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What can open source do for you?

· 3 min read
Jon West

As a business, the typical way to do things is to file for patents, and protect your product or idea, and your product team produces the development design and manages updating the product for its lifecycle. The downside to that is that only your team has the ability to spot its flaws, make it better, or see other avenues where it could be used. This is not the case with an open-source project lifecycle. The product you develop is open to the community to use, inspect and improve upon. This helps accelerate the development of the idea or product by allowing open-innovation to take place.

Dismissing the current arguments against open-source development

Can people take your code and use it for their own projects? The answer is yes, but this is not a bad thing at all. This is one of the things that empowers your idea by allowing you to see the improvements they made and how they made them, then adding those improvements into your code base.

Can people alter your code to include malicious code? This depends on how well you manage the pull requests for your code, as even the Linux Kernel has had some bad-actors try and slip in malicious code before, and it was caught by the community. So you just need to make sure you define a strict set of rules for your project maintainers to follow when it comes to merging pull-requests from the community into your code base.

Can you make money off Open-Source code? The answer to this is yes, and in many ways. It all comes down to how you design your project and the licensing you choose for it. As many open-source licenses do allow licensing, and support contracts, and many more options can be written into the standard licensing agreements.

How have we leveraged open-source for businesses?

As a consumer, you get to use the products of our work in open-source by testing our work (Bliss OS, Waydroid, Android-x86) on your laptop, tablet, desktop, server, etc. at no cost. As a business, our projects are limited in use, but can be licensed for inclusion into a project, and we offer development contracts to help businesses further develop their products, with our projects included. We have also created toolkits for businesses to use for free in the past, demonstrating the power of rapid-prototyping through the use of our services.

For other businesses, not used to working in open-source, there will always be hesitations. But that doesn't mean we can't make it work. We have had some restraints on projects in the past, and the solution for those proprietary constraints is typically to build a system that can handle allowing the end user to use it, while keeping all the private bits, private still. A perfect example of this is how Google Play, Widevine, libndk-translation, Houdini, and other private blobs are included in our projects. We have even gone one step further in this where allowed, and produced tools for the rest of the open-source community to use, that allows them to benefit from using the proprietary blobs, while keeping the businesses private intents intact.

It really all comes down to the mental attitude behind your innovation, and all in how you spin it. It's about time the market starts thinking on reasons why they should start going open-source, and not looking for all the reasons why they shouldn't.