Many startups and small businesses rely on open source software. Many big businesses rely on open source, too, but that's a different article. Open source code is typically high-quality, lets you avoid licensing fees, and most important, you can lift the hood and fix any bits that come loose. RKG is among the many many companies that owe a large debt of thanks to the open source movement. But, of the many small businesses using open source, only a small fraction give back to the community. One way to support open source is donate to the organizations and conferences. Again this year, RKG is making a donation to help the good folks at YAPC::NA2008, and urge others using perl to do the same. Another way is to contribute code. Bug fixes. New features. New applications. What have you. If your company uses open source, and you improve the code, seriously consider sharing it back. While we don't release the proprietary code which provides RKG and our clients with unique technological and/or business advantages, we do share back "housekeeping" code. For example, for both RKG and for the community, Baron Schwartz developed table archiving nibblers, table synchronization helpers, server monitoring scripts, and other useful mysql tools. He bundled these apps as MaatKit and released them under the GNU General Public License. What a honor for Baron that last week at the MySql conference he was given a "MySql Community Member Of The Year" award. Kudos, Baron! It doesn't matter if your donation is large or small. It doesn't matter if you give money or code. What does matter is this: if you're benefiting from the Open Source Movement, try to give something back. It makes good business sense. And it is the right thing to do.
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