Sunday, July 12, 2009

Open Source in Recessions

In general, recessions can be really good for open source. Large businesses look to cut back on IT budgets and this often involves re-evaluating whether proprietary software and maintenance contracts are necessary, given high quality open source alternatives. Companies may dedicate more internal resources to open source projects, and also the surplus of underemployed engineering talent in the market may be available for more open source development work.

Unfortunately, there are also some significant downsides, and one that I would like to highlight is the plight of the small open source shops around the world. We've seen pleas earlier this month to Save BSD Magazine, and in recent years some other smaller open source companies such as Daemonnews, and the Japanese publications FreeBSD Press and BSD Magazine have exited the business. In the current environment I would like to take the unusual step of plugging a company that has been selling, marketing, legally defending, and supporting FreeBSD from the very beginning.

FreeBSD Mall has been selling FreeBSD CDs since 1.0 in 1993 and is still selling and supporting CDs, DVDs, books, branded apparel, and more. The PC-BSD live-dvds make an excellent introduction to FreeBSD for new users and the complete FreeBSD DVD distributions are quite handy to have. Consider spending a few dollars at the FreeBSD Mall site, buy a BSD Magazine subscription, or otherwise spend some money to encourage the small commercial FreeBSD ecosystem and perhaps contribute to more funds being available to exploit the many disruptive opportunities (netbooks, cloud computing, etc..) that could be very good for open source and FreeBSD during this recession.

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