ActiveState Challenges Open Source Myths

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 17, 2008

ActiveState (vendors of support and tools for dynamic languages including Perl, Python, and Tcl) just put out a free white paper aimed at the management level of businesses with questions about open source. Titled "10 Myths About Running Open Source Software in Your Business," it makes a reasonable primer for the executive who hasn't looked at open source before.

Running to only 8 pages and presented in PDF format, the white paper is a fairly quick read. Much of it is devoted to challenging two main false perceptions: first, that choosing between open- and closed-source software is an all-or-nothing decision, and second, that open source is the exclusive province of strange cowboy coders with bad social skills.

The biggest lesson here for bosses who don't think they need to worry about open source software is that it's probably already in their organization (they quote Gartner as saying that 90% of commercial software packages will contain significant open source code by 2012). They also point out the differences between "open source" and "free" (without getting into beer and free speech analogies that might turn off executives), and discuss some of the non-monetary drivers for going open source.

Of course, given that this white paper comes from ActiveState, there are a few low-key sales pitches - for example, in the notion that a business with few IT resources might do well to consider "a supported enterprise open source language distribution." But even here, they don't come right out and plug ActiveState products directly.

It would be nice if we lived in a world where everyone already knew these basics. But in the real world, this is a useful resource for anyone trying to introduce open source ideas to a naive management, without confusing license language or political grandstanding.