Businesses Partnering with Open Source Communities: Opportunities, Perils, and Pitfalls

James Howison, Doctoral Student, Syracuse University

Track: Business
Date: Monday, July 24
Time: 8:30am - 12:00pm
Location: D136

Open source software provides opportunities for companies to cut costs, escape vendor lock-in, or build on top of quality, reliable software. But open source communities are not like software vendors. They are far more interesting, unexpected, and misunderstood than that.

This tutorial and workshop will teach lessons from experience and research on OSS communities, tailored for businesses seeking greater involvement. OSS communities are diverse, and while headline projects like Linux and Mozilla, and practioner-advocate studies like ESR's Cathedral and the Bazaar, have brought some communities to broad attention, these are not the end of the story. This workshop will draw on broad-based research across many projects, as well as co-presenters who have deep understanding of specific projects, to present a well-rounded picture to help businesses understand OSS communities.

A tutorial on project lifecycles and participant motivations will provide the background for questions like:

  • How can I tell a healthy community for the long term?
  • Why are some community leaders "rude" to newcomers, and why can that be more effective than touchy-feely welcomes?
  • How can I assess their processes when they aren't written down?
  • Should I expect a"roadmap?" What if there isn't one?
  • Why doesn't the community listen to our engineers?
  • Why won't they integrate our code gift?
  • Why offering cash for a feature often fails miserably.

Participants are encouraged to bring their specific challenges which we will workshop in the final hour.