...And then sometimes Novell does things very, very right

Novell set its Linux engineering team free for a week. Funny what happens when you introduce freedom into your development of free software....

I came across this surprising piece of news in ars technica (I always feel a little dirty saying that :-). Surprising, because it's such a good idea. Most surprising?

It happened at Novell.

What idea? Why, to set the Linux engineering team loose for a week to do work on whatever they wanted. Full freedom to hack at will on the open source projects of their choice. Appropriately, they called it "Novell Hack Week."

I like this quote from one of the participants:

So even though we're a big company with lots of customers and product release schedules to satisfy, we're also an open-source company. And the ideas behind ITO and Hack Week are firmly rooted in open-source culture. There are also other software companies who do this kind of thing, though it's rarer than it should be. We want all our developers to have a chance to be creative and to try something new, without having to "find time" or justify it. And as it turns out, amazing things can happen when you set a huge team of great hackers loose.

Indeed. That's the very premise of open source - the most qualified people for a given task, self-select for that task. It's indeed unfortunate that at most companies this self-selection doesn't happen to the degree that it probably could, if we just discarded the shackles of conventional notions of how things ought to be done.

At any rate, kudos to Novell for doing this. I suspect Nat Friedman was behind this somehow, bohemian that he is. :-)

Tags:
Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

    Join the discussion

    Conversation powered by Livefyre

    Don't Miss
    Hot Products
    Trending on CNET

    HOT ON CNET

    iPhone running slow?

    Here are some quick fixes for some of the most common problem in iOS 7.