Open Source Leadership, The Next Generation

It has been ten years since the release of the documentary, Revolution OS. It told a tail of the birth of the GNU project, the Linux kernel, Red Hat Linux, and the use of the term “open source.” For me, the film ended on a sour note because it made a big deal about stock prices roller-coaster-ing at the end. It made Linux look like a mere dot-com fad that would fade after the bumble burst. Sadly two of the featured companies: VA Linux and Cygnus are no longer around. From the outsider’s perspective, the story of Linux would end as a hobbyist dream rather than a serious Microsoft competitor.

The past ten years of Linux history tells me that is not so. Red Hat Linux continues to flourish. SUSE was bought by Novell and was introduced into the American market. Cannonical’s Ubuntu is also a brand new rising star.

Consumer products that use Linux are now house-hold names. Tivo is just one of them.

Despite the successes that Linux has found in the server, embedded, high performance, and voip: Desktop use continues to be elusive.

Why?

Some blame the abundance of choice. Imagine that as a problem: Do we have so much Linux that the variety is confusing and competitive?

Some blame the “hacker” culture. If only those who can write the software can use the software, Linux is limiting its potential user pool by making its software elitist by design?

Some blame the lack of leadership. Everybody knows that Steve Ballmer and Ray Ozzie are in charge of the vision of where Microsoft products are going. Who is in charge of the open source vision?

This is the start of a paper that will examine the last question that I will state again: Who is in charge of the open source vision?

Right now I am publishing under a release-early-release-often paradigm. Consider this version .001 published on November 15, 2009.

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One Response to Open Source Leadership, The Next Generation

  1. Hi,

    Microsoft’s dominance on the desktop is due to a combination of factors, most of which comes down to their control of the distribution channel.

    Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen outlines the mechanics for a possible disruption of Microsoft’s control by Free Open Source Software. Essentially, we will see a shift in value from the software to the hardware that runs it. Netbooks and smartphones will be dominated by Linux, and then will converge with desktops. One of the companies with the money to push this move will be Google, which has a vested interest in making sure that it does not suffer the same fate as Netscape.

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