Too late to discredit open source, advocates say

From Computerworld

Advocates and users of free and open source software (FOSS) technology believe that it is too late for any form of crus­ade to discredit FOSS as it is already widely used.

The sources made the statement following reports that some private software firms are now using marketing funds to mislead enterprises towards adopting the open source strategy.

"It's too late," exclaimed Winston Damarillo, founder and chairman of software development firm Exist Global, in an intervie­w with Computerworld Philippines. "Open source is all over the place."

Damarillo said his company even plans to discuss open source with the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) and would try to convince the latter in promoting open source.

In a recent press briefing, Damarillo shared his company draws from its success and experience in open source software development, reporting that Exist Global has developed a hosted operating infrastructure called Distributed Engineering Network (DEN). The latter enables the company to deliver the benefits of open source style development to distributed engineering projects, building proprietary and Web delivered applications in addition to open source software.

Anson Uy, president of Touch Solutions Inc. (a Red Hat Linux company), earlier on broke the news to Computerworld Philippines about the alleged "funded missions" by some software firms to discredit open source, although he did not identify any company. Anson revealed among the top three actions against FOSS are being done through "sponsored studies, piracy of open source developers, and bold press releases."

The PSIA recently opposed House Bill 5679 or the Free Open Source Software (FOSS) Act of 2006, filed by Congressman Teodoro Casino, which seeks to mandate government agencies, including public schools to use FOSS instead of proprietary software.

FOSS advocates believe the proposed law's enactment would lead to several benefits such as usage of legal and affordable software that are stable, user-friendly and low-cost, also reduction in software piracy, and emergence of local software companies.

However, Paul Zaldarriaga, chief information officer (CIO) of fast food giant Jollibee Group of Companies, and a Linux user, said legislation is not the right approach. "I think eventually the market would decide. The most they can do is to give incentives to people who want to play in the open source space to spawn usage." Zaldarriaga clarified he doesn't consider himself as a Linux advocate and is just a plain user. "When I shop around I try to get the best deal that I can.  That's my only motivation." Yet Zaldarriaga stressed schools should develop the skills on Linux as he believes that it would put the Philippines at a very good competitive advantage versus everybody else. "Even at the company level, they should ramp up on Linux skills," Zaldarriaga said, adding that the next big thing would be on Web development, since a lot of the Web-based applications are expected to be on Linux.