HanishKVC’s General Blog zone

October 4, 2006

Open sourcing Code (which should be ethically open) equally or more important than Hiring few open source developers or supporting opensource

Filed under: life,OpenSource,technology — hanishkvc @ 1:15 pm

In Aug2006 there was a blog entry about Google , the god father of opensource ? in linuxjournal. Which tried to justify Google not opensourcing their code by saying that they hire people who work on opensource products and that people won’t understand googles code contributions so why should they and so on. This really made me sad that people think in such ways and make bad things appear good. So I commented there my thoughts on why its not good. I am adding it here as part of consolidation of my thought. Here follows my comments then:

Hi,

It is good to know that google is hiring open source developers so that they can concentrate on their open source work rather than worrying about how to earn a living in parallel to working on open source projects.

However if google is not open sourcing some of its code which it should have open sourced from a pure ethical point of view (but not doing it by hiding behind some short comings in the existing GPL or other open source licenses – feel/guessing that it may be mostly related to web based servicing …) Then it is a bad thing that google is doing and it can no way be justified to be ok just because they hire few open source developers or support few open source projects moneyterily.

If someone tells that they don’t think that its worth opensourcing their code, because people may not understand the code or may not have any use for the code then they are talking garbage here. If all the initial developers of opensource code had worked with the same mentality as above then the open source movement wouldn’t have been the great movement to be reckoned with that it is today.

Yes there might be people who are mentored slowly into open source projects, but at the same time you will find a lot of people silently contributing or using opensource code/project with out having any mentor to guide them because they have some circumstances which they feel is best resolved using open source projects and then learning the abc’s of the project on their own based on the code available to them and by experimenting with that code.

NOTES: As I don’t keep track of events on the opensource front actively I don’t know if google is guilty or not. But if any company (google or otherwise) as a attitude that what ever code they are working on which in turn is directly or indirectly built on open source projects, is not worth opensourcing just because they feel others may not understand it or may not have use for it, then this is NOT a GOOD TREND NOR ATTITUDE and NOR IS IT ETHICAL. And no one should praise such a company and justify that a better thing for such a company to do is (a) to hire few open source developers to let them work on their open source projects, or (b) contribute moneyterily to open source projects or (c) mobilize people to work on opensource projects. What I mean is even though (a),(b) and (c) above are in itself good things it can in NO way justify the stealing (if I may use such harsh word) of efforts of other opensource developers however small it might be. Because it goes against the fundamentals of the open source movement, which are essential to keep the opensource movement alive.

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