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Time's a' Wastin'

Jun 27, 2008, 22:30 (12 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

When I woke up this morning and started checking the news feeds for stuff to link to, I noticed a high degree of "Bill Gates' last day" stories out on the wires.

Curiously, a number of them speculated on the eventual health of Microsoft; the implication being that without Gates, Microsoft will implode. Sure. I vented on Twitter that Ballmer's been functionally behind the wheel for years anyway, so what does it matter?

That's the same argument I will give to those who will speculate that Gates' departure could be a positive effect on open source, as those in the company who are friendly towards open source will have more leeway to make a difference on the corporation's stance.

See Ballmer comment above. Gates may have set the overall strategy for open source policy (so imfamously revealed in his letter to hobbyists, but whatever else you think of him, Ballmer's no sock puppet. He really does not like open source.

Besides, even if Microsoft decides to by more open-friendly, that means little to its overall plans regarding Linux. Recent events in the embedded space demonstrate quite clearly that what's pro-open source is not synonymous with pro-Linux.

The acquisition of Symbian by Nokia, and Nokia's subsequent decision to open the Symbian OS has led a lot of pundits to believe that Linux is about to get its butt kicked in the embedded arena, since an open Symbian renders Linux's open advantage moot.

I would not go that far, but I will agree that Linux is about to have a fight on its hands.

So, too, will Linux have a fight with another open source product, OpenSolaris. Sun wants market share, just like any other vendor. Being open makes it easier for them to compete with Linux, not harder.

You can guess what I think of any chance of a "pro-open" Microsoft being good for Linux would be. Is that a snowball you're holding, Mr. Demon--whoops, never mind...

What's increasingly frustrating to me is that Linux, as a business, a technology, and a community, has a lot to do to get its own house in order.

There needs to be a stronger path for ISVs to develop applications for Linux, and IHVs hardware drivers.

There needs to be some consensus about what direction the Linux desktop needs to take.

And the commercial vendors need to put a lot more "co-op" in the "co-opetition" mantra they like to push.

We can't afford to waste energy arguing about which part of Linux will succeed over the others. Everyone has to win, or we could all lose.