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The top 10 leaders driving open-source tech

These are the people who have been driving the open-source technology powering today's business world.

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Topic: Innovation
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1 of 11 Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Linus Torvalds and some of his buddies.

It wasn't that long ago that Linux and open-source were thought of as toy software. Today, they dominate both business and technology.

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2 of 11 Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

OpenStack's Jonathan Bryce

OpenStack has become the biggest and most important of all the open-source cloud programs. In no small part, that's because Bryce has managed to keep OpenStack's dozens of companies all focused on the task of making the best possible cloud.

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3 of 11 Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Docker's Solomon Hykes

Containers are really an old technology. But, thanks to Solomon Hykes and Docker, containers are on their way to dominating the cloud and datacenters. Don't believe me? Just ask Microsoft, Red Hat, SuSE, VMware, etc., who are all building their future on this open-source container.

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4 of 11 Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Apache Foundation's Jim Jagielski

You may think of Apache as just being a great open-source web server. It is that, but as Jagielski, one of the founders of the Apache Software Foundation knows, Apache is far, far more. It's the umbrella organization for dozens of vital open-source programs such as Cassandra, Hadoop, and OpenOffice. Under his guidance, Apache became, and remains, the most important open-source programming organization around.

 

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5 of 11 Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Legal expert Eben Moglen

Open source, free software, and Linux have faced difficult legal challenges over the years. Moglen has helping it to overcome these obstacles. As co-author of the seminal GPLv3, a Columbia University law professor and Software Freedom Law Center founder, Moglen has made sure that open-source software stayed on the right side of the law.

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6 of 11 Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Linux developer Sarah Sharp

Some tech geeks are real jerks about how only men can be hackers. They're wrong. Sarah Sharp, Linux kernel and Yocto hacker at Intel, feminist, and winner of Red Hat's first Women in Open Source Community Award, has shown that's she both a top-notch developer and great at bringing other women into open-source programming.

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7 of 11 Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Microsoft's Jean Paoli

Remember how I said Microsoft loves Linux? Paoli's the man responsible, as president of MS Open Tech, for making sure that Microsoft stays open. Believe it or not, he's been doing a good job of it. Indeed, he's done so well at it that Microsoft has absorbed MS Open Tech back into the main company, where Paoli continues to champion open source and standards.

 

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8 of 11 Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Linux's Linus Torvalds

He created Linux, what more needs to be said? Don't think you use it? You're wrong. Every Google search, every Facebook post, every Android phone call, is made from Linux. Even Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says he loves Linux. Yes, Microsoft is an open-source company today.

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9 of 11 Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth

He's been an astronaut, founded one multi-million dollar company, and then Shuttleworth turned his attention to Linux. Starting with Debian Linux, he created Ubuntu Linux. Even though it's best known as a desktop Linux distribution, the real news is that Ubuntu has become the top cloud Linux.

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10 of 11 Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

MySQL/MariaDB's Michael "Monty" Widenius

Oracle is the most popular database management system (DBMS), but it's followed closely by the open-source MySQL. This ranking is a little misleading. You see Widenius, MySQL's creator, forked the project after he sold it to Oracle to create another popular open-source DBMS: MariaDB. Between those two, and the other big-time open-source DBMS, PostgreSQL, open-source DBMS battle it out constantly for the top database spot.

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11 of 11 Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Linux Foundation's executive director, Jim Zemlin

No he's not a programmer. He's the executive director of the Linux Foundation. That's neat, but what's really important is that under his leadership, Zemlin has shown the way for companies to work together in open-source communties in a wide variety of fields. These include software-defined networking (SDN), Open Daylight; the Internet of Things, Allseen Alliance; platform-as-a-service (PaaS) clouds, Cloud Foundry, and almost a dozen others.

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