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What is an OPC server?
What is an OPC server? Can anyone tell me about any website where I can get some reference material...
By Satish Salankimatt on 22 February, 2004 - 11:52 am

What is an OPC server? Can anyone tell me about any website where I can get some reference material.

Opcconnect.com
opcfoundation.org

Mark

By Juan Sagasti on 23 February, 2004 - 1:03 pm

Im not an authority, but Im in the mood to write ;)

An OPC Server is a piece of software (a .exe or maybe a .dll) running in Windows and acts as a gateway between a hardware device (usually a PLC) and a generic OPC Client. The protocol between the OPC Client and the OPC Server is open, simple and adequate por typical Scada purposes.

Usually the PLC vendors offer this software for free in order to claim "our hardware can talk with any application". Thats true, but only for windows apps.

This approach (any app can talk with hardware) is killing SCADA products since their strength in the past were their "IO Servers", i.e. the messy communication layer with the hardware. Now with OPC the mess is solved by the hardware vendor, and a average VB programmer can make a scada in two hours. Score for Microsoft, again.

By Jonas Berge on 23 February, 2004 - 1:29 pm

It's software you use instead of a device driver to communicate with devices such as PLCs, controllers, legacy DCS, as well as just about any automation equipment connected to a network. The OPC server permits OPC client software to connect and access data in the devices. OPC clients include HMI/SCADA software, auto-tuning, statistical process control, advanced control etc.

Jonas Berge
SMAR
===========
jberge@smar.com.sg
www.smar.com
Learn fieldbus at your own pace: www.isa.org/fieldbuses

By Curt Wuollet on 23 February, 2004 - 8:33 pm

An OPC server is a lock-in device ensuring that your automation is Windows centric and remains that way, assuring the usual fat revenue stream for the monopoly and a tax on all your users. Some folks say "It's Open, It's Open" ,but as a practical matter you _will_ have at least one Windows machine involved to make use of it. Technically you can do it elsewhere, but it's so Windows
centric that this hasn't become very popular. The idea is good enough, but the single platform makes it an impediment to opening things rather than a gateway. And it's wonderful for Microsoft, without question it's greatest beneficiary. What we need is a run anywhere scheme that does the same things without the ball and chain. Something designed from the start for automation, learning from, and correcting the infelicities of OPC would be very valuable to the community in the future.

Regards

cww

By Mark Hensley (Kepware) on 25 February, 2004 - 6:32 pm

Dear Curt,

I'm one of the folks that says it's open. At this time the OPC standard does require the use of Microsoft's COM technology for the majority of OPC applications. Like all OPC variations before it, OPC XML will become a connection option that OPC client applicaitons will adopt, it just takes time. At that point there would be no reason why an OPC Server cannot run on a platform other than windows. Now when that happens will I still plan on selling my OPC servers on these alternate platforms, YES.

Last time I checked that was called the American way. Call the me the capitalist dog that I am, but I know that my engineers, testers, technical support people and admin, all love that paycheck they get from our collective endeavour. I beleive that my customers sleep better knowing that there is a whole team of people here at Kepware working on the products, and doing so as a full time job not a side line on the weekends.

By Curt Wuollet on 26 February, 2004 - 11:24 pm

Hi Mark

> Dear Curt,
>
> I'm one of the folks that says it's open. At this time the OPC
> standard does require the use of Microsoft's COM technology for the
> majority of OPC applications. Like all OPC variations before it, OPC
> XML will become a connection option that OPC client applicaitons will
> adopt, it just takes time. At that point there would be no reason
> why an OPC Server cannot run on a platform other than windows. Now
> when that happens will I still plan on selling my OPC servers on
> these alternate platforms, YES. <

I wish I could make things Open by declaration, it would solve a lot of problems for me. But semantics aside, even XML is now encumbered with Microsoft patents, so that's not going to be much of a solution. So even if it does eventually get sold, with appropriate commercial licenses, it will never be Open. And if I were to try to implement on a Non MS platform (which is unlikely) I would definately spend the time and money for an exhaustive patent search to give some assurance that MS couldn't render the effort a total waste. They are busy patenting their old technologies as plan B in case their unfettered monopolistic practices fail them due to disruptive technologies. All this legal IP wrangling may not affect your decisions as a "partner" but I'm fairly sure it'll
poison the well for other folks. This isn't paranoia, it's their stated purpose in obtaining these patents.

> Last time I checked that was called the American way. Call the me
> the capitalist dog that I am, but I know that my engineers, testers,
> technical support people and admin, all love that paycheck they get
> from our collective endeavour. I beleive that my customers sleep
> better knowing that there is a whole team of people here at Kepware
> working on the products, and doing so as a full time job not a side
> line on the weekends. <

Put down the paintbrush, I am a capitalist and a conservative republican and was a Cold Warrior in my own way. I'll not be painted red because I think that software agreements should resemble _all_ other contracts for goods and services with rights protected on both sides, rather than the totally one sided affairs that only monopoly power can coirce. That's not capitalism, it's totalitarianism. Cue the BSA for the jack booted thugs, and you're close to facism. Read the EULAs from an objective point of view and we'll discuss them point by point, dispassionately. You _can_ do business so it's good for both sides. That's the real revolution that's coming. Led by leftists like IBM. I doubt that anyone there has missed a paycheck.

Regards

cww

By Mark Hensley (Kepware) on 1 March, 2004 - 9:01 pm

Dear Curt,

Well my fried I see there is defintely one area that we both agree on. It won't be long and there will be nothing that is truly "Unencumbered".

By Michael Griffin on 3 March, 2004 - 4:43 pm

Re: Curt Wuollet's comments on XML

I believe that Microsoft's patents are not on XML itself, but on various means of using XML. There is a distinction to be made between the two points. While it means that using XML to interoperate with many Microsoft products can be risky for a small company without the legal resources to defend itself in court, there are many other application areas where XML can be more safely used. You are correct in that many people in the computing industry are upset with Microsoft's efforts at "poisoning the well" with respect to XML. However, this doesn't mean that all use of XML is affected.

XML is not a magic wand which makes things open or inter-operable. It is just a tool which can be used to make the task easier when the parties *want* to be open and inter-operable. The desire to be open is more important than the means used to implement it.

With regards to your suggestion that a patent search is a means of reducing software patent risk, I would suggest that you would be wasting your time with any such efforts. You don't have the time, money, or expertise to search and evaluate the patents. I would suspect that virtually any software project of any significant size (including ones we all use every day) violates at least one software patent. If you have actually read any typical software
patents, you would find that you be very hard pressed to discover just what it is that is being patented. This obfuscation is deliberate, as few patents are filed anymore to disclose and protect genuine useful inventions. Most are simply intended as cannon fodder in corporate legal battles.

Many companies have a policy that employees are *not* to conduct patent searches. The reasoning is that if you conduct a patent search, you are unlikely to discover all the patents you might infringe upon. On the other hand, you will have increased your legal liability because the assumption will be that you discovered the patent and are "wilfully" infringing upon it. My understanding is that your liability is lower if you are able to plead ignorance. This of course may vary depending upon where you live.

The above should not be construed as legal or business advice. If you need legal advice, consult a lawyer.

--

************************
Michael Griffin
London, Ont. Canada
************************

By Curt Wuollet on 8 March, 2004 - 7:15 pm

Hi Michael

On March 3, 2004, Michael Griffin wrote:
> Re: Curt Wuollet's comments on XML
>
> I believe that Microsoft's patents are not on XML itself, but on various means
> of using XML. There is a distinction to be made between the two points. While
> it means that using XML to interoperate with many Microsoft products can be
> risky for a small company without the legal resources to defend itself in
> court, there are many other application areas where XML can be more safely
> used. You are correct in that many people in the computing industry are upset
> with Microsoft's efforts at "poisoning the well" with respect to XML.
> However, this doesn't mean that all use of XML is affected. <

I believe that all use of XML is somewhat tainted by these moves. The exact legal boundaries are immaterial. Witness SCO's extention of specific disputes with IBM to all of Linux and all that has or does look, smell, or act like UNIX. With an adequate bankroll, even the most tenuous of claims can used to distroy competitors at will simply by incurring costs beyond any present or future value of the disputed IP. SCOs mistake was to take on people with the means to see the matter argued in court where hopefully, their wild claims will be disproved. How many entities could outlast Microsoft in a legal quagmire?

> XML is not a magic wand which makes things open or inter-operable. It is just
> a tool which can be used to make the task easier when the parties *want* to
> be open and inter-operable. The desire to be open is more important than the
> means used to implement it. <

Exactly, this is implicit from it's parentage. Published, so it can be paraded as somehow Open, but really accomplishing nothing towards
piercing any barriers to interoperability. It's another cut from the same cloth as OPC, where only with MS blessing or cooperation could it
open anything up. Completely within their control, business as usual. A glimmer of hope only for fools.

> With regards to your suggestion that a patent search is a means of reducing
> software patent risk, I would suggest that you would be wasting your time
> with any such efforts. You don't have the time, money, or expertise to search
> and evaluate the patents. I would suspect that virtually any software project
> of any significant size (including ones we all use every day) violates at
> least one software patent. If you have actually read any typical software
> patents, you would find that you be very hard pressed to discover just what
> it is that is being patented. This obfuscation is deliberate, as few patents
> are filed anymore to disclose and protect genuine useful inventions. Most are
> simply intended as cannon fodder in corporate legal battles. <

I left that as an exercise for the reader, whether they could ever be sure. The part that bothers me is that so many simply go ahead, knowing that as long as they play ball with MS they will be allowed to exist and perhaps even prosper. A monopoly is tied together with these little strings, no hindrance, until you try to go in the wrong direction. Then there are significant barriers to leaving. They seem invisible on the way in, just like a minnow trap. Many are already so entangled that quitting and starting over would be the only escape.

> Many companies have a policy that employees are *not* to conduct patent
> searches. The reasoning is that if you conduct a patent search, you are
> unlikely to discover all the patents you might infringe upon. On the other
> hand, you will have increased your legal liability because the assumption
> will be that you discovered the patent and are "wilfully" infringing upon it.
> My understanding is that your liability is lower if you are able to plead
> ignorance. This of course may vary depending upon where you live.
>
> The above should not be construed as legal or business advice. If you need
> legal advice, consult a lawyer. <

I think all of the above points out that the whole IP protection system needs to be scrapped and returned to it's original intent only, if
possible. Or abandoned as unworkable with practical resources. And abuse should be treated as harshly as infringement.

Perhaps a large enough body of "clean" GPL IP to choose from will render it moot.

Regards

cww

By Anonymous on 15 March, 2004 - 6:10 pm

Hi Curt,

The problem with your logic is the broad scope that many patents have been given. The idea that the use of a web server inside of a device is completely patented is like saying that I patented the use of Canvas for doing landscapes. So all you other painters better use something other than canvas if you are painting landscapes. Our patent office has made it woefully clear that they don't know the difference between the canvas and something truly unique. My point being I don't believe that there is room any more for truly clean IP. There will always be some submarine patent out there looking to extort money, with the goverment's blessing, from either vendors or customers.

For you Star Trek fans, the first episode of the Next Generation series, the Q mentioned a period in history when we kill all the lawyers. Any one feel like making history?

By Curt Wuollet on 18 March, 2004 - 9:43 pm

OK, So the cure for this disease is to pay the highwayman and congratulate him for his cleverness? And heavily patronize preditory monopolies because it's much easier than doing the right thing and encouraging competition?? The lawyer thought is well intentioned, I'm sure. But, the people who granted the morally bankrupt this kind of power are reading this. They didn't make billions with their legal staff. They simply put a tax on every machine sold with the willing consent of the public or at best their apathy. It's obvious who has to correct the balance. It just requires the will to do so. If you starve the beast, the lawyers will go away.

Regards

cww

I'm one customer who paid for the Kepware OPC server because it was basically the only game in town. Yes it works, and it works very well. However, I'd much rather have an open source option so I would never be dependent upon your 'whole team of people ...' I'd be even happier if it didn't run only on MS operating systems.

Mark

By Mark Hensley (Kepware) on 1 March, 2004 - 8:58 pm

Hi Mark,

First off, thanks for being a customer and hopefully not to reluctantly. I would love to be the only game in town but we do have our own competitors.

As a developer I can see your point but some where along the line the guy or gal that writes even an open source implmentation needs to eat. Where in the open source chain of events does anyone make money? I know you would prefer that our driver be open source, but as you may have noted, we don't charge for support, and we don't charge for upgrades. Now you may say upgrades are of little value to you once the application is done. I would argue that we are always improving our product, case in point, we are in the process of completing new work on the Siemens drivers that will improve their performance by two to three times depending on the application. No one paid us to do that, no one asked us to do that, we did it because we wanted to keep increasing the value we provide. Now since upgrades are free, anyone that has those drivers will be able to come and get them once we release them in the coming weeks.

I have many faults but please don't fault me for trying to produce the best product I can with a very dedicated group of people to help me do it.

Thanks again.

Just in case you didn't know, COM/DCOM is also offered on WindRiver's VxWorks as well as on Microsoft Win products. See this web site for their OPC products:
http://www.t-h.de/OPC/OPCCorner_2000_10_23_d_1.htm

Dick Caro
============================================
Richard H. Caro, CEO
CMC Associates
2 Beth Circle, Acton, MA 01720
Tel: +1.978.635.9449 Mobile: +.978.764.4728
Fax: +1.978.246.1270
E-mail: RCaro@CMC.us
Web: http://www.CMC.us
Buy my book: Automation Network Selection
http://www.isa.org/rd.cfm?id=3573
============================================

By Mark Hensley (Kepware) on 1 March, 2004 - 8:46 pm

Hi Dick,

Thanks for sharing that key point, yes I am aware of that as I am sure do others that use the VxWorks OS in their prodcuts. I think the problem is that like me, WindRiver expects to earn money from their efforts, and for some here on this list, there in lies the problem.

You say "but it's so Windows centric that this hasn't become very popular", do you mean to say OPC is not popular? You are correct that it is still Windows centric. But I must say that OPC is extremely popular - almost everybody wants it and demands it.

Jonas Berge
SMAR
===========
jberge@smar.com.sg
www.smar.com
Learn fieldbus at your own pace: www.isa.org/fieldbuses

By Curt Wuollet on 27 February, 2004 - 12:21 am

Hi Jonas

By "you can do it elsewhere, but it's so Windows centric that this hasn't become popular" (repetition for context), I mean that many of the underpinnings are foreign to other operating systems and you end up emulating quite a bit of Windows to implement OPC and this hasn't been very popular. That is to say, it was not written for cross platform portability.

I won't argue that it isn't popular on Windows. Black Model T Fords were very popular also, since they didn't come in any other color. Bill and Henry thought alike on this score. People will use what you give them, if they don't have any choice. Getting OS support for a "foreign" model is quite an effective barrier. Eventually (1927) Ford had to open up it's color choices to compete with other vendor's offerings. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Bill to open up.

Regards

cww

By Jonas Berge on 5 March, 2004 - 12:38 am

OPC is not the only way for device interface to Windows; you can use other methods as well, but most chose OPC because it is so simple and work with so many devices and applications.

OPC is an additional reason to choose Windows in automation

Jonas Berge
SMAR
===========
jberge@smar.com.sg
www.smar.com
Learn fieldbus at your own pace: www.isa.org/fieldbuses

By Donald Pittendrigh on 9 March, 2004 - 4:13 pm

Hi All

Of course it is the only way!!!!!!!!!!!

Donald P

By Rokicki, Andrew on 9 March, 2004 - 4:35 pm

That and the job security of virus fighting and applying patches/upgrades. :)

The above is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect that of the little voices in my head

Andy R.
Somewhere at: 41 -72

I believe we are fighting to come to a new understanding about how to do business in knowledge based economies. Interestingly this OPC discussion has raised the "real" concers of those involved using OPC. A one answer to always or never use Microsoft technologies shows a lack of wisdom. That is where good decision making takes effect.

OpenOffice is slowly but surly making grounds in the office suite battle. I use it and I prefer it to MS office. The same can one day be true in the control market.

Steve Balmer makes a good point when he states "Nothing innovative has ever come out of open source developmnet". Aside from the obvious pitfalls of "nothing innovative" I think he is raising the question of how do we innovate with open source?

We want to ensure that our efforts are accounted for so we can continue to invent. It is very obvious that sharing ideas benefits both parties involved. We need new business models to reflect our new understandings of business. As a good example, look to the project "Compiere" at the sourceforge.net website. They make money by providing the services to end users and meanwhile continue to add knowledge to shared pool.

I friend once told me "If I have a hammer and you have a hammer and we both exchange hammers, each of us end up with a hammer. Contrastingly if I have an idea and you have an idea we both exchange ideas, we each walk away with 2 ideas"

Ghandi believed in non-resistance to evil. It was proven in the liberation of India. If we resist evil (greed) then we acknowledge its existence and in so doing give it power. It takes two people to argue and one to stop.

Yes lawyers are very much involved in dealing with evil, it is the reason the law exists in the first place.

To summarize, we need be aware of IP abuse to recognize when we should divert our attention to productive activities. Fighting only raises the walls higher, and those that would argue that sometimes you have to are not acting out of long term priciples. Focusing on identifying the problems, refining the goals and designing solutions with the intent of HELPING our customers will ensure they always want to be business partners and provide security. We are interdependent beings.

my $.02
-Mark
Lanigan, Sask, Canada

By Jiri Baum on 30 March, 2004 - 3:26 pm

> Steve Balmer makes a good point when he states "Nothing innovative has ever
> come out of open source developmnet". Aside from the obvious pitfalls of
> "nothing innovative" I think he is raising the question of how do we
> innovate with open source? <

To be even-handed, it's also been said that nothing innovative has ever come out of Microsoft :-)

The question, however, is real. How does one innovate? There seem to be at least two stages: thinking of a new idea, and bringing it into wide use.

As far as thinking of a new idea is concerned, that can really strike anywhere. However, the business world is often wary of new ideas. Except for the brief anomaly of the dot-com boom, business financiers want proven ideas, not pie-in-the-sky stuff. One can observe this effect in the entertainment industry, for instance, where nobody wants to be first, but everybody wants to be first to be second. Truly innovative ideas are likely to fare poorly
under a regime of commercial software.

Open Source's lower barriers to entry give some advantage when an inventor can't get financial backing because the idea is too new or too radical.

For bringing a new idea into wide use, both Microsoft and Open Source have well-established channels. Microsoft's perhaps work somewhat faster on a global scale, but at the cost of bringing the idea to everybody, regardless of whether or not it's useful to them - Clippy is a famous example of an idea whose time has come, but which should have been tuned to be somewhat less intrusive. On the individual scale, Open Source has the advantage: an
interested user can obtain the invention directly from the author or author's website with only low to moderate effort, without the whole marketing machinery interposed. This means that the feedback cycle between the author and the early adopters can be very short, allowing quick refinement of a (perhaps initially rough) new idea.

> Focusing on identifying the problems,
> refining the goals and designing solutions with the intent of HELPING our
> customers will ensure they always want to be business partners and provide
> security. We are interdependent beings. <

And that's a good business plan.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au> http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
MAT LinuxPLC project --- http://mat.sf.net --- Machine Automation Tools

By Curt Wuollet on 31 March, 2004 - 6:32 pm

Now this, is an interesting thread.

On March 30, 2004, Jiri Baum wrote:
> On March 29, 2004, msluser wrote:
>>Steve Balmer makes a good point when he states "Nothing innovative has ever
>>come out of open source developmnet". Aside from the obvious pitfalls of
>>"nothing innovative" I think he is raising the question of how do we
>>innovate with open source? <
>
> To be even-handed, it's also been said that nothing innovative has ever come
> out of Microsoft :-)
>
> The question, however, is real. How does one innovate? There seem to be at
> least two stages: thinking of a new idea, and bringing it into wide use.
>
> As far as thinking of a new idea is concerned, that can really strike
> anywhere. However, the business world is often wary of new ideas. Except for
> the brief anomaly of the dot-com boom, business financiers want proven ideas,
> not pie-in-the-sky stuff. One can observe this effect in the entertainment
> industry, for instance, where nobody wants to be first, but everybody wants
> to be first to be second. Truly innovative ideas are likely to fare poorly
> under a regime of commercial software.
>
> Open Source's lower barriers to entry give some advantage when an inventor
> can't get financial backing because the idea is too new or too radical.
>
> For bringing a new idea into wide use, both Microsoft and Open Source have
> well-established channels. Microsoft's perhaps work somewhat faster on a
> global scale, but at the cost of bringing the idea to everybody, regardless
> of whether or not it's useful to them - Clippy is a famous example of an idea
> whose time has come, but which should have been tuned to be somewhat less
> intrusive. On the individual scale, Open Source has the advantage: an
> interested user can obtain the invention directly from the author or author's
> website with only low to moderate effort, without the whole marketing
> machinery interposed. This means that the feedback cycle between the author
> and the early adopters can be very short, allowing quick refinement of a
> (perhaps initially rough) new idea. <

And to be a little bit more abstract (and I've been accused of being very abstract) the Open Source Process is an extremely close analog of the public scientific process. This is where information is freely exchanged and all progress from the knowledge gained. So often, leaps in
understanding take place even before the foundational work it is derived from is complete. This is the "standing on the shoulders of giants" model, which has been enormously successful compared to the private science model. This model is where knowledge gained from secret research is hoarded in hopes that the world will stand still until results are acheived. The scientists labor in isolation and some tiny percentage hit pay dirt. This system is responsible for the World drug crisis where desperately needed new pharmaceuticals are so expensive that even if
highly effective, the net effect on the problem is nil but they get filthy rich serving the rich. The metric is different. The public process achieves far greater understanding and distribution of knowledge. And the private model makes a lot of money for a few people. It's a good thing most scientists have some belief in the advancement metric or we wouldn't be reading this.

And now that there is a public alternative in this arena, there is a close parallel to the above. You can bet your money on either countless parallel duplicative efforts, all hoping for the big payoff if and when everybody adopts a whatever that they own. Or you can subscribe to the
public model where everyone can help each other towards making real progress. You can tell how successful at creating standards the first model has been. Might it not be a good idea to try the second?

But, getting back to innovation, the innovation of the OSS process itself is enormously significant as a singular example of cooperation unmatched in the rate of change and far outpacing the monopoly with it's billions and hoardes of paid developers. So it depends on your metric.

>>Focusing on identifying the problems,
>>refining the goals and designing solutions with the intent of HELPING our
>>customers will ensure they always want to be business partners and provide
>>security. We are interdependent beings. <

And when the focus is on helping we will be much further ahead by any metric.

Regards

cww

By Ralph Mackiewicz on 1 April, 2004 - 1:24 am

On March 30, 2004, Jiri Baum wrote:
> Truly innovative ideas are likely to fare poorly under a regime of
> commercial software. <

This is just as silly and self-serving as Ballmer claiming that open-source can't be innovative. As if no one can identify any successful innovation in industrial automation that is available as commercial software. Really now. Such exaggerated (to be kind) assertions are not an effective way of arguing in favor of open source solutions.

> Open Source's lower barriers to entry give some advantage when an
> inventor can't get financial backing because the idea is too new or
> too radical. <

When investors can figure out how people can make a profit
developing open source software for small niche markets (like industrial automation) without retaining ownership to the result of the development, then the lower entry barrier might actually produce IA companies with sufficient growth potential in which unrelated investors are likely to be interested.

IMHO, the more probable scenario is for innovative companies to produce commercial software that runs over an open source operating system, like Linux, where the bulk of the OSS development can be spread out over a much much larger developer base than exists in the IA world.

> On the individual scale, Open Source has the advantage: an
> interested user can obtain the invention directly from the author
> or author's website with only low to moderate effort, without the
> whole marketing machinery interposed. This means that the feedback
> cycle between the author and the early adopters can be very short,
> allowing quick refinement of a (perhaps initially rough) new idea. <

Marketing machinery can be cumbersome when it is run poorly, but there is a lot of value in marketing to both the vendor and the customer when it is run properly. Companies don't have marketing departments so that they can make life difficult for their customers. One of the primary purposes of marketing is to communicate information to potential customers so that they can make a decision. A developer without a marketing department is going to be spending an awful lot of time doing something other than development. Separating marketing and development is a division of labor that results in increased productivity that benefits both the company and their customers. That is why marketing departments exist. Even in very small companies. Any sane organization will have separated marketing and development activities. Numerous OSS organizations are smart enough to have separate marketing and development activities.

> > Focusing on identifying the problems,
> > refining the goals and designing solutions with the intent of
> > HELPING our customers will ensure they always want to be business
> > partners and provide security. We are interdependent beings. <
>
> And that's a good business plan. <

Agreed. That is the quintessential benefit provided by ANY
successful enterprise regardless of whether they use OSS or not.

Regards,
Ralph M.

By Jiri Baum on 5 April, 2004 - 2:26 pm

On March 30, 2004, Jiri Baum wrote:
> > Truly innovative ideas are likely to fare poorly under a regime of
> > commercial software. <

On April 1, 2004, Ralph Mackiewicz wrote:
> This is just as silly and self-serving as Ballmer claiming that
> open-source can't be innovative. As if no one can identify any
> successful innovation in industrial automation that is available as
> commercial software. Really now. <

As I wrote, the difference is in degree. Ideas can strike anywhere. They're less likely to survive in a commercial regime, but by no means is it impossible.

> > Open Source's lower barriers to entry give some advantage when an
> > inventor can't get financial backing because the idea is too new or
> > too radical. <
>
> When investors can figure out how people can make a profit
... <

Of course, Open Source software is not necessarily predicated on making a profit. You're imposing additional conditions on the inventor, which make it more difficult for the innovative idea to ever see the light of day.

Obviously, making a profit is important; but it's orthogonal to the question of being innovative.

Jiri
--
Jiri Baum <jiri@baum.com.au> http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jirib
MAT LinuxPLC project --- http://mat.sf.net --- Machine Automation Tools

By Andrey Romanenko on 30 March, 2004 - 3:32 pm

Hello,

It wasn't his first foot in the mouth. I believe there had been something like "open-source is not the American way".
Obviously he forgot about the open source networking code that, if I am not mistaken, MS innovatively used in their products. You may try to take a look at software beyond the scope of computer science or IT. Look at it as a tool for teachers, scientists, engineers, doctors. There is NETLIB with many pieces of code at the core of open-source and proprietary programs. There is GNU/RTLinux or RTAI to
shake the RTOS market. There is open-source automation and control software available, although it is at its early stage of development. And you already mentioned Openoffice.

Governments, universities, public and private businesses are innovating with open-source software. I suggest Steve Balmer look around better. Or look up the scientific peer-reviewed works of Y. Benkler; J. Lerner and J. Tirole G. von Krogh, and many, but many others. There is even a special issue of Research Policy magazine (vol32.issue7)
devoted to the topic.

Regards,
Andrey Romanenko

By Curt Wuollet on 31 March, 2004 - 6:44 pm

Hi Andrey

One should give credit where credit is due. Steve Balmer etal. of Redmond fame have produced tremendous innovation in the science of suppressing competition and building and protecting a monopoly. Their legal achievments in rendering the USDOJ impotent and of threatening the very existance of OSS is remarkable as well. And their political achievements in enacting legislation institutionalizing their world view and distroying the rights of computer users in the name of profit are no less than historic. They have achieved a lot.

Regards

cww