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Book: The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary

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Book publishers O’Reilly and Associates make money by “accessorizing” open source via sales of books about popular open source tools and languages. SourceXchange.com and CoSource.com apply a reverse-auction model to funding open source development.

Independent software vendors like Computer Associates have announced that they will support Linux over much of their product lines.

“Individual software technologies seem to go through natural lifecycle from rationally closed to rationally open,” Raymond observes.

Open Source may not work very well, however, in standalone vertical market applications where network effects are weak (eg. lumbermill management software).

Some companies may fear that giving away source code may reveal core competitive secrets – but in many infotech areas, product time cycles are so short that imitators will actually lose out to faster and better innovators.

“Acceleration to Internet time makes this effect bite harder. If you’re really ahead of the game, plagiarism is a trap you want your competitors to fall into,” Raymond jokes.

To ensure its thriving successes, the open source movement will have to understand its own functioning much better, nurture more catalytic insights and innovators, explore mixed business models, articulate and market itself more proactively, evangelize at CEO/CIO/CTO levels, leverage the performance of Linux, court the Fortune 500 clientele, improve its profile in the trade and investment press, engage in innovative guerilla marketing (as in the “No Microsoft Tax” campaign in the San Francisco Bay Area), and use open source licensing and certification aggressively.

Looking down the road, Raymond predicts that open source development effort will increasingly shift towards the last virgin territory: programs for non-techies, with better interface design (not traditionally addressed by hackers). It will also dominate the ISP and business data center markets.

“May the Source be with you,” seems to be a fitting conclusion to this excellent manifesto.