Why companies open source their tools

Linus_Torvalds

I'm pretty sure that to every manager trained in economics or business administration, the idea of open sourcing your tools looks utterly stupid. Why would anybody sane give away for free valuable tools that it took so many work hours to develop? And you are not only giving your software for free to some kids doing some toy projects. No, also your immediate competitor can use your software and is thus better able to compete with you. So what drives companies to open source their tools? To shed some light on this I can give you rationale behind our recent decision to open source TicketTracker, our internal lightweight process management tool. The TicketTracker came about when Pančo was fed up with the tools we have used to support our development process and decided that he should do something about it, so he wrote the initial version of the TicketTracker. The idea to open source it sprang up immediately. The TicketTracker is not dependent on any other internal service or software, and therefore no effort to decouple it from the rest of the code base was required. The TicketTracker requires quite some support and further development, that we cannot afford. And since the TicketTracker might be useful to others too, we thought we could share the development and support costs with other companies that will hopefully start to use it. As it has turned out, also development costs could be reduced substantially by open sourcing development. We are sponsoring a student to push further the development of TicketTracker and since TicketTracker repository is hosted by GitHub, the student can use all the great tools on GitHub all by himself and no effort by our sysadmins to protect the TicketTracker's code is required. And one other, very important reason why we have open sourced the TicketTracker is that this is a very powerful method of technical marketing. Technological companies are not only competing for users and clients. They compete even more hard for the talent, since technology companies rise and fall based on their capability to attract the best people. And joining the open source movement and contributing to it yourself is one of the best way how to attract the best and the brightest developers around.

As you can see open sourcing has (almost) nothing to do with altruism. It just makes lots of business sense.

Why No One Uses Your Test Framework

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