LizardTech: Why We Use and Support Free and Open Source Software An Informal But Earnest Manifesto

Matthew Fleagle, Michael Gerlek

Abstract


One of the authors, Michael Gerlek, has been a Charter
Member from the beginning of OSGeo and was highly
influential in its success. LizardTech officially became an
OSGeo Associate Sponsor in 2006 and has been an active
user of open source geospatial tools for a long time. It is
with this in mind that they were invited to describe how
they use open source from both a business and community
perspective. â?? Editor
As a small company with a niche-market customer
base originally built on the strength and ubiquity
of its proprietary technology â?? the widely used
MrSID technology and image format â?? LizardTech
has reason to cherish private ownership. The fact
that we have something that no one else can use
without paying us for it has, to say the least, advanced
our prospects over the years. Many might
be unaware, however, not only that we support open
source development efforts in general but that in particular,
we have been supporting OSGeo since its inception.
Why would a small, proprietary shop like
LizardTech use and support free and open source development?
Donâ??t the advance of open source development
and the spread of an ethos of sharing in the
software industry represent threats to LizardTechâ??s
business model? We believe the contrary, and this article
aims to articulate why. First weâ??ll discuss some
of the free and open source software (FOSS) products
that we use or have used in the past, and then weâ??ll
talk about why it makes sense strategically for small
companies like ours that have proprietary code not
only to use the products made by the free and open
source development community but also to materially
support its work.

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