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2007 Forecast: Open Source

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If I read the runes correctly, the hopes of many of the committed followers and proponents of Open Source have been disappointed by its progress in recent times. Admittedly, the attempt by SCO to stop Linux in its tracks (or get a royalty from its use) looks to have failed and last year saw Microsoft almost accommodating Open Source in a deal with Novell (but not without spreading a little FUD).

However, it also saw Oracle train its big guns on Red Hat, threatening to spoil its whole business model simply by competing directly—and this was not long after Oracle had embarrassed MySQL by buying up the Open Source providers of two of the database's key complementary components. On the desktop and laptop it is not Linux but Apple that is providing genuine competition for Microsoft and in other areas, such a mobile devices, it looks like Linux is not really a significant player.

What I think is happening is neither the defeat of Open Source, nor its saturation. I think we have become too accustomed to treating Open Source products as if they were commercial products and thus trying to judge their progress in terms of growth and market share. I don't think you can look at it like that.

A good deal of Open Source adoption doesn't occur in the same way as the purchase of commercial product. I was at an IT site recently that suddenly decided to use Hibernate. Why?

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