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The uneasy relationship between open source and profit

The uneasy relationship between open source and profit

Open source has always had an on-again, off-again relationship with profit.

Richard Stallman's FOSS idea was anti-capitalist. Eric Raymond's open source attitude is profoundly pro-capitalist.

Yet the first open source companies to emerge in the early part of the last decade used FOSS licenses, not the "permissive" BSD-type licenses Raymond favors. They wanted community support, and an equal relationship among developers encouraged it. » Read more

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Mobile patent wars and Linux in context

Mobile patent wars and Linux in context

Mobile Linux platforms are making incredible inroads into the emerging smartphone market. The market leading position that Apple developed and which seemed insurmountable just 18 months ago has now been eclipsed by the Android platform, alone. As the MeeGo smartphone platform enters the market this trend toward mobile linux ubiquity can only be expected to continue.  Further, the extension of these linux-based operating systems into higher value computing devices is, in parallel, threatening to transform the nature of personal computing. » Read more

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Platform wars: software patents in a new light

Platform wars: software patents in a new light

I recently wrote about the $4.5 billion auction for Nortel's portfolio of 6,000 patents that went to a consortium that included Apple, Microsoft, and RIM (Blackberry) -- three of four smartphone platforms. In the wake of this sale, Interdigital has contemplated monetizing its portfolio of 8,500 patents, perhaps even putting the company up for sale. Google announced that it has bought over 1,000 patents from IBM for defensive purposes. Perennial investor Carl Icahn suggested that Motorola cash in on some of its immense portfolio of 18000 patents. » Read more

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Bilski's growing up, and smacking down some bad software patents

When the Supreme Court declined to speak to software patenting in the Bilski case, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth in the open source software world. The new Bilski test for patentable subject matter looked at first like the status quo for software patentability. But, being the sort of person who tries to check clouds for a possible silver lining, I noted a possibility that courts and the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences would read the test to invalidate some software patents. Later I noted that there were a number of early decisions finding software unpatentable. » Read more

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Who's really innovative?

If you were compiling a list of the world's most innovative companies, which businesses would top your list? No one would be surprised if you picked Google, Apple, or Amazon, but what about Wal-Mart? (Huh?) Or PG&E (a utility, for crying out loud)? Surely there must be some mistake! Or how 'bout the Chinese data equipment maker Huawei (umm, who are they)? While a few of these companies might not have made it onto your top 10 list, all of them were featured in Fast Company's 2010 ranking of innovation all-stars.

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User-led innovation can't create breakthroughs. Really?

Earlier this week, Fast Company posted an article by Jens Martin Skibsted and Rasmus Bech Hansen (thanks to Gunnar Hellekson for sending it my way) that may be of interest to folks seeing success with their open source and open innovation efforts.

The article is entitled "User-Led Innovation Can't Create Breakthroughs; Just Ask Apple and IKEA" and here's how it starts: » Read more

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What does Google's management change say about the open source way?

Last week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced in a post on his blog he was stepping aside and Google co-founder Larry Page would take on management of Google's day-to-day operations as the new CEO. Although Schmidt is staying on as Executive Chairman for now and will continue to have an ongoing role in the company, many including myself, were surprised by the news. » Read more

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Open*Life: 2010 in review

What a great year on the Open*Life channel here at opensource.com. We had more than 150 posts covering how open source touches our lives. This is our year in review--a time to reflect on what happened over the last year and a chance to look forward to next year.

I'd first like to thank all the authors and readers who contributed articles, thoughts, comments, reviews, artwork, feedback, and all the work that goes on behind the scenes to post an article on the site. It's truly a community effort. We are always looking for new authors, ideas for content, and improvement.

In 2011, we are looking to cover more topics on open source in our lives. We look forward to hearing more of your ideas. Let's take a look back at 2010 and see our top 10 posts, a few of my favorites, and my editor picks. » Read more

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Open*Law: 2010 in review

By nature of our interests and where open source commonly intersects the law, we post a lot about patents in the Law channel on opensource.com. And it's been an interesting year for patents.

In May, a verdict was delivered in favor of Red Hat and Novell in an infringement case based on bad software patents owned by "non-practicing entities." Rob Tiller's post on it, Total victory for open source software in a patent lawsuit, was the top article across opensource.com for the year. » Read more

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Creating a context for creativity

My experience as a manager – and in particular, as the leader of a company – has been shaped by two quotes that have helped frame my thinking about that role. One is from Harold Geneen, who oversaw the growth of ITT into the first modern conglomerate:

"The skill of management is achieving your objectives through the efforts of others."

This view of management suggests the classic manager, somebody who figures out » Read more

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