The Open Source Juggernaut

Open Source software is a community-based, evolutionary software development methodology that’s radically changing the world’s software landscape. Companies like Microsoft have relentlessly attempted to sow Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) in the minds of today’s technology decision makers regarding Open Source solutions, but the steady concerted effort within each Open Source community to augment their project’s security, stability and feature set is steadily winning the hearts and minds of today’s enterprise IT departments. As of March, 2009, Apache is running on 2/3 of the world’s web servers, and BIND has even a higher market share, working as the preferred DNS server for 98% of the world's hosting environments. Other Open Source projects like the Firefox web browser, Asterisk PBX, and Sugar CRM, are slowly but surely grabbing a significant market share in their respective sectors and transforming the way we do business.
Open Source solutions are:
  • Free of Licensing Fees – The costs for Open Source software are as good as it gets . . . nil, nada, nothing. You’re not charged for using, improving or re-distributing Open Source software.
  • Flexible – The main benefit of using open source software is not the cost of the software, but the wider economical margin of being able to build the right solution for any unique technical challenge. Open Source software offers its users unparalleled flexibility, so that any business requirements to customize, integrate, or support their applications are not constrained by a software license.
  • Transparent – Open Source means that what you see is what you get. You can inspect the code line by line to ensure that no disgruntled programmer has buried logic bombs, trapdoors, Trojan horses, viruses or any other nasty surprises in the code. There is no worry that the weak link in a security strategy might be some proprietary application with poor defensive measures. You can add security features to Open Source if you wish and ensure a consistent level of protection across all applications in the system.
  • Vendor Control Liberated – Often, organizations can be ‘locked-in’ to software products because the costs of switching to alternatives are prohibitively high. Proprietary software vendors can ‘lock’ users in to their products by ensuring that they’re not readily compatible with potential rivals and can then increase the price of product upgrades or support without too great a risk of losing their customer base. Not only is there absolutely no incentive for Open Source developers to inhibit compatibility, Open Source projects tend to use open standard formats so there is little danger of being ‘locked-in’ to the application if something more compelling happens to comes along.
  • Innovative – Open Source communities and projects encourage innovation. New ideas, needs and problems you think are important are probably already on the minds of others. As you work together with an Open Source community, you can better define your needs and suggest changes to the developers. Innovation is a significant key for building a competitive business, and with Open Source projects, the underlying technology can easily be improved and customized, giving you a more competitive edge.
  • Standard Based – For many Open Source developers, peer review and acclaim is important, so it's likely that they will prefer to build software that is admired by their peers. Highly prized Open Source projects are distinguished by clean design, reliability and maintainability, with an adherence to standards and shared community values. By publishing the source code, developers make it possible for users of their software to have confidence that there is a basis for their claim of coding excellence.
As a result, the Open Source model is absolutely transforming the software landscape all around the world. The Deshpande & Riehle study, "The Total Growth of Open Source", describes how the number of Open Source projects, total number of Open Source lines of code, and the way the software model is expanding into new domains & applications, are all growing at an exponential rate. Established commercial software giants like IBM, Microsoft, and Citrix are pouring millions of dollars into Open Source projects, and changing the way they do business to work under or collaborate with the open source world.

This Open Source model is a juggernaut . . . it’s a freight train coming down the side of an enormous mountain, and much to the chagrin of the commercial software establishment, little can be done about the way it is going to fundamentally change the way we all do business.

The Challenge of Deploying Open Source Technology within the Enterprise

Although Open Source software, OS platforms, and OS development tools provide an absolutely compelling case to reduce costs and effectively solve business problems, there are a number of challenges the ITC staff must understand in order to minimize any potential costs/risks of using Open Source solutions. The risks of Open Source will depend somewhat on the individual customer environment, the industry the company is operating in, the knowledge and skill of internal personnel, the licensing model chosen, the organizational and governance models the company is employing, and whether the customer intends to change the code. Open Source projects are developed in various software languages, run on different platforms and databases, and they encompass a huge variety of end user applications........................

Open Government in Higher Education


Open educational resources, open content, open access, open research, open courseware—all of these open initiatives share, and benefit from, a vision of access and a collaborative framework that often result in improved outcomes. Many of these open initiatives have gained adoption within higher education and are now serving in mission-critical roles throughout colleges and universities, with institutions recognizing reduced costs and/or increased value related to access and quality. If such a social organization of cooperation and production (i.e., openness) does indeed enhance the creation, delivery, and management of the critical products and services required by an institution of higher education to fulfill its mission, the next logical question is whether open development and governance can have a broader applicability—beyond software, resources, courses, learning objects, and content. Can understanding the principles and practices that govern open-source initiatives, and the communities of practice that manage them, provide a potential reference model for institutions of higher education? Can colleges and universities improve administrative and academic planning and decision-making processes within institutional governance through these open principles and practices?

Our Introduction to Openness
According to the Open Source Initiative (OSI): "The 'open source' label was invented at a strategy session held on February 3rd, 1998 in Palo Alto, California." The idea was inspired by the seminal work "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," first presented in 1997 by Eric Raymond, whose analysis, "centered on the idea of distributed peer review, had an immediate and strong appeal both within and (rather unexpectedly) outside the hacker culture."1 Originally, Raymond believed there was "a certain critical complexity above which a more centralized, a priori approach was required" and that the most important software "needed to be built like cathedrals, carefully crafted by individual wizards or small bands of mages working in splendid isolation."2
One of the earliest open-source technologies to enter the campus portfolio was Linux, in the 1990s. As Raymond noted: "Linus Torvalds's style of development—release early and often, delegate everything you can, be open to the point of promiscuity—came as a surprise. No quiet, reverent cathedral-building here—rather, the Linux community ..........

1. Open Source Initiative, "History of the OSI," <>.
2. Eric S. Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary(Sebastopol, Calif.: O'Reilly Media, 1999), p. 21.
3. Ibid., pp. 21–22.
4. Donna Scott and George J. Weiss, "Linux Marches toward Mainstream Adoption," Gartner Research, November 11, 2003, <>.
5. "Tech Budgets Get Some Relief; Cautious Support for Open Source Applications," 
2004 Campus Computing Survey, <>.
6. Rob Abel, "Open Source Quick Survey Results," May 3, 2005, <>.
7. Lois Brooks, "Considering Open Source: A Framework for Evaluating Software in the New Economy," EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Research Bulletin, January 2, 2007, pp. 2–3, <>.
8. Ibid., pp. 9, 6.
9. Rob Abel, "Best Practices in Open Source in Higher Education Study: The State of Open Source Software," March 1, 2006, <> < open source hed 030106.pdf>. Quotes from "Open to Open Source," Inside Higher Ed, March 1, 2006, <>.
10. Archives of the American Scientist Open Access Forum, <>; David Wiley, "Defining 'Open,'" Iterating toward Openness, November 16, 2009, <>; "Learn for Free Online," BBC News, September 22, 2002, <>; UNESCO, "Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries: Final Report" (Paris, July 1–3, 2002), <>; Susannah Fox, "Open Research Since 2000," Pew Internet & American Life Project, April 27, 2010, <>. See also Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle, "The Total Growth of Open Source," Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2008) (New York: Springer Verlag, 2008), pp. 197–209, <>.
11. "Wireless Networks Reach Half of College Classrooms; IT Security Incidents Decline This Past Year," 2006 Campus Computing Survey, <>.
12. "IT Budgets Are Down--Again!," 2009 Campus Computing Survey,<>.
13. "uPortal Steering Committee," Jasig website, <>.
14. "Leadership," Liferay website, <>.
15. Colin Currie, "What Is Openness, Anyway?," EQ, vol. 32, no. 1 (2009), <>.
16. "EDUCAUSE Values: Openness," EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 44, no. 1 (January/February 2009), <>.
17. In addition to the Internet as a platform for production, new development processes—collectively known as agile software development—have emerged in commercial environments such as Blackboard, RedHat, Sungard, and Oracle, as well as in open-source projects such as Moodle and Sakai, promising greater responsiveness to users.
18. "Category:Governance," P2P Foundation Wiki, <>.
19. Brad Wheeler, "Open Source 2010: Reflections on 2007," EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 42, no. 1 (January/February 2007), <>

Column: An open community

by Michael Nielsen on May 1, 2010

Full Article:

In January of 2009, Tim Gowers initiated an experiment in massively collaborative mathematics, the Polymath Project. The initial stage of this project was extremely successful, and led to two scientific papers: “A new proof of the density Hales-Jewett theorem” and “Density Hales-Jewett and Moser numbers”. The second of these papers will soon appear in a birthday volume in honour of Endre Szemeredi. The editor of the Szemeredi birthday volume, Jozsef Solymosi, invited me to submit an introduction to that paper, and to the Polymath Project more generally. The following is a draft of my introductory piece. I’d be very interested in hearing feedback. Note that the early parts of the article briefly discuss some mathematics, but if you’re not mathematically inclined the remainder of the article should be comprehensible. Many of the themes of the article will be discussed at much greater length in my book about open science, “Reinventing Discovery”, to be published early in 2011.

At first appearance, the paper which follows this essay appears to be a typical mathematical paper. It poses and partially answers several combinatorial questions, and follows the standard forms of mathematical discourse, with theorems, proofs, conjectures, and so on. Appearances are deceiving, however, for the paper has an………..

……. Linux is just one project in a much broader ecosystem of open source projects. Deshpande and Riehle have conservatively estimated that more than a billion lines of open source software have been written, and more than 300 million lines are being added each year. Many of these are single-person projects, often abandoned soon after being initiated. But there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of projects with many active developers.

……………… A similar process is beginning today. Will pseudonyms such as D. H. J. Polymath become a commonplace? How should young scientists report their role in such collaborations, for purposes of job and grant applications? How should new types of scientific contribution – contributions such as data or blog comments or lab notebook entries – be valued by other scientists? All these questions and many more will need answers, if we are to take full advantage of the potential of new ways of working together to generate knowledge.

Full Article:

Introduction to the Polymath Project and “Density Hales-Jewett and Moser Numbers”

by Michael Nielsen on May 1, 2010

Full Article:

In January of 2009, Tim Gowers initiated an experiment in massively collaborative mathematics, the Polymath Project. The initial stage of this project was extremely successful, and led to two scientific papers: “A new proof of the density Hales-Jewett theorem” and “Density Hales-Jewett and Moser numbers”. The second of these papers will soon appear in a birthday volume in honour of Endre Szemeredi. The editor of the Szemeredi birthday volume, Jozsef Solymosi, invited me to submit an introduction to that paper, and to the Polymath Project more generally. The following is a draft of my introductory piece. I’d be very interested in hearing feedback. Note that the early parts of the article briefly discuss some mathematics, but if you’re not mathematically inclined the remainder of the article should be comprehensible. Many of the themes of the article will be discussed at much greater length in my book about open science, “Reinventing Discovery”, to be published early in 2011.

At first appearance, the paper which follows this essay appears to be a typical mathematical paper. It poses and partially answers several combinatorial questions, and follows the standard forms of mathematical discourse, with theorems, proofs, conjectures, and so on. Appearances are deceiving, however, for the paper has an………..

……. Linux is just one project in a much broader ecosystem of open source projects. Deshpande and Riehle have conservatively estimated that more than a billion lines of open source software have been written, and more than 300 million lines are being added each year. Many of these are single-person projects, often abandoned soon after being initiated. But there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of projects with many active developers.

……………… A similar process is beginning today. Will pseudonyms such as D. H. J. Polymath become a commonplace? How should young scientists report their role in such collaborations, for purposes of job and grant applications? How should new types of scientific contribution – contributions such as data or blog comments or lab notebook entries – be valued by other scientists? All these questions and many more will need answers, if we are to take full advantage of the potential of new ways of working together to generate knowledge.

 Full Article:

Open vs closed source software: The quest for balance

Sebastian v. Engelhardt, Andreas Freytag, Stephen M Maurer, 29 October 2010

Governments are increasingly interested in promoting open source software. Yet policymakers have seldom laid out any clear theoretical or empirical justification for these policies. This column explores recent studies suggesting that open source and proprietary software strengthen each other and should co-exist – too much open source could actually be a bad thing.

Open source software (OSS) like the operating system Linux is marked by free access to shared source code that is developed in a public, collaborative manner. While most of this activity was originally non-commercial, over the past decade companies have been asking themselves whether similar OSS methods can be made to earn a profit. This has led to an explosion of OSS-based business models and investments throughout the information and communications technologies sector (Ghosh et al. 2002, Dahlander and Magnusson 2005, Lerner et al. 2006).

Governments are similarly intrigued and have begun experimenting with various pro-OSS measures including procurement preferences, tax breaks, and grants (Lerner and Tirole 2005, CSIS 2008). At first, the implicit policy assumption seemed to be that OSS was inherently more efficient than proprietary, or “closed source”, software (CSS)1. This argued for almost any policy that promised to increase the amount of OSS. More recently, however, some politicians have begun to argue that society needs a “balance” of CSS and OSS firms (CSIS 2008). But how can policymakers recognise the right “balance”? Pro-OSS interventions make very little sense if there are too many OSS firms already.

The threshold question
The threshold question, of course, is whether governments can influence OSS at all. Ten years ago, most scholars were pessimistic. This was sensible in an era when OSS was driven by non-commercial incentives like altruism, reputation, and signalling. How do you influence a “movement” dominated by college students? (Schmidt and Schnitzer 2003).

Since then, however, things have changed dramatically. Deshpande and Riehle (2008) report that the OSS sector grew from about 500 projects in 2001 to 4,500 in 2007. Furthermore, this growth was dominated by business models in which companies contribute to a shared code base in hopes of increasing consumer demand for some related product (e.g. hardware, software) or service. This for-profit outlook is clearly responsive to government’s traditional tax-and-spend policy levers.

Western governments, then, should have little difficulty influencing OSS development. Governments in the developing world will, as usual, face bigger challenges. von Engelhardt and Freytag (2010) study differences in OSS activities across 70 countries. They find that the main predictors of OSS activity are generalised cultural factors like interpersonal trust, favourable….

Integrated Marketing Services | Definition 6: THE AGE OF THE DEVELOPER

Posted by Tom Kirszenstein on Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I recently read that the White House has chosen an Open Source CMS (Content Management System) to develop their government Web site. This announcement caught my attention for several reasons--not only are many agencies moving their clients to open source and praising it's virtues, I also started using Drupal this past year and found it remarkably fast and easy to setup and maintain my own Web sites with quality results. Despite some criticism of open source over the years--more and more commercial (and government) developers are choosing it.

It's hard to argue against the benefits of free software, especially when results show that the software does what we expect, often exceeds expectations, and provides more opportunities for expansion than many proprietary products. While relative newcomers Drupal and Wordpress lead the pack for CMS offerings, open source mainstays such as Linux and Perl have been around for many years--not only surviving, but thriving over time. In a study by Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle of SAP Labs, LLC, Total Growth of Open Source results have shown that "the total amount of source code and the total number of projects double about every 14 months." Open source enables freedom for both users and developers to move & change quickly when needed, as well as providing more flexibility with software decisions such as to upgrade or not to upgrade. It's really no surprise that businesses and individuals are moving to open source at exponential rates.

Of course, Open Source has always been very much associated with Free, although there are other solid reasons to choose it beyond its cost. The pool of development resources is not limited to a specific company or provider, but instead is seemingly unlimited. As a specific open source project becomes popular, more and more developers start contributing, growing and adding to the code. Not only do they enhance the software to make it better for everyone, but they also create markets for their own support services. The better the code is--more people will use it-- and the more support is needed. Large developer communities have evolved around each software project, contributing to its growth, and administering its support. These open source communities are continually coming up with new innovations, powerful add-ons, extensions, and effective tools.

With so many open source choices available, even the……

Data is the next Intel Inside | Daniel's Web 2.0 related Blog

Data is the next Intel Inside | 11/Mar/2010
This blog entry is about the future of data and its effect on Web 2.0 applications.  In the lecture, we learned that Web 2.0 as we know it relies (in part) on open-source software and code.  Many elements of web access are already provided by open-source software – from Apache servers (that host the web content) to database management tools, like MySQL.
There can be little doubt that open-source development is on the rise.  In fact, according to Deshpande & Riehle (, it accounts for a large portion of the web server market.  To add to this, they describe the growth of open-source development tools as “exponential.”  The question is, are open-source applications providing the platform for a more “open”, free Internet?
Unfortunately, the answer is most likely no.  The reason is because open-source technologies are being absorbed by new IT giants, who have formed as a result of Web 2.0.  Like Intel in processor development, Google has a significant proportion of market share, as shown through by various measures (such as Nielsen polls).  But it could be argued that Google will only support the idea of open internet while it serves the interest of the business.  In fact, in an article about the strength of Google, Messina argues that “Google decides which ports it wants to open and for whom.” (
All of the above relates to the concept of “Data as the next Intel Inside” because, as O’Reilly argues, “…data as the Intel inside is the one that will ………….


by Morgan Currie, Christopher Kelty, Luis Felipe Rosado Murillo, University of California, Los Angeles*

By looking at the history of long-lasting and successful Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) projects, one can observe a common trajectory: they tend to start with a few core developers, then increase in code base size, complexity, and number of contributors and users, then finally find it necessary to create a formal organization to help coordinate the development efforts, maintain hosting infrastructure, secure funding, manage donations, seek partnerships, and protect its members from patent and copyright disputes. The question we discuss in this paper is “what are the characteristics of participation in those projects that do not describe this common trajectory?”
In order to respond to this question, we will compare projects with different trajectories: both those which were initially sponsored by a company and then created a community around them, and those that never constituted (or refused to constitute) a formal organization. By addressing this question, we will highlight fundamental differences and similarities between projects: what makes them grow or fail to attract and foster collaboration and public participation. In order to establish parameters for comparison, five dimensions of FOSS projects will be compared and discussed: 1) project genealogy; 2) tasks (how are they defined, described, and distributed?); 3) alliances (who are the partners? Are they from the public sector, private sector, or both?); 4) governance(is there a formal procedure for decision-making? If not, how are decisions made?) 5) availability (which licenses are used? What is the rationale behind the decision of using a particular license?). We will explore the following projects in order to respond to the questions above:, Debian, Android, and Xara Extreme Linux.
This article is based on research data from the project “Birds of the Internet”, sponsored by National Science Foundation (NSF), and hosted at the Center for Society and Genetics at UCLA. The project uses interpretative social science methods to explore and compare features of participation across a wide range of projects (not limited to Free and Open Source projects). By using comparative analysis, the project seeks to further concept development in the general domain of Internet public participation.

For more than three decades Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) has generated an intense and intricate dispersion of technical objects and practices based on global collective efforts. Recent anthropological and sociological accounts of Free Software as a political, technical, and cultural practice further investigated the ongoing dispute regarding individual property over intangible goods and the opposition created by FOSS to the advancement of the transnational intellectual property regime (Coleman 2005; Kelty 2008; Leach 2009; Weber 2005). FOSS offered viable alternatives for remote coordination, distribution, and innovation in software development, made possible by the virtue of its licensing schemes: the constant rebuilding effort over a set of public software licenses which allowed (re)distribution, free use and adaptation of software code. The resulting sociocultural phenomena are situated in between, at least, two major registers: the general reciprocity oriented towards the free circulation of software as public good, and the market economy in which computer technicians offer their computing expertise for remuneration.
From an anthropological standpoint, FOSS is curiously made up by boundary practices in a multitude of social ties and sociotechnical arrangements, bringing together persons, associations, and technical objects: it is a form of craft that is hard to analyze without problematizing the boundaries of established categories and oppositions, such as individual/society, material/immaterial, discourse/practice, private/public, gift/market, persons/objects, work/leisure, and code/expression. In this sense, Free Software is better approached as a quasi-object (Serres 2007) assuming different forms but mainly organized around intersecting recursive publics (Kelty 2008). Public administrators, for instance, may advocate for FOSS as tool for social change, given its potential to foster digital inclusion. Among computer hackers, it is often defined as a highly valued expression of oneself and his/her technical competence. For artists and free culture activists, it is construed as a set of tools to empower cultural production. In the past decade we experienced an implosion of FOSS, currently being practiced under the new rubric of “Open Access”, “Open Data”, and “Open Source Hardware”.
This article analyzes FOSS projects’ participatory structures with informally negotiated or legally formalized aspects that relate to their growth over time. As pointed out by Coleman (2005), “most FOSS projects in their infancy, including Debian, operated without formal procedures of governance and instead were guided by the technical judgments of a small group of participants” (Coleman 2005, p. 325). Formalization typically comes about to address issues of scale and management. Riehle and Deshpande (2006) demonstrated that FOSS projects increased in size exponentially between 1998 and 2006, since “the total amount of source code and the total number of projects double about every 14 months” (Riehle and Deshpande 2006, p.11). As projects scale up, more is at stake beyond the purported division between FOSS and proprietary development models (Lakhani 2007; West 2009). As FOSS projects grow, they tend to organize their activities into businesses, NGOs, and foundations to coordinate software development work and manage intellectual property rights, profit and fund-raising purposes. Spontaneous gatherings of half a dozen hackers become formal organizations over time, transforming substantially the very social fabric which constitutes software development projects.
In our analysis of Internet-based participatory projects more generally (Fish et al. 2011) we proposed two distinct entities which are generally present: first is the “Formal Social Enterprise” (FSE) – legal organizations with formal decision-making procedures that are composed of at least one contractually obligated employee. On the other end of the spectrum are the “Organized Publics” (OP), or the community of participants ………..


Economic Force: Free Flow of Information - EconoMonitor

Author: BrainTrust @RealEconomy.Org  ·  April 9th, 2009  
How Information Flow is Shaping the Economic Landscape
The Internet has radically changed the availability and cost of information. The Internet isn’t just moving advanced technology across town, or across the nation. It’s moving it from one nation to another, from areas of high concentration of technology to areas of low concentration. It is leveling the playing field.
This revolution of information access is at least as important as the other major revolutions, such as the Industrial Revolution of the late 19th century.  The graph below shows the exponential growth in access to information via the Internet:

It’s an Economic Earthquake
Free flow information isn’t simply a technological change. It represents a fundamental and massive economic force. The economy cannot remain static in the presence of such a powerful shift.  The strategies that will work in tomorrow’s economy must take this revolution into account.  They must recognize the effects and harness the power of this force in order to be successful.
What is the economic impact of free flow of information?  How does it affect today’s business climate?  How does it affect your job? What should be our national policy on information flow in the years ahead? Let’s explore these questions in detail.

The Economic Impact of Free Flowing Information
Let’s examine how the flows of information have changed in the past 15 years. Think of outsourced software development, and global supply-chain management, and online patent databases, open-source software projects, and Wikipedia. Think about AliBaba, the web-based global marketplace for manufactured items. Everyone has nearly equal access to the latest technological information, regardless of which society created that knowledge. This has produced a sudden and accelerating shift in the relative capabilities of whole nations, and has moved entire economies away from certain kinds of economic activity and toward others.  Manufacturing has moved to emerging economies.  Technical skill has followed via the outsourcing boom.  If manufacturing know-how and technical know-how has flowed around the world, can other forms of know-how be far behind?
In addition to changing the worldwide competitive-advantage landscape, the Internet has clearly transformed many areas of our society, such as media, entertainment, commerce, and the retail shopping experience.  The presence of a mechanism to quickly comparison shop prices and get the lowest one, or even to conduct online auctions has meant a huge shift toward online shopping, at the expense of local retailers and, of course, jobs.  But the elimination of retail and other service sector jobs has not been the only result of the internet explosion.  The internet has also had a fundamental impact on other forms of employment as well.

Leveling World Wage-Rates
Most studies place the percentage of workers that are classified as knowledge workers anywhere from 30-50% of the workforce in the most service-oriented economies, such as the UK and US economy.  A knowledge worker is one whose contributions depend on the development and synthesis of ideas.  While knowledge work has expanded and is expected continue expanding, knowledge workers in the developed world are facing fierce price competition from the places where the information is now more freely flowing.  This isn’t your ordinary price competition, though. A software engineer’s salary in an emerging market can be 10% of the salary in a developed country.  In other words, an engineer in India may make $7,000, while his U.S. counterpart expects to make $70,000.  In a globalized economy, who will win this price war?

Opening the Floodgates – Open versus Closed Intellectual Property (IP)
On a recent trip to an aerospace museum in Tucson, Arizona, I was standing in front of a Kaman HOK-1 Twin Rotor helicopter when I met a man with an interesting story to tell. As I studied the design of the helicopter and commented on it, the retired engineer standing next to me told me what really impressed him about Kaman.  It wasn’t their helicopters, it was their bearings.  He told me the story of his days designing landing gear for companies such as Boeing, and how no company could match the Kaman self-lubricating bearing products.  Nobody knew what was inside, and for the longest time, Kaman would not even file a patent on their technology, because that would mean they would have to disclose how they did it.  Kaman shut others out of their market for years and successfully deployed their bearings on many aircraft platforms. (  Kaman’s approach to information flow was simple – trust no one because then no one can duplicate what you do.
In today’s economic landscape, Kaman’s approach to IP protection and business building is a relic from the past.  Today’s corporate strategy is usually built around a different set of criteria.  Instead of building basic technology and creating a product line around it, today’s corporations add value to technology they buy.  They may develop a market by integrating hardware, and software and meeting an end user need.  Instead of technology differentiation, what is more important is time-to-market, head-to-head price competition, and being in the right place at the right time.   What becomes deemphasized is the traditional model of building a product line from company owned technology and owning the market because your engineering and know-how is fundamentally just better.  One clear culprit in this changing landscape is the free flow of information.
Open development. Open Source. Open Access. Open Architecture. Open Standards.  The Open movement has elicited fundamental changes in the way information is shared, especially in the technology industry. The growth of open source software projects, for instance, has been exponential in the past decade.  What is interesting is to compare the graph below to the growth of the internet.  Clearly, the more information flows, the more collaboration between people occurs.  This is very evident in the open source world.
Source: The Total Growth of Open Source Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2008). Springer Verlag, 2008. Page 197-209.
While it can be difficult to assess the impact of open source on, say, overall software employment levels in the US, it suffices to point out that, overall, open source tends to move the software talent pool away from fundamental technology development and toward a value-add support model instead.
While the software industry has been significantly impacted by the free-flow of information, the domain of computer circuit design has proven much more resistant to this free information flow.  So called IP cores (blocks of hardware logic) have been a fixture of the hardware design industry for some time, they are much harder to use in an open development process.  In the hardware arena, the notion of selling IP (in the form of IP cores, Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) and silicon chips) is much more developed.  A well known example of IP reuse illustrates this point.  Consider the the graphics engine first introduced to the world via the Sega Dreamcast.
Sega’s Dreamcast game console has been called many things, but a roaring commercial success is not among the terms commonly used.  However, the PowerVR 3D graphics engine found in the Dreamcast has had an illustrious history. Eventually taken over by silicon IP vendor Imagination Technologies, the PowerVR IP now powers most mobile 3D applications on cellular phones, including Apple’s phenomenally successful iPhone.  In this case, the same IP resulted in two very divergent commercial products,  ........

Kineo: E-Learning Market Update (June 2008)

This month we reflect on the rise of open source software and the implications for the e-learning market.

The growth of open source continues to be the dominate theme of this decade. The IDC in 2007 issued a report which argued “the market for standalone open source software (OSS) is in a significant growth stage”. The IDC forecast that adoption of OSS will accelerate through to 2011 as barriers to adoption get knocked down. Significant demand for standalone open source software (OSS) will see the market grow at a rate of 26pc a year to reach US$5.8bn by 2011, according to IDC.
We are in the early stages of the development and deployment of OSS according to Matt Lawton, program director of IDC's Open Source Software Business Models research program. "The market is still quite immature, especially now that we see active open source projects in all layers of the software stack. Although we see healthy growth in revenue from standalone open source software, we must keep in mind that revenue will substantially lag behind the distribution of open source software. Many distributions of standalone open source software are free, while paid distributions typically are based on pay-as-you-go subscriptions rather than pay-up-front license fees."
IDC's study revealed that the drivers for OSS adoption, and in particular commercial adoption of OSS, include the growing realisation that OSS “provides them with more choice and leverage with proprietary software vendors.”
IDC said that worldwide revenue from standalone open source software reached US$1.8bn in 2006.
The benefits to organizations are real and tangible.
“Organizations are saving millions of dollars on IT by using open source software. In 2004, open source software saved large companies(with annual revenue of over $1 billion) an average of $3.3 million. Medium-sized companies (between $50 million and $1 billion in annual revenue) saved an average $1.1 million. Firms with revenues under $50 million saved an average $520,000.”
Walli, S., Gynn, D., Rotz, B. V. The Growth of Open Source Software in Organizations: A Report.
A 2008 survey on the future of open source software found that:
  • Approximately 81 percent of respondents feel the economy’s turbulence is “good” for open source software
  • Respondents revealed that the top three factors that make open source software attractive include: lower acquisition and maintenance costs; flexibility/access to libraries of community-developed code; and freedom from vendor lock-in
  • More than 55 percent of respondents believe that in five years 25-50 percent of purchased software will be open source vs. proprietary
  • The Web Publishing/Content Management market is expected to be most vulnerable to disruption by open source in the next five years
  • Respondents expect the Security Tools be least vulnerable to disruption by open source in the next five years
The key findings of the survey are outlined in the slides below.
Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle at SAP Research, have undertaken a recent study of the growth of open source and conclude that the growth of open source software code is growing exponentially.
The adoption of open source software is becoming mainstream. For example BT recently decided to provide the open source Sugar CRM system to its customers rather than the commercial Siebel product.

What are the implications for e-learning?
The big development in the e-learning market has been open source learning management environments.
A recent Gartner survey of higher education entitled "Higher Education E-Learning Survey 2007: Clear Movements in the Market" found "clear movement in the market" toward more open-source platforms in 2007. 26 percent of platforms on surveyed campuses were on open source e-learning system such as Moodle or Sakai. Gartner projects that number will grow to 35 percent by the end of 2008.
In the corporate sector last year’s E-learning Guild report found that over 25% of small and medium sized businesses were using Moodle, the open source LMS. At Kineo we are strong supporters of open source software and if you are not familiar with Moodle you can try our free Moodle LMS demo.
There have been less significant developments in the authoring and development areas although there are open source authoring tools such as eXe and many free development tools such as Audacity for audio recording and editing which we review this month.
There are also a range of very useful open source and free testing tools, you can find out more at Mark Aberdour’s excellent
The real implications of open source software though are still be felt. Open source software is a disruptive force. The free nature of such software means that new tools can be distributed and adopted widely in a very short period of time. The e-learning market could be affected by developments of open source software from the education sector which transfer over to the commercial sector, as is happening with Moodle. We believe we will see further open source developments from assessment software to authoring tools to learning environments which will change the shape of e-learning over the coming years.

The Bucket: Open Source Growing At an Exponential Rate

Posted on24 May 2012.

sipmeister writes “Two computer scientists who work for enterprise software giant SAP have shown that open source is growing at an exponential rate. Not only is the code base growing exponentially, but also the number of viable projects. Researchers Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle analyzed the database of open source startup and looked at the last 16 years of growth in open source. They consistently got the best fit for the data using an exponential model. Relating this to open source market revenue, Desphande and Riehle conclude that open source is eating into closed source at a non-trivial pace.”

Socialized Software: The Curse of Open Source License Proliferation

Posted on May 8, 2008 by Mark

I remember when the big open source debate was whether a piece of software was really open source, meaning it was released under an Open Source License ProliferationOSI-approved license. The tides are shifting, debates now center around which open source license to use. Adding to the complexity of the debate is proliferation of OSI-approved licenses. Now discussions are rising over the open source licenses that are in the best interest of all stakeholders of an open source project. In the case of collective software works there is also the added intricacies of license compatibility.
Part of the problem is that companies are trying to drive their own vanity licenses that reinforce their branding and leverage the goodwill associated with the open source seal of approval. SugarCRM once mounted an offensive asking for acceptance of their Sugar Public License (a derivative of the OSI-Approved Mozilla Public License) that for a brief time was gaining popularity among commercial open source developers. The license was rejected and Sugar has since moved to the GPLv3. Ironically the Common Public Attribution License (CPAL) submitted by Social Text, which bears many similarities to the Sugar Public License, was accepted by the OSI. Even Microsoft has successfully lobbied the OSI-board for approval of two licenses. The Microsoft Public License (M-PL) and the Microsoft Reciprocal License (Ms-RL) which are very similar to the BSD and GPL licenses.
The number of open source projects has grown considerably over the last ten years, actually exponentially according to a paper delivered by Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle in March of this year. According to Black Duck Software knowledgebase the most common open source license used by open source projects is the GPL version 2.0. According to that same source 94% of open ….

The open source renaissance

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By Brian Gentile, Jaspersoft CEO

It occurred to me recently that the open source movement is really nothing less than a renaissance.  Perhaps that sounds grandiose, but stay with me.

Take, for example, U.S. patent and copyright protection laws and policies.  They reinforce proprietary, “closed source” rights and policies.  As a result of this system, many substantial U.S. companies have formed around breakthrough ideas, but incentives are in place for those companies to guard and protect their intellectual property, even if others outside the company could extend or advance it more rapidly.
Now, to be clear, patent and copyright protection is necessary because it properly encourages the origination of ideas through the notion of ownership.  But, too few people consider the upside of allowing others to share in the use of their patents and copyrights, because they think such distribution will dilute their value — when, in fact, sharing can substantially enhance the value.  Fundamentally, "open source" is about the sharing of ideas big and small and the modern renaissance represents newfound understanding that sharing creates new value.
In many areas of science, the sharing of ideas (even patents and copyrights) has long been commonplace.  The world's best and brightest physicists, astronomers, geologists, and medical researchers share their discoveries every day.  Without that sharing, the advancement of their ideas would be limited to just what they themselves could conjure.  By sharing their ideas through published papers, symposiums, and so on, they open up many possibilities for improvements and applications that the originator would have never considered.  Of course, the internet has provided an incredible communication platform for all those who wish to collaborate freely and avidly and is, arguably, the foundation for this renaissance.
That’s why it’s ironic that one of the laggard scientific disciplines to embrace open source is computer science.  For the past 40 years, for example, incentives have been strong for a company to originate an idea for great software, immediately file a patent and/or register to copyright it, and then guard it religiously.  No one would have thought that exposing the inner-workings of a complex and valuable software system so that others might both understand and extend it would be beneficial.  Today, however, there are countless examples where openness pays off in many ways.  So, why has computer science and software lagged in the open source renaissance?
That computer science is an open source laggard is ironic because the barriers to entry in the software industry are relatively low, compared to other sciences.  One might think that low entry barriers would reduce the risk to and promote the sharing of ideas. But, instead, software developers (and companies) have spent most of the last 40 years erecting other barriers, based on intellectual capital and copyright ownership — which is perplexing because it so limits the advancement of the software product.  But, such behavior does fit within the historical understanding of business building (i.e., protecting land, labor and capital).
Another relative laggard area — and an interesting comparison — is pharmaceuticals and drug discovery.  When I talk with colleagues about this barrier-irony phenomenon, this is the most common other science cited (i.e., another science discipline that has preferred not to share).  But, in drug discovery the incentives not to share are substantial because the need to recover the enormous research costs through the ownership of blockbuster drugs is extremely high.  In fact, because the barriers to enter the pharmaceuticals industry are quite high, one might think that would promote openness and the sharing of ideas, given that few others would genuinely be able to exploit them.  But, once again, the drive to create a business using historically consistent methods has limited the pharmaceuticals industry to closed practices.
So, returning to computer science and software, maybe the reasons for not sharing are based on the complexity of collaboration? That is, it’s hard to figure out someone else’s software code, unless it’s been written with sharing fundamentally in mind.  Or maybe there’s a sense that software is art, and I want to protect my creative work — more like poetry than DNA mapping.
Either way, the renaissance is coming for the software industry. Software will advance and solve new problems more quickly through openness and sharing.  In this sense, computer science has much to learn from the other areas of science where open collaboration has been so successful for so long.
Fortunately, the world of software is agile and adept. According to research by Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle at SAP Research Labs, during the past five years the number of open source software projects and the number of lines of open source software code have increased exponentially.  The principles that this new breed of open source software have forged are already leaving an indelible mark on the industry.  Soon, its proponents believe, all software companies will embrace these fundamental open source principles:  collaboration, transparency and participation.  The course of this renaissance will be our guide.

I would be interested in your feedback on these ideas because the open source renaissance is well underway and I plan to be a model historian.

Open Source Explosion | Reality Sandwich

A new study by Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle at SAP Labs shows that the growth of open source software is exploding at an exponential rate.  In their research, they analyzed the total amount of source code and the total number of open source projects.  The results illustrate that software development is rapidly changing from a closed propietary model, to a more open, community driven model at an astounding rate.

Doug Levin's CEO Blog: Total Growth of Open Source Software

Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle, OSS researchers at SAP-Labs in Palo Alto, CA, have quantitatively analyzed the growth of more than 5,000 active and popular open source software projects and shows that the total project size (measured in source lines of code), the number of new open source projects, and the total number of open source projects are growing at an exponential rate. Previous research showed linear and quadratic growth in lines of source code of individual open source projects. This work shows that OSS is expanding at an exponential rate into new application areas.

American Bar Association: The Impact of Recent Case Law on Copyleft Agreements

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By R. Scott Rhoades and Jon Rastegar – September 20, 2011

Open-source software is one of the fastest-growing areas in the software industry. In the past decade, both the number of open-source projects and the total lines of open-source code have grown exponentially. Amit Deshpande & Dirk Riehle, “The Total Growth of Open Source,” In Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2008). In addition, the number of corporations employing open-source software has grown dramatically. A recent survey found that 85 percent of companies employ open-source software in their business. David Meyer, Gartner: 85 Percent of Companies Using Open Source, cnet. This rapid growth led the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to note that “open-source licensing has become a widely used method of creative collaboration that serves to advance the arts and sciences in a manner and at a pace that few could have imagined just a few decades ago.” Jacobsen v. Katzer, 535 F.3d 1373, 1378 (Fed. Cir. 2008). This ......

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Why Open Source is Growing at an Amazing Pace: Because it Can

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by Joe Brockmeier - Mar. 18, 2008Comments (0)

Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle of SAP Research have put together an impressive study of the total growth of open source.
What Deshpande and Riehle have found is that "the total amount of source code as well as the total number of open source projects is growing at an exponential rate." That means that the lines of code (LoC) contained in open source projects is growing, as well as the number of projects themselves.
Some might debate whether the total LoC growing "at an exponential rate" is a good thing -- but I'm going to assume that most of that here is desirable additional functionality and not mere code bloat... particularly since open source developers are often motivated to profile and examineapplications to see if they are bloating, and what can be done if so.
Again -- this doesn't come as a surprise, but it's nice to see data confirming that application growth and development in the open source community are rolling along at an explosive pace. I've seen this myself recently with Tasque (pronounced "Task") -- a Mono-based, simple and elegant task manager that was put together by Boyd Timothy and Calvin Gaisford in about a week as part of Novell's Hack Week II. In just a few weeks, Tasque went from drawing board to released code, to inclusion in several Linux distributions.
Here's why Tasque, and so many other open source projects, are springing into being and developing dedicated communities: Because the open source model allows agile development by disperse groups of people that can build on the already massive foundation of open source libraries and applications.
To use Tasque as an example once again -- Timothy and Gaisford didn't need to start from scratch. They had Mono and GNOME libraries to build on, and could draw examples from a similar application (Tomboy). As an added bonus, the developers didn't need to get approval to work on the project, sell the idea to a committee or go through any bureaucracy to develop Tasque.

Also, because Tasque is open source, other developers are free to take it and modify it in ways that the original developers might not have foreseen or simply might not have time for. Take this discussion about adding a Ctrl-N function to add a new task. No wonder open source is growing so rapidly, with so few barriers to entry aside from the ability to write code in the first place.

ZDNet: The Moore's Law of open source

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Before joining ZDNet I wrote a lot about Moore's Law, the idea that things get faster-and-faster faster-and-faster.
I found exponential Moore's Law effects everywhere. Not just in chips, but in magnetic storage, in optical storage, in optical transport, even in radios.
The only place where I didn't find it was in software. But now the folks at SAP Research have.
Specifically, Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle (above) find it in open source, in that the amount of open source code available continues to grow at an exponential rate.
Previous research showed linear and quadratic growth in lines of source code of individual open source projects. Our work shows that open source is expanding into new domains and applications at an exponential rate.
This doesn't mean software is getting much easier to write. My personal feeling is this means less of it is being wasted.
In proprietary systems code is often tossed out in great handfuls when someone finds a better way to go. In open source this code is available for re-use, and thus it is re-used.
In proprietary systems the amount of resources available for QA and design are limited by the balance sheet. In open source they're not.
In proprietary systems only trusted insiders are allowed to beta test code before it goes out the door. In the open source world anyone can be a beta tester -- some of the most popular items here involve newly-released beta code.
I will have more to say about this later, as we continue our discussion of open source values. For now we have proof of why open source continues to eat the proprietary world's lunch, and will continue to do so.

Shalin Says - The Total Growth of Open Source

Amit Desh­pande and Dirk Riehle from SAP Labs have conducted and published a research on the growth of open source software.
The data has been culled from and is based on the stats and activity of around 5000 open source projects written in 30 different languages and 103 open source licenses.
Some interesting quotes from the publication:
Suc­cess­ful open source projects like Linux, Apache, Post­greSQL and many oth­ers are grow­ing super-linearly. Pre­vi­ous research showed that lin­ear and qua­dratic growth is the dom­i­nant growth pat­tern of open source soft­ware projects
Our work shows that the addi­tions to open source projects, the total project size (mea­sured in source lines of code), the num­ber of new open source projects, and the total num­ber of open source projects are grow­ing at an expo­nen­tial rate. The total amount of source code and the total num­ber of projects dou­ble about every 14 months.
Open Source has taken off handsomely and continues to thrive. It is not just about philosophy any more, it is good business sense.
In case you are interested about Solr stats, see the Solr project page at Ohloh.