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The Limits of Open Source - Contents

In the Introduction I describe myself as an open source advocate but see limits as to where it's applicable. In particular, internally developed custom software that defines core business processes and products will never be open sourced. If we understand open source's natural limits, we'll do a better job promoting open source software where it is appropriate. The goal of open source should be to build better software, not to dictate licenses. Open source can declare victory when open source products are used so widely that no one company can dominate any important computing area.

In Jet Engine Control Software I discuss a classic competitive market, where software plays a role in defining the product, and explain why General Electric would never relinquish the competitive advantage it maintains in the jet engine market, through its proprietary control of jet engine control software and engineering knowledge.

In Impact on Software Industry I discuss how open source software threatens Microsoft but to a lesser degree the entire software industry as it exists today. Practical obstacles prevent open source software from reaching its potential.

For several reasons including its monopoly position, Government can take effective advantage of open source software and not suffer some consequences that private businesses might face.

For most of the same reasons that open source makes sense in government, Open Source also belongs in Schools. In addition, it should be a much better teaching environment, especially when teaching about computers.

To dateVertical Market Software has generally done a very poor job serving its clients. Some of the reasons why are discussed.

A large professional association, such as AMA, could play a central role in bringing Open Source to Medicine, by leading a large open source project, to develop high quality medical office practice management software, for use by all its members. To recoup lost revenues from vertical market vendors, who would otherwise be advertising and exhibiting with AMA, the open source license model would require adjustment, so that only AMA members could use the newly developed software.

The Conclusion recaps some of the main points already covered.

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