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How To Approve the Use of Open Source On the Job 123

New submitter Czech37 (918252) writes "If you work in an organization that isn't focused on development, where computer systems are used to support other core business functions, getting management buy-in for the use of open source can be tricky. Here's how an academic librarian negotiated with his management to get them to give open source software a try, and the four phrases he recommends you avoid using." "Open Source," "Free [Software]," "Contribute," and "Development" appear to scare managers away.
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How To Approve the Use of Open Source On the Job

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  • Re:YMMV (Score:4, Informative)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @10:34PM (#46986367) Homepage Journal

    My first instinct when a geek summons up a Slashdot meme to make his case is to do precisely the opposite of what he suggests.

    But it isn't a slashdot meme - it is a Grace Hopper quote well known long before Slashdot existed, and rarely encountered on slashdot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @11:41PM (#46986697)

    Getting forgiveness is only available from C-Level on. Below, they just kick your ass out on the street.

    In real life; almost never. You are going to have to check your own company carefully. Likely this will only happen in a really big company where you already had an explicit warning about open source. Make sure you read through all your IT policies. If there is an explicit one against open source in some way, then always act ignorant ask your manager before breaking it. "Hey, there's this really neat package Gimp which will let me make that special photo we need. It will save me thousands over buying Photoshop; is it okay if I use it. It's completely legal". If he says yes, then go ahead; after this is a widely established thing then go back and "revisit" the "outdated" policy. If he says no, then you wait for a good opportunity (normally just after they failed at something else or at a company efficiency conferece) and register a complaint against the policy with the boss of whoever wrote it.

    For a small company there's normally no policy and nobody cares as long as it's more or less legal. Just go ahead and do it. Become the expert in your area and then teach others.

    The companies which really might care are the truly unscrupulous consulting companies where the entire aim is to raise the cost base of the customers. Here the fact that the software is free would make the companies overpriced services more visible. Basically, if you work for such a company then god help you. The only good thing you can do for humanity is start planting voice recorders around the company and leak the recordings on WikiLeaks.

  • by orasio ( 188021 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @08:51AM (#46988423) Homepage

    Good idea, but incomplete:

    exactly lay out the facts:

    product A is owned by commercial company with billions of dollars and developers backing the product

    product B is written by some really smart people in their free time that may help you on a forum or in an IRC chat room if they can

    Product C is free, maintained by a mid sized company, and they sell support contracts
    Product D is proprietary, owned by a company that might be bought by the competitors, who may or may not keep supporting your product
    Product E is a great software product, proprietary, but your company is not in the target market, so licensing and support don't match your needs
    Product F is proprietary, and you might need small development tasks on top of the product. Only can buy from the owner.
    Product G is free, and you might need small development tasks on top of the product. You can buy from the developer, build your own, contract, whatever.

    Add to that, whether there is an easy way out should the unthinkable happen (end of life for products). Does the software support industry standards? Are there alternative implementations of these standards? Have you tested compatibility?

    I'm not hiding the technical or strategic advantages some proprietary products might have over free ones, but they are stated everywhere, only trying to lay out more aspects you need to care about.

    I think regarding the article you just need to do your job, and lay out all the things you consider. Free software is almost always better in the long run, but it's only sensible to lay out everything you considered, so others can make the best decision.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern