Who leads open source?

Summary:Who is the leader of the open source movement? Does it matter?

Who is the leader of the open source movement? Does it matter?

I ask this after reading an Alan Cox interview about Linus Torvalds in which Linus was said to be "a terrible engineer."

This statement got more attention than it deserved because, I think, many people want a leader in this movement, and see Linus as The Man.

But is Linus The Man? I don't think so (although he's a big part of the brand). As with open source itself, leadership in the open source movement is distributed and diffuse.

Open source has many leaders. Richard Stallman is a leader. Sam Palmisano of IBM is a leader. Linus and Alan are both leaders. There are others. (Please feel to name your favorite in TalkBack.)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but a bus could run over any of these great leaders tomorrow and the open source tide would keep rising.

This is yet-another difference between the open source model and the proprietary model. Try to imagine Apple without Jobs, or Microsoft without Gates, and maybe you'll see what I'm getting at here.

Even the biggest corporations need an entrepreneur at the helm, one person with a vision everyone can follow.

Open source doesn't need that. I believe this is a good thing. Do you? Let us know in TalkBack.

Topics: Open Source


Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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