"What's the payoff? It makes for better software. 'If we find a
bug or a problem, we're interested in fixing that problem. We're
also interested in not fixing it again in the next version,'
explains Robert M. Lefkowitz, director of open-source strategy at
Merrill Lynch & Co. in New York.
"'If you download open-source software, then take it in-house
and don't share your revised code, you wind up maintaining your own
separate fork of the software for all time,' says Eric Raymond,
president of the Open Source Initiative (www.opensource.org), a
Web-based nonprofit group that helps define and promote the
open-source concept. 'On the other hand, by participating in
open-source projects, you make sure your corporate needs have a
seat at the table when large-scale design decisions are being
"This is why Merrill Lynch sent the fixes it made to open-source
software during one of its projects back to the open-source
community. 'The way a typical open-source project works is that
there is a core team in the community with direct access to
modifying the code on its central Web site,' Lefkowitz says.
'People who want to contribute to that community submit their code,
which is looked at by a core team and integrated if found
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