Monday, July 18, 2005

Developing Code using Open Source: ADP Lessons Learned

Open-Source Developers Need New Ways Of Thinking About Their Business
By Mitch Wagner
July 14, 2005

Open-source developers can't afford to have blinders on and think only about technology. They also need to be sensitive to intellectual-property issues and maintain relationships with the open-source community, says the head of R&D for systems integrator ADP.

SAN DIEGO--Developers working on open-source projects for business need to develop new ways of approaching the business issues of software development.

They need to be careful where they get code that they believe to be open source, to be sure the code doesn't have licensing provisions that can cost their employers money in the future, cautioned Mark Rankin, director of research and development and a research fellow at ADP Dealer Services.

He also said developers need to get used to the idea that they can count on getting some--but not all--of their tech support from the open-source community. And they need to give back to the open-source community, by donating code to open source so that other organizations can use it.

ADP avoids using code licensed using the General Public License, which governs the terms and conditions for modifying and distributing Linux and other open-source projects. The reason: the license requires developers who modify GPL code to make the modified code public under the GPL, effectively giving up their intellectual property. Instead, the company uses the BSD open-source license, based on the open-source Berkeley Software Distribution Unix, which allows developers to keep modified code proprietary.

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