Open source pitfalls – and how to avoid them

Don't end up with a dead end project

It's hard to imagine a company these days that isn't using open source software somewhere, whether it's Linux running a company's print and web servers, the Firefox browser on user desktops, or the Android operating system on mobile devices.

In, fact, there are now more than a million different open source projects, according to Black Duck Software, a maker of open source management tools and owner of the Ohloh open source software directory. And open source continues to grow. According to an SAP research report, the number of open source projects roughly doubles every 14 months.

But not all open source projects are created equal. According to Ohloh, for the 100,375 projects for which activity information is available, around 80 percent were listed as having low activity, very low activity or were completely inactive.

That's bad news for companies that bet big on those particular open source projects by using them as part of critical business systems. And that’s pretty much everybody, according to Gartner, which predicts that open source software will be included in mission-critical software portfolios in 99% of Global 2000 enterprises by 2016.

Picking a dead-end project means few or no updates and security patches, and little community support.

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