Open Source Strategies

A blog about open source software and business models, enterprise software, and the opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM Suite.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Free Lessons - What I've Learned from Open Source

It's been four years since I started working with open source software and started on the journey to create opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM. Sometimes I look back and think about all the things that have happened, and what I've learned from the open source experience, which is a lot, but a few things stand out:

It's All About Great Software

When you give away the code, there's nothing left to hide. People can -- and will -- judge every aspect of your software: stability, ease of use, code quality, even architecture. Because of this, open source software tends to stand much more on merits. This is why you often will see new open source projects leapfrog past projects with big-name backers or lots of hype.

There is Only One Community

It took me three years to figure this one out: when you create open source software, you're not off on an island with a band of followers. You automatically join a greater community that consists of all the other open source projects out there. The quality of your software would depend directly on the open source projects you incorporate into yours, and your success will depend on the success of the rest of the open source community.

Be Humble

Somebody recently asked me what I would do differently if I could do it all over again. It took me a few seconds before I realized the answer was "Be more humble." If you open your mind up and look at the forum posts, other open source projects, or just about anything else and say "What can I learn from it?" rather than "Why is what I have better?" you can learn a lot from the open source community.

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