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It's easy to confuse features with benefits. The Open Source model in general and Linux in particular certainly have some unique features, and it's tempting to say that those features are the reason that the world is adopting Linux with such enthusiasm. As hundreds of MIS managers have commented to me, ``Why would anyone want source code to their OS?'' The point is no one wants source code. No one needs a Free Software license. Those are simply features of the OS. But a feature is not necessarily a benefit. So what's the benefit associated with that feature?
To the ongoing disappointment of the technical computing community, the best technology seldom wins in even the most technical markets. Building a better mousetrap does not assure you of success. Linux is not going to be successful because it can be installed on a machine with less memory than alternative OSes, or because it costs less than other OSes, or because it is more reliable. Those are all just features that make Linux arguably a better mousetrap than NT or OS/2.
The forces that will ultimately drive the success or failure of the Linux OS work at a different level. In effect those factors are lumped generally under the topic of ``market positioning.'' As a senior executive at Lotus asked us recently, ``Why does the world need another OS?'' Linux will succeed only if it is not ``just another OS.'' In other words, does Linux represent a new model for the development and deployment of OSes or is it ``just another OS''?
That is the question. And the answer is: Linux and the whole Open Source movement represent a revolution in software development that will profoundly improve the computing systems we are building now and in the future.
Open-source code is a feature. Control is the benefit. Every company wants control over their software, and the feature of Open Source is the best way the industry has found so far to achieve that benefit.