Perens: A big problem facing many companies today is that they entirely depend on open source for their operations, and they haven't even begun to deal with that from a corporate policy perspective. I've met CEOs who haven't known they use open source at all, and then they have found out that all of their most critical projects depend on it.
When I wrote the rules for approving open source licenses, I didn't think that we'd get such a gold rush of companies that there would be 70 such licenses today. Dealing with the combinations of those 70 is too complicated. I direct my customers to three licenses that are compatible with each other and that provide for most of the business purposes of releasing open source. That's all you need.
I think our next steps might not be in software. Today, Wikipedia is one of the world's largest content providers, and it's open content. What else can we do like that?
Vice president of open source and standards
Sutor: I don't think there is a lot of common and good guidance out there for how a small open source project can deal with suddenly becoming very popular.
Similarly, it seems to take a long time for some open source projects to yield successful businesses based on them. I think we'll know open source has really arrived when every reputable business school spends a significant amount of time educating its students about the business models around open source. The new challenges and pressures will arise because of business issues, and not technology, in my opinion. We have many, many excellent developers in the open source communities. We need to have many, many more excellent "big picture" leaders emerging from and for those communities.
Senior director of platform technology
Ramji: There are at least two dimensions to this. One is simply growth of features and the resulting increase in the code base. If you look at the trajectory of the Linux kernel, as the amount of code increases, so does the complexity. With the added complexity come more defects. This isn’t anything new, nor is it a knock against open source software. All software evolves over time in this way. And it’s not a question of which model has more or fewer bugs. We have to make critical and strategic decisions about how to evolve the best models to maintain quality software.
A second dimension is that there’s a challenge to the community nature of some projects that have been developed in the commons. When these are commercialized, there is typically an uneven return of wealth from the commercializer to the original developers. This is currently causing some strains between the developers and the business people, but I think ultimately the industry will figure out some standards for fairness and generally follow them.