I am a cubiclewallah an indianisation of the term cubicle dweller you could say. Bieng a cubiclewallah gives me certain attributes, for example most of my time is spent at contemplation and the eventual outcome of a zombie apocalypse or what if the mayans are right ? This chain of thought gradually transcends to bigger questions which pertain to all suppressed life in general. One such question being, why isnâ€™t anything free in the world? Debating on the issue leads me to a casual smoke (I could do with a break and stretch my legs a bit) and also to observation more than inference. In other words is there anything actually â€œfreeâ€ in the world, what if my pack of Marlboros read Open source, no tax no levy, smoke as much as you wish itâ€™s free! Reason tells me nothing could be more utopian, reality tells me otherwise.
Yes fact is stranger than fiction and most of the things in the world are free. A blatant glaring example is the Internet, what started as a research project on collaboration of data snowballed into a, free for all World Wide Web. As a Cubiclewallah I have ample time to speculate on the subject of why I should spend when I can get it for free, after all not all that glitters is gold. Precisely why there is a roaring debate on why one should adopt open source over proprietary source or vice â€“versa. The underlying idea is to what extent are opensource software communities able to organize themselves, to â€˜self-organizeâ€™, and is it sufficient to grant them with enough competitive power? In terms of licensing, support and public favour. This is still an open question, which further Cubiclewallahs should try to address in their tea breaks.
Apart from this, the competitiveness of open-source software also depends on its compatibility with existing proprietary solutions, and on the distribution of adopter preferences. This can be either a crucial strength or a crucial weakness for open-source software. To take but one important example, think about the very different destiny of Linux on the server market and on the global PC market: it has won considerable market shares in the first, while it is still stagnant in the second. A straightforward explanation for this, amongst other issues, is the lack of an appropriate graphic user interface (GUI, or desktop) for Linux which is not needed for servers since they are maintained by skilled users â€“ geeks, once again â€“ who even prefer the older â€˜command lineâ€™.
But the question then is about how they would then earn money since they could not sell free open-source software. Linux will perhaps never replace windows in our cubicles: perhaps efforts in this direction are even misguided, all the more so as they are diverting efforts from other projects which could win their own open-source vs. proprietary software competition.