This is a reasonable introduction to open source software from
someone who characterizes himself as a realist on the matter. There
are a few mild swipes at "the zealots" but for the most part he's
friendly to open source software, uses open source software, and
offers a set of interesting guidelines for when it's good to go
open source and when it's not.
"For one thing, you can just use the tools. In the
second part of this article, I'll show you an example of doing just
that, in a real-world, three-tier project. If you can get the job
done this way, you really can reap lower overall cost,
crash-resistant systems and freedom from vendor lock-in. As for
your contribution, simply by expanding the ubiquity of, say,
Apache, you'll be helping the project, especially if you remember
those bug reports.
If you want to get more involved, you can participate in
development. Many open source authors have "real" jobs just like
you and me, but they either work on open source products in their
free time or get their employer's permission to do a bit on company
time. These projects require more than programmers, too-most have a
crying need for writers, testers, analysts and designers.
Finally, you might take the plunge into making your company's
projects open source. This is the scary one, and it works only for
certain products-those you want to promote as a platform to
leverage other products, perhaps, or ones for which you can invent
a business model based on services, or ones without much of a
direct-sales revenue stream. In Eric Raymond's essay, "The Magic
Cauldron", he argues that today, "software is largely a service
industry operating under the persistent but unfounded delusion that
it is a manufacturing industry."