I am *not* going to disagree with Andrea, Gilberto, Paul, Howard or
anybody else. I just want to point out a interesting open source
business model that is making a big impact this days. I am talking about
I keep reading news and more news about new commercial products from big
software companies based on Xen. Is that possible on the GIS world?
Gilberto Camara wrote:
Dear OSGEO Discussion List members:
Paul Ramsey´s remarks are right on target.
First, GIS is a large arena and there are
different motivations for developers, that
prevent them from joining a single project such as uDIG.
Second, it is very difficult for a private
company to develop a world-class FOSS4G product
and survive based only on consulting
fees for the commercial sector.
Third, to overcome these limitations there is
a need for governmental intervention, which may
be direct, as in the case of Catalonian government´s
support for gvSIG, or indirect, as in the decision
of Germany to support open source software.
In Brazil, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE)
has been supporting local GIS development for 25 years,
with a lot of success in our national user community.
Without official support, there would be no local FOOS4G
development in Brazil.
In 2003, I did a F00S4G market survey and published the
results as a chapter of a US National Academy of Sciences book:
"Open Source GIS Software: Myths and Realities"
We analysed 70 FOSS4G software projects taken from the
FreeGIS list, and divided them into three categories:
networked products (e.g. GRASS), corporate products (e.g., PostGIS)
and individual products (e.g., CAVOR). From each product,
we assessed its maturity, level of support and functionality.
Our main conclusions at the time were:
(a) Only 6% of the products were developed by networked teams.
Thus, the “Linux paradigm” is the exception rather than the rule.
(b) Corporations (private or public) are the main developers of
successful open source products. Corporations account for 41% of
(e) Individual-led software (a small team of 1-3 people) have
less quality and more mortality than the above.
These results show that the impetus behind successful
open source software was not coming from altruistic individuals
working in the midnight hour, but from professional programmers.
I consider that a similar result would be obtained today, should
the assessment be repeated.
This analysis was further elaborated in a JASIST paper:
"Information Policies and Open Source Software in Developing Countries"
For the FOSS4G effort to be fruitful and sustainable,
we need a very informed and candid assessment of our
business model. My personal view, based on 25 years of experience,
is that government intervention is essential for the open source
model to survive beyond a handful of examples.
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