From: a well-known radio engineer [Lightly edited]
Subject: Re: [grc] Google Docs to allow storage of any type of file
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 2010 00:45:16 -0500

Is open source software inferior? .. some are, some are not. Look at web software. Compare apache, drupal, joomla to commercial alternatives. There are email servers postfix and exim that are excellent. There is no reason not to go 100% open source on your web server.

Even some desktop apps ... Firefox for one ..

and there are some that although imperfect are good enough ... open office, audacity. ...

In other areas it varies. It's not just about cost and perfection. Open source software is very much like community radio. The same politics (both internal and external), funding issues, image issues. .. They are so similar that if you don't understand open-source software, you don't understand community radio. It's like looking in a mirror and not recognizing the person you see.

What you see in open-source software is a window on how outsiders see grassroots radio. You think the only reason to use it is that it has zero cost. Listeners think community radio doesn't need to be supported.

If you see it as a product to be consumed, like the corporates want you to do, you will probably be disappointed. On the other hand, if you look at it as a community to be part of, the rewards can be huge. If a community looks at community radio as a product to be consumed, it will die.

There is a lot of stuff we need, that would happen if only we support it,and welcome them into our community. This is custom stuff, and we all need it. Same goes for certain equipment. There is a lot that we could do ourselves if we would welcome the people capable of doing it.

If we took all of the money that we now spend on commercial software and used it to fund development of open source, how good would it be? Remember ... they are just like us. The same financial issues apply. Your dollars go a lot farther in open source. For an idea of the ratio, compare the budget of a typical community radio station to a typical commercial radio station. It's the same!

It's not just "if you are on a budget".. Bringing them into our community is a benefit I can't put a price on.

On the other hand, if you really want to alienate them, just insist on Windows. The people likely to develop the tech stuff we need, interpret that the same as our news people would interpret "we like Fox news", or our music DJ's would interpret being required to follow a strict commercial style playlist of music they don't like.

Regarding the corporate backing of some open-source software .. not all business is the devil. That's no more "dancing with the devil" than accepting business underwriting or foundation grants is.

Of course, it depends which business, and which foundation. There are some businesses like SCO. (Community radio equivalent: accepting a grant or underwriter that makes you change your programming in a way that abandons your mission.)

That's open source .. not the same as so-called "free" (zero dollar cost) proprietary software,and so-called "free" (zero cost) net services. They are not part of our community at all. The relation between them and real open-source is the same as the relation between big religious radio (which often calls itself community radio) and real community radio. That's dancing with the devil.