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Bruno Lowagie
Bruno Lowagie

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Is open source hostile?

My book Entreprenerd has been out for a handful of days now, and I'm getting the first comments from readers.

Some comments may sound somewhat surprising to outsiders. Take for instance the following tweet:
apr on Twitter

Observe the use of words: "We think open source is hostile, but it's just kindergarten compared to real world business."

Just like me, the person who posted this tweet, Alejandro Revilla, is an open source founder and although my book is very positive about open source, you need a certain mileage in open source to understand this tweet.

Personally, I don't think open source is hostile; people are hostile.

What Alejandro wants to convey with his tweet, is that many open source users—intentionally or unintentionally—tend to bite the hand that feeds them. I hope that my book can contribute to a better understanding between open source users and open source contributors, so that we can all work together and leave the hostilities behind us.

Discussion (3)

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Ben Halpern

Personally, I don't think open source is hostile; people are hostile.

While this is true, open source has embraced hostility in its own special ways. Some of the founding heroes of open source are pretty damn hostile. It doesn't mean they speak for the whole space, but they have certainly helped shape it.

I think we can all agree that there is no special quality of open source that makes it hostile, and it is home to some of the most thoughtful and caring value share in existence, but I think it's helpful to be open to acknowledging the type of hostilities that can co-exist with the open source brand.

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Kai Lyons

Personally, I don't think open source is hostile; people are hostile.

This is true, but I have to say we need to specify hostility. I don't think they are necessarily saying open-source is too hostile, but I think there is a different interpretation. What I see you and Ben Halpern (who also commented) see in this Tweet is that open-source is too hostile for business. Let me offer an alternate interpretation.

"We think open source is hostile, but it's just kindergarten compared to real world business."

If we break it down, I think he is saying that open-source is not competitive. "We think open source is hostile" is, in my mind, saying that it is no more than a belief. "but it's just kindergarten compared to real world business." to me says that the reality is that open source is still mostly a hobbiest idea not ready to take off in the mainstream yet.

I actually agree with this version. In it's current state, open source is simply not competitive. We still treat it like charity and unprofessional groups. We have three types of groups. We have the enterprise corporations, the foundations, and mildly organized teams. The enterprise corporations are uncommon, and mostly for Linux servers than anything else. Red Hat, Canonical, SUSE, all fall under this. Oracle too, but they are more proprietary than open-source. Almost everything else is foundations. Software Freedom Conservancy, The Linux Foundation, FreeBSD Foundation, Instant Messaging Freedom, Python Foundation, etc. We also have the teams that aren't enterprise corporations, but definitely not major businesses. These will be your elementary Inc, GIMP, System76, etc.

We do not have a major corporation within open-source that prioritizes selling to the users. We have small companies, but nothing comparable to Microsoft or Adobe. "it's just kindergarten compared to real world business." is not saying we are hostile, it is saying we are weak.

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Kai Lyons

Let me clarify one thing, I am saying we don't have something as powerful or as much as a household name as Adobe or Microsoft. For open-source to compete, we need something on the level of Discord Inc, and we simply do not have something like that.