Chris J Powell

FOSS and the FreeLoader Factor…a word from Krispy

In a recent post by Katherine Noyes @ with the same name intrigued me and I thought that I would weigh in with my 2 cents on the topic.  While many of the statements that Katerine made ring very true and the fact that there is a ton of development that occurs within the Linux and FOSS world that never gets filtered back to the community, my personal opinion is that the GPL should remain as is…for now.


Within the article there was reference to the Eclipse “Open Source Developer Report” (pdf available here) but the most interesting insight that I found in this great document is:

Now while this graph states that in 2011 about 58% of the developer community which according to this survey only 10-15% were not affiliated with a specific “company” are contributing back to the community that the FOSS project first came from.  Now with any voluntary compliance anything over 50% is pretty darn good IMHO!  To put this into perspective…I found a report about Hand Hygiene Compliance in US Hospitals:


Our results show that HH compliance at baseline was 26% for intensive care units (ICUs) and 36% for non-ICUs.  After 12 months of measuring product usage and providing feedback, compiance increased to 37% for ICUs and 51% for non-ICUs”


Now washing your hands in a hospital may seem like a no brainer but the report is focused on the education of the staff and that is what is key for the proper inclusion of organizations that are now leveraging FOSS software for the first time in their enterprise.


It would be interesting to have that report broken out into regional results though and do direct comparisons between the European and North American respondents.  My suspicion is that because the FOSS movement is vastly more mature in Europe that there is a higher rate of contribution within that space but I encourage all developers, users and “corporate whistle blowers” to report violations directly to the Free Software Foundation.


If you are interested in seeing the who’s who of GPL Violators and looking to what is going on in the courts I recommend GrokLaw and Harald Welte’s Blog as two good sources.


Now for my Personal Opinion as it stands, I am far from being a person who could contribute in a real way to the world of FOSS with any kind of unique Code or Documentation as I am not a programmer (I had aspirations of becoming one and still dabble…but well you know).  There is a need for the FOSS Community to remain open and embrace Corporate America and lead the charge to becoming so firmly entrenched in the culture of all things that are IT that it is just second nature but when we are sending our children off to University and College to become the next big Tech Wiz it is also key that they understand the difference between Open Source and Proprietary…they know the value of a Community both with software and with real life.


That is my opinion…what’s ours?


Chris J Powell


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