Don't fall for "Faux-pen Source"

Open source label slapped on products that aren't really open

Ah, open source ... so free, so transparent, so egalitarian, but not always. Increasingly, vendors are slapping the label "open source" on products that do not offer customers the freedom and control originally intended and instead lock them in, reports Simon Phipps at InfoWorld.

There are three main "faux-pen source" traps to be on the lookout for, Phipps warns. The first is the dual license, which really isn't such a big deal because it is becoming less common and typically it offers ways to avoid vendor lock-in anyway. Many vendors have moved on to offer "open core" options instead. Under this model, there is a free community version of the product and then a really useful enterprise version that is proprietary. Finally, some vendors require that customers use the enterprise version to get access to subscriptions and support. This is sometimes called "commercial open source," which is an oxymoron.

If "software freedom stops with your supplier, it's deceptive to say you're somehow the beneficiary of open source," Phipps writes. "If having open source embedded within proprietary systems was all it took, pretty much everything Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM make could be described as open source. My test: if my relationship with the vendor ends, can I still use the software?"

For more:
- see Simon Phipps' post at InfoWorld

Related Articles:
Will Hadoop make an open-source convert out of you?
How Microsoft learned to accept open source
Mozilla pays new heed to enterprises