I work in a large company which makes use of a lot of open source software and employees a fair number of software developers but does not consider itself to be a software development firm. I believe the company needs to have a clearer policy on open source. However, I'm having trouble getting the organisation to think about it.
I realise this is not a straight forward question to answer but what are tried and tested ways of getting the company to start this discussion and influencing it to be "open source positive"?
As a mere developer why should I care?
- I want to be able to patch code that is buggy rather than workaround it
- I want to be free to use other people's code and not reinvent the wheel.
- I would like there to be a path to open source some code I wrote.
For example there are questions on here about getting the company you work for to open source some code including:
- What are the good reasons for my company to offer open source code?
- Help with getting permission to open source a small piece of software
In my case I have been unable to find anyone willing to even say yes or no.
However, the situation gets more complex when you consider your own use of and contributions back to an existing project.
Consider use of an LGPL library. We are legally obliged to contribute any patches we apply ourselves (if we distribute binaries externally). This leads to several policy options:
- We only use unpatched open source software regardless of bugs
- We submit patches etc.
- We avoid LGPL licenced code altogether
It could be argued that an employee should not upload any changes without an explicit waiver.
Developers will typically be pro open source at the grass roots level. Talking to the legal team might force consideration but they may think more in terms of risks and cost. The conversion needs to happen at the CTO and CIO level but those kind of people tend to be 'very busy' with 'more important things'.