Nokia, the unknown open source contributor?
Why server downtimes and flame wars seem to start always on Friday afternoon? As you probably know, this time the well-intentioned Ari Jaaksi got slashdotted and a new wave of discussion around Nokia and its open source involvement began.
My conclusion in a nutshell: these things would not happen this way if the community at large would know about Nokia’s open source contributions. Yes, Ari could have found better words and timing, the journalists, bloggers and commenters could have considered better the context and all that. But at the end I think the core issue is that Nokia is seen as a corporation that takes but doesn’t give – which is false. In fact many core maintainers and insiders seem to be relatively happy about Nokia contributions and involvement in the open source community.
I’m talking about a lot of patches and new code contributed to several upstream projects: Linux kernel, X.org, BlueZ, GStreamer, Telepathy, other projects under the freedesktop.org umbrella, GTK+, Mozilla, Tracker, Scratchbox… The list is actually long and not easy to evaluate. opensource.nokia.com shows only a sample of it.
There are not only the contributions made directly by own developers. Nokia makes a significant investment through many collaborations with especialized companies well known in the community i.e. OpenedHand, Collabora, Imendio… Here the list is not short either. Beyond code, Nokia also supports in different ways non-profit organizations like the Linux Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, Debian and the GNOME Foundation.
All this makes difficult to evaluate in numbers what are the contributions of Nokia to the open source community. Still, it would be worth to investigate. Another points to consider are the quality of the contributions and they way they are made i.e. following the rules or not.
Any information from the people in the know (if only approximate or subjective) would be better than the lack of information that prevails nowadays. Some projects analyze their commits and publish basic studies. Some researchers are digging in the contributions around key open source projects. There is probably lots of data, let me know if we can assist processing it and gathering more.
About the rest of the discussion, see here and here. I’m less concerned about words and scenarios than about actions and results. In this sense, please point loudly to any product fitting in your pocket more open and successful than the most open&successful Nokia product, now (Maemo 4 and N810) or in the future.
I rather spend my professional time working on actions and results, with the goal of improving the performance and example in the open&successful ranking. It has been interesting to spend many hours this weekend reading and writing (in ITt, from here onwards), but it’s already Monday and in few hours I will go back to “real” work.
These are the slides of Ari’s presentation. The last one says “Open source community and Nokia – We need to learn from each other“. In fact that message had been said already at OSiM World. That speech in San Francisco was recorded and is available to listen.
This time the presentation was done in Handsets World, a conference with no focus in open source. He was advocating about the advantages of open source to that audience familiar with the mobile industry. Then a journalist asked, and the answer quoted out of context generated all the discussion.
Filed under: maemo | 16 Comments
Tags: community, contribution, maemo, Nokia, open source, upstream