Open source is a development model

"As a development model the GPL and other licenses offer the possibility of more rapidly creating network effects around software. Linux has extraordinary network effects. Open source can create a community of developers and users who in turn create features that make software more sustainable.

The other day I quoted Bill Soward of Adaptive Planning as saying that open source is a sales model. Today Billy Marshall of rPath called to object strongly, calling it a development model.

Marshall lays out the argument on his own blog and elaborated in our talk today.

"As a development model the GPL and other licenses offer the possibility of more rapidly creating network effects around software. Linux has extraordinary network effects. Open source can create a community of developers and users who in turn create features that make software more sustainable.

"Customers most value a sustainable future. That can come from a great company or a great community. That's a development issue, not a sales issue."

At RedHat, where Marshall ran sales teams (he still lives in Raleigh), "People paid us because we were investing in engineering to meet their needs for the future." Great software does not need support, he concluded.

So, is he right? Is open source a sales model? A development model? A business model? A breath mint?

"It's not a breath mint," said Marshall.

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