If it’s open source, it’s the essence of goodness. If it’s commercial, it’s an evil scourge upon humanity. This is a common attitude among the open source community. As with all cliques, it’s a group blind to its weaknesses, unable to see past its own rhetoric. Open source is important, and it is only going to get more important–but the movement’s collective delusional and fanatical behavior is not doing it any favors.
If a company’s commercial product is superior to its open source alternatives (which is most of the time), instead of actually innovating and improving (as a commercial competitor would be forced to do), the greater open source community will instead devalue the commercial product in any way possible. For example:
- Windows 8 a kick-ass operating system? No, it’s watered-down for the masses, because smart people only use command prompt. (Not that Linux is a bad operating system, as long as you can choose which of its 10,000 versions you prefer.)
- The iPad a great tablet? Apple is for hipsters! And they steal your private info*, get the knock-off android version instead–it’s Nerd Approved®! (Android certainly has some advantages when compared to iOS and Windows RT, and depending on your uses, could be the best system for you, but it’s not inherently better than its competitors–its open source nature presents both pros and cons.)
- Chrome a simple and polished browser? Nah, it’s for brain dead zombies who don’t understand the advantage of having 300 extensions enabled (which is: a browsing experience customized to your exact taste. Your terrible, terrible taste.) While Chrome is open source in many ways, Google’s horrible satanic practices such as recording search queries in order to deliver instant results are frowned upon by open source proponents.
Sometimes open source is the best: WordPress is widely considered the best blog content management system, for example. Maybe one day open source will be the best at everything. The methodology is solid, and the field improves by the day. Open source could be the way of the future. Free to use, open to improvement by everyone, utterly transparent–with positive features like these there’s certainly lot’s to like about the open source philosophy. One should remain in reality however, and not try to make something more than it is, before it is.
For the time being, open source products tend to be several years behind their commercial alternatives. They are the poor man’s version of better products. Trying to justify inferior products’ weaknesses does not do the community any good, it only raises questions as to how far open source can ultimately go. Can a project strive to be the best when there is no financial incentive to do so? Time will till. In the mean time, open source supporters would do will to put down the explosives they made from old computers, and reconsider their planned suicide bombings.
Deriding a commercial product and then slowly implementing its features before its open source equivalent becomes too irrelevant is not a good way to do business. But open source isn’t business, this could be a good thing, but seems to be a problem instead.
*The extremely popular belief (read: paralyzing fear) that evil corporations will steal one’s bathroom habits and use that information to rape them horribly for all eternity is an issue for another time.