Why Linux Works
The Linux community works, it turns out, because the Linux community isn’t too concerned about work, per se. As much as Linux has come to dominate many areas of corporate computing – from HPC to mobile to cloud – the engineers who write the Linux kernel tend to focus on the code itself, rather than their corporate interests therein.
Such is one prominent conclusion that emerges from Dawn Foster’s doctoral work, examining collaboration on the Linux kernel. Foster, a former community lead at Intel and Puppet Labs, notes, “Many people consider themselves a Linux kernel developer first, an employee second.”
As Foster writes, “Even when they enjoy their current job and like their employer, most [Linux kernel developers] tend to look at the employment relationship as something temporary, whereas their identity as a kernel developer is viewed as more permanent and more important.”
Because of this identity as a Linux kernel developer first, and corporate citizen second, Linux kernel developers can comfortably collaborate even with their employer’s fiercest competitors. This works because the employers ultimately have limited ability to steer their developers’ work...
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