Paul Ferris — The Linux Collective Is Not A Corporation

By Paul Ferris

It’s obvious that we are the new opposing team. The Linux
community is not a corporation. In almost every way, you can tell
that this is a worry for some business people.

They’re used to the idea of a corporate controlling interest
governing their operating systems. You would think that it would be
no big deal for them to rely upon the Linux collective, as they
rely upon community projects such as roads and other infrastructure
on a daily basis.

Someday it will be a natural concept, but until then we face a
struggle of an unexpected kind: Identity.

We are not a corporation, in a rather big way. The subtle
undercurrents that appear to have brought about the Linux
revolution are really those of of an underground volcano, set to
erupt any minute now.

The corporate acceptance of civility in computing may end up
being a slow process, but I’m betting on an all out immediate
shift. How or when is still a valid question, but the possibilities
exist due to the enormously precarious foundation that Microsoft
has built its empire upon.

You can see the cracks in the foundation. Low software quality,
slow development speed, inverted motivations toward open standards
and interoperability. The list is large and growing larger.

Software design aside, the primary weakness in the Microsoft
foundation is the easiest for corporate America to comprehend:
Ownership. What they will count as a strength, I see as something
altogether the opposite.

By lacking total ownership by one controlling entity, Linux is
free to move forward unrestrained. No membership fees, no W2 forms
to fill out. If someone, anyone, wants in on the party, they are
welcomed with open arms. There are groups of controlling parties,
but anyone with talent and understanding can do something and be a
part of it all.

Contrast this style of development with that of Microsoft, and
you see shades of white and black. If you want in on the Microsoft
party, you must beg for an invitation. You must accept the yoke of
corporate control. You must be willing to be associated with the
corporate reputation.

As I’ve stated before, Linux has no such thing. Linux is more of
a process than a corporation. More of a democracy than a football

The Free Software model allows people from any walk of life,
young or old, regardless of location, belief system, and perhaps
most importantly, monetary status.

We cannot help but be compared to Microsoft – they are the
oft-perceived owners of the territory that we will occupy. But we
are not Microsoft, or like them, in a massive way.

Microsoft has made a mistake by choosing to cast us in this
corporate light. To challenge the collective as they would a
competitor. Their supporters choose to point to our strengths as
our weaknesses. They belittle the choices that Linux provides as
‘fragmentation’. They cast the freedom that Linux provides as a
‘lack of a well defined road-map’. They worry loudly about suing
someone for bad software quality without comparing the relative
differences in that very aspect of the two systems.

It doesn’t matter, it is all just so much droning. The fight is
over. Actually, it never was. Linux has done something that no one
would have even considered even two years ago. It has won the web
server space and with little to no marketing whatsoever.

Dear reader; if you get asked why a corporation should depend
upon this collective for its day to day needs, you already have an
answer. You can tell them that they already are. You can point to
the world wide web and state that Linux is powering the largest
percentage of the web servers that they depend upon today.

All that, and more, today, without a corporation. Who can argue
against the power of the Linux collective?

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