The man in the white Suit

The man in the white suit is a comedy film made in the 1950’s about an eager scientist that creates a revolutionary product to help mankind. He observes the poor trying to keep themselves clothed and clean. The older washer women struggling to clean clothes, so he decides to fix the problem.

He decides to fix the problem by creating a material which never gets dirty, never wears out and so never needs to be replaced. He thinks this is a marvelous invention and sets out to tell the world that they need to struggle no more.

He makes a white suit made out of the material so he can demonstrate the merits of his invention. The suit works perfectly ,true to design it does not wear out and never gets dirty no matter what scrapes he gets into.

A lot of people love his invention and welcome it with open arms, however at the same time something rather sinister is occurring which he did not expect.

The textile and cleaning industry are not as happy to receive his invention. Textiles that don’t need cleaning or replacing are not very good attributes for either industry. Both industries try nicely at first to persuade him to sell the invention to them. If he sold the invention he would have become very wealthy.

He decides not to sell as he knows that the invention would be crushed never to be seen again. He wants the world to receive the freedom to benefit from such an invention, even if he has to turn away great personal wealth. This is when things turn nasty as the industries turn up the heat to get rid of this product that threatens their industry.

Not only is this an entertaining film, but as a IT professional I can see similarities between the Open Source software paradigm and the more established closed/proprietary commercial software industries. The Open Source software proponents have a number of white suits in existence. lets take a look at one of my favorites, the Linux Operating System.

Some the features of Linux.

  • You can obtain Linux for free, just download it from the internet.
  • You can change Linux to suit you, even create your own version.
  • Linux is very stable and makes good use of your computer resources
  • It is not susceptible to the large numbers of virus’s and worms on the internet
  • You are encouraged to share Linux with your friends without licensing violations

A lot of people love the power this feature-set provides, some use it quietly in the background outside of public view and some hate it.
Steve Ballmer calls Linux a cancer in the industry

Facts behind Microsoft’s anti-Linux campaign

Software patents ‘threaten Linux’

The established industry dislike Open Sources software as it disrupts established markets. Many different tactics are being pursued to restrict the growth of Open Source.

It is important to keep in mind that most of the established IT companies will guide you with careful marketing to show you which products are best for YOU. However it is not always the case. Companies need to sustain/grow market share and remove any threat to this by using careful fear/uncertainty/doubt marketing, patents and litigation.

If you don’t keep these things in mind, you could be missing out on some of the benefits that software like Linux, FreeBSD, Asterisk, PostgreSQL,Apache and numerous other Open Source software have to offer.

You have the freedom of choice.


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