company

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Are we Americans really this stupid on this many levels?

      We elected Bush. Twice. Yeah, I'd say we are. Ugh.

    • Re:For shame (Score:4, Interesting)

      by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:25AM (#25136667) Homepage

      Ask a stupid question, get a lot of stupid answers.

      The short of it is that the people of the US all have ADHD and very short attention spans. We work for short term gains and care nothing about anything more than a year out. Since the 80's, we have become a society of instant gratification junkies and have come to expect it from everything we interact with. And we habitually do things without knowing why we do them or even understanding what we are doing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:03AM (#25136283)

    I did enjoy this set of observations, but must disagree with some of the conclusions.

    Under "Software Sales Model" he states:

            "The direct model doesn't seem to be widely excepted here [Europe]."

    and then goes on to speculate

            "Perhaps it's because the VARs and SIs in Europe are more heavily invested in Open Source than they are in the US."

            I disagree with the speculative part. To support my thinking, another quote:

    Under "Open Source Business Models"

            "Support and service subscription models clearly dominated the thinking among the Europeans here at OSTT. This contrasts with our thinking in the US that services models are not scalable and that the models should be product based."

            For me, those observed perceptions actually lead to the Europeans needing more stringent care about your vendor's model. Basically, if you're going to rely on someone else for support and service, you have to be very cautious about "not getting locked in." If you're buying your product like Lego blocks and supporting it yourself, from the great single-piece-leggo-auction-free-for-all, then you are free to choose the occasional Duplo block, if it solves your problem, and if you find you have too many of them, you can replace them later, because in this case you buyer is taking on more of the role of the solution-archtitecht.

            I get to see both methods work. In my work place we buy lots of RedHat support licenses for our commercial endeavors and enjoy it's tremendous stability as a platform. In my home computing life, when I need a software widget, I click freshmeat first, try to find the open source version of something, Paypal the author $10 if it's nicely done, but if none of them suit my needs, then I'll try shareware next, and (if I'm desperate) commercial software last. This model gets the job done, and I don't believe it's any less-healthy to the software world.

  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:05AM (#25136311) Journal

    I use Open Source for two reasons ....

    I like Open Source ideals (free, as in speech)
    I like Open Source results (free as in beer)

    I also live in the US, so please categorize me correctly in the "save money" column, until I move to Europe, when you should categorize me in the other column.

    This isn't an XOR problem, so who cares which is "more important", especially when the result for using Open Source is the same either way?

    • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:10AM (#25136415) Journal
      For me, the biggest benefit is avoiding license hassles. Saving money and "yuo have teh sorce code so fix it yuorself" are both great also, but take a back seat to being able to just stick an install CD into another machine without having to worry about licensing.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:18AM (#25136559)

        Yes, and also if you want to try new software it makes it much easier. Simply download it and go ahead. No need to worry whether you have some restricted trial version. And if you decide to use it, you don't need to care about getting the paperwork done for getting the money (which might not apply widely, but where I am this is a big hassle, and from "Hey we should use it" to "Hey the package has been delivered" usually 3 months pass by).

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        For me, the biggest benefit is avoiding license hassles. Saving money and "yuo have teh sorce code so fix it yuorself" are both great also, but take a back seat to being able to just stick an install CD into another machine without having to worry about licensing.

        Something being open source doesn't imply that you can legally take the install CD and use it on another machine. Just because the source is free doesn't imply that the usage is free. That's usually the case, but you shouldn't assume it. So, you

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Pharmboy ( 216950 )

        Bingo! One classic example for me was two weeks ago. A friends computer was trashed from spyware. It was easier to just wipe it and reinstall. He didn't have the original Compaq disk (computer from 2003). I used another genuine OEM disk. After installing, it wouldn't authenticate itself. So I have to get ahold of Microsoft....

        I tried the online service, which failed. I used the online chat with the service rep (jerk), who told me that in order to use a different disk, I had to pay $99 to relicense t

      • by db32 ( 862117 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:42AM (#25136949) Journal
        Please find your CD jacket, turn it upside down, light a candle, and read the reflection of the antipiracy sticker in the mirror. This is your 50 digit registration code. Once you enter your registration code the software will use your modem to dial 1-900-act-ive1 to activate your software. If you do not have a modem please write down the code on a 3x5 piece of paper and include a self addressed stamped envelope and we will send you a second registration code that you will enter before calling 1-900-act-ive2 to speak with a live representitive that does not speak your native language that will give you your activation code.

        Once activation is complete every time you start the software it will connect to our server that is online most of the time to verify your access. This process is very quick due to our server's high speed 56k modem. Also, periodically while you are using the software it will take a screenshot and send it to the server for a specialist to determine if you are using the software in accordance with the EULA. This is to ensure the highest quality service support.
    • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:13AM (#25136461)
      Because if the primary reason for using open source software is to save money, it is easy for a proprietary vendor to try and gain an edge in a particular market by lowering or eliminating their acquisition price and focusing on service contracts. There is nothing inherent to open source that guarantees that it will cost less to buy than proprietary code, nor is there anything inherent to open source that guarantees that the long term costs will be less than with proprietary code. Some of the most stable, reliable software platforms on Earth are proprietary -- z/VM, VMS, etc.

      When the primary reason is to remain free from vendor lock-in, or to have the freedom to modify the code as needed, or the freedom to redistribute the code as needed, then it becomes much harder for proprietary vendors to compete.
      • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:25AM (#25136673) Journal

        "There is nothing inherent to open source that guarantees that it will cost less to buy than proprietary code"

        This is 100% false. Even if the proprietary code supplier gives code away, the support costs are set by the proprietary source vendor, not by open market. With Open Source, one can change support vendors or even grow your own support at any time. Vendor lockin is a cost, even if the actual cost is less up front, it rarely is long term.

        And that is just for Source Code support. Now, lets talk about data lockin and now we're really adding to the long term costs.

        I currently manage a system that has YEARS of data locked in a proprietary format, and the software just plain sucks. But there is no easy (ie "cheap") way to move to another vendor at this point. So, we are stuck, until it becomes too painful to live with.

    • by pbhj ( 607776 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:59AM (#25137315) Homepage Journal

      What does OSS have to do with "free, as in speech". OSS is not about avoiding government censorship (is it?) it's free /libre/, free to use and abuse, free to modify, free to alter and adapt, free to better for your needs or those of others ... I don't see how that has anything to do with "free, as in speech"?

      I'm guessing that in Europe people like FOSS because it's free-libre and free-gratis, whilst in America the populous doesn't know what "libre" means [oh God I hope I spelt it right!] and so make some weird analogy with free speech that misses the mark entirely. Surely "free, as in speech" would be for warez that can't be sold legally but can be given away due to some loophole?

      But I'm open to being wrong.

      Seriously though can't we just all agree to use libre and gratis?

      [Ya, probably flamebait, but everyone loves a barbecue, right?!]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mewsenews ( 251487 )

        when people say "free as in beer" that doesn't mean it is about free beer. when they say "free as in speech" that doesn't mean it is about free speech.

        you understand the difference between gratis and libre, the "as in" similes have become shorthand to explain the difference to people who are not aware of it.

  • >> Are the reasons for using open source software different in other parts of the world as well?

    In Soviet Russia open source software uses you.

    I know, I know.. Mod me down now. Thank you.

  • well, DUH (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shivetya ( 243324 )

    Americans have always had more choices and as such were not as dependent on needing an alternative. One thing that shocked me was how much my brother in law pays for the same exact software down under. I can see it in pricing on a lot of things.

    America had several advantages, a larger number of people united by one language and culture with open borders for a longer time. The free movement of ideas has no limits when it came to states but country lines are a whole 'nuther thing. Plus, how long has it be

  • by EastCoastSurfer ( 310758 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:08AM (#25136377)

    When I go to conferences you can always pick out the Americans from the Europeans. During breaks and what not the Americans are busy checking their blackberrys and working while the Europeans are hanging out, drinking a beer and socializing. Their attitudes generally seem more laid back and hippie like than the Americans. It could be that most of the Europeans I see at these conferences are professors while we (the Americans) have real jobs in addition to publishing papers.

    • by outcast36 ( 696132 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:21AM (#25136605) Homepage
      Also, Europeans are drinking delicious beer and have cooler cell phones. I always hunt these guys out and drink with them. Of course, I have a blackberry from ancient times and they all get a laugh at my expense. Good times.
    • Ok, I guess you have a point.

      I'm a French PhD student working in a German research center, and I just happened to see your post during working hours :D

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Ok, I guess you have a point.

        I'm a French PhD student working in a German research center, and I just happened to see your post during working hours :D

        Most American PhD students don't have working hours. This is misleading, though, as while timing is extremely flexible, students are basically expected to be "working" or at least present in the lab 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    • So true (Score:3, Interesting)

      This was ages ago, before the bubble burst when international web-design companies seemed to make sense. I ended up working for a company that was partnering with an american firm. Never fully understood the reasons for it, and it soon fell apart anyway but part of it all was a videoconference with our US counterparts.

      We had our meeting after-work and the US was of course just waking up then, but still, the difference was very start. The US, smoke-free, drinking water. We on alcohol and smoking... pot.


    • by Dorkmaster Flek ( 1013045 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:47AM (#25137053)
      A friend of my dad's told me the different between NA and Europe once. He said North Americans live to work, while Europeans work to live. I've found it to be quite true, myself not withstanding.
  • The answer... (Score:2, Offtopic)

    > Is Open Source Different In Europe Than In the US ?

    Oui ! Ja ! Si !

    Sorry about that.

  • Get real (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wigaloo ( 897600 )
    Oh, good grief.

    Free Software, and its ideals, essentially originated in the US. Most of the big projects have too.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by boteeka ( 970303 )
      That is true indeed. Also corporatist software development companies (like Microsoft) originated from the US too. Also, the internet is originated from the US. It is also true that all of them are declining in the US.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wigaloo ( 897600 )
      How can this factual post be modded -1 troll? It is a clear case of moderator abuse if I ever saw one. My posting history shows that I do not troll.

      So, what is the agenda here? Why suppress consideration that Free Software and most of the big F/OSS projects originated in the US? I'm not even from the US, yet it is plain obvious to me the enormous contribution that has been made by the likes of RMS, linus, etc in fostering awareness of the source-code access issue.
    • Re:Get real (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chrisje ( 471362 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:39AM (#25136903)

      Are you sure about that? Can you substantiate that claim with some numbers and quote a source?

      In the 80's you saw a lot of creative programming come out of the Eastern Block, from what then still were Soviet satellite states. They had to squeeze all the functionality they could get out of bad/cheap/old hardware and therefore made software on a shoestring budget that really did interesting things. To this day you have very decent software development shops in unlikely places like Slovenia, Bulgaria and whatnot.

      Then there are the "celebs". Linus Torvalds, as you might recall, is Finnish, "DVD" Jon Johansen is Norwegian and Matthias Ettrich of KDE Fame is German. I know a fair amount of Germans that did/do open source stuff, and Suse is originally German. Furthermore, Israel boasts a very high quality R&D community in both commercial and Open Software while Computer gaming was invented by a British professor with an overgrown oscilloscope and time to kill.

      All in all I have to be a little bit skeptical about that post of yours. After all, Americans surely didn't invent cars and motorcycles, and to this day they can't build 'm properly either. I very much doubt they invented the Linux kernel. :-D

  • by Bromskloss ( 750445 ) <auxiliary.addres ... y@ g m a i> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:10AM (#25136419)

    Open source is good and well, but you also want the freedom to use your software as you wish and distribute your derivative works. Having access to the source code doesn't automatically grant you that. That's why we want free software.

  • I live in the U.S. Yes, cost is the argument that most often wins me management support with open source apps, but it also serves as a huge eye-opener for them when they've seen what it can do (visibility, quality, responsiveness of the community, etc).
  • by filesiteguy ( 695431 ) <> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:13AM (#25136469) Homepage
    I (a Californian) use OSS at home and at work simply because it is better than most of the closed-source offerings. I also prefer open source so that I know what is running the application, or at least know more than a few eyes are looking through it. I feel it is more secure that way.

    I'd be happy to pay for OSS if needed. I do pay for my openSUSE versions and Crossover Office.
  • Would it have anything to do with the fact that the biggest software shops are U.S. based?

  • Yes (Score:2, Funny)

    by Elky Elk ( 1179921 )

    In Europe, OSS is metric

  • I agree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:16AM (#25136517)

    I have some OSS out there, and the ONLY donations I've gotten in 3 years and 22,000+ downloads have been from EU countries. US people (of which I am one) just complain that I don't log into their servers, install the software, customize it, etc. for free for them. They (US users) seem offended when they ask me to customize the software for their company and I quote them a price. And then one [US user] even had the nerve to customize my front end, and then try and charge people for the software package!

    • Re:I agree (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DoctorPepper ( 92269 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:02PM (#25137355)

      Ok, trying to respond to this in a way that doesn't sound like I'm trying to start a flame war, so...

      There are thousands of open source projects out there. I personally use quite a few of them. I don't like to be thought of as a "moocher", because I don't support the project with donations. I do buy CD sets (OpenBSD, twice a year, Slackware, each release), t-shirts and the like, and make donations here and there as I can.

      It becomes a logistical challenge to go out and make donations to support each piece of open source software you use. Perhaps if there was one (honest) group that accepted donations, then passed them out to open source groups that were registered with them, I would be more inclined to give regular donations. As it is, I respect your work, and the time and effort you (speaking to all open source developers here) put into creating and maintaining this software, and will make donations as I can. One thing I've found that tends to catch my eye is a well placed PayPal button that says "Make a donation to help support this software". I've been known to do the "impulse buy" thing and click the button and make a $5 or $10 (US) donation. Perhaps you might want to put one of those in, to make donating a little easier?

      When I use a particular piece of open source software, and like it, I tend to "evangelize" it to my friends and acquaintances. I have even been known to submit bug reports from time to time. Perhaps this contribution is almost as good as a monetary one?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Yetihehe ( 971185 )

        Perhaps if there was one (honest) group that accepted donations, then passed them out to open source groups that were registered with them, I would be more inclined to give regular donations.

        We could even call them OSIAA (Open Source Indystry Association of America). They could maybe sue some people who distribute OSS in inappropriate ways...

  • It obviously breeds greed and many a business run on an open source solution just to save money on capital investment. Usually its easy to find employees savvy enough to manage your OS installation and you save some real dough when it comes to licensing issues you didn't have to fret over.

    In Europe, I suspect that they are more akin to it because of technological innovation more than anything else which is really where we all should be. Having once had to recover a Windows server after a drive corruption p

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:18AM (#25136557) Homepage Journal

    A study from Europe says Europeans get it while people in the US don't?
    I loved the bit on dual licensing. I first heard about dual licensing when I started to hear about KDE. QT and MySQL both where dual licensed and one was from Europe and the other from Australia.
    Give me a freaking break.

  • by saterdaies ( 842986 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:21AM (#25136599)

    Working for an American firm, I find that cost is usually the deciding factor.

    This drives me nuts! I'm not much of an open-source fanatic, but I've found that every time we buy an expensive piece of enterprise software, we've been sold huge expectations with little follow through. For example, we recently bought a product and we asked the company whether it worked with Firefox and Safari. They assured us that they had plenty of customers using it with those two browsers. So, we plunk down my yearly salary for the product and a support contract and low-and-behold not only doesn't the site work, it actually displays an error message saying you must use IE6.

    Now, this presented problems for me since we have a bunch of Mac users who couldn't use it for lack of IE6. Now those users are set up to use a Windows remote desktop solution for it.

    Basically, that proprietary software simply makes my life harder. We look at open-source solutions and we get a good idea of what we'd have to do if we used it which is always more than what a company claims we'll have to do with their system that just handles things automagically for everything! In the end, I have to spend more time on the proprietary system we paid big bucks for.

    • by Cassini2 ( 956052 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:56AM (#25137255)

      So, we plunk down my yearly salary for the product and a support contract and low-and-behold not only doesn't the site work, it actually displays an error message ... Basically, that proprietary software simply makes my life harder.

      Often the more expensive the piece of software is, the worse the software is. It is a perverse example of applied economics. Expensive software sells in small volumes, so the vendors try to maximize profit per customer. Effectively, this means minimizing effort in software development, resulting in crappy software.

      Companies selling large volumes of software, find technical support costs a large cost center. This forces the companies to increase software quality and increase ease of use, even if only to reduce technical support costs. However, to achieve the volumes of sales, these same companies often reduce the unit price of the software. High-volume software vendors are trying to maximize the formula: revenue = unit cost * # of sales. Thus most high-volume titles cost much less than the more expensive low-volume titles, and are also better quality pieces of software.

      Open source takes things to an extreme. The software is free, the source is free, so the number of users is large. The number of bug fixes will also be large, if the number of developers scales with the number of users. Of course, the number of developers on an open-source project is a function of both revenue and the number of bugs, and with open source projects, revenue is a key issue. Nevertheless, some open source projects have identified revenue streams, and are good quality projects.

      The end result is expensive software is usually crappy, and cheaper software is often better.

  • by torsner ( 13171 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:23AM (#25136635) Homepage

    I collegue of mine with an excellent track record as IT and R&D manager in the European Call Center industry once said (and I agree):

    - "if the application is mission critical, then we need the source"

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DaveWick79 ( 939388 )
      That's why most companies like that write their own custom software in house (or on a contract basis) for their mission critical applications. They don't buy anything pre-packaged from 3rd parties.

      I have a friend who used to work for one of the major banks in their credit card billing facility, and he was part of the programming team that created all the software they used for billing. They would never buy a commercial package for their needs, because for one they don't exist, and two they absolutely n
  • Open standards help prevent vendor lock-in, not whether or not you have access to the code. While you could look at the source of an open source application to reverse engineer a file format, users generally do not write code or even look at code so the code would be of little use if the format was proprietary to a specific open source application.

    Having said that, most users only pay lip service to vendor lock-in or whether code is open source because it is the in thing to do these days. At the end of th

  • I have free, and legal, access to XP, Vista, and of course Linux. I use Linux because it is easier for me to set up, has a better software selection for me and is more powerful. I use open source products in general because of either the quality or trustworthiness.

  • It disturbs me... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by east coast ( 590680 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:46AM (#25137031)
    What bothers me the most about all of this is that in this day and age we're still finding communal efforts of this nature being divided by geography. Just goes to show that the function hasn't followed the form.

    You may call it bragging rights, I call it a lack of vision.
  • Eh, I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gravis777 ( 123605 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:47AM (#25137059)

    I think that in the US, the mass population that is, NOT the IT crowd, likes Open Source because they are trying to save money. The perfect example of this is Open Office. Let me tell you, my mom, pastor, sister, and my best friend all could care less if they had access to the source code. I would be shocked if a single one of them could program "Hello World". However, they LOVE the thought of not shelling out a couple of Hundred bucks to Microsoft. Not because they hate Microsoft, but because they want to save money. The sister I mentioned earlier also just graduated graphic arts school, and is a Gimp user, not because she has access to the source code or anything like that, but because it is free.

    I pieced together a few computers for a church before, and we went Linux with Open Office, once again, because its free.

    None of these were because they thought Linux, Open Office, or Gimp were better, in fact, all of these people would have prefered the pay program. People like free. People will do stupid stuff to get stuff for free. You know how many users I had to remove spyware and viruses from because they tried installing free 3D or Living Screensavers, 1000 free smilies at smily central, or animated coursers? In fact, I have tons of friend's myspace pages that I refuse to goto until they clean up their code and get rid of all those evil ActiveX and JavaScript controls.

    You ought too see how many people will drive 30-45 miles across town to save 20 cents a gallon on gas. I point and laugh at those people.

    Yet, not a single one of these people mind paying $18 for a pizza, $24.95 a month for dialup, or $120 a month for their cable bill.

  • by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @11:51AM (#25137139) Journal
    Ok, off the top of my head, these are the "European" Open Source (tm) projects I can think of:
    • KDE - GPL, but depends on QT which started is/was dual licensed.
    • Linux - GPL.
    • MySQL (now part of Sun) dual licensed
    • InnoDB (now part of Oracle) dual licensed
    • Virtual Box (German, now part of Sun) dual licensed.

    So of the 6 European Open Source projects I can name of the top of my head, 4 are dual licensed.

  • by Vexorian ( 959249 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:11PM (#25137519)
    ... as in beer.
  • by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:18PM (#25137667) Journal
    I would understand why Europeans are more concerned about vendor lock-in. They don't want to be held by the balls by a foreign company.
  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:09PM (#25141707) Homepage Journal

    His Europeans were polled at an Open Source conference. His Americans included "senior IT people from the financial services industry in New York".

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik