- Impact of OSS
- Why companies make their project open source?
- Problems with open source
The more I think about open source, the more confusing things get. In some sense, Open Source projects are pretty similar to Non-Profits.
Impact of OSS
The overall impact of OSS has been high. If there was no OSS, we would either have to buy everything or build everything from scratch every time.
Most of the libraries I use daily are open source.
Most OSS are libraries for developers to use.
Some exceptions are Signal, VLC and Chrome.
Why companies make their project open source?
Companies, especially smaller ones, gain a lot of recognition by being developing open-source software. An example of this is BaseCamp which built Ruby on Rails.
Enterprises and even smaller companies prefer free open source software over the paid ones if it gets their work done faster.
Open-source software help companies find and recruit good talent. Though it is likely not the main reason for making open-source software.
Most companies don’t depend on their open-source software for profit.
The once which do usually rely on:
- Provide additional proprietary features at Premium. Like: Cloud Support.
Problems with open source
Not all OS projects are equal. Some projects are better maintained than others.
The revenue does not seem sustainable. The companies which only focus on open source products either require a lot of Donation (like Ubuntu) or have to pivot heavily to be sustainable (like RedHat recently)
Deception and Priorities
OSS often doesn’t openly admit to having bugs. If a developer knows of bugs in the OSS they can choose not to use the product. But usually, developers get to realize the bugs themself after a few months of using the products.
Critical bugs may be ignored as open-source projects have their own set of priorities. Sometimes the prioritize the number of issues fixed over addressing critical once. There is low/no accountability 1 since it is free.
Paid products provide priority support for paid customers, thus resolving issues faster.
When choosing an open-source project, check GitHub issues first. 1
Also, open-source projects do get abandoned which does not happen with paid products.