Who Will Lead Free Software in the Future?
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and Richard Stallman’s leadership are common topics on the Internet. However, perusing the usual criticisms and defenses of Stallman in a discussion last week on Facebook and Google+, I had a blinding flash of the obvious:
What, I wondered, happens when Stallman no longer leads? Will new intellectual leaders emerge, or will free software be limited to a single generation?
The question of succession is one that many organizations in free and open source software (FOSS) will have to face in the coming years. Since FOSS is less than three decades old, in many cases, organizations are still being led by their founders. However, as the original leaders approach old age, the question will become increasingly unavoidable.
Some, of course, have already answered it. In the Linux kernel, the “Linus doesn’t scale” controversy of a decade ago resulted in a reorganization of work flow so that now several lieutenants exist who might be able to step into Torvalds’ position if for some reason he was unavailable.
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