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Welcome to the business channel on opensource.com. In this channel we plan to explore how the principles of open source are influencing the world of business.

I have been working at open source software companies for the past 10 years and have experienced first hand how the open source model creates better software faster. I hadn't spent as much time thinking about open source beyond software.

This all changed for me last year.

I had the privilege of hearing Gary Hamel  speak on the future of management. Gary told the audience that if they wanted to see a model of the business leader of the future they should study Linus Torvalds.

From Gary’s book The Future of Management

“Torvalds understands that in a community of peers, people bow to competence, commitment, and foresight, rather than to power. The fact that Torvalds has retained his position at the center of the Linux galaxy for more than a decade, without any formal mandate, makes him a worthy role model for aspiring 21st-century leaders.“

Wow. I was very familiar with Linus and his work on the Linux kernel. I had not thought of Linus as the model for 21st-century leaders.

This is one of many examples of how the basic principles of open source (open exchange, participation, rapid prototyping, meritocracy, community) are influencing the world of business. This channel will be a place where we continue to learn from each other how open source is effecting the business world.

Jump in and join the conversation. Create an account to make it easier to comment on articles and participate in polls. If you have ideas on what should be discussed in this channel, add them in the comments.

Welcome to the business channel,

Jeff Mackanic



Jeff Mackanic has been at Red Hat for more than nine years and is currently responsible for the creative services team at Red Hat. After several stints with varying levels of success at many e-commerce companies, Jeff became one of the original employees at Akopia, which delivered ecommerce solutions based on the Interchange platform.


Many years ago, HBR's Editor Nicholas Carr suggested (guess you know this famous and so controversial article "IT Doesn't Matter") that IT management should focus on reducing risks, not increasing opportunities and that IT may not help gain a strategic advantage, but it could easily put at a cost disadvantage.
Was it a pre Open Source annoucement? Not sure. Here is what it gave me : You should pay (money) for a competitive advantage (even if it comes from software) and you should pay attention for commodity software (incl. ERP).
Business Software (I've been working for this German Software giant for many years - then I know some words about what a business software is -) needs to adress one or both - competitive advantage / risk free.
As a human being I do not want to pay for breezing but I'm okay for medecine or advertising even for water (if it ensures me potable water).
Let's take an example (form the real life. sure it is : it's mine!)
My 13years old daughter runs an unbuntu powered laptop (powered after I burnt 3 DVDs to get one ok) with everything free you need included - Wouahou - Have you ever tried to use your iPod Touch with - everything free you need ? I did. (I'll post this "iPod Touch needs a Korn shell guru" story later - if requested).
You're right, Apple is far from being an Open Software Fundation but as MS Office (vade retro satanas !) is quite more practical vs Open Office (yes it is!) Iphone is .... what is better looking - using ? Android Nexus One (what a name!)? (no it is not - and Google ?).
A couple of days ago, I read a french (yes I'm french -so what?) sponsored (sic!) book presenting an Open Source ERPs study. Out of it, the main argument against this german software Kompany is : R/3 is not open.
What does it mean bud? I know my iPod is not open, but I love it!
Let's be open (minded), let's share perspective. Forget the "me too" approach, even if it is "me to for free" or "me too better" . Changing is not replacing - we need more - Let's concentrate on more.

I've been noticing it more and more fitting into a management or organizational concept.

Right now I am involved in a Computer Club of 200 +/- members and just joined the Board of Directors. I see a lot of opportunity to push the organization of the club to a more open-source inspired model;

* Open exchange of ideas
* Collaboration
* Community

Some of this, though, is counter to the usual political-maneuvering most organizations become paralyzed on.

I am hoping, though, to get a better feel and understanding of the open source philosophy in an organizational strucutre which is one reason why I jumped when I saw this website.

I'm sorry for the <em>Off Topic</em> but the first link (to Gary Hamel page) is broken.
The <em>title=""</em> attribute of the image seems to be incorrect.

Hi Francesco,

The link seems to be broke, but maybe it is bad linked.

The right link is: http://www.garyhamel.com/

Kind Regards,


Hi Francesco and Edwin:
The link should be fixed now. Thank you for the feedback

August 1981: IBM introduces the PC.
The mid-80's: Lots of PC's being sold and most purchasers also buy WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3 and Ashton Tate dBaseIII. These three companies rode the tidal wave of the PC (before 2 of them stumbled and the third was bought by IBM).
2010: Total revenues of open source software companies total less than $1 billion, in a software industry with total sales of over $300 billion. There must be a tidal wave coming - imagine only 5-10% of software spending shifting to open source!

But wait... the biggest open source projects advance thanks to the efforts of developers salaried by large companies, not by talented volunteers hoping for peer recognition. And, too many companies use the community versions of open source projects, contributing nothing back - not a bug report, not a blog comment, no contributed code, and certainly no money.

Will open source turn into a megatrend?
Can we get the freeriders to contribute something (especially money)?

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