The Business of Open Source

Vol. 1 No. 5 – July/August 2003

The Business of Open Source

Interviews

A Conversation with Chris DiBona

Chris DiBona has been out front and outspoken about the open source movement.

A Conversation with Chris DiBona

Chris DiBona has been out front and outspoken about the open source movement. He was hooked from the moment he installed Linux on an old PC when he was a teenager.

Articles

Closed Source Fights Back

In May 2003, the SCO Group, a vendor of the Linux operating system, sent a letter to its customers. Among other things, it stated, "We believe that Linux is, in material part, an unauthorized derivative of Unix." What would make SCO do that?

Closed Source Fights Back
Greg Lehey

SCO vs. The World—What Were They Thinking?

In May 2003, the SCO Group, a vendor of the Linux operating system, sent a letter to its customers. Among other things, it stated, “We believe that Linux is, in material part, an unauthorized derivative of Unix.”1 What would make SCO do that?

The action wasn’t completely unexpected. In March, SCO had filed a suit against IBM for giving away trade secrets.2 In that complaint, it made a number of accusations against IBM, including the claim that IBM intended to use Linux to kill Unix.

by Greg Lehey

Commercializing Open Source Software

The use of open source software has become increasingly popular in production environments, as well as in research and software development. One obvious attraction is the low cost of acquisition. Commercial software has a higher initial cost, though it usually has advantages such as support and training. A number of business models designed by users and vendors combine open source and commercial software; they use open source as much as possible, adding commercial software as needed. They may use open source software as a central component of a product or service, but use other components to add value, which can then induce customers to pay for the offering (obviously, it is hard to compete with free software on price).

Commercializing Open Source Software
Michael J. Karels

Many have tried, a few are succeeding, but challenges abound.

The use of open source software has become increasingly popular in production environments, as well as in research and software development. One obvious attraction is the low cost of acquisition. Commercial software has a higher initial cost, though it usually has advantages such as support and training. A number of business models designed by users and vendors combine open source and commercial software; they use open source as much as possible, adding commercial software as needed. They may use open source software as a central component of a product or service, but use other components to add value, which can then induce customers to pay for the offering (obviously, it is hard to compete with free software on price).

After a brief overview of the salient differences between open source and commercial software, this article will describe several basic business models in today’s marketplace to highlight ways that value is added to open source software and services. For the most part, I will discuss only complete software systems sufficient for some useful purpose, such as network servers, which include an operating system and its associated components, any applications needed for the system’s purpose, and necessary local configuration information. Many of the same principles apply to components such as applications and other software packages.

by Michael J. Karels

From Server Room to Living Room

The open source movement, exemplified by the growing acceptance of Linux, is finding its way not only into corporate environments but also into a home near you. For some time now, high-end applications such as software development, computer-aided design and manufacturing, and heavy computational applications have been implemented using Linux and generic PC hardware.

From Server Room to Living Room
Jim Barton

How open source and TiVo became a perfect match

The open source movement, exemplified by the growing acceptance of Linux, is finding its way not only into corporate environments but also into a home near you. For some time now, high-end applications such as software development, computer-aided design and manufacturing, and heavy computational applications have been implemented using Linux and generic PC hardware.

Now, Linux and open source software are making inroads at the other end of the computing spectrum. TiVo, the first commercially available digital video recorder (DVR), provides an example of how embedded devices are increasingly powerful enough to support Linux as an operating system—providing a great deal of leverage to system developers. A BRIEF HISTORY OF OPEN SOURCE

by Jim Barton

The Age of Corporate Open Source Enlightenment

It's a bad idea, mixing politics and religion. Conventional wisdom tells us to keep them separate - and to discuss neither at a dinner party. The same has been said about the world of software. When it comes to mixing the open source church with the proprietary state (or is it the other way around?), only one rule applies: Don't do it.

The Age of Corporate Open Source Enlightenment
Paul Ferris

Like it or not, zealots and heretics are findingcommon ground in the open source holy war.

It’s a bad idea, mixing politics and religion. Conventional wisdom tells us to keep them separate—and to discuss neither at a dinner party. The same has been said about the world of software. When it comes to mixing the open source church with the proprietary state (or is it the other way around?), only one rule applies: Don’t do it.

Still, people keep trying to mix the two—the software, that is. For example, some companies spend countless hours in committees with the hopeful goal of finding a way the two can work together in harmony. More often than not, however, a heated debate erupts between warring religious factions.

by Paul Ferris