'

Are vendors vital to open source?

We are accustomed to profit being our only motivation. We know that it's not, but our market economy can't calculate value in any other way. Open source embraces these other motivations.

The Dude Abides t-shirt from Amazon.com
Without Microsoft there is no Windows. Without Apple there is no Mac.

Without Red Hat there is still Linux. The code still lives and the Linux Foundation says it is worth $10.8 billion.

All of which leads to a profound and interesting question, namely are vendors vital to open source?

I know they believe they are. Folks like Matt Asay and Dave Rosenberg probably can't conceive of a vital open source movement absent its vendors. Yet the most vital open source projects are run by non-profits -- Linux, Firefox, Eclipse.

The confidence we have that Linux will prosper in the coming recession is based on this independence from vendor control. Vendors may come and go. The code, like the dude, abides. Maybe we need a new t-shirt.

We are accustomed to profit being our only motivation. We know that it's not, but our market economy can't calculate value in any other way.

Open source embraces these other motivations. The motivation to create, the motivation to share, these are important in open source. In Linux alone they're worth $10.8 billion.

My point is that while open source exists in the market, it also exists outside it, and above it, and around it. There is no reason to feel shame in this. I think it's kinda cool.