"Though he doesn't fall into the "doomsayer" category, Larry
McVoy, CEO of Bitmover, Inc. and a former top scientist at Sun
Microsystems, says it remains to be seen whether the business
models of some of the most successful Linux vendors will be viable
in the long term. Open source business models are further
complicated by a unique factor: developers of free software are not
always in it for the money, and idealism rarely drives profits.
Without appropriate margins, argues McVoy, Linux companies cannot
do for free software what commercial entities do best: funnel money
into new projects."
"McVoy says that open source advocates like Bruce Perens, Eric
Raymond, and Richard Stallman can only see the benefit of open
source software from the end-users' perspective. "Their arguments
are somewhat shortsighted," McVoy insists, "because they're
fighting against the sort of evil world where it's been all
proprietary and you couldn't get the source code. I'll be the first
to admit the proprietary people have abused their end of the
spectrum. But in solving that problem they're creating a second
problem. They've gone so far in the other direction, they're making
it very difficult for people to actually generate revenue off of
stuff in this new space. If you can't generate revenue, you can't
create new stuff."
"McVoy believes that, in the long run, pure open source
companies will not have enough margin to continue to fund
innovative software development. He also says that, ironically,
open source companies are cannibalizing the sales of large
corporations like HP, IBM, and Sun, whose revenues paid many of the
engineers that contributed much of the open source code being used
in Linux today."
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