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If I Were in Charge of...

Oct 05, 2007, 22:30 (21 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

I was taking a walk with my wife the other day, talking about all the kooky-nuttiness that is the Linux and Open Source world sometimes. I think I was harping on a certain company in Washington State and their recent "attempts" to "open source" some of their code.

A consumate Linux spouse, she listened as I ranted and raved but I could tell she was getting a bit weary of this latest session when she said, "well, what would you do about it?"

That stopped me in my tracks. And got me thinking...

Many of us have decried Microsoft as the Great Satan of software companies, a reputation that they haven't exactly strived to get rid of. We have also been hard at times towards all of the big commercial vendors: Red Hat, IBM, Sun, Novell, Mandriva, Canonical, Dell, HP... the list goes on. How often, though, do we get a chance to step up and offer a positive suggestion to these companies?

Seriously, if you could make one suggestion to any company to make it a better business, or perhaps more friendly towards open source, what would it be?

I'd like to see if providing such a forum could provide some interesting results.

Here are the ground rules: Pick any company, proprietary or open source, and present an idea of how you would make the company better. Better overall, or in the sense of being genuinely pro-open source. The sky's the limit. You're the CEO for the day. I would ask, though, that you refrain from the obvious banalities, such as "burning every Microsoft building to the ground" or "throw Darl McBride in jail." What would you do if you could really direct the actions of a software corporation, open source or otherwise?

I will start off with two, to give you an idea of what I mean.

If I were in charge of Mandriva, I would make a concerted effort to embrace the PCLinuxOS community and establish a relationship with them similar to the Red Hat/Fedora or Canonical/Ubuntu arrangements. PCLinuxOS is really taking off in terms of popularity, and I think Mandriva could recapture some of its past community glory by hitching a wagon to the PCLinuxOS star.

If I were in charge of Microsoft, I would open source a mid-tier product. Just one to start with, but I would use a real open license, like GPL or BSD or APL, etc. I would build a community infrastruture around it and let my employees watch and finally realize that open source, when properly done, is a good thing.

Realistic? Perhaps not. But I am genuinely curious on how the Linux community would fix things if they were CEOs for just one day.