Open Source biggest problem ?

There has been so much talk about open source. It is a big fight between Linux and Microsoft. But people tend to forget that Apple computer is also proprietary.

Recently I started to give more thoughts to it and realized that the biggest problem with open source is the lacking of comprehensive documentation. I like to share with you some of my findings..

1. More time and effort.

First of all, open source projects are usually rojak (haywired)

For example, you can have an open source project written in PHP, Apache and MySQL. But then, these three technologies doesn't stop there (to wait for you). Means you gotta keep chasing the trend.

Imagine you created an open source in PHP 4 and now you have to somehow port all the codes to PHP 5 and so on and so forth. This is not a joke. I like call this time bomb.

Recently, I discovered a time bomb when I was trying out an open source called issue tracker 4.0.4. It is a well develoed project written in PHP and based on smarty. Smarty is a template engine, remember web software framework ? Best practices.

issue tracker 4.0.4 has a time bomb which comes from the date_format function. When you setup everything... the first thing you will notice is an error thrown from PHP compiler saying

PHP Fatal error: Cannot redeclare date_format() in C:\Inetpub\webpub\issue-tracker\includes\functions\time.func.php on line 43

This error simply says, there is already a date_format function built-in, why you create again ?

Based on my research (and actual trials), I noticed that date_format function is only available starting PHP 5.1.0

Therefore, I assume issue tracker 4.0.4 is based on older PHP version, and developers had to resort to custom date_format function to format dates.

And even more interesting.. it is affecting many live sites.... If you search Google, you can see which sites had been affected by it. For instance, check out the following site.

The workaround is to port some codes to the new version of PHP.

So, the good thing of using proprietary technology like Microsoft is that everything takes care of each other; complementing each other. Which means that everything comes in package and they work well together.

2. Free codes

The codes of open source projects are free.

3. No comprehensive documentation.

If you look at Microsoft technology, documentations for users are really comprehensive. And it is improving.

But if you look at all the open source project like hipergate, compiere and etc

Documentations are not comprehensive. Fair enough, open source projects require developers to crack more heads to figure out the way.

However, as soon as I put more thoughts into this. I realized that it has to be this way because if everything is done properly for open source projects, then developers would have no job.

End-users would just take an open source project, refer to the comprehensive documentations and configure it themselves.

4. Free codes.

The codes of open source projects are free.

Conclusion (for now)...

Open source projects provides free codes, but non comprehensive documentations. Thus, there should be revenue making for providing open source documentations.

For instance, technical diagrams such as class diagram and other UML diagrams must NOT be provided for free with respect to open source projects. However, we may consider providing installation manual for free for the marketing effort. And therefore, I offer a free documentation for installing issue tracker 4.0.4 , where installing PHP on IIS 6 (Windows Server 2003) with MySQL.

And if you check out the installation manual, under the optimization part, information are not provided for free. Interested party please contact TMCS.

On the other hand, proprietary software provides comprehensive documentations, but non free codes.

This is where equilibrium is defined.