The Open Thread has pretty much fallen into a petty argument about if Google Maps is a “GIS” or not so lets break away from that and focus on the issue that seems to have come out of that discussion.
Dimitri hit on some of his feelings about open projects and the open source community here and here, while Christopher responded here and here. Others pointed to an old GIS Monitor “Letter to the Editor” and a response to that by Howard Butler. There has been more discussion on other blogs about open source, here and here.
Dimitri’s assertion at Linux was a complete waste of effort could have been the most bizarre comment on my blog I’ve ever read.
A good example is Linux, which has to my mind been an appalling waste of a generation or two of programmers in a narcissistic effort to re-engineer an operating system that was already grossly obsolete in the late 1980s, with no greater point, apparently, than substituting some private intellectual property ownership of some core parts of the model OS upon which it is based from AT&T’s ownership into Red Hat ownership. Linux now is much more expensive than UNIX was.
I guess at least Linux is good enough to run Manifold.net.
My personal experience with open source GIS is not that it is cheaper than proprietary GIS systems such as ESRI, Oracle, or Manifold, but that it gives you the freedom to respond to the needs to a project directly, rather than working around them. It is the freedom that it gives both developers and the users of the applications developed with it, that is the “power” of Open Source GIS.