Shuttleworth: The power distribution in the FLOSS ecosystem

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Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth in his blog can be made about the power structure in the open source area. Because in his view, a certain strength is necessary to develop successful products, he raises the question of what can be done to have more powerful organizations.

The blog post from Mark Shuttleworth is extremely extensive. In the real world, he writes, many organizations compete for power. Without intervention there is a tendency for concentration of power to monopolies – is this is the reason why it as a competition authority. Therefore, many are anxious to play off the various organizations against each other so that an equilibrium. For example, if an organization of influential, can reduce their power by strengthening another.

Absolute power is bad, according to Shuttleworth, then there is no grounds for more innovation. A certain power of wealth, however, is required to achieve innovation. One must, so to speak can afford to drive innovation. Too much competition can therefore be harmful to innovation. One example was the Windows PC market. The manufacturers use essentially all the same hardware, which offered little profit margins, and could not because of Windows compatibility escape on another. Consequently, there was no significant innovation.

In open source (FLOSS) ecosystem, the power distributed on distributions and software projects (upstream). Looking at the sales here, the distributions are clearly in a better position than the projects. Especially Red Hat makes an estimated 80% of sales with paid Linux distributions, making it necessary, according to Shuttleworth working on it that Red Hat is not too overpowering.

Interestingly, however, Shuttleworth is the relationship with upstream projects. Ubuntu is not aimed exclusively for IT professionals like those in most other distributions, but especially to the end user. This means that Ubuntu puts much more emphasis on the quality of the user software. Much of this software is in a state that is unfinished view of users. It is up to the distributions to perfect the software, which does not appear to have a certain number of projects. Therefore, the projects themselves have more power to meet higher quality standards can. There should be more projects like Mozilla, MySQL, Qt, or open stacks that achieve enough income to pay for full-time developers. But it is not only to pay but also about the organization. Some projects were successful in creating a foundation or the like, in others it does not work, because they neglect the paperwork.

In Shuttleworth’s question: “What can Canonical, to strengthen the projects” have already made many comments that go in many different directions?. Partly Shuttleworth’s views are fully put into question. Bradley Kuhn of the FSF criticized the claim that many organizations fail in the FLOSS world at the paperwork, what Shuttleworth Kuhn as paranoid, and refer to himself possessed, but so far every concrete example was guilty.

Especially projects that focus on end users, such as GIMP or Ardour do have difficulties with the usual business models in the FLOSS field. You can not pay distributions or services or offer support to a significant degree, a dual licensing is not planned or not possible, and not enough donations to bring a commonly. It is interesting in this context, the comment by Dave Neary. According to Neary, many users use this software for paid work, and they have an interest and the opportunity to promote this software.

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