Do you work for an open-source “free-loader”?
This week is a great time to assess what open source your organization uses, and make sure you are doing “your share” to support these community resources. All tech companies use open source, but not all of them support it. Everyone loves leveraging open source, but not every organization shows that love in a practical way: https://nedbatchelder.com/blog/201511/funding_free_software.html
I was pleased to discover that Mozilla has recently done an open source inventory, and put together a plan to support it.
On December 10th Mozilla made the first of their “Open Source Support” awards, handing out $503K of $1 million in awards. (Read about it here.)
Surprisingly few tech companies, who presumably recognize the cost and value of creating software, donate money to open source projects. In 2015, ISC got exactly two significant corporate donations, from Craigslist and from Facebook (thank you!). I am sure that there are many more tech companies out there who rely on our DHCP and BIND DNS software, and most of them don’t support this open source at all. Of course it is easy to assume that all open source has some other means of support: a foundation, or adjunct products that generate revenue, or “other users” who contribute.
ISC is not only a publisher of open source, we are also a consumer. When I think about the open source that we use at ISC, a small, 35-person company, I can come up with quite a list without much effort.
We aren’t perfect either: we support a few of these projects financially, we support a few of them technically, and some of them, we don’t support at all:
- Best Practical’s RT issue tracker (we pay for support) (https://bestpractical.com)
- WordPress website software (we pay for some plug-ins and ecosystem products but don’t donate to the maintainers at https://automattic.com) as well as wiki software (http://twiki.org) and Trac (https://trac.edgewall.org)
- Jenkins continuous integration software (https://jenkins.io/), other development tools, such as the Clang analyzer (http://clang.llvm.org) and git (https://git-scm.com)
- The popular BIND-users and DHCP-users mailing lists are powered by Mailman (https://www.gnu.org/software/mailman/) and we use Zimbra for our internal email system (https://www.zimbra.com)
- We rely heavily on Etherpad for internal meeting notes (https://etherpad.org/)
- We use multiple Unix and Linux operating systems, most of which which we contribute code to, C, C++ and Python, and we use MySql and PostGres, among other open source components and libraries, in the open source software we publish
- I personally use the Adium xmpp client (https://adium.im) and some of us use Apache Open Office desktop software (https://www.openoffice.org)
ISC is non-profit, but we are at least able to pay our software engineers a living wage, and provide (depending on their location) health insurance. If your employer is profitable, and able to pay you a living wage, consider advocating for contributions to the open source projects you use in your job. Even small contributions ($100? $500?) will make a difference to these programs and are still a bargain for software you use every day.