OpenBSD versus Linux, Gentoo meets Microsoft

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OpenBSD founder Theo de Raadt has gone on the record in an interview with Forbes Magazine, slashing at Linux and Linus Torvald’s oversight of the OS as low in quality.

Raadt also does not care for the likes of IBM, HP, Sun and others garnering profits from the free contributions of the open source community without giving more back. There may be some substance to that – though those companies and some others did make positive moves in indemnifying customers and releasing a certain level of patents for free usage.

It would be good to perhaps see more investments in the open source community in some broad consortuim manner to perhaps improve the amount of research availble on open source trends, usage patterns, return on investment, etc. However, we do need to remember that these companies do commit staff to work on Linux projects during paid work hours as part of the contributions back to the community.

I have spent so much time in multi-platform environments that I do not get quite as religious as others may about Linux versus OpenBSD versus Windows versus other Unix variants and so on. However, being a heavy OS X user both personally and server side – I am quite fond of the BSD Unix underpinnings of OpenBSD, OS X and Solaris. Especially from a security perspective.

The primary OS I work with in business is Linux and OS X, and remain a fan of both. I do not have the same perception of a messy system with poor quality control, nor do I see Linux as am assembly of “cheap, little hacks” as Raadt also commented.

One point Raadt makes rings somewhat familiar to discussions we have had in Open Sourcery on the commercialization and integration of Linux into the technology mainstream. If some in the Linux community spent less time hating Microsoft and more time building the argument for open source, assembling solid research and writing great code in Linux and applications – we may be a few steps further than we are today.

This also spills over into the news that the Gentoo Linux founder and former chief architect Daniel Robbins has taken employment with Microsoft to help the company better understand open source as a community, as a business and also its deployment and integration in business.

Not necessarily a total shock, to me at least. Open source project participants need to eat too. I earn a portion of my money in a proprietary world.

While there may be some conspiritorial ring to it – I think it is largely due to Microsoft seeing bits and pieces of market share go to Linux. Also, many business customers who have adopted Linux into mixed environments may finally be pressing Microsoft to learn how to deploy along side it. There is also the fact that Microsoft has been toying with open source by releasing tidbits of its own code into the open source community and exploring how it might also leverage community participation.

As we all know – there are fairly sizable numbers of open source projects available on Windows – and if Microsoft sees a market for participating alongside us in open source – it will do so whether we like it or not.

Blane WarreneBlane Warrene
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