Subject: Re: Journal / Trade Mag?
From: Brian Behlendorf <>
Date: Tue, 1 Mar 2005 10:30:24 -0800 (PST)

Recently a publication did a review of anti-spam software, and didn't 
include SpamAssassin.  While it PO'd the SA developers here, I think they 
had a valid reason, IMHO - whereas the commercial vendors were providing a 
*product* that essentially required very little time to install or 
customize (some were even appliances you just dropped on your network, 
spent 5 minutes with a web-based console to set up, and pointed your MX 
at) SpamAssassin requires some time to understand, install, and monitor. 
When you're comparing products, it feels contrary to the spirit of fair 
evaluation to invest hours in one product but judge the others based on 
much less time spent configuring/installing, because nearly any solution 
improves anyways with enough time spent, and the "average" IT shop 
(particularly SMB) would probably not have the expertise to invest those 
hours fruitfully anyways.  This is not to say that SA doesn't work 
extremely well, or even that it wins in long-term cost (inclusive of 
licensing and time spent and hardware etc).  Some of the commercial 
products evaluated even included SA as one of their available filters. 
But most FLOSS projects create technologies, not products, or even "whole 
products" as first and probably best defined by Moore in 

Some might even argue that pure FSBs are not incented to create FLOSS that 
is easy to install, run, and manage without needing to get your hands 
dirty (which to a new user might even be defined as "needing to take a 
look at a man page or FAQ"), because the users of such a product are 
unlikely to feel they need the support from a commercial entity.  So it's 
a problem that may not get solved for a long time, if ever.  Meanwhile the 
tech space remains one of the most competitive industries out there - all 
it takes is an upstart who can build a product using open source SSL VPN 
software but provide it for less than the others to disrupt a market that 
you feel is dominated by pricey solutions.  No one's stopping that.  That 
it hasn't happened yet might suggest the trade pubs aren't presenting a 
distorted picture of the situation.


On Tue, 1 Mar 2005, John McDermott wrote:
> Yesterday I was reading a trade computer magazine.  One of those free ones 
> many of us get.  It had a review of SSL VPN gateways.  All were commercial. 
> No open source products were mentioned.  The commercial products had a base 
> price way over that affordable by most SMBs.
> I have had clients use expensive commercial products because they were 
> unaware of viable FLOSS alternatives.  Many of us probably have.
> One client chose products to use based on what one executive read in trade 
> pubs.  Clearly they used little open source because there were few articles 
> about it in the trade pubs he read.
> Is anyone considering some sort of trade pub to show users how to 
> deploy/integrate FLOSS or even evaluating such software?  It would be very 
> valuable, I think, if we could help businesses see that Open Source is a good 
> business choice and why.
> --john