Open source software is now at the heart of the tech platforms and services most of us use every day, including Microsoft, whose former CEO Steve Ballmer once famously described Linux and other open source projects as a “Cancer.” These days, Microsoft positions itself as a champion of open source development, as does Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, and even the US government.
Free software, if it is mentioned at all, is usually brought up under the umbrella term Free and Open Source Software or FOSS. THE ECONOMICS OF OPEN SOURCE. Although open source software was rapidly embraced by many of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley, economists struggled to explain how these projects, which bucked all the conventions of the marketplace, could be so successful.
Titled “The Simple Economics of Open Source,” Lerner and Tirole identified multiple immediate and long term benefits gained by open source developers such that the role of altruism in open source development was reduced to an accidental byproduct.
As for long term benefits, open source development was used to advance a programmer’s career by demonstrating their talents to a prospective employer or venture capitalist, as well as providing a signalling mechanism whereby developers can gain recognition for their technical chops from their peers in open source.
As the developer William Gross described the issue, the rising tide of companies that depend on open source software means that open source developers are deluged with feature requests and issues with the code and many of these companies expect that their improvements and issues should take priority.
So anyone is free to create their own Android operating systems from the open source code, but Google has a policy that forbids using its applications on any non-official Android OS. This policy was justified on the grounds that it would help app developers from having to modify their apps to fit dozens of slightly different versions of Android, but the most noticeable effect is that the open source Android OS has become inextricably bound to proprietary Google products.
In January, GitHub’s open source project manager Devon Zuegel wrote a blog post on the site titled “Let’s talk about open source sustainability.” The post highlighted a number of problems in the open source community, which included inadequate resources and governance, lack of communication, and work overload. Zuegel implored the community to give input to the company on how it could improve these areas for open source maintainers and contributors.
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