This is a difficult question, because the key distinguishing factor between proprietary and OSS is that OSS desires to be cooperative and share code, while proprietary desires to erect barriers to market-entry by withholding code.
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive emails regarding relevant topic offers from TechTarget and its partners. You can withdraw your consent at any time. Contact TechTarget at 275 Grove Street, Newton, MA.
While a proprietary enterprise may be quick to selectively adopt OSS for its own use -depending on the license - it doesn't have to share its own software inventions--and usually doesn't want to. Would such a proprietary code strategy ever be justified in an OSS operation?
I can think of one method. One sees it repeatedly in practice. Many commercial OSS companies have written their own code at their own expense. They cultivate outside developers if they can find them, but often they require that the outside contributors grant the company binary-only distribution rights to the contributed code. This enables the company to sell or allow distribution of special binary-only versions of its OSS.
This might take the form of allowing proprietary vendors to build products incorporating MySQL and distribute them as binary-only code (providing a barrier to competitors). Another variation is to have newer or premium versions of a software product that are binary-only; the OSS version always lags behind the proprietary version.
The benefit for the OSS company is that the binary-only sales generate the funds to keep the developers improving the product. There is far more need for skilled, unpaid developers than there are people willing to take these positions.
Dig Deeper on Linux news and updates
Related Q&A from Donald Rosenberg
If the recession has prompted you to integrate open source software into your business, first form an open source policy with the help of our ...continue reading
An open source strategist explains the state of intellectual property rights as it relates to international open source business strategy.continue reading
Learn about the formerly open source project WebLoad, including potential obstacles to implementing the load-testing software and software project ...continue reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.