The curse of high-quality, zero-cost software

April 20, 2016 commentary , opensource 2 min read

Matt Asay writing for Infoworld about LinkedIn’s open source projects starts out with a bizzare introduction:

Open source is the gift that keeps on giving … unless it destroys your business first. As many an open source vendor can tell you, it’s a slog peddling free ones and zeroes, and it’s only getting harder as the Web giants flood the world with high-quality, zero-cost software.

Web giants like LinkedIn, for example: Take a look at LinkedIn’s GitHub page, and you’ll discover the death of dozens of real or potential startups.

That’s one way to look at it. Another way is that every startup in the world can focus on creating new value, instead of wasting limited resources reinventing building blocks like messaging systems, cluster management, or key-value stores. Anyone can take this “high-quality, zero-cost software” and combine it in interesting ways to solve the problems they are uniquely qualified to solve. Unless you want an entire industry that just makes low-cost commoditized infrastructure, this seems like a good thing.

I don’t really understand why Matt started this article with this introduction. The rest of the article is generally positive. To his readers, it reflects poorly on LinkedIn (which I don’t think he was trying to do). To those that understand the open source world, it reflects poorly on him.

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avatar of Brandon Keepers I am Brandon Keepers, and I work at GitHub on making Open Source more approachable, effective, and ubiquitous. I tend to think like an engineer, work like an artist, dream like an astronaut, love like a human, and sleep like a baby.