August 14, 2004
The rewards of open source
Last week, at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, Michael Tiemann -- formerly Red Hat's CTO and now vice president of open source affairs -- spoke about the role of Fedora, Red Hat's free Linux distribution. To refute the claim that Fedora represents a fork of its core product, Tiemann appealed to a notion that is best summed up in a phrase popularized by Tim O'Reilly: "the architecture of participation." To meet the needs of the enterprise customers who pay Red Hat's bills, Tiemann said, it was necessary to slow the release cycle and create "a massively long release runway on which Oracle, and Veritas, and BEA, and all these other guys could actually land." But the solution to one business problem created another. It disenfranchised the people in the open source community whose energy and ideas created Linux and continue to drive its evolution. Fedora's goal, Tiemann said, is to be a bridge to that community and to convey both quality and innovation into the enterprise product.