Giving back to open source

Jonathan Bollers, vice president and chief engineer at Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), says that SAIC forks open source projects for in-house development "almost without exception." The problem is that although there is often a desire to give back, it's "a tedious process fraught with more heartache than benefits." The bureaucratic hurdles include security considerations, export controls, and a host of other issues that Bollers sums up as "releasability remediation." [Full story at]

Jonathan Bollers proposes that defense contracts might be structured to make such remediation economical for contractors, and suggests that benefits would flow to private-sector entrepeneurs. I think it's a great idea.

Of the many readers who reacted to the earlier column on the open-source give-back dilemma, Bollers was the only one willing to go on record. A similar thing happens when I write about Microsoft recently: a lot of folks agree with what I'm saying, but most prefer to remain anonymous. It's funny how both OSS and MS, each in their own ways, raise political issues that people want to talk about but are scared to talk about.

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