Open Source Conference 2010 in Amsterdam - why use Open Source?

So I've just come back from the Open Source Conference 2010 in Amsterdam (twitter: #osc2010). The title was “Delivering True Business Value by Leveraging Enterprise Open Source Technology”.
So, how was it? Well of course the title should have been quite a good hint about what to expect. You could rephrase it as "Consider using Open Source - it's cheaper and better". Which is fair enough, but is it worth spending a day on?
The MC was Gijs Hillenius, who did pose some interesting questions, although his rather left-wing reasons for supporting open source did shine through now and again. I don't think I'll run through the complete presentations of all the speakers and argue about the pros and cons of each argument. But it did get me thinking.
All the talks from the speakers can basically be summed up somewhere between: "Open Source is better, cheaper and free" to "Open Source may be worth considering". What was missing was the ethics of it all. The last presentation that I went to was by Fabrice Mous, entitled "Don't believe the hype". He listed a number of advantages of using open source software such as cost savings and better product and control, arguments that come forward again and again when people talk about FOSS.
So except the boredom resulting from hearing the same message repeatedly, what is wrong with those arguments? Well nothing, but there was something really missing from the conference, that really should have been discussed: Open Source means giving back, cooperating with your employees/customers/users/vendors (or whatever community).
If we want to convince management that they should be adopting open source, we need to convince them of more than just cost, time and scope benefits. This is probably easier to argue to governments than companies. Giving what you create to the world and being willing to give back to those who create for you may not always be profitable, but it is the right thing to do. Open Source is primarily good, (and also cheaper, better and faster).
One last thing that I do want to address: I am not arguing that government should adopt Open Source because that will break the monopoly of Microsoft or Oracle, as Gijs Hillenius does. Although it is a fair point that monopolies should be guarded against, that rather disregards the power of Open Source. Government spends public money and should try to keep advantages it gives to companies to an absolute minimum.


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