back to article IBM fingered over early Linux mistakes

IBM, the first and biggest IT vendor to champion Linux, has been gently rebuked for initially tolerating the community to further its own interests. And IBM was forced to concede. IBM was identified during a Linux Foundation conference debate on community participation as emblematic of big companies who've made the mistake of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to Capitalism

    Did these people forget that real companies are there to make money?

  2. Pierre
    Thumb Up

    Possibly illegal headline?

    "IBM fingered over early Linux mistakes"

    Is that title a crime under the brand new law about extreme porn? Thumb up the IBM [laugther ensues]

    Oh, and thumb up for the nice article, too.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Comment on ‘IBM fingered over early Linux mistakes’

    "...Novell distinguished engineer, kernel maintainer, and chairman of the Foundation's technical advisory board, said IBM initially approached Linux..."

    I would trust IBM before I would trust anything said by that MS lapdog Novell.

  4. Nir
    Thumb Up

    zOMG! Oh NOOEESS! IBM is a company with interests!

    When will the Linux zealots get it? Companies are there to make money, PERIOD. Of-course IBMs involvement in the kernel was to further their own interests. No fucking shit, sherlocks. They wouldn't have done it otherwise. It costs them money and engineers - why would they pay their paycheck if not to further their interests?

    I worked in software companies utilizing open source software. This is the _correct_ strategy: Find out what you need the software to do - suggest ideas to the freetard crowd and make them feel it was their own - help them to do it - reap the rewards. You really think companies are in it for the ideology?

    I say kudos to IBM.

  5. jake Silver badge

    It's late.

    At least it's late here. Morning in Blighty ...

    I've just re-read this article for the third time in five hours. From my perspective, it's all over the place. I'm not sure if it's the author, or the folks being written about ... but I've never seen an article on ElReg that was as orthogonal to both itself, and to reality, as this one.

    I'll try reading it again over coffee in the morning ...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Wow, shock horror!

    Business put's it's profits before feel good love in...

    Doesn't everyone do this, including home programmers?

    Right I'm going to slog day in , day out, over this for everyone else. Useless to me and I have no interest in it what so ever, but it's for the greater good.....the greater good.

  7. Ru

    Er, what?

    Companies can absolutely function fine by hiring a bunch of people and teklling them to code up extensions to their favourite open source OS.

    You get immediate and tangible benefits by paying a bunch of guys to rustle up some nice hardware drivers so you can run it on your latest shiny embedded system or whatever.

    What on earth is in it for these companies, that they should foster community support? It sounds like a lot of time and effort, with no guaranteed return. *Maybe* you'll get a lot more testing and debugging, *maybe* you'll get patches from contributors. But if you don't waste their time playing nice to the community and just post a bunch of kernel source patches on a website somewhere, they still have a perfectly functioning system with none of the hassle.

  8. John McNeally

    In the open source world is prohibited to make money...

    Thats why those weirdos are still living with mommy, using shirts "Disney 1993" and have long hair.

    Like someone else said, companies are there to make money... AND you should be happy about it otherwise Linux would not be half of what it is today...


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not saying anything new but ...

    I need to get this off my chest:

    Why on earth would IBM act in any other way?

    It is also possible that some/many OSS contributors do so because it will enhance their careers or prospects of getting a good job once out of college.

    It is also possible that some/many OSS contributors do so because they see it as cool or simply enjoy it?

    Are any of the above superior to any other?

    Is a contributor who acts solely in order further the cause of Linux/OSS/World {peace|health|prosperity} superior to any of the above? If so, how?

    Good and wholesome things can be a by-product of self-interest. Beware of the sanctimonious occupiers of the moral high ground who claim to they do what is right for its own sake. Some will be genuine, others will be self-deluding and/or fraudulent.

    Today's word is "pragmatism"

  10. David Hicks

    Surely that's the point

    Big Blue have interests. They pushed their stuff into Linux to help themselves.

    In the typical FOSS scenario we refer to a developer scratching their itch, and by doing so in an open way we all benefit.

    How is this any different?

    (I also agree with the above comments, Big Blue are a profit driven corporation, of course they'll only contribute to Linux when it is to their advantage to do so. Duh!)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and another thing ...

    "Wade said companies had to learn that they couldn't apply the closed-source model of software development to open source by hiring people and then telling them to code. He called this stacking a project by hiring all the people to make sure the programming goals are met."

    Why not? If the interests of the community and the company providing the resources diverge, then the project forks; Because of OSS licensing, this is possible, the company does not get to control anything it does not own, and everyone continues to benefit.

    If the company makes its fork closed source and markets a product then the FSF (or someone) has to prove that license terms have been violated and act accordingly. This is true of the general case in which a company takes some OSS and covertly makes a closed source product out of it. That is, it's something that the community has to deal with anyway, potentially.

    What is it with these people?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like to make tools....

    Hammers, shovels, screwdrivers, you name it. Lots of them. Shiny ones, matte ones, large ones, small ones.

    Never used them to build a damn thing, though. I just like to show them to people and let them be impressed that I can make such nice tools to sit on shelves.

    I once knew a guy with a database cluster that was the same way.

  13. Paul

    where's the point to this story?

    I can understand the idiots at Novell need to distract the community after their Microsoft collusion, but why the hell did anyone see anything more in this little outburst? No story here beyond IBM learning there's advantage in going beyond their own direct self interest. Something Microsoft's buddies over at Novell still don't understand.

  14. Colin Millar
    Thumb Up

    Linux works on hardware shock horror

    We can't be having that - Linux is an ideal to be constantly strived towards and never attained - a bit like buddhism. In fact - if the little fat fella got up and moved around he'd probably waddle - a bit like penguins.

  15. zvonr

    Anybody thought IBM was in it for another reason?

    Of course they are in there to further their interests, however HP and Dell benefit more out of it without contributing much ...

    Every vendor contributes drivers, and code that makes Linux run best on their hardware, there is not much interest in contributing something that will benefit everybody (like your competitors).

    You only have to look at the "alliance of the willing" developing System TAP where HP and DELL are not present.

    Technologies like DTrace and System TAP are amazing profit making technologies. How? they allow the support engineers to resolve customer issues faster. Before these technologies, custom debug kernels needed to be shipped to resolve issues, and that could take days ...

  16. Jacqui

    FLOSS can suck a company dry

    My employer paid for the dev and release of a FLOSS project. Yes it was driven by our own internal needs but likewise the 'community' drove as many requirements as ourselves. We estimate it cost us around 200K in one year alone for a company that has less than 1mill turnover - a big risk!

    Did we get a pat on the back - did we get support contracts? NO but we did get innundated with people emailing and calling for free support/advice and multinationals (such as Ford) sending Y2K legal threats by recorded delivery!

    In the end I had to reconfigure our in house switch to route 'freetards' (mostly web dev houses) to an automated response telling them where they could get free and paid support.

    We still contribute back to projects but we will never instigate a project of that scale again - the cost just in handling the spam backlash from having our mail domain in the README was enough to write off a mid size raid array mail server in less than three months.

    And yes, we have had some rather brilliant internal projects since then that we would have loved to "open up" but once burnt twice shy...


  17. bell

    They've got it back to front

    I'm not particularly prone to "dealing with the way things are", but there really is a case for it here. I remember reading an article reporting a similar winge from the Swing team some months ago, and having the same reaction.

    People contribute to projects to meets their own needs. From the pimply 45 year old in his mom's basement to Big Blue themselves it's the same story. FLOSS projects can do themselves a big favour by adapting to take what benefits they can from this situation and minimise the damage it can cause.

    World domination to the first project to get that right :)

  18. Noel Coward

    Linux install easier

    Well Linux installs are easier, way faster and less problematic on all my IBM hardware than any MS OS. And that's not just the servers either. Everything just works.

    If that is the end result then so be it.

  19. jake Silver badge

    I still don't get it. &@Jacqui

    I've read this article probably nine times. It makes no sense.

    Why continue to try to make sense of it after mulling it over for more than 30 hours? Because there are some big names involved. There might be some there there ... maybe.

    Yes, there are fully open FOSS solutions out there.

    Yes, there are proprietary solutions that run on FOSS out there.

    Yes, there are niche solutions, both proprietary & open, that run on FOSS out there, and I'm willing to bet that for the most part the big-boys don't really care about any of them.

    And??? WTF am I missing here? What's the story supposed to be about?

    @Jacqui: Eyeball Sourceforge sometime ... Rolling it out inhouse without the resources to support whatever the end result might be suggests a lack of familiarity with FOSS ... which in turn kinda goes along with your company's results.

  20. Mark

    What planet..

    ...are these guys from?

    Private individuals only tend to contribute to projects they're interested in; why should companies be any different? I know I only contributed to a certain area of Linux because it was a field I was interested in and had experience of.

    The whole point of Open Source is that if you have a problem with a project and can solve that problem by either fixing or extending the scope of that project you are free to do so. However, and this is the good bit, your code is open and free for all to use. Microsoft used to "embrace and extend" in a proprietary fashion; there is nothing wrong with extending for everyone.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Why is anything in the kernel?

    For that matter, why is there even a Linux kernel?

    Why is there SCSI support? Because a curly haired, bow-tie wearing SCSI user wanted it.

    But now it's a Bad Thing® that IBM wanted its things in the kernel too? And worse, was willing to employ people to accomplish its goals? The hypocrisy is shocking, simply shocking. And oh so typical of Linux in my experience. You don't often see this sort of nonsense in the BSD world. Well, not if you ignore Theo anyway.

    Paris, because nobody is shocked by her behavior.

  22. elderlybloke
    Paris Hilton


    The reason there is a Kernel is because Linus created it.

    BSD ,what is/who is that.

    I love Paris in the springtime etc.

  23. jake Silver badge


    "BSD ,what is/who is that."

    It's what's on the servers.

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