Apr 212008

Why Small Businesses Should Support Open Source

Many startups and small businesses rely on open source software. Many big businesses rely on open source, too, but that's a different article.

Open source code is typically high-quality, lets you avoid licensing fees, and most important, you can lift the hood and fix any bits that come loose.

RKG is among the many many companies that owe a large debt of thanks to the open source movement.

But, of the many small businesses using open source, only a small fraction give back to the community.

yet another perl confernence, YAPC::NA 2008

One way to support open source is donate to the organizations and conferences.

Again this year, RKG is making a donation to help the good folks at YAPC::NA2008, and urge others using perl to do the same.

Another way is to contribute code.

Bug fixes. New features. New applications. What have you.

If your company uses open source, and you improve the code, seriously consider sharing it back.

While we don't release the proprietary code which provides RKG and our clients with unique technological and/or business advantages, we do share back "housekeeping" code.


For example, for both RKG and for the community, Baron Schwartz developed table archiving nibblers, table synchronization helpers, server monitoring scripts, and other useful mysql tools. He bundled these apps as MaatKit and released them under the GNU General Public License.

What a honor for Baron that last week at the MySql conference he was given a "MySql Community Member Of The Year" award. Kudos, Baron!

It doesn't matter if your donation is large or small. It doesn't matter if you give money or code.

What does matter is this: if you're benefiting from the Open Source Movement, try to give something back.

It makes good business sense. And it is the right thing to do.


4 Responses to "Why Small Businesses Should Support Open Source"
Sue says:
Open source can definitely be a cheaper way of deploying software but smaller businesses need to make sure they either have in-house skills to provide any support/ modifications or they can get access to skills externally. Even though the initial cost may be low, the total cost of ownership can be high if lack of support becomes an issue. Do your research upfront.
Megapixels says:
I've been an open source advocate for years. I always seem to be handing out Linux boot disks to all my windows friends. It's not just the geek in me that loves the techy side of open source, but the belief that technology really should be a basic human right, and not just an entitlement of those that can afford to pay. The disparity between rich and poor is the source of so many problems, that anything technology can do to close the gap should be encouraged.
Murcia says:
This site doesnt do much for me personally as a small business research student at all,i wouldve liked to see more..
Matthew says:
Open source is great if you're on the receiving end, but it kind of screws people who might hope to make a living as an independent software developer. I'm not saying open source is a bad thing. It could be great, but it's completely unbalanced by the current capitalist government. ('talking about the United States) Now, if the government provided free money to everyone, then I could develop all the free software I wanted and not have to worry about how I'm going to pay my freaking rent or buy food.

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