Sunday, March 05, 2006

Open Season On Open Source?

In recent weeks the open-source community has been thrown into tumult. Software giant Oracle Corp. (ORCL ) has acquired two small open-source companies and is in negotiations to buy at least one more. Many experts believe this is the beginning of a broader trend in which established tech companies scoop up promising open-source startups. While the validation is thrilling for Galstad and others in the community, it's also unsettling. Many young idealists who set out to create an alternative to the tech Establishment now find themselves becoming part of it. 'When your main goal is to turn a profit, you start to lose some of the things that made open-source projects thrive,' Galstad says.

The fear is that a round of buyouts could undermine the ethos of open source. Many coders volunteer their time, spending nights and weekends testing bugs and writing patches because they see themselves as part of an important, grassroots movement. Will that motivation remain if they're just helping to fill the coffers of Oracle or other tech giants?

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