More About Being a Good Citizen in an Open Source World

After looking into the source of Android, Metthew Garrett tells us about his disappointment with the underlying code. And with his example of iPhone vs. Android a heated debate was of course not far:

Who is the worse open source citizen, Google, Apple or nobody? And I posted a little comment as well:


Google is to blame for doing open source(Linux), but the wrong way(hotfix instead of a good solution).
Apple is to blame for doing open source(BSD), but the wrong way(bad or no community "backfeed").

What's worse is a matter of taste. I also think Apple is the worse open source participant. They give back so little to the community it makes me sad. (Then they restrict the app store in ways that prevents competition, etc.)

Google does not do much for the community, though it says it tries. But honestly, if you would put their effort into relation with what money they make through open source software, it's really very sad, too. And the companies PR departments would be silly if they wouldn't make sure it looks like a serious effort.

But they both gain a lot and give a little. Google may state what they wish - considering their resources they give little. They could employ at least a few expert kernel hackers pro bono. Otherwise they will get an identity crisis a little like Ubuntu currently: People want to know they are part of bringing things forward.

And this shows the problems with current open source licenses in my view: The companies still don't really have to give useful "back-feed" to the open source projects (far from being in relation with what they gain).


What if the EU would decide that every device must come with open source drivers? Or if someone wrote a license that requires at least 1% of the profits from the open source project to flow back into the project? It would of course be very good for the projects. But in a second step I am convinced it would be at least as useful from a macroeconomic point of view:

Less development effort would be duplicated and the code quality would constantly increase.

Of course the big problem with this approach is finding out how much money is made with a project. That would be the job for courts to decide. And currently I can't think of any really good measurement possibilites. But then with 1% of the profits I'm sure it would not hurt a company anyway.

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