Linux and Microsoft: Too Tight for a Fight?

Dennis Faas's picture

According to reports, "Leading names of Linux, the world's biggest grassroots software phenomenon, are spending three days debating whether an increasingly commercial open source community should fight or ignore the world's largest software maker."

Below the surface, it appears the Linux group must now deal with internal divisions that could cause massive fractures in its future growth. (Source:

Microsoft, a recent threat to Linux, contrasts open source in many ways. Linux's software is freely used by the public, whereas Microsoft charges for software. As well, Linux suppliers can earn money by selling technical services. Microsoft, on the other hand, opposes sharing its code.

The Linux group is collectively opposed to Microsoft, although "most believe Linux users control their own destinies and Microsoft's patent threats are just the latest attempts to create 'fear, uncertainty and doubt among customers.'" (Source:

While many within the Linux sphere oppose Microsoft, the connections between these two companies make a legal battle difficult. For example, it's unlikely Microsoft would sue Linux customers because the majority of Linux users are also Microsoft clients.

On the whole, the Linux/Microsoft debate may relate to the altered status of the former. Jason Wacha, an expert on licensing Linux, believes that his company "is being pushed by commercial forces ... Now a lot of people are being paid to do Linux as professionals." Many top open-source developers now work for big-name companies like Google, HP and Oracle. (

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