Will open source ruin the economy? Please help

Rodney Gedda

Rodney Gedda is the former deputy editor of CIO and former editor of Techworld.

I love it when people jump to conclusions about the economic implications of using open source software. They almost always spark a fiery debate about how many people will be left homeless as a result of businesses not needing to pony up a single penny for software. After a seemingly innocuous blog post on the release of Linux kernel 2.6.27 (and quite possibly my shortest blog ever!), a TechWorld reader, who decided to remain anonymous, was up in arms about the detrimental consequences free software might have for the economy.

The post was misinformed to say the least. Here I’ll try to address the heart-felt concerns as best I can, but I’m calling upon people in the open source community to back me up and add even more arguments to dispel this logical fallacy.

The comment is here, quoted verbatim (spelling and grammatical errors included) in italics.

Why don't you idiots talk about products that create jobs??

I always had a feeling I was an idiot so thanks for confirming it for me. As an editor I cover all aspects of IT, including those products that “create jobs”, whatever that is supposed to mean.

Hoofrickingray the worlds going 2 move 2 completely free software.

No it isn’t, not for a long time yet anyway. The commercial software industry is as healthy as it’s ever been. It’s growing, profitable, and has spawned a new “software as a service” child industry over the past five years.

Did anyone stop 2 wonder where the people that USED 2 work in those industries are going 2 work when they lose their jobs???

Despite the astronomical rise in open source use, I’m yet to see any evidence of a commercial software company having to lay off staff as a result of competitive pressure from free software. On the other hand, there are countless examples of commercial software companies either directly purchasing, or integrating, open source companies and products into their offerings.

If you’re so concerned about short-term job security why don’t you care about all the people that have been retrenched as a result of the high number of mergers and acquisitions in the commercial software industry over the past few years?

Theyll b coming 2 take yr positions duh!!!

Competent IT workers will always being in demand whether everyone is using free software or not. Many people I have spoken to are in the middle of a skills shortage, so if you think hordes of IT workers, specifically commercial software developers, are going to flooding other industries in search of work you’d be very wrong.

This is going 2 make the whole coming recession WAY worse than it already is.

Open source software use is strongly associated with competition and efficiency. This in turn makes businesses more resourceful and agile. Perhaps if the US (and global) financial institutions had better business intelligence, which can be provided by free software, they wouldn’t have made such atrocious lending decisions which led to a meltdown in the first place.

U stupid writers should stop being so BIASED to all this open source stuff and start thinking about what creates jobs.

Take a look around and see all the content IT media portals provide and then revise your assessment before you start labelling technology reporters as being biased towards open source software.

You’re right I should start thinking more about what creates jobs. Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Salesforce.com (and countless other SaaS vendors), YouTube (Google), Wikipedia, Hi5, Ebay, PayPal (Ebay), Amazon, Apple, etc, all owe their existence to extensive use of open source software and collectively employ people in the tens of thousands. Not to mention the rise in open source development, support and service companies like Red Hat and Canonical.

Also, you can’t be too concerned about whether open source threatens job security otherwise you wouldn’t have registered to post this comment with a gmail.com (Google) e-mail address.

Oh and I dont see any advertisements from the new Linux Kernel 2.6.27 on yuor site either.

Not that I base any editorial decision on advertising, but I don’t see any advertisements for commercial software either.

So I guess u probabaly wont have a job EITHER.

Quite the contrary. In fact, it is open source that allows us to publish TechWorld and hence generate more publicity for all types of software, including, in your opinion, the only kind that provides job security.

We can use the sophisticated Drupal open source content system for free to do things that would otherwise cost a small fortune and perhaps even render any further business development unviable.

Never mind what could happen in the future, today I, and thousands of other IT people, have a job thanks to open source!

Show Comments