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Does It Matter Where Open Source is Based? 100

munchola writes "CBR has created a map of current open source software providers that contradicts the recent assertion of Alfresco's Matt Asay that "open source is not a Silicon Valley phenomenon". That statement has prompted a debate about the importance of location, involving Asay, Robert Scoble, and Dana Blankenhorn. A closer look shows that open source is very much a Silicon Valley phenomenon."
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Does It Matter Where Open Source is Based?

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  • by crazyjeremy ( 857410 ) * on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:06PM (#15679782) Homepage Journal
    I'll admit that the map itself doesn't really tell us much - but it's a work in progress and hey, it's a Web 2.0 mash up, it's meant to be vague, self-fulfilling and of questionable real-world value.
    What have we learned here?
    Google map + Any story + Web 2.0 mash up = Get slashdotted
  • Makes no sense to me (Score:5, Informative)

    by p!ssa ( 660270 ) * on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:11PM (#15679802)
    How does this map show the "the vally" is the center of the OSS world? It is a limited cross section of projects that the creator is interested in, his opinion / perspective is worthless and invalid.
    • by croddy ( 659025 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:13PM (#15679817)
      additionally, it appears that the concentration of open source balloons on his map is much higher on the east coast of the united states than the bay area -- or the entire west coast. i'm not sure what the summary is getting at here, but it sounds like someone's just trying to drum up adsense hits.
    • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:59PM (#15680113) Homepage
      Its worse than that, it treats each OSS project as if it was a geographically concentrated entity. Most are not.

      The Apache group worked together for years without most of the principals so much as meeting. It began in Chicago at NCSA and spread.

      The origin of the OSS movement was quite definitely Cambridge MA and Stallman. He may be mad as a hatter but he did start things.

      OK so there are more OSS startups based in the valley than elsewhere. That merely shows that there is more VC in the Valley and they don't like to travel. If people are going to treat the OSS startups as if they are OSS then we might as well close up show now.

      Most of the OSS startups have business models that make no more sense than Dilbert and Wally's attempt to corner the maket for Internet sales of tuna sandwiches. Boy it sure looks like 1997 again. Only difference this time is that OSS is the new Java.

    • Two words for you:


    • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @10:07PM (#15680963)
      This might show where some of the OSS **vendors** are located, but it does not show where the people writing the code are.... and it freaks me that New Zealand and half of Oz are not on the map. I live in NZ and I've written my share of OSS!
    • There may be an additional factor here.

      In the private sector growing companies from out side of the US will get them selves a Silicon Valley address. This an important strategy for continued growth especially for the lucrative US market. From a marketing point of view Americans prefer to buy from someone they see as American and for the rest of the world a Silicon Valley address is seen as pedigree.

      I can't speak for any existing Open Source project, but t seems to me, if you have developers from around the
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... except when it is based out of Redmond, WA
  • by agent dero ( 680753 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:13PM (#15679818) Homepage
    Two points to make here, because of the nature of open source, and technology in general you don't necessarily need to have everybody at the downtown office, or a downtown office to begin with. This has _nothing_ to do with it being open source or not. A map of large tech companies I would guess is as equally diverse.

    There's a reason to go to silicon valley. The area is beautiful, and the talent pool for your $COMPANY there is tremendous, if you need 20 engineers to work on some software project, finding 20 skilled individuals in Atlanta, Georgia is going to suck. Trying to find 20 skilled people in silicon valley is a matter of going out to a busy resturant at lunch ;)
    • Yeah the point is there is actually somebody living in Nova Scotia [mylocalguru.com] canada..
    • There's a reason to go to silicon valley. The area is beautiful, and the talent pool for your $COMPANY there is tremendous, if you need 20 engineers to work on some software project, finding 20 skilled individuals in Atlanta, Georgia is going to suck. Trying to find 20 skilled people in silicon valley is a matter of going out to a busy resturant at lunch

      I'm sure you're right about lots of talented people living nearby, but beautiful?!? I admit, I've only visited, but as far as I can see, silicon valley is
      • I think (hope!) the previous poster actually meant that San Francisco and the surrounding area is beautiful, not Silicon Valley itself.

        I live here (but not in SV, thankfully) and I agree with you 100%.
        • Just a curiosity: I have a friend in Union City who says she can tell when she's getting close to San Francisco because visibility decreases that much (natural fog, not pollution, I'm guessing). Is there a lot of beauty to be seen approaching San Francisco, or is it more, "I know you can't see it, but it sure is breathtaking!" San Francisco is on my to do list. I've been in this country a couple of years now and still haven't visited any major cities.
          • Wow, you have the most uninformative web site I've ever seen -- a blank page! I had to read the source, and all it told me was the one piece of information I was looking for. Now I understand your claim of having never been to a major US city despite having lived in the US for a couple years.

            I've been to San Francisco a few times, and I love it. My first thought the first time driving up there was that I thought it was odd that they didn't build any higher up the mountain just south of the city. Then I got
            • Thanks for the reply - I'll try to take your advice when I finally get to see San Francisco! Funny you should mention Minneapolis, we spent last weekend there. I've never really thought of it as a major city before. Thanks again!
              • by Anonymous Coward
                The Minneapolis-St. Paul area has about 2.5 million people. For comparison, the Zurich metropolitan area has about 1 million people (Minneapolis proper has about 400,000 and Zurich proper has about 360,000). I'd consider Minneapolis a major city, though it's only about a 15th largest in the U.S.
        • ... purchased at above-market rates from eco-friendly organic farming cooperatives in Latin America.

      • he probably ment that in just 3 hours of driving from there you will get "beautiful area". San Jose is reasonably ugly. Sunnyvale is just slightly better - it is cleaner.

        That talented people will cost 150K/year each + options/bonuses

        And it is not easier to find people in Bay Area than in any other place - check craigslist. This is one of the reasons why the cos there need so many H1 visas. There are simply no people willing to work - not enough people. After a couple of exists "just coding" is not somet

    • are you kidding?? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zogger ( 617870 )
      You can go to the *Varsity hotdog stand* in atlanta and find 20 good coders any lunchtime, and maybe some nanotech guys, chemists, etc.

      I think you haven't been to atlanta in a long time....
      • ..just to prove I'm not kidding, here is an overview article I found

        http://www.atlantasmartcity.com/html/work/overview .html [atlantasmartcity.com]
      • MMMMM varsity chili dog.... *drool*

        Yeah, between the downtown crowd and the georgia tech alumni, there is no shortage of very bright people at the old varsity.
        • ya man, know what ya mean. In that general area I used to like the varsity, the old pre olympics thelma's, pitty pats porch (I could move in there) and the great wall inside the omni. There's another one, dang can't remember their name anymore, BBQ joint by grant park has live jazz sometimes. You ever go to the Trackside in decatur by agnes snot? That was good too for wings/chicken.
          • my favorite place in decatur is the brick store inn - after georgia lifted its ban on high gravity beers, the brick store got a lot of high quality belgian beers. I'm also a big fan of the vortex in little five points, because they have a dedicated scotch menu and the best burgers in atlanta.

            I've never been to Trackside, but love some good wings, so I'll have to check it out.
  • by Hyram Graff ( 962405 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:16PM (#15679829)

    From the article:

    What this map does not take into account, of course, is where the individual developers are based - it is a representation of enterprise open source providers, as opposed to open source developers - and it would be interesting to see how different that map would look (if it were possible to create one).

    It makes sense to see so many dots in the Silicon Valley since this is a map of where companies who develop open source software are located. I would guess that if plotted where developers who have created open source software, enterprise or not, are located that you will find a *lot* more dots in Europe and a lot less in Silicon Valley.

    So really, nothing to see here, move along.

  • duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doti ( 966971 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:16PM (#15679834) Homepage
    open source vendors != open source creators
    • Re:duh (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:52PM (#15680066) Homepage Journal
      open source vendors != open source creators

      Indeed; this is the main thing I noticed about the article.

      I'm part of several open-source efforts. One is a music package first developed by a math prof in Germany. When he announced to the mailing list that he was getting too busy, at least three of us started forks of his code and implemented radically different new features (needed by different groups of musicians). All of us (including the original author) have put our source code online for anyone who wants it. This means that we aren't "vendors"; i.e., we aren't selling it. So we aren't included in this articles data. None of us developers are in Silicon Valley.

      In a different direction, I'm one of at least a thousand C developers who has a personal collection of C debugging tools. I wrote some, downloaded some, and radically rewrote a few other tools. I keep it all online. I see occasional downloads (by non-search-bots ;-), and I occasionally get email from users, often with patches to add new features. I also send occasional patches to others. None of this stuff is for sale; you can only get it free. So none of us are "vendors" of C debug tools, and we aren't in TFA's statistics.

      Talking about open-source "vendors" pretty much labels the writer as clueless. Either that, or someone trying to prove something and hoping we won't notice the verbal sleight of hand.

  • No,

    As long as it stays away from Redmond.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Interesting map - I can't possibly guess where the originator of the article might be based.

    Equally interesting is that he somehow has forgotten where Linux started up, where iRC originated and so many other open source projects have come up. SuSE is no where on the map and the other countless German open source contributions.

    All in all, this is about as much news (or accurate) as most of the stuff on the Inquirer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:21PM (#15679873)
    Is this just companies that create open source solutions, like MySQL is? Companies that sell open source solutions other people primarily made, like IBM does? Places like SourceForge? What?

    How many important open source projects have one central coordinating authority, like SourceForge or LKML, and the actual project members are spread geographically over the globe?

    Who exactly is on this list, and how were they chosen? The article does not say what the selection criteria was, and I see entries on the map ranging from JBoss (an important project) to "Linux Networx" (Who?).

    If this map tosses in companies like IBM for whom open source is an important strategy but still a peripheral part of their business, but ignores people like Alan Cox living in a little cottage in a field somewhere in Britain, it may be all you've done here is make a map of "software corporations".
  • by GenKreton ( 884088 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:21PM (#15679874) Journal
    It matters a lot where opensource is based and it will tend not to be in the valley. Those projects cited are a small, select few. The opensource mentality isn't as strong there as other parts of the country and world. And the United States (as a citizen who deals with those in other countries on opensource projects, I can say this) have much better cultures and laws for open source to properly thrive. Things like the DMCA and our patent system aren't just a pain for the consumer but will cause us to lose businesses too. It may take time but when they notice it will be a bit late.
    • The opensource mentality isn't as strong there as other parts of the country and world.

      As someone who has worked in the valley for nearly 20 years, I have to wonder what evidence you have to support that idea. It certainly runs counter to my experience here. At more than one of my jobs I have been not only allowed, but encouraged by my management to open-source software I've written on company time. (Not everything I've written, of course, but stuff that is not part of the company's core business.)


  • I think that the only thing that would be a problem for open source is if you insisted on sending, say, a Debian CD via FedEx to Myanmar - one of about eighteen locations that FedEx just doesn't go. Otherwise, it's the 'net that keeps it all together.
  • by eosp ( 885380 )
    I don't think, with the Internet, that it really matters where OSS is based. Torvalds seems to be doing fine from Portland, and is mostly used in the US now. I don't think most Ubuntu desktop users even know that it was originally written in Finland.
    • I don't think, with the Internet, that it really matters where OSS is based.

      With a maze of differing import laws, munitions export laws, patent laws, and copyright anti-circumvention laws, it matters very much in which jurisdiction a free software project is developed, even with the Internet.

      Torvalds seems to be doing fine from Portland, and is mostly used in the US now.

      But the Linux® kernel has big companies behind it (such as IBM) that can use their patent portfolios to countersue software pate

  • This is stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:31PM (#15679947) Homepage
    The map shows open source "vendors" not open source developers. Of course it shows essentially the same distribution as software vendors in general. The surprise would be if it showed anything else.

    It also says exactly nothing about the physical distribution of the open source phenomenon.
  • by koreth ( 409849 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:31PM (#15679950)
    If you mean "a commercial product for which the vendor has decided to release source code," then sure, it's going to concentrate where the tech companies are. If you mean "a volunteer/hobby project that isn't associated with a company," I'd expect the map to be much more diffuse. I know I've gotten contributions from all over the world when I've run open source projects in the past.

    That said, Silicon Valley does have a much higher concentration of computer people than just about anywhere else in the world. So if there is a relatively constant percentage of developers who contribute to open source projects, naturally you'll find the most open source contributors wherever you find the most developers in general.

  • One enormous flaw... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @06:43PM (#15680015) Homepage Journal
    ... is that the map is about open source vendors .

    If you count open-source software companies (I have seen ActiveState and CodeWeavers, for instance), sure, it seems most of it is gathered in the USA and in Europe.

    But take a look at, for instance, the map of the OpenBSD developers [openbsd.org] (at the bottom of the link): there are individuals working on OpenBSD all over the place.

    Another case that I know well is Slackware: there are developers helping Patrick Volkerding all over the world, with strong clusters in Italy, Brazil, the UK and other countries. Mandriva is a French/Brazilian companies, with strong sales in the USA, and so on and so forth. And there are so many other projects out there that are definitely not US-centric.

    So, again: count companies and Open Source seems to be based in Silicon Valley. Take a look at individual developers and the picture becomes a lot more international.
    • One question I found myself asking (upon seeing the map) was, "Is the `piracy hurts OSS' argument true?" There don't seem to be many ticks where wholesale software piracy is rampant. (i.e. China, India, Russia, etc.)

      Now, as so many people pointed out, the map shows vendors, not developers, so the map doesn't actually do much to answer that question. Can anyone offer some insight?
      • One question I found myself asking (upon seeing the map) was, "Is the `piracy hurts OSS' argument true?" There don't seem to be many ticks where wholesale software piracy is rampant. (i.e. China, India, Russia, etc.)

        Now, as so many people pointed out, the map shows vendors, not developers, so the map doesn't actually do much to answer that question. Can anyone offer some insight?

        Not only vendors, but as people have also pointed out the map shows an arbitrarily chosen set of vendors.
        In short, that means it's
      • The main FOSS project I'm involved with is GNU Emacs, and the people who post to the development mailing list seem to be rather evenly distributed over the entire globe (it's funny watching replies to a message slowly coming in as people wake up in successive time zones), with the exception of Africa (er, and Antarctica I suppose). What variation there is seems to match what one might expect from variations in population and economic development pretty well; of course as it's an english language list, ther
        • (and some technical ones -- massive changes to support your local language may be very important to you, but the original developer may not accept them).

          You'd think that the main developer would welcome i18n patches.

          • You'd think that the main developer would welcome i18n patches.

            Indeed, but it's not uncommon for such patches to be very intrusive, badly designed, and quite buggy (even when not using the support). For people who really need it, maybe the functionality is worth the problems, but often the tradeoffs are different for the world at large (at least from the maintainer's point of view).
    • Inkscape has its developers spread fairly uniformly across the world. The highest concentration of developers is actually here in Melbourne, Australia.
  • It's just like the rap game: where you're from always matters.

    Effective immediately, my OSS support company will be keeping it real. "O.G. Suppizort" is located in the city of Compton.
  • They are leaving Portland although their kit is still at this location, I've heard that they took venture $$$ and are moving to CA. Sort of supports the OP I guess.
  • I'm an open-source developer (Ultima Linux [ultimalinux.com], PyWord [sf.net] – just to name a few [dyndns.org]. And yet I'm living on the east coast of the U.S. In fact, so's Red Hat [redhat.com]. Not to mention Slackware [slackware.com], now in Minnesota, or even MySQL [mysql.com], who's all the way over in Sweden. I've also noticed a lot of my users tend to be from European countries – Germany, France, Sweden, England, Ireland... and that's only counting a small handful. Oh, and Linus himself is in Portland, Oregon, which is a bit closer but still not in the valley.
  • This map makes me wonder about India. I have the impression that India is a big, big open source consumer, yet it seems there's not much OSS coming out of it, eventhough it has millions of programmers. Why?
  • by Craig Ringer ( 302899 ) on Friday July 07, 2006 @08:40PM (#15680614) Homepage Journal
    So, companies selling open source products are a "silicon valley phenomenon". Surprise surprise.

    The map of developers, which would be much more interesting, is impractical to create. I've seen partial maps for a number of projects, though, and they certainly don't show the same distribution as the referenced article. I just went looking for a GNOME one but the only one I could find was on frappr, and was clearly so incomplete as to be nigh useless (_nobody_ in Australia; only two in the US, etc).

    A more personal example is the Scribus team, which has no members in the USA. The core developers are in Germany, France, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia, Finland, and Australia. Of those, one originally lived in the US but moved, and one more used to live in Australia but moved. Hardly "silicon valley". The contributors see more US involvement, but not a huge amount more, and the translation teams are obviously incredibly internationally distributed. Our user base is also very international, as Scribus's translations and support for other languages is its main advantage (beyond cost) over the big DTP names.

    Craig Ringer
  • Open source is very much an online phenomenon. Jesus, there have been decades of cyberpunk novels, and yet folks still don't seem to get that online is a place! That is where free software lives and it is what makes it such a great method of creation.
  • I was considering where to donate money, and KDE is something that I use a lot, I tried to look up how to give it money.. and it was in germany or something like that.. No tax deduction there!

    Or maybe I'm just confused about the whole tax thing.

    http://www.kde.org/support/support.php [kde.org]

    I found out that I didn't donate enough percentage of my money to qualify for a tax deduction anyway, It would have had to be well over 10 percent of my income to get a break larger than standard deduction.
  • Samba not Listed (Score:2, Informative)

    by zizdodrian ( 987577 )
    Not even Samba - created by Australian Andrew Tridgell, is listed! How is this credible?
  • That guy is wrong about so many things regarding open source, this is just the latest...
  • In Canada, it matters if you do not have something that has word `Canadian'. It has to be a 'Canadian Open Source' to get acceptance.

    If you could add that 'I am wearing canadian underwear', you have great chances to win.

  • Where the hell is the marker for South Africa?? It's only one of the most widely used Linux distros...
  • For now at least, it doesn't matter where it is based. It matters where it is used.
  • According to the article, there is no open source supplier from Germany. Shall I be skeptical about the article ?
  • Why not use it [gnome.org]? Oh, right. vendors....

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