More from the little red hen

Open source, like most things, works on the 90-10 rule. That is 90% (or more) of the work is done by 10% (or less) of the people. In the case of software, these few are creating enormous economic value, and they can become an unhappy few.

Little Red HenBack in May I wrote about the Little Red Hen Business Model. Recent developments should cause us to revisit it.

Open source, like most things, works on the 90-10 rule. That is 90% (or more) of the work is done by 10% (or less) of the people. In the case of software, these few are creating enormous economic value, and they can become an unhappy few.

That's what I think happened with Renaud Deraison last week. That's how Oracle acquired Innobase, which makes the engine behind mySQL.

The fear here is that Oracle may do what Deraison did, build a new version of its InnoDB under a different license, one that is more restrictive (on re-use) than the GPL, and less restrictive (to the user seeking a profit). How might that impact mySQL and the hundreds of other projects (like Drupal, the commmunity networking service) that use it?

Rather than worry about that, we should worry about any project where all the work is done by one person, or a small group. These people have enormous power, power they have (until recently) been reluctant to wield.

But even the Little Red Hen has baby chicks to feed. We're going to find a lot more of these unpleasant surprises in our news inboxes over the coming weeks and months. The only way around them is for those who gain enormous benefits from open source code to give something back in terms of development effort. You dog, you cat, and you pig -- get stuck in -- because the Little Red Hen is no dummy, and she's tired of being taken advantage of.