A Matter of Trust

I’m going to present you with an argument. You may not agree with it but I believe that its time to take a fresh look at the ideological battle raging between two well-entrenched armies, the Open Source community and Microsoft.

Most of us, have at one time read ‘Gulliver’s Travels’. A few of us may also remember why the Lilliputians were at war and had been as long as anyone could remember. It was the result of an argument over which end of a boiled-egg, should be opened and eaten first, the big end or the small end?

For over three years, I have been closely watching the progress of the Open Source software movement and Microsoft’s reaction to its challenge. Most of the time, it’s like watching two large dogs barking at each other on opposite sides of the same fence. There’s a great deal of noise but very little in the way of useful, sensible debate, the kind of thing which allows an IT Director to consider the many different arguments in a single, well-reasoned package and act accordingly.

You see, what has happened, is that like the story in Gulliver’s Travels, the Open-source vs. Proprietary software, has descended into the realms of emotional and political argument; Tux the cuddly Linux penguin vs. the great Seattle Satan.

But this is far from being a black and white argument and much of the time the different camps have an “apples and oranges” approach to the argument, in much the same manner as the Americans insist on discussing Iraq while the Arab World would rather resolve the Palestinian problem first.

What are the facts? Is this really as simple as a strategic choice between Microsoft and Linux? One of the two presents a greater security risk to business, costs more money in the long-term and from a developer perspective is environmentally unfriendly but which one? Do you know? I mean, do you really know or are you, like me, caught in the middle of a propaganda battle which has left the truth scattered in a muddy no-man’s land between two colliding ideologies.

The existence if the Open-source debate is good for the industry and its good for business but it needs to be just that, an intelligent debate and not the playground slanging match, the constant low intensity warfare that leaves business wondering whether last month’s security alerts are a defining metric in an argument which is increasingly losing its way.

If 2002 started with a demand for Trustworthy Computing then perhaps 2003 should be the year that introduces the concept of intelligent computing or at the very least, intelligent and well-reasoned argument?

From a computing perspective, it’s what lies at the middle of the egg which is important and how you arrive there is simply a matter of personal preference.

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