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Sustaining Open Source Software

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Slides from my latest talk at the Linux Foundation Open Source Summit in Lyon (October 2019). https://osseu19.sched.com/event/TLLb/sustaining-open-source-software-stephen-walli-microsoft

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Sustaining Open Source Software

  1. 1. ‘Open Source’ is unsustainable
  2. 2. We know this because … everyone is struggling • Commercial collaborations struggle to find significant projects • Individual developers struggle to support their own projects • End users struggle with insecure projects • Startups struggle with partners/users using projects (not buying products)
  3. 3. One way we could have this conversation is to ask: Who isn’t struggling?
  4. 4. History is Important
  5. 5. 1950 1960 1970 200019901980 2010 Code sharing At Princeton IAS in late 1940s IBM “SHARE” Conf & Library Begins 1953 DECUS Conf & Library Begins 1962 MIT Project Athena Begins 1983 1BSD Released 1977 AT&T Shares First UNIX tapes early-70s Free Software Foundation Launches 1985 DoJ vs IBM begins “Software Bundling is Anti-competitive” 1969 IBM response is to unbundle HW, SW, & services pricing 1st DoJ vs IBM Consent Decree “Hardware Bundling is Anti-competitive” 1956 Open Source Definition 1998 USENIX Begins 1975 Linus Releases Linux 1991 Apache httpd Released 1995 Apache Software Foundation 1999 OSDL Forms 2000 OSDL Re-forms as Linux Foundation 2007 U.S. Congress Adds Computer Software to Copyright Law 1980 GCC 1987 emacs 1975 We’ve collaborated on software since we’ve written software Writing good software is hard work
  6. 6. Collaboratively-Developed Liberally-Licensed Software is about Engineering Economics
  7. 7. 1980 Copyright applied to Computer Software After ~20 years of experimentation Open Source Definition Creates the broadest surface area for engineers collaborating Served us well for 20 more years OSI hosts a transparent discussion about the OSD and licenses
  8. 8. 1980 Copyright applied to Computer Software After ~20 years of experimentation Open Source Definition Creates the broadest surface area for engineers collaborating Served us well for 20 more years OSI hosts a transparent discussion about the OSD and licenses
  9. 9. Democratization
  10. 10. Everything that could be digitized …
  11. 11. Everything that could be democratized …
  12. 12. The Democratization of Software
  13. 13. Anyone Can Learn to Program Now …
  14. 14. “Software isn’t eating the world.” — Not Marc Andreesen
  15. 15. “We are drowning in software – most of it mediocre, duplicative, and bad.” — Still Not Marc Andreesen
  16. 16. 2012 Octoverse 4.6M+ repositories 2016 Octoverse 19.4M+ repositories 2018 Octoverse 96M+ repositories
  17. 17. Cooking Software and Where You Choose to Live
  18. 18. We All Know How To Fry An Egg
  19. 19. We May Get Good Enough To Cook For Friends
  20. 20. We May Tackle The Holiday Meal
  21. 21. We May Get Good At A Particular Type of Cooking
  22. 22. Restaurant
  23. 23. We go from this …
  24. 24. … to this
  25. 25. This has implications There is likely a team with specialized roles There is an added layer of communications There are standards to be met and maintained There needs to be reliable and repeatable delivery
  26. 26. This has implications There is likely a team with specialized roles There is an added layer of communications There are standards to be met and maintained There needs to be reliable and repeatable delivery There are customers There is a business to run There are regulations that need to be served There is money to be managed There are employees to be hired, motivated
  27. 27. … so to with software There is likely a team with specialized roles There is an added layer of communications There are standards to be met and maintained There needs to be reliable and repeatable delivery There are customers There is a business to run There are regulations that need to be served There is money to be managed There are employees to be hired, motivated
  28. 28. Community and Your Neighborhood
  29. 29. In the World of Atoms: You choose your neighborhood for very personal reasons
  30. 30. Three Sorts of Neighbours in Your Community The people that simply want to live there …. The people that report potholes and trash, etc. …. The people that organize the block party, pick up trash, etc. ….
  31. 31. Three Sorts of People in Your Project Community The people that simply want to use the software The people that report bugs, offer ideas for features, etc. The people that contribute code, documentation, use cases, etc.
  32. 32. Rules of Thumb and Orders of Magnitude For every 1000 users, … … a 100 will file a bug, … … out of which 10 give you a patch, … … out of which 1 actually read your contribution guidelines.
  33. 33. We’ve collaborated on software since we’ve written it The OSD creates the broadest surface for collaboration Software has been democratized and we’re drowning in it
  34. 34. We’ve collaborated on software since we’ve written it The OSD creates the broadest surface for collaboration Software has been democratized and we’re drowning in it Software production is like cooking Building community is an orders of magnitude problem
  35. 35. Everyone wants ‘open source’ to be sustained better • Commercial collaborations finding significant projects • Individual developers with their own projects • End users consuming projects • Startups creating projects
  36. 36. Startups Creating Projects
  37. 37. Startups Creating Projects • Liberally licensed, collaboratively developed projects drive engineering economics – Build vs Buy vs Borrow + Share – Orders of magnitude value capture • Most problems are business model design problems, not ‘open source’ problems • Don’t confuse projects and products; don’t confuse community with customers • Customers have money and no time; community has time and no money • Don’t confuse early adopting community with Moore’s early adopting customers – there is no conversion ratio • Publishing your core value proposition to customers needs to be done thoughtfully Links: https://bit.ly/2pkAtYX https://bit.ly/2p9lJML
  38. 38. End Users Consuming Projects
  39. 39. In a world of promiscuous sharing communities, would you eat this ice cream cone?
  40. 40. End Users Consuming Projects • This is a software consumption problem, not an open source problem • Learn basic software hygiene – wash your hands • It’s street vendors versus restaurants • It’s product quality software-at-scale versus a random node package • Always ask, ‘Who owns this software?’
  41. 41. Individual Developers with Their Own Projects
  42. 42. Individual Developers with Their Own Projects • This is the cooking metaphor • Freelancing is a perfectly well understood business • You are allowed to say, ‘No’ • Chefs and professional kitchens and money • Crowd funding support probably doesn’t scale • Brokerages
  43. 43. Commercial Collaborations Finding Significant Projects
  44. 44. Foundations
  45. 45. Ingo’s Number Crunch (2010) http://openlife.cc/blogs/2010/november/how-grow-your-open-source-project-10x-and-revenues-5x
  46. 46. Committers Contributors Community EcosystemProject Products Services Books Training Customers The Evolution of an Open Source Project
  47. 47. Committers Contributors Community EcosystemProject Products Services Books Training Corporate Contributors Customers The Evolution of an Open Source Project
  48. 48. Committers Contributors Community EcosystemProject Products Services Books Training Corporate Contributors Customers The Evolution of an Open Source Project IP Neutrality, Liability Management http://www.ifosslr.org/ifosslr/article/view/64 Business Management, Marcomms, Events
  49. 49. May 1999 27,623 LoC The Apache Software Foundation Forms June 1999 https://www.openhub.net/p/apache
  50. 50. May 1999 27,623 LoC The Apache Software Foundation Forms June 1999 https://www.openhub.net/p/apache Aug 1999 87,571 LoC
  51. 51. Modern Foundations
  52. 52. Engineering/ Partner?/ Customer?/ Committers Engineering/ Partner?/ Customer?/ Contributors Community EcosystemProject Products Services Books Training Partner/Customer Contributors The Evolution of a Corporate Owned Open Source Project Setting Customer and Partner Expectations in Community is Critical
  53. 53. Engineering/ Partner?/ Customer?/ Committers Engineering/ Partner?/ Customer?/ Contributors Community EcosystemProject Products Services Books Training Engineering Partner/Customer Contributors The Modern Reality of a Corporate Open Source Project Setting Customer and Partner Expectations in Community is Critical ?
  54. 54. Engineering/ Partner?/ Customer?/ Competitors?/ Committers Engineering/ Partner?/ Customer?/ Competitors?/ Contributors Community EcosystemProject Products Services Books Training Partners/Competitors Contributors The Modern Reality of Corporate Open Source Collaboration Setting Collaborator Expectations in Community is Critical ?
  55. 55. Commercial Collaborations Finding Significant Projects • Historical foundations were project focused and provided neutrality, IP ownership • Modern foundations try to create ecosystems • Ownership versus contribution controls • Standards vs Open source – Different tools for different problems • Vendor competitive politics in open source foundations creates interesting stress points
  56. 56. Open Source Sustainability Problems
  57. 57. Open Source Software Problems
  58. 58. Open Source Software Problems
  59. 59. Software Problems Business Model Design Problems Community Building Problems Software Hygiene Problems
  60. 60. Open Source doesn’t have a sustainability problem
  61. 61. How will you broaden the collaboration?
  62. 62. How will you broaden the discussion? Don’t tell me how we’re supposed to make your world better Tell me how you want to make our world collectively better
  63. 63. stephen.walli@microsoft.com
  64. 64. Photo Credits • Chem Lab on Flickr by theterrifictc • Chem Factory on Flickr by BASF • Shakespeare on Flickr by tonynetone • Berlin Wall on Flickr by Daniel Antal • Musicians on Flickr by Jorge Bernal • Block Buster on Flickr by Jason Kuffer • Newspapers on Flickr by Gary Thompson • Television family on Flickr by Paul Townsend • Computer Room on Flickr by Alex Muse • Books by me • Andreessen official photo from A16z.com • Logos all belong to their respective owners

Slides from my latest talk at the Linux Foundation Open Source Summit in Lyon (October 2019). https://osseu19.sched.com/event/TLLb/sustaining-open-source-software-stephen-walli-microsoft

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