VSHN.timer #191: The Tribulations of Free and Open Source Software

17. Jul 2023

Welcome to another VSHN.timer! Every Monday, 5 links related to Kubernetes, OpenShift, CI / CD, and DevOps; all stuff coming out of our own chat system, making us think, laugh, or simply work better.

This week we’re going to talk about that rough and bumpy relationship between money and source code.

1. Unless you’ve been hiking through the Kerguelen Islands for a whole month, you’re surely aware of the recent controversy around RHEL. Plenty of explanations, some vitriol, and even downright hypocrisy surfaced as well, and very little rigorous analysis, but at the end of the day, it’s once again the almost 50-year-old discussion we’ve had since Bill Gates’ letter to hobbyists of how to make money out of source code, and who gets paid for what.


2. Do you know what’s the difference between “Free” and “Open-Source” Software? Very often both get confused, and even merged into a “FOSS” moniker-slash-acronym, but the truth is that there are substantial differences between both, particularly at the most fundamental level. And these differences, well, it turns out they matter a lot.


3. How to generate income from open-source software? It turns out that donations and sponsorships don’t work very well, but commercial licenses are a much more reliable and proven mechanism. The important thing is to find ways to support the livelihoods of FOSS developers providing the packages that help us do our work faster and better.


4. Open-Source software has become a critical piece of the overall infrastructure puzzle for Big Tech. Take, for example, how Google is adopting the Rust programming language in their own products and services. We hope they’re also contributing to the project in return!


5. Speaking about awesome Open-Source software, many of us at VSHN are happily running Thunderbird 115 now, and we can safely say that it’s a fantastic release, with a very solid and reliable upgrade path, and a much-needed UI refresh. Have you donated to the project already? It is essential to support it.


Do you have commercial licenses for your open-source projects? How do you think companies should reward the teams working on them? Would you like to share some financial tips and tricks for FOSS teams? Get in touch with us, and see you next week for another edition of VSHN.timer.

PS: check out our previous VSHN.timer editions about open source: #152 and #170.

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Adrian Kosmaczewski

Adrian Kosmaczewski is in charge of Developer Relations at VSHN. He is a software developer since 1996, a trainer, and a published author. Adrian holds a Master in Information Technology from the University of Liverpool.

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