back to article When open-source eats itself, we win

For years the headlines have been about open source cannibalising proprietary software. But what happens when open source starts to cannibalise itself? In some markets, open source rules the roost. For example, Drupal, Joomla, my old company Alfresco and other open-source content management systems regularly duke it out for …

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  1. DanDanDan

    Unfortunately, as well as eating itself, it also splits and forks itself. Web servers has always been a FOSS stronghold. Everywhere else that counts is full of crap competition: KFE vs Gnome - developer show-offs leading to no winners. LibreOffice vs OpenOffice - no winners due to diluted development.

    Yes it's one of the best things that you can fork a project if it heads in the wrong direction, but it also dilutes development effort trying to do 10 things at once.

    1. wowfood

      Agreed. The benefit of FOSS is the community, it's also the achilles heel. There are so many projects out there that I kinda wish would merge together, if not for the sake of more support, just so we don't have all these choices which are pretty much identical.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @wowfood - Don't want choice ?

        Then just go Microsoft or IBM and poof, the choice is gone. See, I solved your problem so leave all those projects alone for the rest of us.

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Another Achilles heel is the attitude of the developers.

        You can raise bugs that are genuine with Apache using their bug system and have it closed with a status of "WONT FIX" with little or no justification other than the fact that they don't want to change something as it may break another feature. So much for the "many eyes" approach of ensuring code will work and is secure.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Good forks merge down the road (or their codebase is pulled into the trunk, or into someone else's trunk.)

        Bad forks wither and die.

        It's always been like this in opensource.

    2. nematoad Silver badge
      Unhappy

      "LibreOffice vs OpenOffice - no winners due to diluted development."

      Given that Oracle seems to have an Apple like control freak complex, I fear that there's a good chance that if the devs. had not forked OO.o we wouldn't have a choice at all.

      See also: Hudson/Jenkins and also MySQL/MariaDB.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I guess you missed where Oracle handed over OpenOffice to Apache.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          "I guess you missed where Oracle handed over OpenOffice to Apache."

          Only after LibreOffice forked and the original suffocated. It was limping on at that point and might have limped on under Oracle's thumb for quite a while had there been no alternative place for the developers to contribute code.

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            1. Francis Fish
              Happy

              Re: LibreOffice

              I just wish the presentation software on my Mac didn't crash and destroy my work. Stopped using it then upgraded and it still went boom. The spreadsheet and word processing are fine. I did buy the Apple office equivalent and it's fine and about a tenth of the price of MS Office, but its a bit too ... Apple. You can't save as a different format but have to export, things like that.

              Also has an unmentioned use of rescuing broken MS Office documents - if you have a document that won't load in the MS tools LibreOffice will usually help you at least get your content back :)

              I would also quite happily part with a few Euros to help pay for dev, e.g. the broken presentation piece, but there isn't a mechanism.

          2. P. Lee

            Aren't the licenses different too? Apache vs GPL?

            It appeared to me that the handover to apache was Oracle being snarky because the devs forked to LibreOffice. Apache sponsors gain from the apache license (for incorporating a webserver into proprietary products), but I doubt there is much call for people to embed an office suite into a non-gpl product.

    3. Daniel B.
      Boffin

      KDE vs. GNOME

      That particular competition has kinda produced results. Qt is the one true multiplatform GUI toolkit, and KDE was much easier to develop for.

      GNOME, on the other hand, has done an EPIC FAIL by choosing JavaScript as their "main language". Meh.

      1. P. Lee

        Re: KDE vs. GNOME

        Also, when one GUI dev team goes off the rails, you can switch until they get their act together again, or you can mix and match.

        For example, you could run a gnome version of firefox together with a KDE desktop environment, or k3b under the LXDE.

        Personally, I'm glad to be able to avoid Gnome3 on the desktop but I like KDE for bells & whistles and LXDE for low-power, low-function scenarios.

        Wastefulness and vitality seem to go hand-in-hand in IT as in other areas of life.

    4. vagabondo

      Redundancy = Resilience

      "you can fork a project ... but it also dilutes development effort "

      Redundancy enables resilience and evolution. Think about DNA, meiosis, non-lethal mutation and natural selection. The parallels are forking, innovation, sharing, competition, and progress.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Redundancy = Resilience

        You missed horizontal gene transfer - this is opensource's greatest asset.

        1. vagabondo
          Happy

          Re: Redundancy = Resilience

          @Alan Brown

          Hmm, phage assisted sex. Mammals have more fun!

    5. Bill the Sys Admin
      Alert

      KDE vs Gnome

      Gnome might be self imploding, but i very much like KDE and find it to be very functional. So i reckon your wrong there.

  2. wowfood

    Agree

    on the performance front. I've been playing around with a home server for a while, and I've tried running a couple different setups

    IIS, Apache and nginX. I plan to try Hiawatha soon also.

    What I found with IIS and Apache running on a fairly dated home PC was that they were both pretty poor to respond. I admit a lot of this was from connecting via my homoe network. but it was taking a few seconds to load each webpage. and these were pretty basic.

    Popped on nginX to give it a try, and even then it was noticeably faster.

    Reason I plan to try Hiawatha next is simply because of security. Playing with a web server on my home connection isn't the greatest idea in the world, I'll admit instantly I'm not a web admin, I don't know much about it, hence why I'm looking into a far more security driven server architecture. Depending on resource usage, how secure it actually is and how much power it draws, I may wind up hosting for myself using it.

    Commentards! I beseach thee, know of any additional measures to secure a home web server, whether it be router level, OS level, or even a few tweaks inside the server itself if you know of any way to make Hiawatha slightly more secure.

    1. Patrick O'Reilly

      Re: Agree

      Even on a Raspberry PI Nginx holds up to a pounding from Blitz.io

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Windows

      @Wowfood

      "What I found with IIS and Apache running on a fairly dated home PC was that they were both pretty poor to respond. I admit a lot of this was from connecting via my homoe network. but it was taking a few seconds to load each webpage. and these were pretty basic."

      Which raises the question how you used them? Did you install them and used them "as is" or did you tune the critters? Because speaking from personal experience I can say that both server can easily run on older hardware (depending on the version) where obviously Apache tends to be lighter by default because it doesn't have appserver functionality embedded.

      I've been running both on a 2k3 server, 2Gh AMD Athlon with 1Gb memory and it pretty much works as expected. No noticeable issues wrt. response time (IF you tune them).

      1. wowfood

        Re: @Wowfood

        That could have been it then, I was effectively going 'out of the box' setting up the basics of what I needed and leaving it at that. Mind you I was trying to throw it together in a bit of a hurry for a uni project that was coming up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Wowfood

          I ran an Apache site on an 500Mhz dual core IBM server with 612MB RAM. It ran without any issues and didn't come much above 10% CPU. This was using PHP and MySQL with only a few thousand visitors a day but still not bad nad very quick page load times.

    3. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: Agree

      Playing with a web server on my home connection isn't the greatest idea in the world

      Learn how to set up a Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) on your network. Simply put, you make a separate subnet for your web server and use IP filtering rules (at your router) to allow machines outside that subnet to access it, but block all outgoing traffic (apart from responding to already-established connections initiated from other hosts). It can be as simple as three iptables rules: one default rule drops all forwarded traffic, one allows NEW connections to be forwarded to the DMZ box and a third allows packets that are ESTABLISHED or RELATED to be forwarded from the DMZ box. In practice, you'll probably want to do something more complicated, like doing NAT masquerading and port-forwarding at the router (so that all your machines appear to be at the same IP address and so that traffic coming from the Internet on port 80 is forwarded to the DMZ machine, respectively) so I can't give you the exact iptables commands or other firewall rules here.

      Likewise, if you need to allow the DMZ machine to access certain services inside your network (that you can't or don't want to store on the DMZ machine) then you need to add more rules to allow it to make those connections. You'll want to lock down that service so that the DMZ machine can only do the bare minimum with it that it needs to operate without leaving a big hole in your security. Or better yet, migrate a minimal version of the service to the DMZ box itself or another machine on the DMZ subnet. There's always a trade-off between security (risk of the machine getting hacked) and utility (eg, you'd really like to be able to access your IMAP server) with any machine connected to the net, but a DMZ is a nice way, up to a point, to get the best of both worlds.

      So basically, look up setting a DMZ for your particular router and learn about how to set up firewall rules in general.

      Other than that, your distro should have packaged the web server to be pretty secure already, such as running it as a user with restricted rights (nobody in Unix-based systems) and maybe it also gives you the option of running in a chroot jail too.

    4. Skoorb

      Re: Agree

      Have a quick look at the Cherokee web server whilst you are at it; it's a rather interesting project.

    5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Agree

      The performance issues of thread-per-conversation (or process-per-conversation) are well-known. Indeed, they've been a commonplace in, say, discussions on comp.protocols.tcp-ip since at least the mid-1990s.

      The advantage of TpC is that it's largely straightforward to implement and use, provided your request/response processing doesn't involve too many pieces of shared data that require synchronized access. This is even less of a problem with PpC, since the tasks don't share address space.

      The real reason why Apache has a TpC model, though, is historical: it evolved from NCSA httpd. (The original Apache was a set of patches for httpd - hence the name.)

      The thing is, most websites don't see that much traffic. And most of the ones that start to get a bit sluggish can just throw more cheap hardware at the problem - traditional web serving scales out nicely. That, plus Apache's feature set and established base of developers and administrators (which mean there's a large knowledge pool to draw on), mean Apache will continue to be the major player for a long time to come.

      Matt uses market share as a metric to show Apache is "sliding", but in a case like this market share is largely meaningless. For a long time, Apache was hugely dominant because of the lack of other suitable choices for many customers. Now there are more choices, which better fit the needs of a significant portion of the market, so we're seeing a correction as sites that were never well-suited to Apache anyway move to Nginx or other alternatives. This is hardly news.

      What's more puzzling is the thesis of the article, that "Open Source" is "cannibalizing" itself. For as long as the Open Source moniker has existed, there have been alternatives in nearly every category - Matt himself starts by mentioning some of the various CMSs. And obviously over time some gain market share (insofar as that means anything) at the expense of others; so this is not news either. And worse, the whole idea of "cannibalizing" only applies if all FLOSS projects are somehow bound in some kind of zero-sum mercantile economy, where the rise of one must be matched with the fall of another. That's a reflection of a naive dualist metaphysics of the software market, partitioning it into "open" and "proprietary" as though the two were antipodes.

  3. Ru

    Isn't just about speed.

    I've used lighttpd and now nginx because they are small and simple and yet still do everything I need them to. Apache seems a wee bit bloated and inconvenient by comparison.

  4. dogged

    MySql

    Matt,

    MySql has less features than a proper database, agreed. Being a proper bloody database, for a start. However, it certainly isn't faster by any measure at all.

    Oracle, PostgreSQL and SQL Server all make it look like it's emulating a 286 to run on.

    1. proto-robbie
      Headmaster

      Re: MySql

      Not when I did like-for-like tests with Oracle & MySQL, some 6 years ago (MySQL 3.23!). MySQL was at least twice as fast for most things.

      If you don't need bomb-proof transactions (and most batch processing doesn't, with suitable design) MySQL is a very good option, with a powerful set of functions built into its SQL. It's also extremely reliable, so long as the power's on. It's also about 10 times quicker to restore if/when your hardware croaks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: MySql

        Comparing MySQL with no recovery on to Oracle with full recovery is not a fair or useful comparison. If I compare Sybase running without recovery, or better still with an in memory DB it outperforms MySQL many times over as well as having more features.

        I liked MySQL and used it a lot before Oracle bought it but I always use Sybase or MS SQL Server for bigger projects.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby
          Devil

          Re: MySql

          MySQL vs Oracle?

          Puleeze. Get a real RDBMS in Informix's IDS now under IBM.

          Even with IBM's inept management of the product there's a rabid core following and for a good reason. ;-)

          Its more ORDB than its competitors and is still the fastest when tuned properly.

          There's even a scaled down free version...

          -Just saying!

          1. proto-robbie
            Pirate

            Re: MySql

            MySQL has its uses - Is there a problem with that amongst the cognoscenti? Well I are one too. I like to use the right tool for the job, and for some jobs, in my experience, MySQL is that tool.

            If I had a 1000 clerks banging in cheque details, I'd use a different database, but since I specialise in data cleansing & manipulation for batches of a few thousand; I appreciate performance, but can fix failures, so I often use MySQL - still version 3.23, I might add. As stated above, MySQL is extremely reliable, and I have not seen any need to migrate the Perl / MySQL "engine" I wrote seven or eight years ago to automate the running of these jobs, which have recovered much moolah in return.

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  5. nematoad Silver badge
    Linux

    What a refeshing change.

    "fighting for market supremacy in the only way open source really knows how: technical merit"

    Makes a change from all that bloody litigation that's going on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a refeshing change.

      "Because both have to appeal to developers, and developers have a low tolerance for marketing speak."

      Oh so true. Which is yet more proof that FOSS is a good idea (TM).

  6. Platypus

    Don't replace the king, replace monarchy

    Completely agree, Matt. Fragmentation might have its drawbacks, but diversity - the other side of the same coin - is absolutely essential during the disruptive phase. Just yesterday, I saw yet another post about how a particular technology area (in this case storage) lacked a dominant open-source technology. I've bemoaned the lack of any such alternative myself many times, but I disagree with the author about the desirability of having a *dominant* open-source alternative. I think there should be *many* open-source alternatives, none dominating the others. They should be sharing knowledge and pushing each other to improve, giving users a choice among complex tradeoffs, not delcaring themselves the new "de facto standard" before the revolution has even begun in earnest. We don't need another Apache or gcc stagnating in their market/mindshare dominance until someone comes along to push them out of their comfort zones. Being open source is not sufficient to gain the benefits of meaningful competition. One must be open in more ways than that.

    P.S. wowfood, I've just started switching my own sites from nginx to Hiawatha, also mostly because of security. While I don't have any specific tips to offer (except perhaps one about rewrite rules that I'll blog about soon) you might be pleased to know that it's going quite well so far.

  7. DrXym Silver badge

    Two different things with some overlapping functionality

    Apache Httpd is often used as an app server in LAMP style deployments, Nginx is often used as a load balancer / reverse proxy that sits in front of app servers. They have overlapping functionality but those would be their main specialities.

    So sites might use them in conjunction, or not depending on what the site is trying to do, the type of content its service (dynamic / static) and what is generating the dynamic content.

    1. Still Water

      Re: Two different things with some overlapping functionality

      Agreed - though I've seen them in conjunction in presentation/app tier arrangement. Use nginx to proxy and serve static content (very quickly) and save apache, which does have a larger resource footprint, to handle dynamic content. (eg serve static html, images, js, css, etc from nginz and then just use apache to handle the rest).

      As you say, the design of the site dictates how much static content you can hand off to nginx, but in some situations, it's a useful tool to use.

  8. GottaBeKidding
    FAIL

    What the...?

    "But web servers? That's a market that Apache won ages ago, with no open-source competition to speak of."

    Uhm, hate to break it to you, but Apache IS open source.

    It's name is based on the fact that it was originally NCSA HTTPd, but had patches applied to it. Journalism, please!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What the...?

      Your Fail is a failure. He knows Apache is open source, what the sentence means is that there was no OTHER open source software that competed with it. The entire article is about competition between different open source implementations.

      1. GottaBeKidding
        FAIL

        Re: What the...?

        Uhm?

        NCSA httpd, Lighttpd, nginx are all over 10 years old.

        1. fandom

          Re: What the...?

          " with no open-source competition to speak of." != " with no open-source competition"

  9. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Apache is not a synchronous web server. Apache has a mode of operation that is synchronous. It also has an asynchronous mode. In it's asynchronous mode, it is just as fast as nginx, yet supports many more 3rd party modules.

    Apache 2.2 ships, by default, in synchronous mode. Why? Because Apache is commonly used to make a LAMP stack. PHP in the form of mod_php historically does not play well in a threaded environment, usually due to it's extensions.

    The solution is to run php-fcgi instead of mod_php when running asynchronously. This is actually better since it separates the PHP interpreter from the request handler, which increases performance. This model, php-fcgi and asynchronous workers, is exactly how nginx works, and the two are comparable in speed in this configuration.

    So why isn't this the default configuration for Apache/PHP? Ease of upgrade. It is too confusing, say packagers, to ask people to change how they deploy their PHP apps on Apache, it cannot be changed. Also, the package will include almost every stock Apache module, and they will all be loaded by default.

    So install LAMP on Ubuntu, and you get the slowest possible way of serving PHP, by design. Install nginx, and you get the fastest. This is where the lighty/nginx/New Cool argument comes from, people install the stock configuration and think Apache is some slow beast that takes all your RAM.

    Apache, properly configured, is amazingly fast and light on memory. Plus, you get the entire ecosystem of Apache modules to use. There are many books written on Apache module development, and thousands of books on Apache configuration and howtos.

    Finally, about web servers. Web servers are an amazingly popular bit of software to write. It's so simple to do, that they massively proliferate, each claiming to be the fastest most agile web server going - I'm looking at gunicorn, Tornado, et al here.

    I'm not going to comment on their speed, but instead the speed of the thing you are serving. Frankly, how fast the web server does it's web server tasks is massively irrelevant in the overall scheme of things. Any request involving DB queries will swamp the amount of time the web server spends handling the request. Any request not involving DB queries is a static file, and should be served from cache or disk, which is a hard thing to do slowly.

    There is nothing wrong with nginx or lighty, they are both excellent web servers. But so is Apache, and rumours of it's death are greatly exaggerated. If you already have Apache skills, changing to nginx means learning new syntax and gotchas, and losing all your experiences and custom modules, and it still won't go faster than your app.

    tl;dr - use Apache 2.4, event MPM and php-fcgi.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      So, clueless admins using a bad configuration are just as much of a problem under *nix as under windows, requiring the people writing the software to work around the "admins".

      Shocking.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Peter2 - That is correct!

        However, working around the admins in Unix is way much easier and faster than it is in Windows.

    2. BlueGreen

      wot reallie?

      U mean mat rote a article without checking his fax? it canot be.

      (BTW apropos other comments, squid also can operate as a reverse proxy.

      I also get the impression that http caching control headers are really minimally understood, if they're known about at all, by a large number of web designers)

  10. alain williams Silver badge

    Apache 2.4

    Although Apache 2.4 came out 10 months ago it was not ready for production use. For instance: it took a few months for perl and php to work with it, then this all needed to be adopted by the distributions. This has happened to an extent (eg it is in Fedora & Debian experimental), but the main stable distros come out with a new major release every few years and won't change before then. So expect it in RedHat 7 (out later this year) and Debian 7 (maybe this year) or Debian 8 (2014+).

    Don't expect most people to run it on serious production platforms until then. Even then, transition will be slow since we don't like to upgrade stable, supported systems.

  11. ratfox

    Google??

    2% Google, does that mean that Google have a special web server for their web servers, and that their web servers are 2% of the market, or does Google actually distribute a web server for other people to use?

    1. vic 4

      Re: Google??

      They have their own, imaginatively called called Google Web Server or GWS

  12. Nick Kew

    Common roots

    In the beginning were homebrew hacks. Then two webservers emerged as leaders: things you could download and could run more-or-less out-of-the-box. Both NCSA and CERN servers were open source.

    NCSA begat early Apache, which ruled the world in the second half of the '90s. But by the turn of the century, people were doing better. Apache 1 begat three new servers: Apache 2 from the same development team (modulo its evolution over time), and lighttpd and nginx as independent efforts, all drew on parts of the architecture and codebase. But their focus was different: Apache 2 with a lot of powerful APIS became a highly flexible and extensible applications platform, while nginx and lighttpd focused on raw performance in a more limited task. nginx has for some time looked like the winner in the "lean and mean" space, but is not designed with extensibility in mind!

    And so we have horses for courses. The open source of NCSA and Apache 1 served its purpose, as different developers incorporated bits of them into new and improved products, serving different needs. Though of course there's still plenty of common ground: the regular web server or proxy, where any of them meets the needs of the vast majority of users without sweat.

  13. stanimir

    JBoss vs Tomcat?

    In application servers, JBoss and Tomcat spar

    Both are virtually developed by Red Hat. JBoss uses tomcat as webengine: I know both of the them on source level, here is a ref: http://www.jboss.org/jbossweb

    Tomcat is also not an application server.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. stanimir

        Re: JBoss vs Tomcat?

        @Eadon,

        Tomcat includes the real web server, not only "jasper" that's the JSP engine. We use (heavily) hacked version of the NIO connector w/ socket hijack, modified web-app classloader and some other goodness . Connectors are part of the coyote subproject, still tomcat. "Catalina" is the one that implements the javax.servlet API and still part of the tomcat.

        Yes, tomcat does include deploy/undeploy enabled classloader since version 3.2.x, so in a way it can run stuff; it just does not feature full JEE (they renamed J2EE which is weird but "J2EE" is obsolete now).

        As for security Tomcat actually supports jaas. Also supoprts JMX registrations. Yet, it's nowhere near jboss when it comes as application server - for instance it doesn't support JCA.

        I excuse for the mass topic derail, yet I can't see how the author decided to put "tomcat vs jboss".

        Ans since you went for details, I present some ;)

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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Apache MS scrap

      YEH! Don't forget Windows! Take that Windows...take that!

      You'll learn'm Eadon, you'll learn'm!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apache MS scrap

      Err... The decline of IIS suggests that IIS is not popular as a web server rather than Windows is not popular as an OS. You do know that there are many installations of Apache on Windows, don't you?

      1. eulampios

        Re: Apache MS scrap

        How often would you run either nginx or Apache on Windows? That is a good question. Both apache & nginx configuration have a *nix mentality. Making one leap away from the Windows IIS gets you half way to a *nix system.

        Like Eadon has correctly mentioned, there you wouldn't waste your time on crap like antivirus

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apache MS scrap

      I'm certain any Windows sysadmin worth employing would be capable of making quite a secure Windows box for serving web pages. Windows has improved, as has IIS.

      That said, there are a lot that run around with "MCSE" tickets that barely know their UDP from their UTP. There are some with "RHCE" tickets who are just as bad. I'd say in both cases, this is a case of the odd few bad apples, not everyone with these qualifications is this bad.

      Windows will always have a bigger footprint than what can be achieved with Linux or BSD, granted, but the difference isn't that great, and very few systems would run such a bare bones configuration.

      As for what I choose? I use Linux largely because it's what I'm familiar with. Not necessarily because it's better, but because it's what I understand better. I know the common gotchas for security and can set up a machine to resist a fairly wide gamut of attack vectors.

      But I won't catch everything, this is where vigilence and careful monitoring come in. Antivirus and intrusion detection systems are tools for exactly that sort of monitoring.

      The other tool is regular backups, so you can recover when disaster does strike, as not every failure can be blamed on miscreants on the world wild web!.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    Who's writing your news?

    I can't help to think that this article was written by someone who just doesn't understand software progresses, open or closed source. If we don't strive for something better, regardless of reasons, why do anything at all?

    I'm not trying to flame the author of the article, but maybe the author jumped the gun by using the concept of eating ones self. After all, is progression eating ones self, or bettering ones self? So maybe the tone of the article should of been presented as "Open source just keeps getting better."

    Also, if you start counting which open source domains are getting better and better...you'll run out of ink (or memory in this case).

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Nginx

    I switched all my VPSs from Apache to Nginx a few years back because... well, if you must know... because Nginx had a really cool looking soviet style red star as an icon, whereas Apache had a poofy feather.

    Well, it's as good a reason as any other I've heard.

    1. Bill the Sys Admin
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nginx

      This is by far the best reg comment i have ever read. I just burst out laughing right after it! Great reason!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title click bait

    I mostly agree with the author. However the title seems to indicate FOSS is killing itself off.

  18. Christian Berger

    The good thing about diversity in open source software is...

    ...that it doesn't come with the usual drawbacks. If you have 2 competing projects, chances are the teams are going to talk to each other and even share code and ideas.

    They may disagree one some points, but they are free to agree on others.

    Let's take a negative example of diversity, ARM SoCs. There are literally dozens of different SoCs out there and they are all different. Partly since they were designed for different markets (a router doesn't need graphics), but mostly to keep developers from switching to another SoC.

    This is why, when you are an operating system kernel and find yourself running on an ARM SoC, you have no idea of how your system looks like. You don't know where and how large your RAM is, you don't know how to access the serial port or where it is in IO space. You are completely blind and can neither discover your hardware, nor blindly assume it's at well known addresses. That's why most resources of open source projects running on ARM currently go into supporting all the wildly different hardware platforms. While on a PC you might cope with not having accelerated graphics or a non-working WLAN chip, on ARM have to cope with non-working flash or no frame buffer access at all.

    That is negative diversity: Trying to be different to make life hard for people.

    1. Wil Palen

      Re: The good thing about diversity in open source software is...

      This is only negative from a abstraction PoV. The ad-hoc mix&mash of electrical signals and peripherals to the SoC is what makes your router cheap.

      You confuse purpose built software for general purpose full blown OS distributions.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The good thing about diversity in open source software is...

      It's also the SOP of a chip company. The jargon phrase (well, it was back in the 80's when I was with Intel (name-drop)): "Own the socket"

      i.e. once the design decision has been made for YOUR chip, then every sale of the end-product is a sale for you, and not one that any of your competition will get.

      One of the reasons open hardware is slow to take off.

  19. Chris Phillips
    Facepalm

    dodgy data and misleading stats again.

    Nginx is most often used as a reverse proxy, not a web server in its own right. So whilst you'd have a an apache with mod_proxy infront of dozens of apache / tomcat / etc instances, it's often nginx being the one handing of the the apache instances behind to actually DO the work.

    But the HTTP headers will say nginx as that's what the client is actually talking to.

    Apache and Nginx work well together, not necessarily one vs the other.

    1. Allonymous Coward

      Re: dodgy data and misleading stats again.

      Indeed. This is exactly how we use it. Though we strip the HTTP header.

  20. mythsmith
    Thumb Down

    That's simply a blind point of view. Open source is EVOLVING more rapidly than proprietary software. That's because better technology has no licensing or commercial barriers in substituting obsolete technology.

    And also you choose a very limited example: web servers. Look at what happened to version control systems in software development!!! I would choose this field of application, if I were to write an article about open source "eating itself"!!!

    CVS was completely cannibalized by Subversion, which is being played down by Git. Is that really cannibalizing? NO! It's evolution, because the version control systems in the meanwhile gained tremendous features.

    The proprietary world in comparison is slow and lacks of evolution (cannibalization). Even Microsoft had to offer Git as an option to its developers...

  21. A J Stiles

    What a surprise - Not

    Every software project starts small and grows features; the more users it has, the faster it improves, and the more it improves, the more users it gets, in a kind of positive feedback loop. (Every software project eventually ends up incorporating a Turing-complete programming language, as well, whether intentional or otherwise.)

    Sooner or later, the options you can pass to configure grow past a screenful, so everyone just builds it with everything enabled whether or not they need it. At this point, it acquires a reputation -- whether deserved or not -- for "bloat".

    Sometimes, someone forks it and chops out chunks (Firefox was Mozilla minus lots of stuff). Other times, a whole 'nother project comes along, started from scratch, and displaces it. Until it, too, starts growing features ..... And the whole cycle starts over again.

  22. QdK
    FAIL

    Everybody wins?

    The graph shows a *loss* of 0.01 percent for Apache and NGiNX combined, for the graph 'Market Share for Top Servers Across the Million Busiest Sites'. So, Apache/NGiNX combo - the open source part of the graph - lost 100 of the most busy sites on the net. It might not amount to much, but how does everybody win - everybody being open source according to the article - with diminishing open source in the arena?

  23. Craig Foster
    WTF?

    Signal to noise here...

    Seriously, why are there few up votes on the three comments saying nginx is used as a reverse proxy and the backend is Apache? They are not eating each others lunch as much as the author purports...

    We moved a client to nginx some 5 years ago as a RP for hosting. Between splitting media content to different host names, moving static content to minimal nginx backends, and using nginx in front, the popular sites don't see the anywhere near the performance issues at the busy times. It's not rocket science.

    (The backend load balancing is another matter completely - urgh!)

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