While this is ostensibly about European Union politics, I wanted to make sure that Planet readers saw this interesting Ashlee Vance story in the NY Times on business models in open source software that mentions Mozilla and Firefox.
Open-source software has thrived and played a prominent role in the building of the Internet’s infrastructure. Many companies rely on Linux-based computers and Apache Web server software to display their Web pages. Similarly, the Mozilla Firefox Web browser has emerged as the most formidable competitor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
The grass-roots nature of open source has led advocates to view the projects as a populist foil to proprietary software, where a company keeps the inner workings of its applications secret.
But in the last decade, open-source software has become more of a corporate affair than a people’s revolution.
In some cases, dominant technology companies have used open-source projects as pawns. Google, for example, has needled Microsoft by providing financial support to the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, which oversees of the development of Firefox. I.B.M. has been a major backer of Linux, helping to raise it as a competitor to Microsoft’s Windows and other proprietary operating systems.