[OSGeo-Discuss] "Free"

Zachary L. Stauber zachary at stauber.org
Mon Mar 5 23:43:56 PST 2007

Hash: SHA1

ross s wrote:
> Just to add a bit more spice to the discussion.  I think the root
> problem here is a definition amoung open source purists.  Jeff Thurston
> has added some interesting points to his blog (below).

I think the root of the problem is that there is such a thing as an "open source
purist" at all.  Why does "open source" have to mean "closed mind?"  On the
other end, there is an equally troublesome "Microsoft Evangelist" (this is a
real title on a business card, by the way), but they aren't the problem at hand.
 Limiting oneself out of team spirit is senseless.  Obviously we don't want
something that WAS free or open source to be commercialized, but that is an
extremely uncommon, and we don't want any commercial software taking up room at
a FOSS4G conference if it isn't (or couldn't be) related to open source in some
demonstrable way, but I trust nobody is going to allow that to happen.

Outside of a university setting, one HAS to integrate with commercial software.
 Most businesses in the US are Windows-only.  My employer used to mandate IIS,
SQL Server, and Oracle Spatial exclusively.  To even try to change it (and there
are plenty of us on the inside that wanted to), the open source community had to
meet us halfway and make things like MS4W and windows installs of
PostgreSQL/PostGIS.  Now a couple years later, parts of it have switched from
Oracle Spatial to PostgreSQL/PostGIS.  Why?  Because PostgreSQL/PostGIS actually
has better Windows support (Oracle 10.1.0 wouldn't even install under Windows
without massive errors and security issues).  More important, you can write
plugins for PostgrSQL/PostGIS with MS Visual Studio, whereas Oracle has
intentionally decided to stay away from Microsoft programming languages, leaving
it with just Java (which isn't even an open standard, unlike C#).  We can't
change from IIS to Apache, so if MS4W didn't exist, we'd be using ArcIMS instead
of MapServer.  If the PostGIS people and Jeff McKenna had written off Windows
users because we happened to not think Microsoft and ESRI were the devil, we'd
have to write off open source, but luckily they are an open-minded bunch, and I
think that kind of open mentality deserves to be rewarded and further promoted.

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