Why Open Source?
project Y,” and the engineering team will deliver the
code for the product to the open source project.
2. Upstream internal code into open source
projects. Contributing source code is the best way
to gain influence in open source projects and build
a positive reputation for the contributing company.
One major goal of upstream development is to
minimize the technical debt with respect to open
source components used in products and services.
In other words, companies look to minimize the
delta between the open source branch and the
internal branch. If upstream contributions do
not happen, the product team will be stuck with
large code bases that are uncoordinated with
upstream, and they will spend much time back-
porting updates to their out-of-sync fork instead of
advancing the product.
2. Participate in internal policy discussions and
decisions. Open source engineering has a different
set of requirements than traditional proprietary
software development. Open source team
representatives should be present at internal policy
discussions to ensure these policies continue to
enable open source development.
3. Influence the upstream projects via thought
leadership and code contributions. The only
way to influence an open source project is through
direct participation and code contributions. If
you want to provide leadership by influencing the
direction of developing or maturing technology,
you will need to have engineers that contribute the
necessary code to do so.
4. External technical discussions. Open source
engineers can influence communities through
participation in technical discussions; they do this
by being active on mailing lists and IRC channels to
participate in discussions and stay informed on the
latest project updates. Larger projects with formal
governance structures sometimes also offer the
ability to sit on technical steering committees for
5. Internal technical discussions. Internally,
open source developers can participate in
policy and architecture discussions to ensure
the organization’s decisions match the direction
of a specific project community. Open source
developers should be present for any strategy
discussions related to long-term planning for
products that rely on open source code.
3. Compliance support. Program managers can also
provide assistance to resolve compliance issues and
support the compliance team with the open source
compliance inquiries they receive.
Indirect product enablement
An open source program’s impact can go far beyond
contributing code to various open source projects.
From public relations and marketing, to legal support,
developer training, and more, an open source program
enables development in myriad ways:
1. Stabilize upstream code used in products.
Open source offices with dedicated engineering
resources can help stabilize the code of any open
source projects a company relies on by finding,
fixing, and testing bugs. This improves the code’s
overall value for all the project’s users, including
Enterprise Open Source: A Practical Introduction
The Linux Foundation