Nov 042009

The SIRSI/Dynix marketing document,  Integrated Library Systems Platforms on Open Source, has generated much critique in the last few days. To catch up with it, there are a number of places to go.

I have added my own point by point comments on the google doc embedded at the end of this post.

Stephen Abram’s blog

There has been vigourous debate in the comments on Stephen Abram’s blog post – often disjointed due to the fact that comments appear only after Stephen has checked them and added his 2c worth. I understand that he has a spam problem, but it makes it very hard to keep a fluid, open and timely dialogue. Several  SIRSI/Dynix customers have weighed in. They present a rather different picture of the product to that depicted in the position paper.

Joint Google Doc annotation

Jason Griffey – while stuck in an airport on the way back from a conference – set up a google document for anyone who wanted to add annotations.  He has blogged about this: Sirsi-Dynix vs Open Source Software .

The google doc is here, SIRSI Dynix Position Paper on Open Source annoted by other libraryfolk and embedded at the end of this post.  I contributed to this. Editors included:  Jason Griffey Nicole Engard, Chris Cormack, Toby Greenwalt, Kathryn Greenhill, Karen Schneider, Melissa Houlroyd, Tara Robertson, Dweaver, Lori Ayre, Heather Braum, Laura Crossett, Josh Neff, and a few others who have usernames that Jason could not can’t decipher.

Scroll down half way to see the start of the commentary, colour coded and initialled so you can see who said what. The start of the document is a collation of the points made below.


Tim Spalding set up a  Etherpad document , limited to 16 editors, where a different set of people have been adding their notes.

Code4Lib wiki pages

There is a page on the Code4Lib wiki pointing to all the commentaries on the document . Another page on the same wiki has a dump of the Etherpad as on 1 Novemember .

(I started creating a dump of the doc on the Code4 Lib site, with a view to merging it with the etherpad, but time overtook me…If anyone has time to do this – and maybe add in the material from Stephen’s blog , I think a very interesting and comprehensive picture would emerge).

Outside Libraryland

The story has also been picked up outside of libraryland, notably by ItWire Open Source FUD is alive and kicking and Linux Weekly News Hudson: Corporate lobbying against free software .

Here is the SIRSI Dynix Position Paper on Open Source annoted by other libraryfolk Google Doc embedded:

  5 Responses to “Some comments on SIRSI’s position paper on Open Source ILMS”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JMS and Librarians Matter, Jennifer Parsons. Jennifer Parsons said: (Hat tip:@nirak) Some comments on #SIRSI's position paper on #OpenSource #ILMS, at Librarians Matter (s.a. #ILS) [...]

  2. Well dissected & refuted! I must point out a few things in the embedded doc:

    1. Last sentence in last paragraph under ‘Customization:’ Red Hat is NOT a proprietary OPERATING SYSTEM in the same way that Sirsi is a proprietary PIECE OF SOFTWARE that runs ON an operating system. Red Hat is Linux w/an enterprise support contract attached. It must be purchased with the contract. Otherwise, you will use Fedora 11, which is the free version of Red Hat. Besides, if an open-source ILS runs on Linux, no one will force you into any distribution of Linux unless they tailor their system to Red Hat or Ubuntu/Debian or openSUSE. What runs on one flavor of Linux _should_ run on another.

    2. Last paragraph of ‘Security:’ should have added at the end, “just like has happened with Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec & McAfee.”

    3. Networking: Nowhere does this paid opinion mention that a large majority of servers that serve web pages and run the protocols on the Internet are running on Apache, an open-source server. How’s that for “large-scale?”

    4. Testing, 2nd paragraph: ALL the Linux distribution developers and most of the application developers have ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’ test releases. True, it may be just “the developer and his buddies,” but WE must be a threat for you to even mention that crowd-sourcing our testing to catch bugs is ineffective. Additionally, the statement, “investigators have to go back decades in the list to find the same bugs open source platforms are fixing today,” implies that the proprietary guys have LET those bugs stay around for decades, while we open-source guys are actually fixing them. And you can back that up by looking at the bugs that Microsoft and Adobe let hang around — some of Windows’ bugs have existed since 3.1!

    5. Open Source and Libraries, 2nd paragraph, last sentence: which also implies that with so many libraries looking to open source for change, there must also be something wrong with the proprietary systems in existence that is not being addressed by proprietary vendors.

    6. SirsiDynix on Open Source: “We use open source software a great deal in our development efforts, in our software and in our company.” So in keeping with the licensing requirements of open source software, does SirsiDynix make this open-source code available to the public? If not, that’s a violation of most of the open-source licenses!

    7. SirsiDynix on Open Source: “We easily support clients using the poster children of open source software – Linux, Apache, and Firefox. We have done so for many decades.” Linux was invented in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, Apache has been around since 1995 (, and Firefox (Phoenix v0.1 in September 2002, see ) was born of the Mozilla browser (1998, see ) hardly “many decades.”

    Well, this was fun! This is just another paid opinion (probably partly by Microsoft – that discouragement of running an ILS on open-source comment is a clue) that seeks to preserve “that which has always been” mentality. We’re going to look at the open-source guys regardless of how much our proprietary vendor cries.

    • Thanks Jim. I like the way that the paper has actually started a conversation that maybe many of us thought was not necessary. It showed us what SD thinks is the level of knowledge about OSS among library decision makers. In response a lot of people have put forward useful summaries that refute many of the arguments. These summaries would not have been written without the SD paper.

  3. You might also want to mention the FBI and CIA who both use Plone open source CMS.

  4. [...] Some comments on SIRSI’s position paper on Open Source ILMS …Nov 4, 2009 … SirsiDynix on Open Source: “We easily support clients using the poster children of open source software – Linux, Apache, and Firefox. … [...]

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