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Linux Ecosystem Is Worth $25 Billion

CmdrTaco posted about 6 years ago | from the my-piece-could-buy-you-a-cup-of-coffee dept.

Linux Business 176

darthcamaro writes "How much is Linux worth today? That's a question the Linux Foundation is trying to answer in a new report expected to be released on Wednesday.

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How much is Linux worth? (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#25441731)

In a different sense, the question is as simple as answering this one: How much is your business worth?

Re:How much is Linux worth? (4, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 6 years ago | (#25441835)

It's a little more complex than that because an individual business does have a quantifiable worth: in the case of a publicly traded company, it's their stock valuation; in the case of a privately held company, it's how much they'd get if they went public. (Note that I'm not saying this is an accurate measure, but it is at least something you can put a number on.) You could, if you wanted to and you had enough money, buy any corporation for a precisely tabulated amount. With Linux, there's nothing to buy out -- you could buy all the companies that make money distributing it (Red Hat etc.) and you still wouldn't own it.

From the market-value-is-everything POV, this means Linux has infinite value, which clearly isn't true. But it does make it a lot harder to count up than, say, the value of Windows or Mac OS.

Re:How much is Linux worth? (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | about 6 years ago | (#25441909)

I think it wasn't supposed to be like "How much money" so much as "How much is your daughter worth to you?" when being threatened into doing stuff, except backwards because it's Microsoft that's the guy with the gun and the need of a hatchetman.

Re:How much is Linux worth? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 6 years ago | (#25442067)

Ah, good point. I hadn't thought of that interpretation.

Okay, in that sense no one can really quantify the worth of anything, because everything has some emotional value. (Kids are right at the top of the list, obviously, but for many people businesses are pretty high up there too.) But we do quantify the value of things all the time, every time we buy or sell, so I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with trying to do so in this case. It's just much tougher than it would be with a proprietary OS.

Re:How much is Linux worth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25442723)

*holds up a gun* No, seriously, how much is your business worth to you? I'm short on cash so I'm doing some work for Microsoft on the side.

Re:How much is Linux worth? (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | about 6 years ago | (#25442759)

And somehow I posted anonymously when I didn't check the box thingie.

Re:How much is Linux worth? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 6 years ago | (#25444291)

And if you DIDN'T post that... you just created karma sniping.

Re:How much is Linux worth? (4, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | about 6 years ago | (#25442133)

The answer to this question is the same answer to "How much money is lost when people download music?"

"Whatever they are willing to pay."

If, like me, they are not willing to pay anything for either Britney Spears' latest CD, or the latest Linux distro, then the value is nothing. $0.00. But the record companies always assume everyone who downloads Britney is a "lost sale", and they publish huge outlandish figures for how much value they think they've lost. I suspect the Linux estimators will make the same crucial error in their estimates. Of those who download "free" music, or Linux, probably only 10% would be willing to pay for it.

That tendency to avoid spending money needs to be accounted for, otherwise the value estimates are meaningless.

Re:How much is Linux worth? (4, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | about 6 years ago | (#25442711)

Everyone who downloads Britney is a "lost cause" but this is off-topic isn't it...

Re:How much is Linux worth? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 years ago | (#25443173)

It's a little more complex than that because an individual business does have a quantifiable worth: in the case of a publicly traded company, it's their stock valuation; in the case of a privately held company, it's how much they'd get if they went public.

I don't think that's quite right.

There are many cases of private companies being sold in a private transaction, and the value on the stock market isn't a factor. Using plain old balance sheets and some measure of good will you can certainly quantify the value of a private business.

It's entirely possible to arrive at a valuation of a company without using the stock market. In fact, it might be a more sound and objective measure than the stock market -- it often has little with do with fundamentals as it does the emotional state of investors wrt a given stock.

Cheers

Re:How much is Linux worth? (1)

BPPG (1181851) | about 6 years ago | (#25441905)

more like, how much is the sum of all linux-centric business, plus half of businesses that indirectly benefit from linux, twice times whatever charities or non-profit orgs use linux, etc;

then take the square root of that, then the natural logarithm of both sides, and then differentiate. The resulting value is some totally unrelated number. Or is it?

Re:How much is Linux worth? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25442043)

How much is your business worth?

-$104, 287 in the red ever since the BSA raided my small business. Turns out that a former employee(my dim but well-meaning wife) installed the same copy of Windows Vista Business on 5 computers while I had only 4 licenses.

They came in with assault rifles and stomped my face into the ground with their jackboots and kevlar saying I was a "filthy pirate" and that I was "goin' on a free vacation to Gitmo" and stole all 6 computers including my Mac and my Linux box and told me that they were being used for software piracy. When I asked teh judge about my rights, he said "9/11 threat level yellow terrorist pirate national security" and now I write slashdot from a common terminal within a very sympathetic maximum security prison.

Re:How much is Linux worth? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 6 years ago | (#25444241)

-$104, 287 in the red

Since "in the red" is supposed to denote a negative, -(-$104,287) is not bad.

Re:How much is Linux worth? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25442205)

Exactly.

If linux were suddenly to 'go away', how much would it cost to license, install, configure, and support the entire business world with millions of copies of Server 2008?

Answer - a heckuva lot more than 25B.

Back to the abacus to make up some new numbers...

Re:How much is Linux worth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25443985)

How much beer do you have?

What? (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 6 years ago | (#25441777)

How much is Linux worth today? That's a question the Linux Foundation is trying to answer in a new report expected to be released on Wednesday.

There's no need for that, we already have the answer [slashdot.org] (see title).

Re:What? (1)

Xaemyl (88001) | about 6 years ago | (#25442089)

Yeah, but Linux Is Not Unix! [thefreedictionary.com]

Re:What? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 6 years ago | (#25442107)

10 PRINT "25 BILLION"
20 GOTO 10

Don't forget to pay your (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25442171)

$699 licensing fee [sco.com] you cock smoking teabaggers.

YOU FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25442319)

You missed the '!'

Re:YOU FAIL (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 6 years ago | (#25444329)

Actually, he (she? it?) missed a lot of !s, some 1s and a 'ONE'

Re:Don't forget to pay your (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 6 years ago | (#25444315)

teabaggers.

Isn't that term reserved for people who play FPSs? Since we are using Linux, our exposure to FPSs is rather limited.

Mod (4, Funny)

Shohat (959481) | about 6 years ago | (#25442539)

How much is Linux worth today? That's a question the Linux Foundation is trying to answer in a new report expected to be released on Wednesday.

There's no need for that, we already have the answer [slashdot.org] (see title).

Mod parent recursive !!!

Re:Mod (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#25443137)

Mod parent recursive !!!

I did, but now I can't seem to read it or my own post!

$ chmod -R +1 ../..
$ ls -al
$ .: Permission denied.

In related news... (3, Insightful)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | about 6 years ago | (#25441799)

in a study done by me, my 11 year old jeep is also worth $25 billion.

I wonder how much the Linux ecosystem would be worth if it were valued by an organization that didn't have a vested interest.

Re:In related news... (1)

einer (459199) | about 6 years ago | (#25442057)

Exactly. I'm sure this bomber I'm about to fire up has a "street value" of well over $1.3 million, but I managed to acquire it for the low low price of $12.50...

Also (further off topic), over the course of my life, I've found that the price of pot is a far better instrument to measure inflation than any number published by a government agency.

Re:In related news... (1)

phorest (877315) | about 6 years ago | (#25442221)

I've found that the price of pot is a far better instrument to measure inflation than any number published by a government agency.

I'd like to see those numbers...

Re:In related news... (1)

Windows_NT (1353809) | about 6 years ago | (#25442285)

15 bucks, little man, put that shit in my hand.
If that money doesnt show than you owe me owe me owe.
So 15 a dime from jay. 20 from me if i dont like you :)

Re:In related news... (4, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#25442231)

Usually, I share your cynicism about these breathless, fact-free "open source is gaining ground!" stories. But here your logic is way off. If this were just some pundit working for the Linux foundation making the usual "expert" assertions, your criticism would be valid. But this is a report based on real-world figures, and these figures deserve to be evaluated on their own merit. The fact that the people who wrote the report have a bias should make you look out for selective use of data, but doesn't automatically destroy the report's credibility.

Re:In related news... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#25443309)

You mean like this?

Jeff Hornby: Hello, Mr. Bin Laden. I have an 11-year-old Jeep parked outside. Buried somewhere in that Jeep is enough weapons-grade plutonium to make 4 nuclear warheads. How much will you give me for my 11-year-old Jeep?
Osama Bin Laden: 25 billion dollars! Assuming what you say proves to be true, that is.
Jeff: Okay! My 11-year-old jeep is worth $25 billion! Study complete!

Re:In related news... (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#25444643)

So why is that a bad study? Because the person doing the study cherry-picked the data. The fact that he had a bias towards over-pricing the jeep gives him motive for fiddling the results, but it doesn't prove he fiddled the results. Only a careful examination of the data can do that.

Re:In related news... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 6 years ago | (#25442315)

in a study done by me, my 11 year old jeep is also worth $25 billion.

Lisa, I would like to by that Jeep.

Re:In related news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25442761)

He was an innocent buy-stander

Re:In related news... (3, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 years ago | (#25443319)

I wonder how much the Linux ecosystem would be worth if it were valued by an organization that didn't have a vested interest.

Depends on if they have a vested interest in the other way.

Microsoft would argue that Linux clearly has a negative value due to all of those patents which it may or may not be infringing on and the licensing fees you owe them.

IBM will argue it has a high value since they make gobs of money on services as a result of it.

At some point, you have to try to value it in terms of industry revenues associated with it, as well as the intangible value of how long it would take to build your own, or to buy a commercial solution to replace it.

If every company using Linux were forced to replace it with a Microsoft solution, I can easily see the valuation to industry being measured in the billions.

In terms of the resources being managed under Linux machines, how they're used, and what it would take to swap them out ... there's an awful lot of stuff you'd have to be spending a lot of money on to replace.

Cheers

Re:In related news... (2, Informative)

sgtrock (191182) | about 6 years ago | (#25444163)

Here's a report [europa.eu] released on November 2006. Quoting from the executive summary:

Direct economic impact of FLOSS

The existing base of quality FLOSS applications with reasonable quality control and distribution would cost firms almost Euro 12 billion to reproduce internally. This code base has been doubling every 18-24 months over the past eight years, and this growth is projected to continue for several more years.

This existing base of FLOSS software represents a lower bound of about 131 000 real person-years of effort that has been devoted exclusively by programmers. As this is mostly by individuals not directly paid for development, it represents a significant gap in national accounts of productivity. Annualised and adjusted for growth this represents at least Euro 800 million in voluntary contribution from programmers alone each year, of which nearly half are based in Europe.

Firms have invested an estimated Euro 1.2 billion in developing FLOSS software that is made freely available. Such firms represent in total at least 565 000 jobs and Euro 263 billion in annual revenue. Contributing firms are from several non-IT (but often ICT intensive) sectors, and tend to have much higher revenues than non-contributing firms.

Defined broadly, FLOSS-related services could reach a 32% share of all IT services by 2010, and the FLOSS-related share of the economy could reach 4% of European GDP by 2010. FLOSS directly supports the 29% share of software that is developed in-house in the EU (43% in the U.S.), and provides the natural model for software development for the secondary software sector.

That is a bubble price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25441809)

In real prices the Linux ecosystem is worth 25 double expressos.

Hijack it... (1)

vuo (156163) | about 6 years ago | (#25441813)

The U.S. government could steal Linux, and it could pay 3.6% of the bailout package. Seriously, $25 billion is still small in terms of the real economy. For example, Microsoft's operating income is $22.5 billion.

I dunno (-1, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | about 6 years ago | (#25441825)

maybe they can sell it and buy some soap.

I Love Linux, but... (5, Interesting)

mfh (56) | about 6 years ago | (#25441837)

The only tidbit of info I have so far is that the LInux Foundation has valued Google's use of Linux for Android at $1.3 billion worth of R&D.

Value can only be attributed towards things that can be bought and sold.

This is therefore an example of Post hoc ergo propter hoc [wikipedia.org] ; ie., just because Linux foundation says the Linux footprint is worth $25 Billion, is a fallicy because nobody can purchase it. It could show a measure of the rate of Linux adoption, but such suggestions must be understood by looking at the bigger picture. Who's losing when Linux is being adopted and also, which projects are not going with Linux?

There is also the long-tail of Linux adoption that couldn't possibly be accounted in their figure.

I must maintain that the big picture is currently too big for anyone to fully interpret at present, especially the Linux foundation who is subject to some considerable bias.

You can't sell the Linux ecosystem, and if you believe you can buy it -- I have a bridge to sell you (please contact me right away because I also have some important Nigerian business that requires you immmmmediate and humbling attention, kind sirs.)

I like Linux, but these types of concepts are rooted in Non Sequitur; that the buy-in of Linux is rooted in the success of Linux. That can only be true of this is a zero-sum claim, and there is evidence of losses directly attributed which while plausible does not make these factually relevant.

Oooooops (1)

mfh (56) | about 6 years ago | (#25441869)

Pardon my spelling errs. :)

fallicy -> fallacy

immmmmediate (as intended)

Re:I Love Linux, but... (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 6 years ago | (#25441997)

This is therefore an example of Post hoc ergo propter hoc

This is an example of someone not understanding what a particular logical fallacy actually is, and throwing it against the wall hoping it will stick.

Seriously. These online lists of classic fallacies are useful resources, and I think they've done a lot of good by helping people learn to recognize arguments that fail in certain predictable ways, but I'm getting really tired of people just grabbing their favorite and applying it to whatever argument is at hand without pausing to make sure that it actually applies in any meaningful way.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (4, Informative)

Alarindris (1253418) | about 6 years ago | (#25442353)

Mod parent up.

A occurred, then B occurred.
Therefore, A caused B.

I really don't see how that applies here.

I think the converse fallacy of accident is more applicable.

Every (business/good/OS) I've seen is worth something, so it must be true that Linux is worth something.

But, as was stated, Linux is not for sale.

Okay I will explain my logic. (2, Interesting)

mfh (56) | about 6 years ago | (#25442503)

A occurred, then B occurred.
Therefore, A caused B.

A: Linux is worth $25 Billion
B: Microsoft market share has decreased

Therefore A caused B? No. There is no evidence of that.

I love Linux but that kind of logic is simply flawed and therefore people who love Microsoft could use it against OSS in their sales pitch. A good part of OSS is the ability to have groupthink be thwarted by the input from many open (freely offered) sources. I happen to be a proponent of OSS.

A: Linux is worth $25 Billion
B: Microsoft market share has increased

Therefore A caused B?

Linux foundation is suggesting that their value of Linux is somehow relevant. It's not that relevant.

How can you put a value on something that is inherently invaluable? How do you account for the savings of using free products that also cause additional savings (from avoiding security holes, for example).

You cannot attribute a price on the value of Linux. It's simply priceless and that was the intent of my original comment.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 6 years ago | (#25442073)

Actually, that's a pretty good measure of value. Google had three choices:
  1. Buy an OS from someone.
  2. Develop their own OS.
  3. Use an open source OS.

The value of the open source OS, to them, is the cost of option 1 or 2, minus the cost of developing the extra stuff they need on top of it.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (4, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | about 6 years ago | (#25442211)

If the entire Linux technology sphere magically vanished overnight (don't ask me how), would the damage to the economy be in excess of $25 billion? Just because there's no liquidity doesn't mean there's no value.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25444279)

If paper clips vanished overnight the damage done might be more than $25 billion (not including the actual worth of the paper clips).

Re:I Love Linux, but... (5, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | about 6 years ago | (#25442215)


Value can only be attributed towards things that can be bought and sold.

Pure nonsense. Value can be attributed to things that produce value. Would you say the Brooklyn Bridge is worth nothing because it can't be bought or sold? I'd hope not.

Linux, like the Brooklyn Bridge produces economic value. Economists assign value to things that aren't bought and sold all the time. You can argue about how to go about this (and I'm certainly not qualified to do even that), but it's silly to say you can't give it a dollar value simply because nobody can "own" it.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

mfh (56) | about 6 years ago | (#25442413)

Pure nonsense. Value can be attributed to things that produce value. Would you say the Brooklyn Bridge is worth nothing because it can't be bought or sold? I'd hope not.

If the Brooklyn Bridge is free, what value does it really have?

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 6 years ago | (#25442737)

If the Brooklyn Bridge were destroyed, what effect would it have on the local economy? There is your hidden value. The bridge produces value despite there being no price tag.

Okay, now I assume you're saying "But the bridge is unique, and it _could_ be sold/leased by the city to a toll-company"... Well, what about wind? If magically, all wind stopped, what does that do to everything? The wind produces value despite no price tag. Therefore, we value the wind.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | about 6 years ago | (#25443077)

Both people arguing that the bridge is "free" are idiots. There is no "hidden value." The cost of the bridge was, simply put, the labor of the workers who built it and the cost of their raw materials. That's the price tag. The value it produces is it's return to local economy in the amount of gas the average commuter saves as a result of the bridge being in place.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 years ago | (#25443561)

Both people arguing that the bridge is "free" are idiots. There is no "hidden value." The cost of the bridge was, simply put, the labor of the workers who built it and the cost of their raw materials. That's the price tag.

That was the price tag then. You also have to look at how much it would cost you to replace it now. The fact that they likely spend millions/year in maintaining it means that it inherently has more value than just its "book value", which is almost meaningless for a bridge.

It would cost a lot more money in todays dollars to replace that than it did to build it in the first place. And not having it would be hugely disruptive to traffic, economy, and psyche of New Yorkers.

Valuation is far more complex than the initial cost to purchase. I think this thread is massively overly simplifying things here, and I doubt most of us are economists or qualified to really speak about such things.

Cheers

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | about 6 years ago | (#25443673)

I agree with you 100%. If you were doing a pro forma for the bridge, you'd have to consider the annual maintenance fees as one of the bridge's expenses, as well as considering the toll fees (or the money saved by the local economy, depending on your objectives) as the annual income. If the annual income is more than the annual expenses, then the present value of the bridge is equivalent to the net income in each subsequent year, each discounted by your annual MARR (and possibly including profits on the disposition).

However even my pedantically simple "initial cost" analysis was more complex than theirs. They were just flat-out wrong, man! That ain't a free bridge!

If that bridge is free then I'll sign on the dotted line for it right now and immediately impose a $1/car toll.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 years ago | (#25443753)

However even my pedantically simple "initial cost" analysis was more complex than theirs. They were just flat-out wrong, man! That ain't a free bridge!

If that bridge is free then I'll sign on the dotted line for it right now and immediately impose a $1/car toll.

Agreed, and, for many of the same reasons, it's meaningless to argue that Linux can't have a value associated with it and things that run on it.

It has value. Albeit, one which is hard to come up with a specific dollar figure for.

Cheers

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | about 6 years ago | (#25444395)

If I were doing the books for a company's tech department, I'd figure that the value of Linux was something like the cost of licensing Windows, minus the cost of hiring a team of Linux admins to maintain the software. I imagine that you would end up with figures showing that you saved the company $X million dollars, especially if Linux can keep a comparable uptime and you can show that there'd be a minimum of retraining costs associated with using something like OpenOffice instead of MS Office.

And then, if the Linux solution crashes and burns, you have a whole team of sysadmins to blame it on! It's win/win, I tell ya.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

Miseph (979059) | about 6 years ago | (#25443767)

cost!=value.

You are correct to say that the cost of the Brooklyn Bridge was the labor and materials put into building it (all which I'm sure have a known dollar amount, in case anyone cares), but that is not the same as its value or worth. One would have to account for how much it would cost to rebuild the bridge now, how much revenue it actually generates per year (ie. in terms of fuel savings and increase in access, how much business is created by the Brooklyn Bridge multiplied by how valuable that business is), how long it would take to rebuild the bridge, and the bridge's sentimental value as an historic landmark.

You're also right that there is no "hidden value"... it's pretty much out in the open.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (4, Insightful)

jonaskoelker (922170) | about 6 years ago | (#25442733)

Value can be attributed to things that produce value.

l = []; l.append(l); print l. Your definition is circular.

Value is a measure of how much we want or like something. I value personal liberties. I value economic liberties. I value food, clean air, sex, internet, staple guns, learning new things, intellect and reason in myself and others, science and lots of other things.

Value influences how much we're willing to give up to get the thing we value. If I had to choose between a house to live in and air to breath, I'd choose the air. If I had to choose between sex and internet, I'd choose sex. If I had to choose between 100$ and a copy of GH3+controller, I'd choose Guitar Hero. If I had to choose between 200$ and two Guitar Hero packs, I might choose the money, or I might choose the GH packs in hope of a resale.

Money has value for society because it allows us to break symmetry: I don't have to write code for the baker to get his bread. It has value to the individual (or the organization) because we all agree to trade it for other things we value.

Asking for the value of Linux is a vague question. The value of Linux what? The Copyrights? Not sure; even if everybody handed copyright on all FOSS code to a buyer, it's still FOSS, so we could just fork it and continue doing what we do. The buyer could allow itself to link GPL-incompatible code to _its_ GPL-licensed code. Or go all-the-way proprietary. How large a competitive advantage is that going to give? Not much, I think.

Linux use? To me, being able to use Linux is more valuable than being able to use Windows. I'm a member of our minority group on that. To some people, there's a big dollar amount [of saved money] attached to using Linux instead of $OS. Measure all those amounts well and add them up, and you may end up with a number that actually means something and has a relationship to reality.

An interesting bit from TFA:

In 2008, IDC forecast that the Linux ecosystem would be worth $49 billion by 2011. That report coincidentally was sponsored by the Linux Foundation as well.

Is that like a Gartner report saying Vista is worth $BIGNUM monies? Because from here I can't tell the difference, so someone please spell it out for me.

(#define Linux GNU/Linux or Linux, as appropriate)

-- Jonas K

Re:I Love Linux, but... (4, Funny)

suggsjc (726146) | about 6 years ago | (#25443959)

You make some good points, but I think you lost about half of your readers after this line:

If I had to choose between sex and internet, I'd choose sex.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

bogeyjlg (917473) | about 6 years ago | (#25444597)

Only half?

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 6 years ago | (#25442753)

> Would you say the Brooklyn Bridge is worth nothing because it can't be bought or sold?

The Port Authority could sell it if they so chose. Linux, on the other hand, cannot be sold in the same sense that you cannot sell the idea of a cloud.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

kill-1 (36256) | about 6 years ago | (#25444349)

Linux and any other collaborative open source project could be sold theoretically, if all copyright holders would agree on the terms.

A problem though remains... (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 6 years ago | (#25443195)

The problem that remains, though is: just because you can think up a random number to put on something, doesn't mean it's the right number.

And if economists were that good at calculating the values, the USSR would still be going strong and would have the strongest economy in the world. After all, that was the whole idea: instead of letting the free market work it out by trial and error, have a handful of smart guys who calculate exactly how many bycicles are needed and exactly how much should they cost. It should be much more efficient, right? It didn't quite work out that way.

So, yes, some people like to put a dollar value on anything in sight. It doesn't mean it's the right one.

The only moment when you can know the real value, is, yes, when you can apply what we knew at least since Publilius Syrus: "Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it." As long as you can't have a purchaser, that value you put on it is just a pointless abstraction. Again, I know that some people love to paint the whole world in dollar worths, but it doesn't mean it actually means anything or that you can do anything with that number.

E.g., they even put a $ worth on a human life. What _can_ you do with that number? Can I come shoot you if I have that money on hand to pay as weregeld? Can I buy you? Or what? Exactly what _does_ that number tell me?

In practice it's just an abstraction used to handwave stuff like "see, the legal speed on highways should by higher/lower because it means X million dollars in lost lives, vs Y million gained in commerce along that road." But it's ultimately just a made up excuse, and usually working backwards from the conclusion one wants to an acceptable excuse for it.

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | about 6 years ago | (#25443351)

Get a clue dude. The Brooklyn Bridge was "bought" for the wages of the workers who built it and the cost of their raw materials. It produces tangible return to the community by increasing their available paths of commute, reducing their transportation costs in fuel and time. In fact, it could even be "sold" to a private holder, who would value it for the return that could be produced by charging a toll on the bridge.

You're right that value can be attributed to things that produce value. What you have failed to realize is that someone realized this long, long before you did, and now when accountants, appraisers, economists, and the like estimate the value of something, such as real estate, one of the factors they always consider is the value that the property (or whatever else) is capable of producing. That means that the "future value" of many things is already incorporated into the price.

In my opinion, Linux has value (even though you can't sell it) because it's a free alternative to a more costly option (Windows). In other words, Linux has less opportunity cost because if you choose it, you can do something else with all of your software licensing fees. Like hire competent and experienced Linux technicians, for example ...

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

bazorg (911295) | about 6 years ago | (#25442339)

"Value can only be attributed towards things that can be bought and sold."

your country's GDP for example.

Hmm? (2, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | about 6 years ago | (#25442541)

Hmmm, I'm not sure I understand in which way it is a Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc fallacy.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc, means almost literally what its translation says: Y happened after X, therefore Y happened because of X. In other words it's mistaking chronology for causation. E.g.,

- I bought a new cell phone last year, and this year I occasionally have migraines. Therefore, the cell phone is obviously the cause of my headaches.

- Bill Hicks spoke against God and religion, then (after many years of it) Bill Hicks died relatively young. Of cancer. Obviously his lack of faith is the cause of his illness.

- I got a raise, and soon thereafter the latest economic bubble burst and the credit crunch kicked in. Obviously my raise the cause of the recession. My wage is that big a burden on the economy ;)

- Jane bought a new TFT monitor, and soon thereafter she got diagnosed with melanoma. Therefore the radiation from TFT monitors must have caused it.

- John switched from Linux to BSD, and soon afterwards he ended up in a mental institution. Therefore BSD drives people insane.

Etc.

The common theme there is really this: "happened after, therefore happened because". Temporal succession => causality.

The difference between it and, say, "correlation != causation" is that here usually you don't even have enough of a sample to even have a proper correlation. You have two random anecdotes and the only thing that connects them is the order of their timestamps, so to speak, and that succession is taken to mean causation.

But you probably knew that already.

So, anyway, assuming that you did mean that particular fallacy, in which way do you see it at work there? It doesn't seem obvious at all to me, and I'm genuinely curious. What case of chronology mistaken for casuality do you have in mind there?

Re:I Love Linux, but... (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | about 6 years ago | (#25443215)

Value can only be attributed towards things that can be bought and sold.

Nonsense. Since Linux is a free alternative to a much spendier product (Windows), it's "value" is the money saved when you choose it over something that would have cost you. In other words, Linux has tangible value because it has less opportunity cost than Windows, even though you can't buy it and you can't sell it.

Also, I don't think you used post hoc ergo propter hoc correctly. That means "after this, therefore because of this," or in other words, it is the error in discriminating between correlation and causation. "A occurred, then B occurred. Therefore, A caused B." I didn't see that pattern of logic referenced anywhere in your paragraph.

Maybe if we all just stopped using nonsensical jargon, like pedantic little latin phrases that make us sound "well-educated," and just said what we meant, we wouldn't have to waste our time typing and interpreting all that long-winded bullshit.

Air (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 6 years ago | (#25442005)

How much is air worth?

It's sad that there are so many people who worship the almighty dollar that they have to put a price on everything.

Linux, like air, is priceless. Saying it is worth $n devalues it.

Re:Air (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | about 6 years ago | (#25442165)

Well if you had 30 lawyers form a trade group, and sue every user a standard 5-6 grand per use then multiply by how many.....oh wait, it is licensed as free.

  Humm well then! Get an advertising firm. Have them work for a powerful software company that makes superior products, design a slick ad campaign staring has-been comedians and zillionaire CEOS and...oh wait, their products suck and aren't Linux anyway. humm...

Looks to me like Linux truly is priceless in the one true coin of the realm: Lawyer and advertising fees...

   

Re:Air (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | about 6 years ago | (#25442189)

So valuing something devalues it?
You must be using a newfangled quantum valuation system.

Re:Air (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 6 years ago | (#25442337)

Putting a price on the priceless devalues it. "Priceless" means it has infinite value, and any dollar amount put on your infinitely useful object/endeavor/material brings its value DOWN.

There is more to life than money.

Re:Air (0)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | about 6 years ago | (#25443023)

---There is more to life than money.

Not to a Capitalist.

Re:Air (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | about 6 years ago | (#25443243)

Then why do send their children to college?

Re:Air (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25444017)

Then why do send their children to college?

To pay for their retirement.

Re:Air (1)

Monchanger (637670) | about 6 years ago | (#25443325)

I beg to differ.

We have to be accurate when applying a term like "priceless," and certainly not make a false analogy of Linux to air. (Why not compare water to Linux? You can pay for both of them, just as you can get air and Linux for free.)

Currently, air is available to all at no cost, assuming no special circumstances. Thus it not priceless but free, as in having a value of $0. Its value goes up quite quickly when one ascends into the sky/space or underground/water, which is due to its being a necessity (priceless), though the price does not escalate to infinity due to the increasing likelihood of new suppliers (see "demand & supply").

But these values are not for the air itself, but for the SERVICE of supplying it where it is needed. I can't find a memorable Sesame Street skit about a guy selling air for my fellow /.ers, but I'm wouldn't doubt that some day crazy rich people in L.A. will start importing "Natural iodized air from the Rockies" like bottled water.

While you can acquire a Linux-based OS for free, most businesses will have additional costs (as they do with Windows in addition to licensing costs). When gives Linux the (what sees to be haphazardly-assessed) value here is not a price, but the availability of opportunity of providing these operating system services.

Re:Air (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 6 years ago | (#25444115)

""Priceless" means it has infinite value"

Your argumentation being?

Water is colorless; does it mean "water has infinite colour"? Snails are footless; does it mean they have an infinite number of feet?

Priceless means "without a price tag"; nothing more, nothing less. If anything, putting a price tag on something that can't have one (not that I'm saying Linux belongs to such category or not) is a nonsense, not a devaluation.

Re:Air (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 6 years ago | (#25444271)

The dictionary disagrees with you.

Re:Air (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 6 years ago | (#25443799)

Putting a price on something can change the value of said thing, especially if the thing's desirability is tied directly to its price and availability.

The popularity of Linux is tied directly to it's price. Linux's price is why it is used by hobbyists, Google, IBM, Asus, etc. And, if they don't use and support Linux, then Linux doesn't have an ecosystem to value.

And, to be honest, Linux's popularity is tied to it's Unix-like nature leading to it's adoption GNU because they could not get HURD finished. And, it's the fact that it came out before so many other "free" O/Ses. Linux is not better than many other O/Ses, just different. If Linux had not been adopted by GNU, other O/Ses like FreeBSD, Minuette or even MMURTL(a truly free O/S because it is in the public domain), would probably be taking Linux's place in a number of niches.

Re:Air (1)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | about 6 years ago | (#25443565)

I'm sure I've read this story and this comment before. Ah, yes - Four years ago [slashdot.org]

Re:Air (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | about 6 years ago | (#25444511)

TFA talks about the worth of the Linux financial ecosystem and not the worth of the Linux ecosystem itself.

Obvious conclusion of a study... (1)

Vexler (127353) | about 6 years ago | (#25442063)

...done by SCO.

Simply Put (4, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | about 6 years ago | (#25442075)

Linux is priceless in value precisely because it is F/OSS

Re:Simply Put (1)

RalphTheWonderLlama (927434) | about 6 years ago | (#25443069)

Yeah, who would buy it?

Re:Simply Put (1)

aztektum (170569) | about 6 years ago | (#25443867)

Exactly what I was thinking, hence why I tagged the article "whocares?"

I use Linux daily because I can get things done in a way that works best for me. That makes it far too important a tool to put a dollar figure on, IMO.

Not something to brag about? (5, Insightful)

Hikaru79 (832891) | about 6 years ago | (#25442129)

Even let's say that the $25B value is accurate and represents something meaningful, it seems to be a pretty depressing number for the entire ecosystem, isn't it? Microsoft as a publicly traded company alone is currently worth $216.11B and I'm sure we can all agree that the entire Windows "ecosystem" is worth at least that much over again. So the Linux ecosystem is worth, what, 5% of Microsoft's value? And this is at a time when Linux is at a historic "high" while Microsoft is in a pretty firm slump...

Not that I think this is an accurate or meaningful number.

Re:Not something to brag about? (2, Interesting)

glop (181086) | about 6 years ago | (#25442303)

25 Billion $ is a lot of money.

Additionally, if we follow your reasoning, many companies that have products that could be sold for Linux will think : Linux = 5% of Windows. They will conclude that they could increase their sales by 5% by supporting Linux.

That could sound like an interesting deal for many companies.

Re:Not something to brag about? (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 6 years ago | (#25442939)

Nope. Those companies will reference the Pareto principle [wikipedia.org] and decide that the 5% increase in sales is not worth the cost of support and development and the possibility they may infringe on the GPL.

Re:Not something to brag about? (0, Flamebait)

Calsar (1166209) | about 6 years ago | (#25442877)

The 5% figure sounds reasonable. Microsoft isn't just windows. It is the Microsoft Office Suite, SQL Server, Visual Studio, .Net and a whole host of other software packages. If you wanted to get an open source "ecosystem" value equivalent to Microsoft you would have to include several other open source projects like Open Office, MySQL, Eclipse, Java, J2EE, and many others.

Re:Not something to brag about? (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 6 years ago | (#25444581)

Except Microsoft is not just windows. Xbox, office, etc.

No bids (1)

jamesl (106902) | about 6 years ago | (#25442203)

Like the mortgage backed securities embeded in bank asset portfolios, there's no market for "Linux" so anybody naming a price is spreading fairy dust. Maybe they can get the US Treasury to make a bid.

I thought Linux was free (1)

unassimilatible (225662) | about 6 years ago | (#25442259)

But technically, so is everything else I download.

That's NOTHING! (4, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 6 years ago | (#25442335)

25 Billion? That's nothing. Have you seen how much just one of RIAA's infringed songs is worth???

Let's see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25442523)

I contributed 0.01% to the Linux source. Please contact me immediately for details on where to send my $2.5M check.

Tivo and VMware (0)

xgr3gx (1068984) | about 6 years ago | (#25442771)

What about companies that owe thier existance to Linux?
2 I can think of are Tivo and VMWare. Both of their products are based on Linux
Are their values part of the ecosystem?

No, it is not. (1)

PineGreen (446635) | about 6 years ago | (#25443055)

This is how much it would have been if it was for sale. But it is not and neither does it function as a sellable entity...

I'm not your guy, buddy! (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | about 6 years ago | (#25443089)

How about some of that there Internet money? Is Linus willing to fight the Laughing Baby and the Chocolate Rain guy for it?

the best answer is not priceless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25443135)

Since the best answer to the question "what X is worth?" is always "what somebody is willing to pay for it", the answer to the question what Linux is worth is "what Microsoft would pay to make it disappear". If we pretend that there was a single entity in a position to control Linux and make it disappear, Microsoft would make a huge effort to determine what their highest bid to that entity should be. Thus a price in dollars can certainly be determined (well, Microsoft could but wouldn't disclose if they did and won't because they have no incentive to spend the high-priced MBA hours needed).

Baz (1)

thinkloop (1386669) | about 6 years ago | (#25443937)

The way to think about it is to estimate the maximum amount the world is willing to pay NOT to LOSE their Linux. RedHat would pay at least half their worth (2.6B / 2 = 1.3B) to stop you from pressing the NukeAllKernels button. Cisco would pay at least a sixth of their market cap (109B / 6 = 18B). That's already almost 20B! How much would you pay to not have your Linux nuked?

Value of Linux > Value of Vista (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 6 years ago | (#25444129)

Vista cost $6 billion to develop, according to Wikipedia

$25B? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 6 years ago | (#25444243)

What would that be if we had Microsoft's market share?

Juniper's JunOS is FreeBSD based (1)

imp (7585) | about 6 years ago | (#25444635)

Juniper's JunOS is FreeBSD based. It wouldn't make sense to count most of Juniper's revenues as part of the Linux EcoSystem. While they have acquired a small number of Linux-based startups, the vast majority of revenue is from is FreeBSD JunOS software. Oh, and all that hardware...

How do you separate out the difference between the two anyway?

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