Feeds

Open source guru advocates ideological shift

Eric Raymond calls for compromise...

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Eric Raymond, one of the high priests of open source, has told the community that painful compromises are needed to the way it deals with closed source platforms and formats to avoid losing ground on desktops and new media players.

Raymond said the community is not moving fast enough to engage with non-technical users whose first-choice platform is either an iPod, MP3 player or Microsoft desktop running Windows Media Player.

With iPod holding a massive market share and Windows Vista coming down the pipe, Raymond warned that Linux risks getting locked out of new hardware platforms for the next 30 years unless it proves it can work with iPods, MP3s and WMP.

It was an unexpected reality check from the unorthodox Raymond, author of the famed Cathedral and the Bazaar, participating in a spirited panel at LinuxWorld in San Francisco, California.

Joining Raymond were Linux International executive director Jon "maddog" Hall, Google open source program manger Chris DiBona, Intel director of Linux and open source strategy Dirk Hohndel, and moderator Larry Augustin.

Raymond apparently isolated himself on the issue of using binary drivers in Linux - a hotly contested issue in the open source movement. Binary drivers are platform, format and hardware specific and can make applications like multimedia run smoothly on a PC or device.

Binary drivers are considered an evil for open source because of their proprietary nature, however Raymond called support for them in Linux "a necessary compromise."

Raymond, a champion of all things open, said it is vital to the future uptake of Linux that the community compromise to win the new generation of non-technical users aged younger than 30. This group is more interested in having Linux "just work" on their iPod or MP3 player and "don't care about our notions of doctrinal purity",

"We have a serious problem. Whenever I try to pitch Linux to anyone under 30, the question I get is: 'Will it work with my iPod?," he said. "We are not yet as a community making the painful compromises need to achieve widespread desktop market share. Until we do, we will get locked out of more hardware."

Raymond is concerned the window of opportunity is closing for Linux on the desktop. He calculates the end of the transition to 64-bit computing by the close of 2008. According to his studies, the best opportunity to displace the dominant operating system (in this case Windows on the desktop) takes place with a major architectural shift like this.

Raymond believes Linux will get locked out for 30-odd years until the next platform shift as it's so far not doing enough to reach out to non-technical users.

"The end of the 64-bit transition happens at the end of 2008. After that the operating system gets locked in for the next 30 years. I'm worried we are not doing enough to appeal to non-technical users. I'm worried we will be locked out of the desktop for a very long time," he said.

Fellow panelist Hohndel took a more optimistic view. He estimated that while Linux would see single-digit desktop market share in economies of North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, Linux would get 20 per cent of the market in emerging markets during the next five-years.

Maddog Hall, meanwhile, urged LinuxWorld attendees to evangelize Linux at schools, universities and their community organizations, and ensure Linux is taught in academic curriculums. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.