Dear Dan Lyons: Open Source was Never ‘Counter Culture’

Day 10,274 of misunderstood musings on Open Source. Dan Lyons talks about Open Source being in “an identity crisis” likening it to some punk band from the 70’s that’s now playing stadiums and losing touch with its original ethos. This is wrong on many, many levels.

First off, Open Source was never counter culture. This has been a difficult lesson for many to learn, due to the casual conflation of Open Source with Free Software and the FSF. One could argue that there is a significant set of Open Source developers and users who believe very strongly in things like information rights, code reciprocity, and the like (I count myself in this group). But the real impetus behind the Open Source ecosystem has been decades-old economic trends which I outlined in this article.

However, I do have to give Dan Lyons credit for this bit when discussing Sun’s acquisition of MySQL:

“It’s a great publicity stunt, but how will giving away products Sun already owns, and spending $1 billion to acquire another free product, save Sun? Pixie dust would have to be at work here. It reminds me of a sketch from South Park where gnomes steal underpants as part of a three-phase business plan…”

For whatever reason, Sun has spent a great deal of time commoditizing both hardware and software. One wonders if they’re actually trying to back themselves into the services corner, because they seem to be headed in that direction.

So score one for the Fake Steve.

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