Open Source Is Good And All, But Proprietary Is Still Winning

A post the other day caught my eye. It raised the question as to whether the rise of open source software spells the end of traditional software vendors. Now the easiest thing in the world would be to answer that question with one word, no, but that wouldn’t make much of a blog post so lets dive into this a little bit deeper.

Open source is undeniable one of the themes de jour. Ever since Linus Torvalds posted that famous message back in 1991, “I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones”, open source has been both a development methodology but more importantly a cultural phenomenon. Linux showed the world at large that a new way of working where co-creation, volunteerism, meritocracy and other such non-traditional approaches can produce something powerful. The term, and the concept, has been extended in every direction, as Matt Asay wrote:

But open source is more than software.

Now we have “open source” car and bike sharing in Minnesota, an open source village cellular network in Mexico, open source data centers and more. While not truly open source—many of these projects don’t adhere to the Open Source Definition and don’t even try to do so—each indicates just how pervasive open source’s impact has been.