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Adobe exec updates open source group think

Innovation has its limits

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Sun Microsystems' former software chief has curbed his enthusiasm for free and open source software, drawing a line between the needs of communities and users.

John Loiacono, now senior vice president of Adobe's Creative Business has claimed FOSS is not suited to environments where users want an integrated suite with common interface, installation, and workflows.

According to Loiacono, users spend too long fixing and integrating separate FOSS products, negating the savings of "free" and passing on charges to customers.

Adobe is home to the prestigious Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Flash products, which all face growing pressure from FOSS and online products and services.

His words draw a sharp distinction between his work at Sun and appear to rule out a repeat performance of opening code to core products. As executive vice president of Sun software, Loiacono joined others going native in Sun's sweltering open source heat, promising to open source all Sun's software.

At Sun, the theory was open source creates communities, that communities create innovation, and innovation leads to development. Ultimately, open source builds developer and customer volume for the vendor concerned. That's the theory, anyway.

Apparently, creative suites are exempt from this theory with Loiacono striking a different tone to his days at Sun. "I have thought about whether open source has a place in Adobe's creative products strategy. But what designers need is tightly integrated workflows and high reliability right out of the box so the really important question to ask is what's the impact to the user. Yes, clearly it's cheaper, but does it really save money in the end?"

Acknowledging his work opening Solaris, Loiacono also downplayed its significance: "Open sourcing Solaris allowed that community to do what they really loved - tinker with the code to their heart's content." Yes, he said "tinker".

That's a different emphasis to the importance Loiacono attached to releasing the Solaris code while at Sun. "It's about creating the community of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people who actually want to then go innovate on top of the code we give them access to," Loiacono told Network World. ®

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