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"Open Source" Mercenaries: Stop Killing the Geese That Laid the Golden Eggs - Before They Become Extinct

In the past 10 years a disturbingly number of "open source" projects are increasingly sabotaging the overall benefits of open source. That is self-defeating, unscalable, and unsustainable. Please learn the history of what it was like before open source and get back on track before you destroy the progress of decades. Here are some suggestions here on a sustainable model that will help you be more successful, less mercenary, more altruistic, and yet also more financially rewarded.

Stop Killing The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs

I was recently asked on Linked in if I use Open Source software. I was first online and programming back in 1979, so I am painfully aware of what it was like before "open source" really caught on in later decades.

I am also painfully aware how much recent trends in the past 10 years are undermining and sabotaging the the benefits of the whole open source movement, and the associated benefits, because newer inexperienced developers just don't "get" it. They don't understand the traps they are walking into, and so they are becoming too mercenary because of lack of knowledge of history, and so lack understanding of the consequences of their choices.

I am a huge open source advocate, but don't get me wrong, I fully support making money! I am not an anti-capitablist, and I'm not as hardcore utopian philosopher as Stahlman (closer to the more practical engineer and business approach like Torvolds). There are ways to keep open source vibrant and growing and do so without killing the goose that laid the golden egg that so many are currently benefiting from and cannibalizing.

Suggested Guidelines

Stop doing the pump and dump trying to get rich quick approach to open source, getting to MVP or 1.0, and then closing all the further code.

Stop making the free/open "community edition" versions such crippled basic versions of the paid/closed "enterprise" / "pro" editions features.

Okay to charge for cloud and provider hosted at all levels (it costs you so much money for hosting and managing of course).

Stop treating the community as a burden, and realize they are your greatest asset if you treat them properly and gratefully.

ALWAYS offer an on-prem self-hosted fully open and free, fully featured, option for those willing to take on the challenge and costs of setup and self-hosting, with only forum/community support, otherwise they pay for the added support. Currently many businesses do this with a crippled "Community Edition" that often gets phased out, spitting on the community that is helping support the company's products. Instead, embrace the community rather than only looking at them for their wallet size.

Consider a model similar to Jitsi's approach to embracing the community, paying your employee developers to actually support the open source community and products.

Personal Experiences of Open Source Product Benefits to Overall Productivity

I have found that, all other things being equal, I am 10 times more productive on Linux and an array of open source tools, than I am on Windows, and 4x more productive than I am with Apple products. With the exception of music composition and video editing, then I am about 2x more productive using Mac than Linux, and 3x more productive than using Windows. Unfortunately the open source tools in the music composition and video editing areas just aren't "there" yet.

I've been online and coding on and off since 1979, so know painfully well what it was like before open source caught on.

I've been using Linux since around 1994, using it to run most of our websites (now over 350+ domains and counting) since around 1998, and using it as my primary platform for 95+% of my daily and project work since the early 2000s.

I use hundreds of opensource tools in any given month.

Currently I am really enjoying XWiki as a Confluence replacement

Jitsi as video conferencing replacement (apparently I was the first person to pull off hosting 20k+ concurrent users per second in a single cluster with Jitsi back in 2020, and so was hired over at LearningMate to take it to the next level for a Learning Management System (LMS) and worked a lot with the very helpful Jitsi founders and developers to increase scalability. protocol with Element/Element-web for chat and collaboration as well as ML/NLP/ASR/AI bot tools integration, and many others. :-) 

I had a terrestrial radio talk show as well as online streaming and podcasts from '04 through '07 as Tech Talk With Hawke about privacy, security, and civil rights, and how technology impacts them, which often included discussions on open source. 

A Model To Consider: 8x8 and Jitsi Community

The approach that 8x8 is taking with Jitsi, actively paying their developers to very actively support the open source community is an excellent example of how you can make money in the open source market without killing the open source movement, indeed greatly helping open source grow and thrive.

Hopefully they don't change this model at a later date. I worked heavily with them in recent years, and their wonderful support of their community by their paid top tier developers was a wonderfully positive experience. And they benefited from a vibrant community spending innumerable hours helping further the quality of the Jitsi product which circles back to 8x8 service offerings becoming that much better. This is a much more scalable and sustainable model.