If you haven't yet read the feature in yesterday's The Star newspaper, a letter written by Dinesh, here is the online version.
Here is the full text:
Tuesday October 31, 2006
Making a case for open source
REFERRING to your Oct 17 article on Making Microsoft More Malaysian:
Like all things coming from Redmond these days regarding open-source software, Yasmin Mahmood was quick to latch on to the Mampu Open Source Masterplan and complain about "Malaysia favouring open-source software."
The truth of the matter is this is just a fallacy.
The Mampu Open Source Masterplan clearly states that all government procurement will still be done based on technical and financial merit, without preference for either open-source or proprietary software.
However, should two competing proposals be exactly equal in both financial and technical merit, then as a tie-breaker, open-source software would be preferred due to its inherent nature of providing the source code to the customer, in this case the government of Malaysia.
The benefits of being able to modify the software would swing the decision, when both financial and technical considerations are equal. However, this is a far cry from the assertion that Malaysia favours open-source, since it is only relevant in tie-breaker situations.
It must also be noted that Malaysia has joined a growing list of national, state and municipal governments worldwide who have such a policy in place and that we have also been held up by the United Nations as a case study in this policy.
Yasmin then goes on to imply that this has an adverse effect on intellectual property rights for software and that it will affect innovation.
Open-source software licensing is firmly based on an established intellectual property framework through copyrights. It is only through copyrighted intellectual property that open-source software licences hold their value and are possible.
As such, open-source software firmly believes in intellectual property copyright laws on software and thus contributes to the national intellectual property bank.
To imply that open-source software denies the IP rights of software developers and denies them economic value is misleading.
Furthermore, open-source software developers JBoss recent acquisition by Redhat for US$420mil (RM1.6bil) in addition to Oracle’s acquisition of Sleepycat Software certainly show that there is clear economic value in open-source companies.
For a developing nation like Malaysia, it is critical that we augment our national software capacity by getting involved in high end (and high value) software development.
Open-source software development gives us that opportunity by allowing us to participate and benefit from international and world leading software technologies like the Apache webserver, the Linux and FreeBSD operating systems as well as middleware and enterprise technologies like
PHP, JBoss, MySQL and PostgreSQL.