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Get Off IBM's Back Already! - page 2

IBM Supports Linux

  • April 8, 2010
  • By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
As Inna Kuznetsova, IBM's VP, Marketing & Sales Enablement for Systems Software and former director of Linux Strategy, told me, "We stand by our pledge of 500 patents to the open-source community. The pledge is applicable to any individual, community or company working on or using software that meets the OSI definition of open source software - now or in future. The letter in question was not a legal document but a part of ongoing dialog between IBM and TurboHercules. Intentionally taking things out of context to create FUD and throw doubt on IBM's commitment to open source is shameful and facts-twisting. "

Exactly. I hope all the FOSS ideologically pure people throwing mud realize that the only people that will really benefit from all this open-source in-fighting are the real proprietary software companies. I can see Bill Gates smiling at this very moment.

I'm not the only one who sees it that way. Matt Asay, open-source advocate and now chief operating officer for Ubuntu told me, "I find it confusing and, frankly, disheartening to see how quickly some within the open-source community have been to turn on IBM, a longtime friend of open source."

Asay continued, "Yes, IBM is a corporation with a need to serve shareholders, but that was as true 10 years ago when it pledged $1 billion to promote Linux as it is today. IBM has done more for the health of open source, at least within enterprise IT, than any other company, and yet we seem eager to sully its good name and its history of good actions because of one alleged misstep, that none but IBM and TurboHercules really understand fully."

Asay concluded, "If IBM had a history of improper actions against open-source projects, we might be right to question its motives here. But given its sterling reputation, I think it's far too soon to cry 'Foul!' and grab the pitchforks. IBM doesn't deserve the poor treatment it's getting within the house of its friends."

Dan Kusnetzky, VP of research operations for The 451 Group, takes a bigger view of what I see as the real problem. The attitudes of many open source community members have been seen as inhibitors for quite some time. There is little tolerance for different approaches to finding technical solutions, to differing viewpoints, to pragmatic or non-religious viewpoints and certainly for those having low level of technical expertise--who might be giants in some other area-- needing help."

"What these people don't appear to realize is that strongly held, absolute positions tend to limit the adoption of and deployment of open-source technology. Highly vocal proponents of these positions drive some into the arms of competitive technology or approaches," finished Kusnetzky.

These kind of fights happen way too often in Linux and open-source circles. In the end they always hurt FOSS more than they help it. I mean, really what did Debian really gain by renaming Mozilla Firefox, Iceweasel?

In attacking IBM on such feeble grounds, I really wonder which side the people saying IBM has betrayed open source are really on? Or, at least, how much thought they've really given to what taking such extreme positions will do to Linux and open source in the long run?

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