Subject: Re: Legacy burden of closed-source
From: Brian Behlendorf <>
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 12:28:47 -0700 (PDT)

The current buzzword we've used for this is "future-proofing your
business".  It's something we tell customers is one of the major reasons
they should be more comfortable having their needs met by an open-source
solution, like the one we provide.  Larger companies can often demand code
escrow from their vendors, addressing the what-if-they-go-out-of-business
question, but few companies realize how worthless old dead code can be.
This makes even more sense, ironically, when the customer is not even
managing their own software, but when they pay us to manage it for them.
You might trust your email handling to Yahoo or Hotmail since it's a
common standard, but more complex applications like a developer tools
suite requires a much bigger leap of faith, and an open code base means
the company can always decide to pull back and run things themselves if we
don't meet their needs.  The risk of lost investment is thus much lower.

It should be noted that this is an advantage of "shared source", gated
source, etc., as well.  That is, the political rights associated with an
open source license aren't necessary for this to work.


On Wed, 13 Jun 2001, Alex wrote:
> In short, with commercial software you run significant risks of
> ending up with a legacy system that you need to upgrade for
> security reasons, and having no upgrade path that does not break
> compatibility for the applications you've developed using the
> legacy system, resulting in an expensive migration process just to
> maintain functionality while patching the security problem.  In
> contrast, with open-source software, given an adequate description
> of the security problem (e.g. a patch to the current version), you
> can fix the security hole in the legacy code without otherwise
> affecting its functionality --- a comparatively much cheaper
> process.  So again, can someone point me to a good articulation
> of this argument?
> Thanks in advance,
> ---Alex

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