Corporate vs. Community in Open Source Software

Josh Sherman
2 min read

Earlier this year I went all in on Arch Linux.

I had long desired a rolling release system that would provide me with the latest and greatest software that the free and open source software community had to offer.

And it’s been about 3 weeks since GNOME 3.26 was released and I’m still begrudgingly running GNOME 3.24.

I have been patient and expect that any day now my little update indicator is going to light up with a bunch of GNOME packages.

It lights up a few times a day and at this point I’m like a dog when the doorbell rings.

During this time, I’ve started to do some more distro soul searching yet again. Even though I have an irrational hatred towards RPM-based distros, I’m seriously considering moving over to openSUSE Tumbleweed.

Unlike my beloved Arch, openSUSE had GNOME 3.26 available in around 6.5 hours after the GNOME Team made the release announcement.

Same. damn. day.

Considering how Arch touts itself as the most bleeding edge system out there, it’s been a bit embarrassing. In fact, it’s going to be an ongoing joke until Arch finally catches up.

This all got me thinking about the speed of a corporate entity versus a community of individuals in regard to open source.

In the startup world, it’s typically the smaller team that can move much faster and sneak up on the big bloated corporate guys without them even realizing it.

This very well could be the case in the open source world but often times the community that’s putting forth the labor aren’t full time on the project.

With an army of volunteers, you have to compete with people having day jobs to be able to pay their bills. In that scenario, your labor force is limited to nights and weekends most of the time.

For projects like openSUSE or Ubuntu that are corporate backed, their core contributors tend to be full-time employees for the company.

In that regard, it makes a ton of sense as to why openSUSE Tumbleweed had GNOME 3.26 in a matter of hours verus Arch Linux being 3 weeks behind already.

Not saying that it’s better to hop on corporate sponsored distros but there are definitely some advantages when it comes to speed of development and support when you have full time resources available.

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About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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