The future of open source

11 leaders outline the challenges and opportunities ahead

There's no question that the open source community is a passionate one -- and one with significant influence on technology directions and options. We're way past the days when people asked if Linux or Apache was safe to depend on in business. Open source is now a mainstream part of the technology fabric.

Yet it remains connected to its roots around a passionate community working together to solve problems and share the fruits of their labors with others. Any endeavor based in community is bound to spark passionate debate. After all, without contention, how else to determine the best way forward?

Since its emergence, open source has embodied this spirit. Part defiant, part self-reliant, and often outspoken and opinionated, those immersed in the community have worked both in tandem and at odds, all with the intention of pushing the movement in as many worthwhile directions at once.

It's so worthwhile that the drumbeat of business can now be heard in nearly every corner of community, drawing the attention of vendors and capitalists alike. And with greater attention and potential has come a measure of added strife. Questions of selling out and just desserts surface more frequently, yet not to the jeopardy of the endeavor, as the code keeps proliferating, thanks to those who participate.

Given the increased reliance on open source by users and commercial vendors, as well as by the commercialization of some open source projects, InfoWorld spoke with 11 thought leaders in a roundtable discussion about the current open source climate to uncover the most vibrant themes and conflicts shaping open source today.

From pioneers Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond to technology strategists at Google, IBM, and Microsoft to the new guard of entrepreneurs and developers working to transform projects into products, each expert sheds ample light on the opportunities and pitfalls ahead.

Topic No. 1: Issues and opportunities Topic No. 2: Evolving trends Topic No. 3: The cost of commercialization Topic No. 4: Avenues for acceptance Topic No. 5: Missteps and lessons learned Topic No. 6: Visions of utopia Topic No. 7: Competition and dissent

Roundtable participants

Matt Asay Vice president of business development, Alfresco

Andy Astor CEO of EnterpriseDB

Chris DiBona Open source programs manager, Google

Bruce Perens Creator of the Open Source Definition and co-founder of the Open Source Initiative

Sam Ramji Senior director of platform technology strategy, Microsoft

Eric S. Raymond Programmer, author, and open source software advocate

Dave Rosenberg CEO and co-founder, Mulesource

Javier Soltero CEO, Hyperic

Mark Spencer Founder and CTO, Digium

Robert Sutor Vice president of open source and standards, IBM

Zack Urlocker Vice president of products, MySQL

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