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The Economist: Going Hybrid

Jul 26, 2002, 17:30 (18 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to Tom Mathews for this link. ]

"When the hordes of volunteer programmers who make up the open-source movement met this week for their annual convention in San Diego, one constituency was conspicuously absent: entrepreneurs. Many start-ups that tried to make money from open-source software have already gone bust, and many of those that have survived are in a sorry state.

"This is not all that is worrying open-source advocates. Microsoft is leading an increasingly nasty campaign against programs such as Linux, the free operating system, and has even been putting it about that such programs make it easier for terrorists to hack into computers. Worse, Linus Torvalds, the inventor of Linux, appears to have reached his limits as a manager. There is growing frustration among hackers that he is ignoring their contributions. Is open source doomed?

"In part, the movement is a victim of its own hype. At the height of the 'new economy' craze, open source was billed as radical new economics based on sharing. Programmers around the world contribute their time to write free programs so as to gain reputation among their peers. For this to work, the source code of a programâ€"its basic ingredientsâ€"must be freely available, in contrast to the proprietary software of such firms as Microsoft..."

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