The Open Source HereticLarry McVoy is a software developer who has had a mixed relationship with the open-source world. Here he’s interviewed by Forbes magazine, and the fallacies are fast and furious. What’s especially amusing is that it’s hard to differentiate McVoy’s fallacies from Forbes’. Which of these two statements is a quote from McVoy, and which is prose by journalist Daniel Lyons?
The first fallacy in the first quote is that the only role of software service is to compensate for quality flaws in the original product. This ignores, primarily, customization, but also training, installation, upgrading, and other services. The second fallacy is to imply that good software should not require any service; in other words, it should be completely bug-free, not have any security errors, not rely on any other software that may in turn have bugs or security flaws, be automatically and risklessly upgradeable, be so usable as to not require any training, etc etc.
One problem with the services model is that it is based on the idea that you are giving customers crap--because if you give them software that works, what is the point of service?
Open source products typically are distributed free, since it's pretty much impossible to charge money for something that anyone can copy.
The first fallacy in the second quote is that open source software is distributed free because it's impossible to charge for it. In my experience in a number of OS projects, the software is open-sourced because the authors want to give it away for free. This is precisely opposite causality to the quote. The second fallacy is that it's impossible to charge money for open source. Even though you can get exactly the same code for free, Red Hat still sold US$151 million worth of free software in 2004. That's distinct from the $45 million in services revenue for the same year.
The first quote is McVoy, the second is the article's author. It surely doesn't reflect well on Forbes that I can read financial statements better than they can.