If there was ever a field where Isaac Newton's famous saying, "If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants," held true, open source is it.

So whose shoulders are you standing on when you use an open source Content Management System? l2admin has some well thought out ideas.

The Shoulders of Individuals

The top ten individuals l2admin feels have contributed the most acreage of broad shoulders to open source are:

  1. (Tied) Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman - Some will feel it is sacrilege to mention the founder and benevolent dictator of Linux (Torvalds) and the father of the free/libre software movement (Stallman) together, and that one definitely belongs above the other. However, without both of these gentlemen, the FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) movement wouldn't be where it is today.
  2. Andrew Morton - Every benevolent dictator needs a trustworthy lieutenant to take on part of the load. Morton has been invaluable as one of the central Linux kernel maintainers.
  3. Eric S. Raymond - "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," published in 1997, is still quoted today as one of the central arguments behind open source. His co-founding of the Open Source Initiative also gave us an umbrella for the open source licenses of today beyond Stallman's GPL.
  4. Andrew Tridgell - Without the Samba file server, much of the ability to integrate Linux with Windows networks (and vice versa) simply wouldn't exist. Not to mention that without rsync most backup software would need another program to use under the hood.
  5. Mark Shuttleworth - The founder of Canonical, Ltd., and patron of Ubuntu and KDE.
  6. Marc Ewing - The creator of Red Hat Linux and co-founder of Red Hat, down to the fact that he used to wear a red hat.
  7. Miguel de Icaza - Father of the GNOME and Mono projects.
  8. Michael Widenius - Founder of the MySQL database and founding member of MySQL AB.
  9. Rasmus Lerdorf - Creator of the PHP programming language.

The Shoulders of Corps

It's not just individuals that contribute to open source. Many corporations pay or bonus their employees to contribute software to projects. Some hire people specifically to continue their open source coding.

The five most important companies for the advancement of enterprise Linux, according to l2admin, are almost entirely made up of companies that people in the open source community love to hate:

  1. Microsoft - This company over the years has provided tons of inspiration from driving people to want to make better (and more affordable) software to making folks want to eat their words about "cancerous" open source.
  2. Novell - Novell's move to open source didn't dribble in. They leapt in with both arms, feet and the rest of the body all together. While some decry their involvement with Microsoft, it's hard not to celebrate their slaps to SCO.
  3. Red Hat - l2admin probably says it best: "They took Linux to the suits and won." That and their contributions to the Linux code base over the years certainly earns them a spot.
  4. HP - Ensures that their server hardware drivers work flawlessly with Linux.
  5. Sourceforge (VA Software) - Giving developers a place to get together and collaborate on Sourceforge, not to mention shoot off steam with Slashdot, certainly helped the community's growth.

Half of the fun of these lists is to argue and debate who really belongs on them. What's your take?