Open Source Visibility

by Matthew Langham

The past few weeks have seen me out and about visiting various large companies here in Germany and talking about the open source work we do (mostly to do with Apache Cocoon and related projects). Working in this area has given me some interesting insights into the relationships between customers and "suppliers" (meaning software companies like ourselves).

Two years ago when we started on this interesting journey, we were faced with having to argue why we use and work on open source software: "if it's free then it can't be any good". Now, we are often met with the comment of "oh, we use that here as well". So the times have definitely changed.

On the other hand it still surprises me, how low the profile of open source solutions such as Cocoon actually is. Once you get the possibility of actually being able to speak on and demonstrate what these open source projects are capable of, you can really see the wheels starting to turn in the heads of the people attending. But it's getting "in" that is really still the problem.

There is no lobby, there is no initiative. It's hard work! Ok, for Linux this is different. Companies such as SuSE or IBM have are increasing the visibility of Linux every day. But what about the other zillions of open source projects out there?

We need to increase the visibility of the open source projects and make sure people are aware of them. Here are some ideas of what you can do:

  • Speak up on the fact that you are using open source! Make it public. I know of several companies that are using open source "but aren't allowed to say so".

  • Support open source initiatives or start one in your particular area of work.

  • Write articles or books on your favorite open source software - or on how you are using it.

  • Don't just talk about a certain open source project - get involved! Everyone can "give back" - not just programmers. Write documentation, send in your performance test results, bug the developers to add what you need.

  • When looking for a particular solution check whether an open source project can do what you need - if not - let them know what's missing.

  • Help Steve out with He is building a catalog of open source solutions.

  • Bug Tim to put on more OSCONs! Especially in Europe :-)

And probably much more. Let me know how you are increasing the visibility for open source solutions.

What other ways are there of increasing the visibility of open source solutions?


2002-10-07 08:16:17
Just want to add my 2 cents
To attract the attention of Windows users on open source programs, check out these articles:

1. Open Source Software in a Windows Environment (good!)

2. The Open CD Project - Software List

3. thegoldenear's Recommended Software for Windows

4. GNU Software for Windows

5 Slashdot - read this only if you have enough time to kill :-p

The Best of Windows Open Source Software?