1.1 Open and Closed Source Software


GNU/Linux offers a value proposition that money can not buy! The investment in GNU/Linux is really an investment in society and the human beings working to bring a better and coordinated solution to the world. Often working in their own time to deliver a solution that in the long run delivers more for less, without the traditional lock-in of proprietary systems.

Where does open source play a role in the computing world? In fact, everywhere! In 2019 there are reputed to be more Linux servers running in the cloud than Windows servers. Microsoft also retired its own attempts to implement proprietary web browsers (internet explorer and edge) to embrace the open source Chromium browser engine within its own Edge browser. Already in November 2005, 71% of web servers in the world were running apache and 20% were running Microsoft’s IIS. In 2006 IBM noted that GNU/Linux has won the server market, with 83% of servers being sold running GNU/Linux. In 2018 IBM acquired Red Hat, the commercial GNU/Linux vendor. The open source implementation of domain name services (which provide the backbone system for the web names that we see all the time) has 95% of the market. The open source sendmail email server has 42% of the market compared to Microsoft Exchange’s 18%. And the secure shell market is dominated, 89%, by the open source OpenSSH. Figures come from Sean Moss-Putz video, 8 May 2007.

But what is wrong with proprietary systems? Look at Microsoft’s power from proprietary MS/Word documents. In October 2005 (see Infoworld and Neowin) Microsoft threatened to remove MS/Word from South Korea because they did not agree with its free trade investigations into their commercial practises. This would have an adverse impact on government and industry who are locked-in to the proprietary format and potentially would no longer have access to their own documents. Of course Microsoft was keen to retain proprietary formats back then for its own commercial reasons, and its ability to sway governments to suit its interests, rather than yours, was staggering.

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