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Linux: A Double Edged Sword for Open Source

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Quick, name the most successful open source project of all time. You probably didn't hesitate a second did you? For better and sometimes for worse, Linux is the poster child for the open source movement. And why shouldn't it be. You can't argue with the enormous success and impact it has had on the world. It is truly one of the wonders of the tech world. But that success can sometimes cast a long shadow on other open source projects and how people perceive open source should work. To paraphrase an old saying about GM into a question: Is what's good for Linux, good for all open source? The answer may be no.

Linux is unique not only because of its success, but also because of the make up of its community. You have literally scores of companies, many of which are household names, that contribute substantial amounts of code to its base. You have a cast of thousands that contribute code, bug findings, ideas and even hot air (OK, some contribute lots of hot air). While there is literally an army of companies that are making money by selling Linux based software, appliances, phones, etc., there really is not one company that totally dominates and dictates to the Linux community. That is a great thing.

No one is going to push IBM or Red Hat around regarding Linux (thank goodness or Oracle would try). On the other hand IBM and even Red Hat can't and won't dictate to the Linux community either.

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