[Koha] Freely-available OpenSource not equal to cost-free
eriksta at vpl.ca
Tue Jun 24 04:43:09 NZST 2003
The current debate about the required ease of installation that Koha must
aspire to has again raised the necessity to distinguish between Open
Source code ( free availability ) and software products which do not cost
anything ( any amount of currency ) to use.
Let us not forget that an integrated library management software package
has always been a very complex piece of technology. This complexity will
always translate into cost of maintenance and raises the threshhold skill
levels required to install and configure a package.
As Mike Ray pointed out, many of us make a living by providing the bridge
between the technical requirements and the end-users' need for simplicity
and ease of use.
I am not trying to justify crypto-babble installation jargon. There is
enough of that spontaneously without trying to inculcate its creation.
But the need to keep a given codebase abstracted enough from a particular
circumstance ( OS/hardware/language ) that it can appeal to a wide
audience necessarily requires the installation personnel ( IT staff ) to
provide the bridge. And Koha very admirably keeps that bridge quite
small. There are many librarians who have managed it through patience
and learning as they went. An IT professional may have an easier time of
it, if the variety of the biases inherent in the installers fits their
own experience. It pros will also bitch more pointedly when they find
something in the biases of the installer which offends against their own
Let's not get caught up in a religious war over particular OS/installer
preferences. Koha is young, still struggling toward version 2.0 There
will doubtless be many evolutionary steps between now and "maturity".
The functionaolity of the catalogue and the user records is well on its
way. Creating bibliographic records requires skilled understanding of
library science and practices. So too the installation and configuration
of the software package. This is simply a common fact in the nature of
Systems Support Technician,
Web and Database Services,
Vancouver Public Library
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