Only a few vendor-paid developers do almost all open-source work

Name your favorite open source project, and the odds are good—very good—that a small handful of contributors account for the vast majority of significant development thereof. The odds are just as good that most of those contributors work for just one or a few vendors. Such is open source today, and such has been open source for the past 20 years.So, does that mean open source is really just commercial software by another name?No, it does not. But it means the popular stereotype of a broad community coming together to create software is a myth. The reality of open source is different than the myth, but still a good, positive alternative to commercial software.Why only a few vendor-paid developers do almost all the workThirteen years ago, I dug into academic research that showed how Mozilla’s Firefox browser and the Apache HTTP Server were both developed by a small cadre of


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Microsoft’s purchase of GitHub leaves some scientists uneasy

GitHub — a website that has become popular with scientists collaborating on research data and software — is to be acquired by Microsoft for US$7.5 billion. In the wake of the takeover announcement on 4 June, some scientists and programmers voiced concerns about the deal on social media. They fear that the site will become less open, or less useful for sharing and tracking scientific data, after the buyout. But others are hopeful that Microsoft’s stewardship will make the platform even more valuable. GitHub launched in 2008, and is now widely used to store, share and update data sets and software code. As of 13 June, more than 223,000 academic papers on Google Scholar cited the website, which is free to use for projects that release their code. One of the features that sets GitHub apart from many similar websites is its use of version-control software known as Git,


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