Is the depressed economy helping or hindering open source? In a recent Internetnews.com interview with Markus Rex, former CTO of the Linux Foundation and now Novell senior vice president of open source, Rex questions whether the open source community suffers as developers button down and put all their energies into their paid work rather than offer their work to the community for free.
Rex is quoted as saying:
“The other thing is in both Europe and the US the rise of the unemployment rate is something that is rather unprecedented. The open source community to a certain degree is dependant on the willingness of people to contribute. We see no indication that anything might change there, but who knows? People need something to live off.
“I don’t think that the open source community is in any sort of danger right now but the question for me going forward is how effective can the open source community react to the change in the outside environment.”
Open source is no longer about geeks tinkering away in their free time and sharing their developments to their friends. Large organizations from IBM to Cisco to yes, Plixer International, use open source code in their commercial products.
Michael Patterson, Scrutinizer NetFlow and sFlow Analyzer product manager says: “Plixer often looks at open source not only for pieces of a puzzle but also for innovative ideas in NetFlow Analysis. Generally pieces of Java script have been very handy.”
As for Cisco’s use of open source, you may know that Cisco is being sued by the Free Software Foundation for allegedly infringing the organization’s software licenses for a number of Linksys products. The lawsuit has also led observers to note that Cisco uses a lot of open source in its products and to ask whether Cisco is an open source leech or if it’s poised to champion open source as IBM is doing.
Back to our original question: is open source suffering in the depressed economy? Companies may see open source as offering good technology at a low cost, but are we seeing fewer updates and new open source code being created as developers focus on their paid work?