Sabtu, 18 Desember 2010

Netflix and FOSS Hypocrites

Perhaps you saw a couple weeks ago Netflix's post touting their advocacy of open source software. They provide a hefty list of projects they utilize and contribute back to:

Hudson, Hadoop, Hive, Honu, Apache, Tomcat, Ant, Ivy, and Cassandra

It's a shame there aren't any video streaming programs on that list. If you use Linux and are familiar with Netflix then odds are you are aware of (what at this point feels like an age old argument) the issue of getting Netflix's instant stream functional on your Linux system. In case you are not aware of this dilemma, in short:

It does not work

You see, even with all of the FOSS projects Netflix supports they choose to use the DRM ridden Silverlight plugin to stream video over the Internet. This prevents the streaming service from functioning on FOS operating systems (Linux, BSD, ect.) at this current point in time. Why the lack of support? Some will say Linux has a small market share so is not worth the extra time it takes to support the platform.

Personally, I find it a bit absurd that they can find the time to support Windows, OSX, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, iOS, and now even the Linux based Android and still not provide a general streaming solution that would work across all PC platforms. As Netflix themselves stated, it is often cheaper to employ an FOSS solution to remedy software needs - so why they do not use an FOSS medium to stream their media is beyond me (or heck even a closed sourced solution such as flash that is cross platform).

In my opinion, Netflix loves FOSS just about as much as Microsoft does. They see it as something that can help their bottom line and nothing more. Don't get me wrong, I understand companies need to make money - but in my opinion if you are only utilizing FOSS to turn a larger profit, then you are falling far short of realizing the true reason this type of software exists.

~Jeff Hoogland

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