Simon Phipps

Chief Open Source Officer, Sun Microsystems

The Zen of Free
17 minutes, 8.2mb, recorded 2005-10-18
Simon Phipps

When people say "Open source is fine but how do you make money?" you know they haven't grokked the Zen of Free. Simon Phipps, Chief Open Source Officer at Sun Microsystems, describes the "virtuous cycle" model of open source in this keynote from OSCON Europe 2005.

At the heart of every successful open source community are three major components: licensing, business models, and governance. These form what Simon calls the “DNA triangle of open source”. Emphasizing one over the other leads to poor management and diseased communities where developers, distributors and end users lose freedom and purpose. For the virtuous cycle to be complete, the open source community must move forward in each of these areas.

As Sun’s new OSO, Simon Phipps has inherited a long tradition of running and supporting open source projects. Pulling from this rich and diverse ecosystem, Simon gives solid advice on how to create a viable community surrounding an open source project. He recommends fewer licenses, new and improved business models, and balanced governance through standards and open formats. This talk is an honest look inside the open source community to see which models of open source are necessary to take development and distribution into a free and open future.

Technology futurist Simon Phipps is a well-known computer industry insider and commentator. He speaks frequently at industry events on technology trends and has a widely-read weblog, “The Mink Dimension.”

Simon is currently the Chief Open Source Officer at Sun Microsystems, Inc., and has worked in worked in the industry for over 3 decades programming for mainframes, Windows and the Web. Notable projects include involvement with OSI standards in the 80s, developing the earliest commercial collaborative conferencing software in the early 90s, in introducing Java and XML to IBM and most recently with Sun’s launching Sun’s blogging site,

A resident of the UK, Simon is based at Sun’s Menlo Park campus in California. He can be contacted via his web site,


This free podcast is from our OSCON Europe series.

For The Conversations Network: