Bad economy's good for open source
By John Taschek, eWEEK
March 25, 2001 9:00 PM PT
Original Article Appeared at:,12249,2700121,00.html

Now that the economy has encouraged computer technologists to re-enter reality, it's time to take a look at how open source will weather the downturn. A prolonged bad economy will be bad for everyone, including open-source programmers. It will be especially bad for those who work at companies whose business models are based on Linux.

Although Linux deployments will continue to grow, many companies that are simply resellers of the operating system will fade away, leaving their programmers to find other work.

There's good news, though. For one thing, this change will give the dogmatic Linux fanatics a dose of reality. It's flat-out wrong to get hyped up over an operating system. Those who have found religion with their pet operating system should seriously rethink their values.

The only people who are interested in operating systems are Linux bigots and Mac nuts, who think OS X is the second coming. Yet, these people don't do real work. They write scathing but baseless diatribes on the news forums and produce no quantifiable work. (Yes, I understand the deep irony here.)

Take SuSE, for example, which Contributing Editor Roger Hartje reviews in this week's issue. It's a fine operating system. It works, for the most part, and it includes a good bundle of software. But it doesn't do anything else.

Open source, however, is much more than Linux. The melding of the open-source development model and a capitalist economy will bring the most exciting changes to computing that we've ever witnessed.

The first change we'll see is investment in open-source technology that's based on solutions and not an operating system. Digital Creations, for example, has developed an open-source language called Python and built an open-source application server out of it called Zope.

Do you think Digital Creations is going to make money off either of them? Neither does the company. That's why it has built a content management system based on Zope. It's faster, it's cheaper, it's not Vignette, but it does the same thing, and the code comes with it. Digital Creations, however, charges for the integration. That's the future.

Still an operating system bigot? Flame me as usual at