What should be proprietary in open source?

What should be proprietary in open source?

Summary: What we're seeing is a key unspoken advantage of open source, a massively-parallel development architecture. Break down the work into bite-sized chunks and the center becomes a a more manageable problem as well.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Trademark badge from BrandChannelMarc Fleury answers the question.

Your good name. Trademark it. Protect your Web site registration. You can't protect your code, but if someone wants to fork it they can do it under another name. (Image from BrandChannel.)

Notice what's missing? Distribution. Control of your channel is crucial to the success of a proprietary business, yet Fleury doesn't mention it.

One reason is innovation can happen there. As at Bitnami. They've built simple stacks of popular open source applications, like WordPress and Joomla and Drupal.

This increases the reach of the supported programs, increasing the size of their communities, and builds the associated businesses.

It's a good example of what Matt Asay today calls "modularization," the development form advocated in a recent Gartner report. Break down what you do into manageable modules, then let the community add-on.

What we're seeing is a key unspoken advantage of open source, a massively-parallel development architecture. Break down the work into bite-sized chunks and the center becomes a a more manageable problem as well.

Note I said more manageable. It's still a challenge. Some, like Nicholas Carr, see a limit here. I don't.

The Linux kernel development team has been dealing with the coordination challenge for a few years now, and it's the key to open source's future. Scaling the management of volunteers and outsiders, not just insiders, lets you progress further, faster.

And it's that progress you can control, that progression lieing behind your name and brand which are the key proprietary assets in open source. That's what determines the value of what you are protecting.

Topic: Open Source

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  • But, still, should you charge for every copy that goes out the door with

    your trademark (brand)? This is the RedHat strategy. Or, should you go for maximum frictionless distribution, and only insist your brand is not put on forks, but allow uncontrolled installation of your software (of course with no support), the Ubuntu model.

    Yes, RedHat allows (even encourages) CentOS, but would it not be better if all of those computers running unsupported versions of RedHat carried the RedHat trademark? That would get the RedHat brand in front of more people.
    DonnieBoy
    • Those are choices on which companies disagree

      I think you posit some interesting hypotheses regarding RedHat. They decided not to associate their trademark with CentOS, yet they did let CentOS proceed. Do you see any SUSE clones out there?

      I mentioned the idea of "frictionless distribution" in the story, which was not in the original releases I got. That is one way to do things. There are others.

      Time, and money, will determine what works.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • Right, I like RedHat, but I think that if they had all of those CentOS

        users coming to the RedHat website to download, and everybody seeing they were using RedHat, it would benefit RedHat a lot more.

        But, then again, if everybody wants to make clones of RedHat, but NOT SUSE, that does tell you something!!!!!!!

        Red also certainly has bee VERY open and insisting on not using ANY proprietary components, thus enabling "perfect" clones.
        DonnieBoy