Why doesn't open source software take off?

Adoption times for a new technology are always longer than expected. The change of paradigm towards open culture and towards free software in particular is, in my opinion, a change of era, something too big not to make us go through an abrupt terrain. There are large, well-positioned companies that will hardly allow others to cede their ground.

In the nineties there was talk of a new technology that would change the world, artificial intelligence was then called artificial intelligence although now it seems more appropriate to speak of intelligent systems; computers were able to identify, or rather extrapolate, patterns of behavior so that new possibilities opened up. The truth is that those years passed and that fever passed with them, but Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com was incorporating recommenders based on intelligent systems ten years after that fever and today they are gradually invading the market, among other things because Amazon.com is The Internet Store and no one can afford to doubt it. This is just one example of a technology that takes much longer than initially expected to reach the general public.
But the case of free software is much more complicated than that of recommenders because it attacks the foundations on which they are built: business, cultural and even social models. We are not prepared to understand that someone gives something away for free and much less to do it ourselves, we live, whether we want it or not, still in a paradigm of the nineteenth century, that of the patents by which you invented something, protected it and earned money; in a capitalist society like ours, we cannot understand that you can earn money by giving your creation for free; but of course, the copy and paste option offered by computing is still very recent and we have not yet managed to see all its possibilities. We doubt the veracity of the open gift because there must be a hidden cat in there; we are so ignorant that we do not believe it is possible that someone gives for free something for which they used to charge and free software companies support that premise by budgeting the consulting hour at double the price of proprietary software companies; no man, do not be innocent, budget the hour at the same price and then put additional costs to complete it and take the risk that the implementation of proprietary software is cheaper than the free one, nothing happens.
The Free Software movement has already changed the World, it has shaken its foundations and has inoculated its virus in the world of Culture and Biochemistry. It is neither a product nor a process, nor is it a fashion, it is a social change that relies on the possibility, until recently unknown, of copying and pasting that a computer gives us.
The world is moving much faster than the common mortals would like, we want to stay in our comfort zone and there we had proprietary software. It is curious that open source software is at home on large machines (servers) and small ones (mobiles and embedded) but it does not have the same success on medium-sized machines (PCs). Yes, it also triumphs on the mobile because Symbian and Android are massive. It triumphs in the large despite the fact that they are critical systems in which the installer is playing for his life and is beginning to triumph in the sector with the greatest future, that of mobility.
We are quasi-knocked out boxers so we only see blinding lights around us and those lights have logos of big proprietary software companies that have been with us for years, if we keep looking at those lights we are likely to go down, someone else will overtake us on the right because with less money and effort than us they get more and better things done.
As long as we maintain a more or less neutral Internet, the triumph of the open is served. The record companies arrived late to the Internet, just as it happened with the written press and radio; the same thing is about to happen to television and all the oligopolies of the traditional media are now turning to politicians for help on their knees. The Administration arrived, maybe late, but it arrived to free software but, for the moment, this arrival has only materialized in the big devices, to reach the medium and small ones it is necessary to demonstrate that free software works and until now what we have been trying to demonstrate is that it is good for everyone and cheap, and no, it is about demonstrating that it works and that is only achieved by example and with time.

The idea for this entry came from Luis Casasproposed it to a bunch of geeks and it will be published on Technology Gazette


3 responses to "Why doesn't open source software take off?”

  1. Excellent post, Javier, and very good reflection. The truth is that Free Software is much more widespread than it seems, at all levels, but as you say, what "shines" and blinds is proprietary software. We have FS in our cell phones, in the consoles (well, in the PS3 until recently), in the appliances we use, in the servers that support the internet, etc. but it seems that all that FS "does not work". There are also starting to be interesting models, intermingling FS with SaaS (I have heard you comment many times about SaaS as a FS business model, and I totally agree), as may be the case of TeamBox. Step by step the FS has entered our kitchen, now it is time for it to shine.

  2. P.S: Very good about Intelligent Systems 😉.

  3. With a point of view a little complementary to the one you expose: free software is what is allowing many entrepreneurs and freelancers to escape from the conventional working world (or to get out of the unemployment trap) and to modernize many companies.
    In the long-established business of software distribution-consulting-customization, it lowers the entry barrier on the supply side as well as on the demand side. As an example a little beyond the usual web: Asterisk.
    In a country like this, where it is difficult to obtain human and financial capital to launch larger projects, free software will have its role in the "new productive model", if it arrives.

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