Open Source Taking Up Residence?

Sarah Lacy

I am renowned for taking my work place anxiety to bed with me. If I'm working on a tough story, 10-to-1 I dream about it night-after-night until it's done. I even collect anxiety dreams: I still have ones about getting table five its food on time or it's the last month of a college semester and, oops, I forgot to go to that English class all year.

But, seriously, the nerdiest dreams I've had are covering the software beat.

Once, I fell asleep watching "The Rookie." I had an elaborate dream about a small startup company that had missed its shot at the bigs, only to later find out it was uncommonly fast at automating a certain thing in the business software world. It got discovered, had an IPO, and the crowd went wild. All the while, in the dream, I was furiously trying to get the story.

It's even catching: When I first started covering software, my husband dreamt that he was at an event and madly following around Larry Ellison trying to line up an interview for me.

The latest? I'm planning an open source special report for BW Online that runs Feb. 6, and I had a dream that my husband and I got a new computer and I decided to install only open source software on it-- just to see for myself how far desktop open source had really come. It seemed like such an interesting challenge in the dream, that I actually ran the idea past my husband, but he vetoed buying a new computer or my trashing all the software off of our desktop at home.

This brings me to my point though: Open source seems to be making strides in the consumer realm, but who all realizes it? The obvious example is Firefox-- but despite its runaway success, how many users realize its open source? And did you know TiVo uses Linux? I didn't until recently.

Where else is open source cropping up in your daily lives? Does it ever become a branding tool? If people like me love FireFox and love TiVo-- might new services and devices try pull on that halo effect by also using Linux or open source software? Could it ever become the new Apple for a group of devotees sick of Microsoft, Sony and the old consumer guard? Please share!

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.