Does free software harm consumers?

Today in Open Source: Free software harmful to consumers? Plus: Riot Games and open source, and the LXLE Lubuntu respin

Is Free Software Harmful to Consumers?
A coalition of companies (Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle and others) is claiming that free software harms consumers. Huh? Yes, it's true. They are actually making what amounts to one of the biggest crocks of you-know-what claims I've heard in years!

Does no-cost software harm consumers? The FairSearch coalition thinks so, at least when it comes to Google: They say Google engages in predatory pricing when it distributes Android – a Linux-based mobile operating system – without charge.

What is the FairSearch coalition? Its complaint against Google describes FairSearch as "an international coalition of 17 specialized search and technology companies." Those companies include Microsoft, Nokia, and Oracle, which say they have joined forces to protect competition, transparency and innovation to benefit consumers.

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The Free Software Foundation in Europe has responded to this outlandish attack by pointing out that the market price is zero, and you can't have predatory pricing in that kind of market.

I must say that the hubris of the "FairSearch Coalition" took my breath away when I read the article. Did they really think that people would buy into their argument? I'm no fan of Google's, there's quite a lot of self-serving and negative things they do, but this attack on them and Android is utterly devoid of common sense and reality.

And don't get me started about Microsoft and Oracle. Both companies have a bad track record when it comes to "protecting consumers" over the years. It's almost funny that they would try to make an attack on Google like this, given their own poor histories.

Nokia also lacks credibility here. Let's face it, they went with Windows Phone instead of Android, and it has cost them a lot of sales. No doubt it galls them to watch Samsung make billions of dollars in Android phone sales while Nokia's Windows Phone products have a tiny piece of the mobile phone market.

What's your take on this? Is Google engaging in predatory pricing by distributing Android for free? Tell me in the comments.

Riot Games and Open Source Software
Smart Bear has a fascinating article about how Riot Games used open source to improve its software infrastructure. I love reading these kinds of success stories. Riot Games makes the popular "League of Legends" game that has more than 32 million players.

Last year, Riot Games senior staff realized that they were at a breaking point and needed a new software data infrastructure. “The time to arrive at insights was taking too long, and our solution required too many dev team members to make changes to our data schemas or other updates,” he said.

To upgrade the software infrastructure meant incorporating Hadoop along with a cloud-based data warehouse and an end-to-end automated software development pipeline. The Hadoop transformation touched on several tools and add-on programs for various purposes:

Honu: Streaming log collection and event processing pipeline Platfora: BI analysis and visualization Oozie: Workflow job scheduler Hive: Data warehouse and queries Chef: Code deployment and configuration management GitHub: Versioning and tracking of programs Jenkins: Build system management Eureka: Service discovery process

I give the folks at Riot Games a lot of credit for doing this. That kind of infrastructure change is no small accomplishment, particularly given the size of the company's player base. But it seems to have worked very well for them, and it's a great example of the real value of open source solutions.

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