Poul-Henning Kamp has written a fantastic article about why companies should just “throw money at developers” of free/open source software projects. The recent Heartbleed problem with OpenSSL could have been caught had there been more developer time devoted to the project. However, that developer time costs money and we should be far more giving to free/open source projects.
FOSS does not materialize out of empty space; it is written by people. We love what we do, which is why I’m sitting here, way past midnight on a Saturday evening, writing about it; but we are also real people with kids, cars, mortgages, leaky roofs, sick pets, infirm parents, and all kinds of other perfectly normal worries.
The only way to improve the quality of FOSS is to make it possible for these perfectly normal people to spend time on it. They need time to review patch submissions carefully, to write and run test cases, to respond to and fix bug reports, to code, and most of all, time just to think about the code and what should happen to it.
Two ways of funding FOSS mentioned in the article:
- hire FOSS maintainers, with the understanding that some part of their time is focused on the FOSS project and the other part is company time
- companies can donate and sponsor FOSS developer teams without hiring the maintainers
Creating a foundation for the project can also help because the foundation’s goal is to handle all fund-raising, which lets developers get back to work on developing using the funds collected by the foundation.
The article is really good, I recommend everyone read it twice and then figure out a way to get their company to donate to all the valuable open source projects out there like Node.js, WordPress, Linux, Firefox, etc.
Memo to OSS developers: I can pay money for software licenses, even if the license is just “MIT, but we invoice you”, but I cannot just put business funds in your tip jar.
from an article about TarSnap, the secure backup service, and how it could be better run as a business.
This is an important insight: software can be licensed under the GNU GPL or MIT with a software fee included. This is allowed by the licenses and it makes it possible for businesses to buy your free/open source software. To developers, it’s seen as a donation to their project, but to businesses it will be seen as a justifiable business expense.
Personally, I’ve tried to convince previous employers that they should donate to free/open source projects that we routinely used. My justification to them was that we rely on the projects so much that the donations are essentially a business expense. Unfortunately, if it’s labeled as a donation and not as a sponsorship or as a required license fee, businesses will not see it as an expense, they’ll see it as free code that will lower costs.
The Open Source Report Card
cool site for generating a report card for open source projects on GitHub
The purpose of SourceContribute.com is to give organizations enough information to create a well-defined and clear strategy for interacting with Free/Open Source Software communities.
According to an article on Linux.com, http://www.linux.com/news/enterprise/biz-enterprise/707402-four-open-source-best-practices-enterprise/
“[financial services firms] haven’t yet developed the processes, culture and mechanisms needed to work directly with the community to obtain support, make contributions and influence project directions.”
how Puppet Labs deals with community: http://www.linux.com/news/featured-blogs/196-zonker/707984-puppet-labs-ceo-how-to-grow-an-authentic-open-source-community/
OpenBSD seeking donations to cover electrical costs.
According to the thread about this on reddit (r/programming), the electrical costs are for the servers.
This is one of those essential costs that’s required when developing free/open source software that is meant for servers or for particular hardware configurations. This is also required for mobile web app development, to ensure that the interface works on all sorts of smartphones. Donating to a free/open source project helps a lot with the essential costs. Donations may not be able to pay for more full-time development work but they can at least keep the electricity flowing to the hardware and keep the servers running!