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Open Source / Tech Life

Mercedes-Benz: 4 Reasons to Sponsor Open Source Projects

Often a few hardworking individuals maintain important open source software, usually for free. One way to remedy this situation is to sponsor the work.
Apr 14th, 2023 10:00am by
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In 2014, the Heartbleed Bug sent shockwaves across the internet and led to news headlines like: “The Internet Is Being Protected by Two Guys Named Steve.” Although this headline is somewhat humorous, it reveals a crucial vulnerability of free and open source software (FOSS): Oftentimes, just a few engaged, hardworking individuals maintain important open source software, usually for free. One way to remedy this situation is to sponsor the work of open source developers and tools.

A large number of people and companies use open source software. There are many ways in which you can support these projects, for example by making high-quality contributions and actively participating through community engagement, becoming a maintainer or getting membership in open source foundations.

But let’s focus on a different one: financially sponsoring open source projects.

At Mercedes-Benz, we have decided to strengthen our effort to give back to open source communities by not only contributing code, but also funding projects, developers and maintainers. Here are four reasons why:

1. Open Source Is Everywhere

According to this study, modern software development would be really difficult without FOSS. FOSS can be considered “the foundation for the vast majority of commercial codebases.” This means that 96% of the software scanned for the study contained FOSS, and up to 76% of them were open source (depending on the industry).

Open source also plays a major role at Mercedes-Benz, and we want to contribute to the promotion of free and open source software within and outside the company, because you cannot be part of modern software development without doing open source! If you want to know more about free and open source software at Mercedes-Benz, feel free to visit.

2. Giving Something Back

A central point of the open source spirit is the community. Millions of developers deploy their software on platforms to continue working on it with others. Being part of a community means not only using the software, but also actively contributing and publishing your own projects. Financial sponsoring can be a way of giving back — to support the creators behind the software so that they can focus on their work and do what they love to do: write great code.

3. Appreciation

Financial support goes beyond just money. It also gives essential software and their creators the recognition they deserve. And this tap on the shoulder is important. We receive wonderful feedback from the community and see that this kind of appreciation matters:

“Thanks… It really gave me the kick I needed to continue working — and that good feeling one gets from contributing to something.”

“This helps the team to be even more motivated to increase the quality of the project.”

“Thank you again for the recognition. I am also receiving a lot of contributions from your team, which I greatly appreciate!”

4. Invest in Software We Rely On

In a modern Mercedes-Benz vehicle, millions of lines of code, including a lot of FOSS, help provide a great driving experience. Many of our engineers use open source software in their everyday work. We involve our developer community in the process to identify the important tools and projects that they use on a regular basis.

Therefore, we regularly ask them which of their tools and projects should be supported: Which FOSS do they use the most? And which one is useful for many but does not get enough credit? With our sponsorship, we support this kind of software and ensure it doesn’t disappear and will still exist tomorrow.

Of course, sponsoring can also be a risk reduction activity when, by supporting open source developers, coding can become a developer’s full-time job: They can concentrate on their software, do bug fixes, take care of contributions and work on issues.

We currently sponsor or have sponsored more than 40 projects, such as Homebrew, Curl and Fiber, and we are now in the process of adding more.

Financially sponsoring open source software is a great way to foster FOSS. So perhaps consider it as well: In the spirit of open source, every contribution helps, and if more companies and people join us in this effort, we can really make a difference!

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