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Questions and answers on Asia’s role in open sourceMatthew Aslett, February 4, 2008 @ 5:27 pm ET
Matt Asay asks why Asia doesn’t contribute more to open source. It’s an interesting question, and the responses are equally interesting. There are a few in the comments to Matt’s piece, for example, pointing out Asia’s contribution to projects such as Ruby on Rails, not to mention Andrew Tridgell’s crucial involvement in the Samba project.
Those are the exception rather than the rule, however. There are also a few clues regarding the comparative lack of open source contribution from Asia in the ZDnet article that prompted the question in the first place.
“Harish Pillay, open source evangelist with Red Hat Asia-Pacific, acknowledges that it will “take time” for the region to catch up with the West,” writes Victoria Ho. “Pillay explained in an interview that Linux’s early developers contributed not for the money, and had been consumers of the Internet for many years. ‘The ‘late comers’–the Asian nations–are at a stage of consuming it and trying to find their place under the open source sun’.”
In the same article Alex Flecher of the Entiva Group points out that “The region first needs a unified strategy and framework for localizing languages across different open source communities”. The language difference is a significant issue, and not just for the obvious reasons.
There have been significant contributions to the PostgreSQL open source database project from the likes of SRA, Fujitsu, and NTT Data that have enabled it to, for example, support all four Japanese encoding methods. These are significant contributions that have established PostgeSQL as a serious contender in Asia-Pac, although given that they are insular in nature, it is understandable that they would be overlooked in the West. The language barrier works both ways.
Meanwhile, there could be a mass migration of open source developers to Australia if this morning’s new from Computerworld is correct. “In what may the country’s first comprehensive survey of the open source industry, the Australian Open Source Industry Census has revealed IT professionals working with free software earn more than the national average,” it states. “The good news is salaries are three times the national median, so “full-time open source pays more”, according to [Sydney-based consulting firm Waugh Partners'] Pia Waugh.
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