August 2007

At the close of the 20th century, Tim O'Reilly wrote The Ten Myths About Open Source Software:

Do any of these still sound familiar?

  1. It's all about Linux versus Windows
  2. Open source software isn't reliable or supported
  3. Big companies don't use open source software
  4. Open source is hostile to intellectual property
  5. Open source is all about licenses
  6. If I give away my software to the open source community, thousands of developers will suddenly start working for me for nothing
  7. Open source only matters to programmers; most users never look under the hood anyway
  8. There's no money to be made on free software
  9. The open source movement isn't sustainable; people will stop developing free software once they see others making lots of money from their efforts
  10. Open source is playing catch up to Microsoft and the commercial world

If I were to expand this list to a baker's dozen, I'd add these myths:

  1. Executives of Canadian technology companies are not interested in making money from open source
  2. Only big companies such as IBM and Sun can effectively use open source
  3. There are few viable business models around open source

It obviously takes more than the passage of time to dispel such uninformed myths. Companies need to experience new business models and market disruptors. Theorists need to dissect and analyze the predictions of visionaries. Both theory and experience need to filter down through the mainstream media. And until the new knowledge becomes commonplace, myths continue to pass as truths.

The August issue of the OSBR contains resources designed to provoke thought around open source business models and to add to the knowledge surrounding this topic. As you read through this issue, see if you can identify which myths we are trying to dispel.

This issue includes articles submitted by three Ottawa-based open source companies. These companies vary in size, business model, stage in the Open Source Maturity Model, and role in their respective ecosystems. This issue also includes two articles that summarize research results from two master theses completed as part of a joint research program between Nortel and Carleton University, an article on the role of the Talent First Network as the keystone organization of Ontario's open source company ecosystem, a description of a new lead project on open source patterns, and a Q&A section with answers to questions about open source business models.

This issue is successful if it promotes discussion--both at your company's water cooler and within the OSBR community. Let us know what you think.

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