Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Travels in a digital world

In Which Archaeogeek Checks the Date in Case It's April Fools

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Thanks to the Linfiniti Geo Blog, we get what has to be the most unintentionally hilarious article ever, about Oracle Xe.

It’s an open source blogger’s dream post (all quotations are direct from the article). We get fear-mongering about open source “maintenance, support, and security headaches”. We get limitations built in, ostensibly to make it “easy to install”. We get accidental admissions that “if you can reduce your EE license costs by even a single CPU, you’ve made your effort worthwhile”, and the crazy notion that we should “reduce the load on enterprise hardware” by installing databases on desktops instead. We do, however, get “A New Type of Support: The Community”, but beware, because “you won’t be able to create a Technical Assistance Request (TAR) for XE issues regardless of the support contract you have”.

It’s worth checking out some other posts by the same author, in particular this comparison between Oracle 10, PostgreSQL and MySQL, where he admitted that he was “strongly biased towards Oracle and fully expected no real competition”, and then found that PostgreSQL came out tops in his tests. Oh well, props to him for publishing it, I guess!

OK, OK, these articles were written in 2006 and 2005 respectively, and while pointing out the unintentional absurdity of this mindset is fun, it’s not big and it’s not clever. There are serious points to take away here. This article unintentionally highlights all the reasons why you should avoid the proprietary software model, like the need to put limitations in the products you want to give away for free so you can justify selling the fully featured versions at a much higher price. At the same time that it implies all sorts of bad things will happen with open source, it talks about a community for support (though not for real technical support, because that’s one of the limitations of their free product).  We (in the open source community) can see that this model is broken, and that we have better products, better support, better community. As has been said elsewhere, what happens when everyone else wises up to this?