Boston Linux & Unix (BLU) Home | Calendar | Mail Lists | List Archives | Desktop SIG | Hardware Hacking SIG
Wiki | Flickr | PicasaWeb | Video | Maps & Directions | Installfests | Keysignings
Linux Cafe | Meeting Notes | Blog | Linux Links | Bling | About BLU

BLU Discuss list archive

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

GPL-style availability of NetScape 5.0 sourcecodes

John Duksta wrote in a message to Mike Bilow:

 JD> O.K. Let's take a look at the release and read between the 
 JD> lines... 

 JD> Quote:

 JD> "This aggressive move will enable Netscape to harness the 
 JD> creative power  of thousands of programmers on the Internet by 
 JD> incorporating their best  enhancements into future versions of 
 JD> Netscape's software. "

 JD> My Interpretation:

 JD> We're losing money, so instead of paying our own programmers to 
 JD> make enhancements to Netscape, we'll release the code to the 
 JD> Net and let people on the Net write our software for free.

That's like accusing Linux of being a plot by AT&T.

I think this represents a fairly bold experiment by Netscape, a sort of
paradigm shift in the development of software.  The Unix community has long
been the primary supporter of the concept of source code availability, which is
a good thing in itself.

However, Netscape correctly understands that some software, particularly web
browsers, are really just containers for standards, and that it is the
standards embodied in the web browsers which are truly important.  By
publishing source code, Netscape is placing the development of standards into
the public sphere, decentralizing control and taking it out of the hands of any
single entity. This seems to me to be a wise move, since Netscape is clearly
worried that, if such a single entity gains control of the standards, it will
be Microsoft. Netscape is on much more solid ground, both technically and from
a business strategy perspective, if they can at least maintain a level playing
field where all parties have equal access to and influence over a public de
facto standard.

Netscape's financial future is on the server side, and this is a "bet the
company" proposition.  If Netscape finds themselves in a couple of years
writing servers that have to interact almost exclusively with Microsoft web
browsers, they will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in writing
these servers because they will always trail Microsoft by months or years.
Netscape has one important advantage: they have watched this same situation
unfold against other Microsoft competitors, and they know what doesn't work.
More power to them if they are willing to try something new, especially with a
strategy inspired by the success of user-developed software such as Linux.
-- Mike

BLU is a member of BostonUserGroups
BLU is a member of BostonUserGroups
We also thank MIT for the use of their facilities.

Valid HTML 4.01! Valid CSS!

Boston Linux & Unix /