Most people have discovered about open source software and a lot folks think we possess a way of what it’s about.
It is seen by a lot of us as being about ‘techie’ applications, written by’ beard & sandals’ brigade academics and hackers, which will run your computer more reliably than M did. This of course being predicated on the dubious assumption that you could figure out the best way to locate and install it…never mind the problems regarding continuing development, support, training, etc.
Those understandings, while somewhat right, disguise how much the open source movement has come in the past 5-10 years. While open source offerings still free, and with interesting names like Tomcat, Apache, MySQL, Python and Linux are very much still part of the order of the day, they are becoming important and much more accessible.
You habitually find data revealing that this ‘techie’ so called LAMP Stack software accounts to get a growing and high percentage of installments on routers and the server farms that run the modern world’s computing and net infrastructure. Not only has it become more friendly to set up and configure, but its operational dependability sets many name-brand proprietary competitors to shame…not bad for free software written by ‘geeks’ in their spare time!
Although, to be honest, these days you’re nearly as likely to find well-paid staff at several of the planet ’s greatest know corporations (e.g. IBM, Novelle, Sun, Cisco, etc) being motivated to spend time developing open source offerings so that their employers can develop a foot-hold in this fast-moving and very advanced space.
You see, the big guys have finally woken up to the fact that free does not necessarily mean poor quality or limited attribute sets. And, more to the point, just as any developing business, software is beginning to become increasingly commoditised over time (i.e. due to competitive effects people become used to paying less and less…which is typically bad for gains!).
Therefore, when an intriguing new occurrences appears, where something you used to pay for is now free to all, and people are earning money from it via other means…e.g. business models based on promotion, training, support, customisations, etc, you tend to get the interest of the top brass. And what the top brass is rubbing their eyes in certain dismay over is the fact that the post-baby-boomer generation adores the open source ethos.