OT: Open Source and the Free Market



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OT: Open Source and the Free Market

Postby Mark Wonsil » Thu, 20 May 2004 23:31:04 GMT

Since the out sourcing topic ends up with varied statements about the
marketplace, I thought this was interesting:

May 14, 2004
From Adam Smith to Open Source
By Sean Michael Kerner


The most volatile panel discussion was the open source business model, which
included Red Hat founder Bob Young, Matt Asay of Novell and Jason Matusow of
Microsoft's Shared Source Initiative. Many attendants challenged Microsoft's
participation at the conference because of the company's objections to the
core license of the free and open source movement.

As for the Adam Smith question, Red Hat founder Bob Young connected the dots
between the 200-year-old theories of Adam Smith and the modern approach to
customer management.

"The Adam Smith view of the world is that a whole bunch of self-centered,
selfish human beings, working in their own vested self-interest, can make
the world a better place faster than the most benevolent king," Young told
the audience.

"What intrigued me the most was, if you look after your customers in such a
way that you get really, really wealthy, you will make the world a better
place," Young said.

The Internet is a manifestation of the validity of Adam Smith's theories, as
is the growth of Linux, itself, Young argued. The way in which the Internet
works and was created is as a distributed system to which multiple
self-interests contributed. This resulted in something that was better than
any one individual company or government could have ever created.

Operating-system adoption is driven by the availability of applications,
according to Young, which is something that, in early days of its existence,
Linux did not have. That said, he added, it was the Internet, itself, with
applications like the Apache Web Server, DNS and Sendmail -- all free and
open source endeavors -- that serve as further proof of Adam Smith's theory
is applied to the growth of the free and open source software movement.

"The Internet was the killer app that drove the adoption of Linux," said

Many in the free and open source community chided Red Hat about its
for-profit model, Young recalled during the address, particularly since so
much of the community is based on non-profit foundations.

Again, Young recalled the theories of Adam Smith for his justification.
"Good businesses will deliver more value to society than any non-profit
will. The profit motivation is actually a very good one; it makes sure we're
delivering real value to our customers."

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