A swan song from this departing open source blogger

A swan song from this departing open source blogger

Summary: As I sign off from my duties at ZDNet, and more than 20 years following open source, I am struck with the realization that open source has, in many respects, really taken over the world.

TOPICS: Open Source

As I sign off from my duties at ZDNet, and more than 20 years following open source, I am struck with the realization that open source has, in many respects, really taken over the world.

By the world, I mean the IT infrastructure that powers the global information network.

The revolutions inspired by free and open software, and enabled by the Internet and WWW,  we all know, extend well beyond the technology industry: the Arab Spring and budding human rights movement in China owe much to these social networks, and in kind, to open source software and the communal spirit behind it.

At its core: the general public license and others like it, a principled and disciplined leader who refused to sell his Linux kernel to the highest bidder and legions of talented developers who believe in the notion that software is the pre-eminent utility of the future, far too important to be owned by the commercial few.

And to think just a few years ago Linux was snubbed as a "cancer" by Microsoft's CEO.

As we look at today's powers that be on the web, Google and Facebook, it is Linux, interwined with a mish mash of open source and proprietary applications, that are powering their infrastructures as well as  the cloud and the expanding data centers of the world.

As illustrated in the Cathedral and the Bazaar, by Eric Raymond, the more open the code, the better the software will be.

The rise of Google's Android OS --the only serious commercial challenger to Apple's iOS today -- demonstrates the significant commercial power of Linux.  Red Hat has reached $1 billion in revenues and that number will only continue to climb. The prevalence of open source databases and tools building out the new enterprise and the cloud -- such as MySQL and OpenStack -- testifies to rapid advances enabled by the open source model.

And to think just a few years ago Linux was snubbed as a "cancer" by Microsoft's CEO. (It is a cancer to Microsoft's long term revenues, but that's all.)

No, Windows has not disappeared, and IBM mainframes are still in use.  Microsoft still has plenty of skin in the game, Oracle remains a behemoth and VMware covets its pedigree and blue ribbon reputation in the virtualization game.

Open source software and proprietary software mix well in the IT infrastructure but not at the corporate level. The cultures clash too much.

Still, we see open source driving much of the fundamental change in the technology industry and we see open source rivals digging deeply into their respective market shares and posing a real threat of extinction to these proprietary giants in a generation's time, probably much less.

It has been an honor following the movers and shakers -- Linus Torvalds and the Linux Foundation, Red Hat, SUSE and Ubuntu, MySQL, Mozilla, JBoss, The Apache Foundation, Samba, Xen and KVM -- as well as the innumerable smaller projects that helped spawn a movement but failed to materialize.

I have also enjoyed covering the colorful cast of characters in the community -- from Linus Torvalds to Jeremy Allison, Marc Fleury, Mark Shuttleworth (what are the chances that a guy with that name ends up in space?), Ian Pratt, Miguel de Icaza -- and that's just naming a few.  A Linus Torvalds quote : priceless.

Two parting thoughts:

Open source software and proprietary software mix well in the IT infrastructure but not at the corporate level. The cultures clash too much. Time and time again, we've seen promising open source projects and companies acquired by proprietary software giants end up either crushed or diminished. Of course, huge injections of cash help talented open source developers fund open source forks, and new companies, but on the whole, the fewer of these marriages, the better, in my humble estimation.

Cybertheft and cyberterrorism are global threats and the implications for destruction going forward are too scary to imagine. I'd implore all programmers -- open source and not -- to get some skin in the game. It will take more than a village -- a massive, coordinated community of eyeballs and programmers-- to counter the plans of thieves and terrorists.  But it can be done.


Topic: Open Source

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  • Hey Paula

    Hey Paula, how come everyone is ditching ZDnet? You're the third writer in just a few weeks to announce resignation. Should I be looking elsewhere for tech news soon?

    I obviously don't expect a response, let alone an honest one, haha
  • Hey Paula

    Hate to see you go. Good Luck.
    Ram U
  • This is a disaster, no open source bloggers left on ZDNet

    This is horrible news for anyone interested in getting open source news on ZDNet. There is no one left here now that you are gone.

    Good luck in the future but please don't ever forgot the poor open source fans that you leave behind on ZDNet.
    • You don't appear to be an open source fan

      Though you do seem to like to have open source fans around to spar with.
      John L. Ries
      • I shudder at the thought of being a "fan" of anything

        I can't think of anything that I'm a "fan" of, considering that "fan" is short for "fanatic".

        I do use open source software though and sincerely wish that a certain open source blogger blogged about open source instead of proprietary software companies. There are enough bloggers on ZDNet who blog about proprietary software companies, don't you agree?
        • No, more the merrier

          All ZDNET bloggers if the so choose should expand there horizon.

          Cross blog, some have….

          More the merrier
        • Can't give successful companies like MS any negative publicity, can we?

          People might try harder to patronize the competition. And what good is it to be a dominant vendor if you have to deal with competition?
          John L. Ries
        • That's not my understanding of the word "fan".

          "Fan" indicates that you support something, whereas "fanatic" just indicates obsession. For example, I would call you a fanatic where SJVN is concerned since you can never pass up an opportunity to denigrate him - even when commenting on Paula's "Goodbye" article which doesn't relate to him at all! However, you are most certainly not a fan of SJVN.

          Therefore: While some fans may also be fanatics, not all fanatics are fans.
          Conclusion: "Fan" is not an abbreviation of "fanatic".
          • RE: "Fan" is not an abbreviation of "fanatic"

            The word, fan, does have some interesting synonyms:

            fanatic, fool, freak, maniac, nut and sucker

            ... to name just a few. For the complete list, there's more here:

            Rabid Howler Monkey
          • Are you claiming that Toddy is a fan of SJVN, then?

            Because he certainly seems fanatical in all his commentary about him.
  • Can't you stay and, just get rid of steven j vaugh-nichols?

    since you're the more level headed and honest one of the bunch?
    I Am Galactus
    • ^ This

      She always had the better open source articles that were worth reading with no anti-Microsoft agenda.
      • Coming from the anti Open Source

  • Really sorry to see you go !

    Hi Paula,

    Really sorry to see you leave ZDnet, it was always fun talking to you. I really hope you're moving on to bigger and better things.


    Jeremy Allison,
    Samba Team.
  • Oh Dear. No Paula.

    We have so enjoyed all of your dedication and hard work.

    You will be truly missed.

    Best Wishes and Good Luck.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz + Your Linux Advocate
  • So long, Paula.

    And thanks for all the fish :-).
  • Farewell

    And thank you for your dedication.
    Sebastian Tristan
  • Paula, I will miss your open-source reporting at ZDNet

    You covered open-source (and virtualization) topics with the integrity of a journalist.

    Questions: Are you finished writing for ZDNet completely? Will you be continuing to cover open-source issues elsewhere.

    Best of luck.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • OSS + Corporate don't mix

    Interesting insight, seems as obvious as the nose on my face once I read it. Best of luck in your new endeavors.
    Paula H.
  • although

    i never followed your write ups as closely as some of the other staffers at ZDNet, i've always understood you to be a very good and somewhat balanced writer.

    Farewell and best wishes for your future career plans.