When participating recently in a sprint held at Google to document four free software projects, I thought about what might have prompted Google to invest in this effort. Their willingness to provide a hotel, work space, and food for some thirty participants, along with staff support all week long, demonstrates their commitment to nurturing open source.
Google is one of several companies for which I'll coin the term "closed core." The code on which they build their business and make their money is secret. (And given the enormous infrastructure it takes to provide a search service, opening the source code wouldn't do much to stimulate competition, as I point out in a posting on O'Reilly's radar blog). But they depend on a huge range of free software, ranging from Linux …[Read more]