Miguel de Icaza: we can't blame third parties for our failures

By Rick Jelliffe
May 4, 2010 | Comments: 2

I wish I did not agree with Miguel de Icaza's blog from last month The Right Spirit. I interpret him as not meaning "you should" when he says "we should": I think he is not being dogmatic. Here are some juicy snippets:

Some in the open source movement would like all the software in the industry to be open source/free software. Desktops, servers, games, embedded systems and everything that every human touches.

Although it is a noble goal, it has set people up for suffering by making the goal unachievable. It has been 15 years since the rise of the first large open source companies and by now we should know that our dream of a pure open source stack ruling the world is not going to happen any decade now.

I believe strongly that what we need to do is to expand our reach into other platforms, make our desktop apps run on MacOS and Windows. Perhaps share the core engine and write new UIs on top of them, or use cross platform solutions to expand the reach of our software, and expand the contributor pool.

Inkscape has a loyal following now in the Windows world, and we should replicate this with tools like Banshee and F-Spot, and out of this, hopefully recruit the open source developers that can take these applications to the next level.

The point was: we cant blame third parties for our failures, we need to start a discussion as to how we fail, why, and how we are going to fix that and then execute on those ideas.

Responding to a comment that FOSS has been able to domain-specific projects. (I think the comment was way too broad: we are awash with FOSS projects from academia which are highly domain-specific. But the reply is interesting.

This is now a well understood phenomenon. This is also why certain class of applications just do not thrive in this environment, like open source Tax Filling software.

Documentation, or video games are also areas where open source has not excelled at. Both share one thing in common: we love writing the code, but it is harder to get contributors to create the other bits of the content.

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To learn is not just a technical pursuit - it is to look back at what we did wrong and to improve ourselves - not just our code.
I was very impressed with the announcement of OpenID Connect - it is not TECHNICALLY better, but it will lower the barrier to make people WANT to use it. If the OpenID foundation did not do this, then they risk being marginalized.


Well for one thing I have no problem blaming 3rd parties. They have caused me lots of failure.

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