[svlug] open source mimicking existing software?

Karen Shaeffer shaeffer at neuralscape.com
Tue Mar 1 22:04:23 PST 2005

On Tue, Mar 01, 2005 at 05:03:24PM -0800, Sameer Verma wrote:
> Here's a question that came up in one of our MBA courses:
> "Is open source software always something that mimics an existing software?"

Hi Sameer,

This is not true. High performance computing (HPC) running on COTS hardware
was invented with Linux. In particular, Beowulf clusters first ran on Linux.
This is an entire industry born using OSS and thriving today. There is an
entire infrastructure of free code to enable HPC computing. And this is having
great impact on computing trends in general. Distributed filesystems have
been developed and have proven to be robust and to have very desireable
scaling and performance capabilities. As an example of emerging technology
that is being developed on OSS.

There are many other examples.

Where there is cloning, the OSS often becomes quite innovative with new
ideas and features, once the code base matures.

Now, I think a more interesting line of investigation for an MBA class is
the notion that entrepreneurs can build businesses on top of OSS. Google
is an excellent example of this. Google has a lot of intellectual property
and yet they have used OSS to great advantage. And this is entirely
honorable in the sense that they do not violate any licenses. Your MBA
folks ought to consider the implications.

 Karen Shaeffer
 Neuralscape, Palo Alto, Ca. 94306
 shaeffer at neuralscape.com  http://www.neuralscape.com

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