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Culture

The open source Diaspora

What happens when open-source companies get bought by proprietary companies?

Tim O'Reilly appears to have been right. It's looking increasingly likely that open source's promising future will be purchased by proprietary-software companies. I'm OK with that so long as it leads to more openness in these companies, and I think it does.

But what does it mean for Red Hat and the open-source ecosystem?

Red Hat is necessarily conservative with its cash. It can't spend money in the same way that a Yahoo! can. I understand and appreciate this (though I would have liked to have seen a Zimbra + Red Hat team). But I still worry that without an open-source ecosystem player, customer choice will be dampened. Basically, there will be several flavors of proprietary.

Money aside, Red Hat is also learning how to digest technology beyond the operating system. It has done well with JBoss, but it has been a painful acquisition/integration, by some accounts. Some at Red Hat have been surprised that Red Hat's model didn't automatically translate to JBoss' world. Think about how much different an application like Zimbra would be for Red Hat....

In the absence of an acquisitive Red Hat, the open-source Diaspora will continue. The hope is that open-source "seeds" will germinate and sprout within their proprietary homes.