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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