Customizing open source software

The Open Source and Linux saga seem to be never ending for me!

All of a sudden my Windows 7 installation stopped booting up, probably due to virus attack. Again bitten by the interest of Open Source I installed Open SUSE 12.1 as my desktop operating system as I was pretty happy with it using from my Virtual Box earlier. The installation process was a breeze, all basic functionality including wireless interface (where I head problems with Ubuntu 10.01) came up without any issue. Just about when I thought everything is fine (which I have been thinking for the past 10 years) one major problem popped up.

I have a Toshiba Satellite L640 model, which started heating up a lot after the Open Suse installation. Add to my woes, battery backup was hardly happening for 10 minutes. In spite of searching many online forums (and reading some stuff about ACPI interface) I couldn’t find a solution to fix the problem. While many of the threads in discussion forms acknowledge the problem, there was no solution available. Even if it exists it would be too geeky, might involve making some hacks which was not so obvious. With pretty decent understanding of Linux internals I was not able to figure it out the solution, let alone a novice customer finding it. The bottom line is many of the consumer (ex: laptop issues) specific issues don’t have an organized approach of solving the issue.

This incident popped few interesting questions in my mind. As Open Source provider, we can’t expect Open SUSE community to provide solutions for every other possible consumer hardware available in the market. Since the open source development done by thousands of developers around the world, we can’t expect them to know the vendor specific implementation information (ex: hardware spec) available. On the other hand I am not sure if it is Toshiba’s responsibility to release compatible software. Does this incompatibility issue offer some business opportunity?

In the enterprise side Redhat has implemented a model where basic Open Source software is provided at a very nominal cost but they make money by selling customization services. In the similar lines does providing open source software customization services for consumer markets offer valuable proposition? Can some innovative options thought of implementing such services and make it business viable? Currently not able to do a complete business analysis of this, but definitely this area can be explored with some innovative approaches.

6 Replies to “Customizing open source software”

  1. I’m trying a ubuntu 10.04 installation on my dell inspiron1000 (primitive!!).
    By any chance did you come across the problem of unknown interface eth0?
    ethtool eth0 gives me
    current message level:197
    link detected : no

    any thoughts?

    1. I have a iPhone where everything works like a breeze, mainly because the HW/SW integration is seamless thanks to Apple way of building products. Installing and checking Open Source is to experiment how much far it is from providing superior customer experience at first time. Yes it is free, but got a long way to do when it comes to providing seamless experience.

  2. I suppose that is why Apple puts a lot of restrictions on what format we need to create or what software we need to use if we need to upload a certain app or e-book for Mac products..I am referring here to the recent example on the format for e-textbooks….

    1. “Open Vs Closed” “Paid Vs Free” are the two key paradigms emerging out of the iPhone Vs linux model. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, my objective is to bring out such points based on my experience.

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