Not the whole story


This article is gushing about the whole idea of how to make money from open source software. While most of the details are accurate, there are some specific details and processes that need to be understood as well.

It is not enough to put all the code out there. It is significantly more important that the code has a community backing it. This community can be employed by the commercial entity that is also backing it (as is with Red Hat employing Alan Cox for example) or it could just be moving along on it’s own steam because it fills a need. Linux, GNU and other similar projects do not actually need a corporation to support it financially by way of keep the core developers to do what they do best and a roof over their heads and tummies full, but there a numerous Project Randoms that need some form of help. Open Sourcing is not a solution to companies with bad code – consider Netscape open sourcing their Netscape product under Mozilla. Their code was not ready to be scrutinized and worked on by the community. It was something that could only be done by decree within a company. But, the niche that Netscape filled by opening the code was significantly important the people eventually stepped up and Firefox emerged.

I think another part of the big picture is missed by the article as well. The fact that the whole idea of keep the code to oneself is really the wrong way to do software development from get go. Too many companies think that they can do all the coding for they have the cream of the crop of programmers. I would send them to this and to this. Bill Gates was fundamentally wrong when he wrote the scathing February 3rd 1976 letter that was published in Homebrew Computer Club Newsletter (Volume 2, Issue 1). His world view was so fundamentally wrong (although I would concede that from his vantage point in 1976, it was probably right), that the entire global IT phenomenon of the late 20th century was largely centered on that warped view.

I would recommend anyone with some time to view Pirates of Silicon Valley and judge things for themselves.

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