Commercial Software is Good - because you Have Someone To Sue.

A friend came back from a ITIL Practitioners course with an interesting story:
  • The course was mostly about the complexities of handling Commercial Licenses, no two of which are the same.
  • The course provider made the not unexpected statement about Open Source:
    "Don't use it because you have nobody to sue".
    And they went onto ask "Why use OSS?"
His response was: "Because it's best of breed, especially rock-solid utilities & tools".
And they continued to not listen...

This note is NOT about that particular mindset [Risk Avoidance, not Risk Management].

I'd like to give him, and other technical people like him, a "slam dunk" one-liner response to each of these questions:
  • Why OSS - because it's best of breed!
    Why use a bug-ridden, poor functioning piece of commercial software when the best there is is rock-solid, secure & Free and Open?
    Not only do you remove the need to sue *anybody*, you get the best tool for the job and know it will never be orphaned, withdrawn or torpedoed.

    Or you may be held to ransom with enormous support costs - the Computer Associates model of buying 'mature' software and raising the support costs to turn a profit until the customer base bails out.
  • Using rock-solid OSS apps. means you are unlikely to need to sue anybody. It "just works", not "works just".
    And if you have concerns over "prudent commercial Risk Management",just hire an OSS support organisation who's got both "Professional Indemnity" and OSRM insurance.

And I tried to quickly find *two* significant lists for him:
  • widely used open-source software [Apache, Samba, Perl-PHP-Python-Ruby, gcc/make/cvs/subvers, Eclipse, ...]

    The caveat on this list, is that I need estimates of the market share or extent of use of the software. Viz: For apache, the netcraft survey:

  • OSS support organisations. [remember Linuxare ?]
If you have pointers to that data, I've love to hear from you.

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