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OSS in the enterprise? Show me the money

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OSS

Eric Raymond's recent attack on a Microsoft recruiter has sharply divided the Linux community, with some applauding his bluntness and honesty, while others accused him of exaggerating his own achievements -- not to mention exhibiting immature behavior. Yes, Raymond could have been a little more subtle in his reply, but when a company such as Microsoft attempts to recruit one of its most scathing critics, and an ardent supporter of competing products at that, one cannot help but feel such an answer was appropriate, given the absurdity of the circumstances.

Raymond's answer raises a multitude of questions regarding the use of open source software (OSS) in the enterprise. Not the usual questions about security, total cost of ownership, or vendor lock-in, but rather how best to convince business leaders about the advantages that open source software such as Linux and OpenOffice.org has to offer.

The community surrounding Linux, the OSS world's flagship product, falls largely into two categories. The first is a grassroots community that believes unfailingly in the concept of absolutely Free Software. These people have been instrumental in the rise of Linux as an alternative OS over the years, in no small part due to people like Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation.

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