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.