If you’re building commercial solutions around open source projects, good for you. As long as you are respecting the licenses of those projects I have absolutely nothing against you. In fact, well done for working to create a sustainable business around projects that provide end users with core freedoms.

However, here’s the point many of the people before you have missed; give a little.

Give a little back to the core of the project. It’s the single most important thing you can do to help the project continue to move forward and for your business around that project to stay relevant.

Giving back is easy and you don’t have to be a programmer. Small actions like reporting bugs, updating documentation, and answering questions in the forums go a long way towards helping out the community and pushing the project in the right direction. If you are a programmer, consider writing patches for the project to fix those outstanding bugs you’ve been side-stepping and working around for so long.

Your image will do nothing but benefit from this, it shows the community that you’re in it because you love the project. It shows that you want to see the project continue to develop and get better and better. Most importantly it shows you’re not just in it to make a buck or two then move on to the next project when there’s nothing more to gain. Intrinsic interest speaks volumes.

A lot of companies on the web subscribe to a program called 1% for the planet. Let’s put a spin on that and start something called “1% for the project”. Instead of money, it would be 1% of your time per year spent towards helping the project that your company is built around. That’s two hours per month helping ensure your business continues to support a thriving open source project.

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