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Re^2: Reliable software OR Is CPAN the sacred cowby jimt (Chaplain)
|on Sep 15, 2006 at 13:01 UTC||Need Help??|
Well, this is just a reminder that this is the open source community: We're mostly volunteers. If you wanna write something that'll help you get your job done better, more efficiently, more safely, and if you want to sure that work with everyone else, terrific. If you want to use something that someone else has written, go for it. You can even make your own improvements and maybe even get those improvements included, with the thanks of the authour and the community.
Note - I'm not specifically addressing talexb in this reply, but the OSS community in general.
I think this attitude is a cop-out, since it is exactly counter to one of the original points about CPAN being a sacred cow. There are innumerable replies on this board and others with people saying, "Don't re-invent the wheel! Use Foo::Widget from CPAN!" And that's fine, we're allowed.
But jumping to "Hey, it's free software and you get what you pay for!" if people gripe about it doesn't help the case for open source at all. Yeah, I know, we are all volunteers (well, mostly), and yeah, people do get what they pay for, but it's a horrible way to try and defend yourself.
How many people around here gripe about Microsoft's ever increasing systems requirements for its operating system and office suite? I need a 8GHz Teraflop 90 core Whatsamadoodle just to run a word processor? That's BS!. And that's fine, gripe. But then how many people turn around and say that perl is a lightning fast language and it's just as good as C for most tasks (at least on the web) and things would just be a-okay if we threw some more hardware at it? If Microsoft gets chastized for ever increasing requirements, so should you.
Same with open source. You can't sing the virtues of the wide open community with its own source code and legion of people poking the code and then turn around and say "We're all volunteers. That's what you get!" It firmly and completely negates the original benefits, I think.
A previous boss used to really sneer about using "free software" for these reasons. The app we had was written in an old version of Mason that wasn't compatible with Perl 5.8. But, the API had changed enough that it would require some (unknown but probably semi-big) amount of work to upgrade to a current Mason. So the app is stuck on perl 5.6 and old mason. When he came on board and heard about this, the first thing he blamed was free software and how you can't trust anything and no one cares.
Side note - I did point out to him things like .NET's API radically changing or Oracle support nightmares or whatever. Commercial software doesn't necessarily give you any more stability, reliability, or continuity. You just pay more for it. He wasn't convinced.
I feel like I'm starting to ramble, so I'll close up. But I don't think that falling back on "It's free, it's what you get" helps the case.