Joel on Linux

Joel made some interesting comments about Linux and the German government migration to the platform. It spawned an even more interesting thread in his forums.

The best post was from Philo:

Why does Linux *have* to be a market success? The market has Windows, and that seems to be satisfying most people just fine.
Is there a need for Linux somewhere?

I'm not sure I agree with the implication, but it is an interesting question. 10 points for being gutsy at least.

Personally I think there is a need for Open Source products. Not because they add value (some do, most don't) but because they keep the big boys honest. They are the software world's equivalent to a "running game"; it may not always produce good results, but that doesn't diminish its role.

[Now Playing: Guns N' Roses - My Michelle (03:40)]


  • The post you point out is so absurd as to be laughable. Why would there NOT be a reason for healthy competition in software? Does the poster think the world would be a better place without this incredible amount of competition in the server arena? Without competition, prices rise, and innovation stops. (just look at internet explorer)

    Linux doesnt *have* to be a market success. But if it is, prices will drop and software quality will rise.

  • Just to play devils advocate:

    1. Why Linux? Why not OSX or BSD?

    2. I'm not sure Internet Explorer is a good example. First, it isn't a server product. Second, it free. So prices didn't rise, and innovation stopped *because* of it.

    3. I understand that prices will drop. Fine. But why does that mean quality will rise?

  • 1) Any of these gaining a stronger foothold would be a positive thing.

    2) I see what you mean here. My point was that lack of strong competition from Netscape led to a massive slowdown in innovation in browser technology. We are seeing that changing now because mozilla has had a long enough time to catch up. Now IE has a strong competitor in the current market (where browsers now have a price of zero). I think Microsoft shot itself in the foot on this one. They will be forced to devote resources to compete with a product that they destroyed the market for.

    3) With competition comes lower prices and higher quality in general. In specific instances there will be tradeoffs of course. I am thinking about the industry as a whole. For example: the emergence of MySQL and Postgres forced Microsoft to create MSDE ("free" sql server). The constant improvement of these products forces Microsoft to continue to improve there software.

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