A few years ago, Heartbleed epitomized a massive open source sustainability problem for critical parts of the internet infrastructure. The bug, which affected the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library, notably compromised the confidentiality of 4.5 million US patient records and cost the industry an estimated $500M.
It was soon revealed that the root-cause of the issue was that OpenSSL was precariously understaffed. Open source sustainability became a major theme overnight. Stories of maintainer burn-out made the headlines. And tentative solutions started to emerge, most of them donation-based.
In this talk we’ll explore a number of existing strategies to fund open source and make it more sustainable, from patronage to dedicated ad networks. And we’ll defend the idea that the best path to open source sustainability is to help companies understand the tangible business value they can get from contributing to open source.
During the Q&A, an audience member asked a really great question:
How can small businesses give back to open source?
And… I totally blanked. Thankfully, the organiser flew to my rescue and offered some great tactical advice.
But I didn’t do this great question justice.
So I recorded an answer to it and uploaded it to youtube:
A piece I wrote for Hackernoon last year which served as the inspiration for this talk.
A great follow-up post by XWiki’s CEO Ludovic Dubost that digs deeper into the economic aspects of open source. Highly recommended!