Open source started out as a small group of developers working together for the thrill of coming up with new code but according to The Register article “Has Cash Corrupted Open Source?” a lot has changed since Open Source and Linux first met. Open Source projects are still very popular but oftentimes before a program can really light up the market, a developer must funnel in a nice stack of cash. The author, Matt Asay, seems to try and answer the questions.
Is this a good thing?
One must start by comparing a community-driven versus a corporate sponsored open-source project and think about if there are really any differences. According to Asay there is a definite difference and it deals primarily with the contributions to the project. For instance if one company plays a bigger role in the development of a code base, other outside developers may not want to get involved. This breaks down one of the fundamental goals of Open Source, which is to eliminate lock-in.
For myself, I don’t think commercial participation or even ownership of an open-source project is necessarily a bad thing. Vendors will comprise a big chunk of the developer base of any successful open-source project: that’s just the nature of modern-day open source. But how those developers impact or control a project differs greatly, and the best projects are those that are able to accept the influence of commercial interests without being overwhelmed by them.
Commercial Open Source can be a good choice without destroying creativity as shown by companies such as LucidWorks. All in all, the most important thing to remember when it comes to Open Source is the love of the code.
April Holmes, September 19, 2012