Harvesting Sugar Trees.

David Farning dfarning at activitycentral.com
Tue Feb 8 12:39:51 EST 2011

One of the areas Activity Central is trying to help Sugar Labs and
OLPC is by pushing deployment working upstream.  The core premis
behind open source development is, "If the software is useful and the
source code is freely available, users will adopt and improve it to
meet their needs."  We are seeing that happening as individual
deployments are taking Sugar and OLPC software and modifying it to
meet their individual deployment.

The second premise is, "If those improvement are pushed upstream they
can be included in future versions of the software which benefits
everyone."  There is a cost to push work upstream.  Most deployments
have very limited resources and many immediate needs.  As a result,
the improvements don't receive the attention necessary to push them

Keeping improvements local can provide a competitive advantage.  If
everyone else is pushing improvements upstream and one deployment
keeps their 'special stuff' local that deployment can sell their
special version to others.  In economic this is called the free rider

Neither of these situations is unique to Sugar, OLPC, or educational
software.  An excellent parallel can be found in the embedded software
market.  10 years ago many device manufacturers built their systems on
open source software, but kept their work out of tree for one or both
of the above reasons.

Over time, most embedded system developers have pushed their work
upstream.  This happened gradually as system developers learned that
it was more expensive to maintain their customizations locally then to
work with upstream.  The tipping point was often found as system
developers tried to rebase their customization when upstream rebased.

If you are a developer with out of tree patches (MStone comes to mind)
or a deployment with local modifications please give us a shout or
ping silbe on one of these list.  We will try to work with you get
your work in tree.


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