Me: We are using this open source project, and I thought about a way to improve it for us and everyone else that use it. Maybe we should spend some time on it and contribute the code back to the community?

Boss: Don’t you want to make money out of it?

Me: This is open source! It’s like socialism – everyone give what they can and take what they need.

Boss (from the former soviet union): I’ve had my share of socialism, thank you very much!

And so the open source project remained unimproved.


3 thoughts on “Sigh”

  1. You should not have menitoned the community in your argument, becasue that is implicit when starting to work with open-source projects in the first place. If you need this improvement for the benefit of your employer, then whether you contribute it back or not is beside the point for you boss’ decision, don’t you think?

    The only case I can think of, where it matters, is when said improvement touches your employer’s core business. If it might directly advance your competitors, then sharing it becomes a business decision rather than engineer-level, but that does not seem to be the case you described.

    1. If it’s implicit when starting to work with open-source projects in the first place, why not mention it?

      I will probably develop what I wanted anyway as, I believe it will make our lives easier in the long run, and I will probably manage to convince the boss to contribute it back, but I will not do it without his express permission.

  2. Here’s what I would go for:
    Say that you make the changes privately (if that’s legal, might not be – depending on the project, you should check). Sooner or later someone will change the public source code (fix a bug, add a feature – whatever). At some point, you might want to have these new cool feature\ bug fixes. At which point you’ll have to merge the public code into your private one or forgo the the improvement that you made. Neither of these options is very attractive. On the other hand, merge your code into the general public project – and the problem disappears.

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