If you’re a software developer, you’ve probably already used open-source code in some of your projects. Until recently, however, people who aren’t software developers probably thought “open source” referred to a new type of bottled water. But all that’s beginning to change. Now you can find open-source versions of everything from Shakespeare to geospatial tools. In fact, the first laptop built almost entirely on open source hardware just hit the market. In the article announcing the new device, Wired noted that, “Open source hardware is beginning to find its own place in the world, not only among hobbyists but inside big companies such as Facebook.”
Open source technology has moved from experiment to mainstream partly because the concept itself has matured. Companies that used to zealously guard their proprietary software or hardware may now be building some or all of it on open-source code and even giving back to the relevant communities. Plus repositories like GitHub, Bitbucket, and SourceForge make access to open-source code easy.
In its annual “Future of Open Source Survey,” North Bridge Venture Partners summarized 3 reasons support for open source is broadening:
1. Quality: Thanks to strong community support, the quality of open-source offerings has improved dramatically. They now compete with proprietary or commercial equivalents on features–and can usually be deployed more quickly. Goodbye vendor “lock-in.”