There's a lot to like about open source software. It can help your business by cutting costs and producing better software. It's open, auditable, and customizable, and free of the restrictive, invasive licenses and EULAs that infest proprietary software. You can build a community around an open source project, one that incorporates contributions from both staff and outside developers. If you're wondering how to start up and manage a genuine open source project, here are four fundamental tasks to get you started: start small, build trust and social capital, start smart, and build for the future.
In the past several years, open source has gone mainstream. A new survey by OpenLogic shows that virtually every enterprise is using open source software. More importantly, open source code is no longer just coming in the “back door” through unsanctioned downloads by enterprises developers. Instead, open source software is being welcomed in through the front door of the enterprise as an equal or preferred alternative to proprietary, closed source software. These new survey results confirm what many in the open source community have already observed: enterprises have clearly transitioned to a new stage in open source adoption.
When you release code under the GNU General Public License (GPL), you undertake a specific set of obligations. Many of these obligations, such as providing a copyright notice and a copy of the GPL version you are using, are relatively simple. However, the obligation to provide source code with the object code is more complex, because you have several choices about how to fulfill it – and the choice you make can cause ongoing problems, especially if you are not set up to administer it.
A couple of years ago I wrote about the IT culture of Europe and the market opportunity it presents for vendors of open source software. If you're ready to take advantage of that information, here are some points American open source software vendors should consider when developing a plan to open new markets in Europe.
The European Legal Network Conference was held last month in Amsterdam. Organized by the FSFE (Free Software Foundation Europe), it is designed “to allow legal experts to discuss the future of Free Software licenses and associated best practice in this field.”
Looking for ways to save money on your computing infrastructure? Heard about Linux uptime but need to do more research? You're not alone. Community Linux distros have become increasingly popular within the enterprise as organizations look to cut costs without compromising on functionality and reliability. But it can be tough to determine which distributions are best suited to different uses within the enterprise and how to approach a migration from a commercial Linux distribution like Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
Europe leads the world in open source software adoption and development. Open source solutions have greater market share in Europe than the rest of the world, both on the server and the desktop, and more open source developers live in Europe than on any other continent including North America. Only 18% of the developers on SourceForge live in the United States, while 33% live in the European Union (EU). European firms that contribute to open source projects account for about 565,000 jobs and have combined annual revenues of over €260 billion ($350 billion).
Remember that "Think Globally, Act Locally" bumper sticker you've seen on hybrids and VW buses? The folks over at Mozilla have really taken the message to heart, and it's worked out quite well for them — the next version of their Firefox browser is slated to ship with over 70 localizations, covering over 97% of the world's Internet population. Oh, and have you noticed that Firefox continues to grow market share at the expense of Internet Explorer? By the end of last year Internet Explorer fell from a 75.47% market share to 69.77%, while Firefox surpassed a 20% share for the first time ever, reaching 20.78% by the end of November 2008. John Lilly, a Chief Executive at Mozilla, called that a "significant milestone." We call it awesome, and we've got to think it's partly due to localization. As a matter of fact, their ability to engage the locals has been one of the most important factors in Mozilla's global success.
We know that free and open source software (FOSS) is bigger than the code. It's a powerful movement, with the potential to change the world in profound ways. Cooperation. Collaboration. The best minds working toward the best solutions they can imagine and making those ideas available to all, regardless of cash flow — these ingredients make for quite a heady stew. For those of us already sold on the advantages of FOSS it can be hard to imagine why anyone would hesitate to jump in, but the reluctance to embrace open source can be summarized with just two words: human nature. There are a lot of people out there who simply have no idea. Who are even suspicious of all this free and open stuff. The words alone can impart to the uninitiated an uncomfortable feeling. They'll be made to pay in some form or another — they just don't know how, yet. We know that the price can only be measured in willingness to change. To some, that sounds pretty steep.