Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Open Source Breakfast at GTC West 2006

Spent the morning at the Sacramento Convention Center, listening to a good line-up of speakers on the use of Open Source software in government.

Take-away quotes from Bill Welty of the California Air Resources Board (not verbatim):
  • Open Source software is an incredible morale booster. Much faster turnaround for changes.
  • OSS protects access to your own data. We upgrade our hardware when we want to, not when the software is upgraded by the vendor and they require that you upgrade your hardware.
  • Who sets the technology roadmap for your business--is it you or your vendors? Proprietary software may be easier to install, but it constrains your options to set the roadmap.
  • With Open Source, you don't lose control of your data.
I think that Bill encapsulated the frustrations that I had with even good commercial software--I felt constantly at their mercy if they decided not to support an older version, so I had to upgrade both the software and hardware (sometimes at significant dollar and time costs) at a moment that I wouldn't have chosen to make the change. And, if the data was in a proprietary format, I didn't really have any freedom to make a change if I wasn't happy without a tremendous amout of work. It seems easy to see how proprietary software, by virtue of being proprietary, would change the nature of the relationship between customer and vendor to an adversarial one instead of collaborative.

Marten Michos, the CEO of MySQL, on why there are fewer software bugs when your code is open:
  • That which is seen gets improved. That's why front yards are much nicer than backyards.
On why MySQL is the "Southwest Airlines of Databases:"
  • We love you and you love us.
  • You can fly for free if you sign on as crew
On how to pronounce MySQL:
  • Some say "My Sequel." I say "My S-Q-L." But if you are a paying customer, you can say it any da*n way you want.
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