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Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source, The

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Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source, The


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  • Copyright 2003
  • Dimensions: 6" x 9"
  • Pages: 272
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-047677-3
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-047677-7

The manager's guide to using Linux and open source for competitive advantage.

Using Linux and open source technologies, thousands of enterprises are cutting costs, gaining flexibility, and discovering powerful new sources of business value. Now, there's an objective, realistic manager's guide to using Linux and open source technology for competitive advantage. Martin Fink helps you get past both the hypesters and the naysayers, so you can accurately assess the benefits, costs, and risks of open source in your organization. Writing strictly from the manager's viewpoint, Fink covers every step of the Linux and open source project lifecycle, and every crucial issue, from licensing to collaborating with the open source community of developers. Coverage includes:

  • Assessing the costs, benefits, and risks of pursuing Linux and open source initiatives
  • Open source licensing: avoiding the minefields
  • Managing Linux and open source projects within your company
  • Assessing the size, breadth, and capabilities of the open source community
  • Building strong, positive, synergistic relationships with external open source communities
  • The crucial role of Linux standards
  • Integration, development, deployment, migration, coexistence, support, and training
  • Understanding the difference between the Linux kernel and the Linux operating system
  • Understanding and choosing Linux distributions
  • How the open source paradigm impacts commercial software developers
  • Open source business models: what it takes to make a profit from open source technology
  • Applying the open source development methodology in a corporate setting
"A thought-provoking analysis of the role of open source software in the corporate environment. A must-read guide for managers considering how open source can help their organization."

—Tim O'Reilly, O'Reilly and Associates, Inc.

Sample Content

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The Business of Linux and Open Source

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Click here for a sample chapter for this book: 0130476773.pdf

Table of Contents

Disclaimer and Notices.




1. The Business of Linux and Open Source.

Linux Adoption. Crash Course in Linux and Open Source Lingo. Linux Workloads. Business Benefits. Inhibitors to Linux Growth. Who's Who in Open Source? Summary.

2. Linux—Heart of the Operating System.

The Operating System. The Linux Kernel. Kernel Fragmentation (or Forking). Linux Kernel Development and Version Control. Multi-Platform Support. Linux on the Desktop. Vertical and Horizontal Scalability. Embedded Linux. Summary.

3. Open Source—Navigating the Legal Path to Freedom.

The Freedom to Be Open Source. The Open Source Definition. Intellectual Property and Reciprocity. Dual-Licensing and Copyright Ownership. Licenses—Open Source and Non-Open Source. Export and Cryptography. Open Source Development Methodology. Summary.

4. Communities and Organizations.

Linux. Web Services and Application Servers. Languages. Desktops and Office Productivity. Databases. Personal Digital Assistants. Clusters. Organizations. Summary.


5. Distributions—Completing Linux.

Linux Distribution. Packages. Distribution Vendors. Non-Linux Operating System Distributions. Creating Your Own Distribution. Supporting Multiple Distributions. Standards. Summary.

6. The Cost of Linux and Open Source.

The Costs. Adapting to an Imperfect Solution. Procuring Linux and Open Source Software. Modifying Open Source Software. Summary.

7. Standards—One Linux.

Why Standards? Free Standards Group. Linux Standards Base. Linux Internationalization. Testing and Conformance. Specialized Linux Distributions. Summary.

8. Operations—Using Linux and Open Source.

Deployment. Migration and Coexistence. Licensing and Purchasing. Support. Training. Summary.


9. The Corporate Bazaar.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar. Structure Follows Strategy. Structural Bazaar. Other Structural Elements. Gated Communities. Risks and Issues. Summary.

10. Value as a Function of Time.

Pharmaceutical Industry. Open Source Effect on Software. Devaluation as a Competitive Advantage. Value Stuck in Time. Summary.

11. Business Models—Making Money.

Know Your Value. Commercial Software and Linux. Support and Services Tied to Open Source. Aggregating and Enhancing. Commercializing with a Dual-License. Hardware. End-of-Life Model. Building an Ecosystem. Summary.

12. Integrating Open Source Into Your Business.

Outbound Open Source. Inbound Open Source. IT Development. Indemnification. Summary.

13. Human Resources—Getting Top Talent.

Employment Contracts. Participation Policies. Hiring the Right Person. Structuring the Teams. Hiring Visible Leaders. Summary.

Appendix A. References and Resources.
Appendix B. Sample Copyright Assignment.
Appendix C. The GNU General Public License Reference.



The expression "necessity is the mother of all invention" is so true. I would not have taken on this project if there was another text out there that I could have referenced. Just like every other topic these days, there is an abundance of information on the Internet if you want to do some research. I found no manuscript that consolidates, for a business audience, topics related to Linux and open source in one place. I also believe that some of the paradigm shifts initiated by the open source movement have not been documented for corporate managers, until now.

The Linux and open source movement has instigated "religious wars" between different camps, each presenting extreme but often unrealistic positions. This book is not about any war and does not take on a cause; it is about simple business. This text acknowledges that the Linux and open source phenomenon is real and is rapidly becoming omnipresent within the high-technology industry. However, simple acknowledgment is not enough to deal with the fundamental new business issues created by Linux and open source.

Who This Book Is For

This book is directed primarily at business managers. Some of you will be information technology (IT) managers in any given industry and may be trying to understand what value Linux and open source can deliver to your business. In other words, what is different that would cause you to want to change? Others will be managers developing software for internal use, or for commercial resale. In these cases, you will likely be looking at the open source movement as a way to leverage a huge population of developers, but may struggle to understand the best way to integrate with this community and still return a profit for your investors. This book is from one manager to another and there are two levels of management that can benefit. If you are part of executive management, then this book will give you a guide to help drive your teams to find the right answers and help you ask the right questions when your teams make new proposals related to Linux and open source. If you are in the middle management ranks, this book should help you make sure that your plans and proposals to senior management are complete and address the new business paradigms of Linux and open source.

This book is not for developers. It does not navigate through any code modules for any software in Linux or any other open source project. There may be cases where uninitiated developers may be looking for a big-picture view of the Linux and open source communities. In these cases, this book will add value, at least in parts.

For the past few years, I have been working every day in this wonderful new way of doing business. It is always a challenge to take on a job where concepts are different and some of the fundamental rules change. It is natural for most people to reject these changes and do everything possible to maintain the status quo. I continue to deal with this resistance every day. While the business concepts associated with Linux and open source are still very new, corporate managers are rapidly discovering that they can no longer ignore what is happening. The wonderful thing about a market economy is that it requires new business concepts such as Linux and open source to prove themselves, and once proven, those who ignore them, invariably lose. Competitors who take notice and aggressively take advantage of new opportunities begin to take business from those who reject change. However, those who move too quickly to every fad that comes around waste resources and eventually either disappear or realign to an accepted business reality. There are those who believe that Linux and open source are still a passing fad, and some who even hope it will go away soon. The Linux operating system is now more than 10 years old. The open source movement, which started with the free software movement, is approaching 20 years of existence. It should be apparent that it is not going away, and that your business needs to deal with new realities.

How This Book Is Organized

Part 1 of the book is an initiation into the world of Linux and open source. Chapter 1 starts by examining the fundamental business reasons why this new movement is good for business and how it delivers value. It also establishes a core understanding of terminology and significant players so that you can follow the rest of the book. Chapter 2 digs deep into the Linux kernel. While the kernel may seem a deeply technical topic for business, in this new world, it is a core requirement to understand how the components fit together. The next chapter outlines the Open Source Definition. Since open source is at the core of what makes Linux work, understanding open source licenses is also a required component of basic training. Part 1 ends with a broad look at a number of communities and organizations you will need to be familiar with as you integrate your company with this movement.

Part 2 looks at the operational side of Linux. It starts with a look at Linux distributions to help you internalize how the Linux kernel integrates with all the pieces that constitute an operating system. Next, you will be taken through a detailed analysis of measuring IT costs with an open source mindset. We will also look at how key standards affect the cost picture and which ones will be important to the future success of Linux. Finally, we will take a look at operations from deployment, migration, and coexistence, to support and training.

The last part of this book explores in great detail the open source effect on the corporations and businesses developing commercial software. This is where the fundamental new business paradigms are examined. We will start by looking at how the open source community is structured, some of its cultural elements, and how it compares to a corporate structure. We will also examine the open source effect on the value delivered over time. This will prepare you for the following discussion, which is a detailed examination of open source business models and how to make money. The last two chapters examine in great detail the process of integrating open source within your company and the people management effects of working with this new community of developers.

Many of the concepts presented, especially in Part 3, will be very new to a business audience. Hopefully the information will give you enough guidance to manage open source projects within your company and help you build synergistic relationships with the great communities of developers out there.

As you being to understand how open source works and what it really is, I encourage you to look at this book as an open source project. I am but the maintainer, and I hope that any of you will become contributors. I present to you an imperfect project and hope you will share your genius, much as those who contributed to the review process, to evolve it into a great one.

—Martin Fink
Summer 2002


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