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Does Open Source Matter?

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There’s a great deal of interest in open source software development these days. While the concept of open source (if not the name itself) is hardly new – people have been freely sharing source code since the beginning of the computer industry – the convergence of commercial interest in open source participation along with the maturation of open source development processes and governance models have greatly raised the visibility of open source development during the past several years.

Linux, at one time a hardcore developer’s toy box, has gathered support from major corporations. For example, IBM and independent Linux vendors such as Red Hat are growing at a healthy rate. The donation of the Eclipse code line to open source by IBM in late 2001 started a new chapter in commercial open source. These high-profile cases, along with the increasing awareness of core open source components that are widely deployed such as the Apache Web server, BIND, Sendmail, and Perl, have captured the attention of many, the media and venture firms included.

Is Open Source a Fad?

But isn’t “open source” just a fad – the latest hype in an industry that has shown a singular propensity for falling head over heels for the newest thing? After all, if you read the comments of the most zealous open source supporters, it’s easy to find claims and discussions that bear a striking resemblance to those made during the heyday of other fads. Maybe open source won’t last.

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