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Open Source Software Use in Business: Best Records Ever

The open-source (OSS) software movement has moved targets for both its supporters and detractors over the past 40 years. Its philosophy of free code distribution competed with proprietary programs to keep users interested in the rise of business and home computing.

According to various accounts — each with different timelines stretching from the 1960s through the 1970s — the hacker culture and academia gave rise to large-scale commercial computers loaded with free software. Richard Stallman, a programmer from California, launched the GNU Project in 1983 to create a Unix-like operating system that ran on free software. He founded the Free Software Foundation Support the movement in 1985

Open-source is widely used today. It is embedded in commercial software for business and industry and forms the basis of internet server and networking functionality.

Open Source Thriving in the Global Market

The open-source community is stronger and more diverse than ever. This is the conclusion of OpenLogic’s State of Open Source Report 2024, released in February. It describes open-source as an integral component of organizations of every size.

In the last year, 95% of respondents across all industries and business sectors reported that their organizations had either increased or maintained open-source use. 33% said their usage had increased significantly.

Why? The top reasons were either no licensing cost or cost savings, followed by reliable functionalities. In 2022 cost reduction ranked ninth on the list of reasons for using open-source software. According to researchers, however, the challenging economic conditions worldwide since then have likely played a larger role in ensuring that open-source software continues to be used in business.

This year’s report was created in collaboration between the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and Eclipse Foundation, covers OSS adoption, investment, and support challenges for organizations using a multitude of technology types — infrastructure, cloud-native, frameworks, databases, automation, and more.

It’s a really new wave of adoptions. Javier Perez is the senior director of Product Management at and chief OSS evangelist. Perforce SoftwareIn introducing a web-based discussion of the report,, stated.

Open Source Success Continues

Researchers surveyed 2,046 responses in October 2023 from people working with open-source technology in their organizations. Perez reports that respondents were asked more than 20 questions about their organizations’ use and support for open-source software, ranging from large companies to early-stage startups in a variety of industries.

The primary focus of the survey was on business-critical software, and open-source tools for security. The second focus is new and addresses growing cybersecurity concerns with open-source security tools. Perez stated that this topic was important because the U.S. government and EU have set up oversight for cybersecurity.

Stefano Maffulli (executive director of OSI) and Gael Blindelle (chief membership officer at Eclipse Foundation) agreed that the adoption of open-source software is increasing, with an increase of 95% in use during the last year. Open source’s success will be determined by the availability of long-term support, maintenance and standards that are open and interoperable.

There are many challenges to be solved, including the security risks as well as the need for companies to stay up-to date with the latest software versions. They acknowledged that regulatory compliance was important and that government agencies were leading the way to create regulations required for the continuing maturation of the sector. They did acknowledge the impact of potential regulatory changes on open source projects.

The State of OSS: Key Findings

33% of the 95% organizations who increased or maintained the use of open source software over the last year said that their usage had increased significantly. The 5% of organizations that reduced their OSS usage were primarily early-stage startups. 39% of large enterprises (500-5,000 employees) reported a substantial increase.

Geographically, the use and availability of OSS products has increased significantly in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Latin America.

Last year, containers and SDLC tools occupied the two top usage spots. This year, however, databases and data technologies have surpassed both categories. The digital economy continues to be driven by data. It is not surprising that data technologies get the most attention due to the growth of AI models which train on huge amounts of data.

Many organizations are continuing to invest in container and cloud technologies. The architectural model of choice for many large companies is containers, while the smaller to mid-sized organizations prefer data technologies.

Cloud-Native open-source technologies used by organizations

There was a lot of overlap between the top five areas of investment for open-source software that is most critical to business. Linux, Jakarta EE Apache HTTP Server Project Docker PHP WordPress Python MySQL Kafka Eclipse Eclipse, MySQL, PHP, WordPress were among the top technologies.

Over 40% of respondents, from all types of organizations, said that keeping up with patches and updates is a difficult task. The infrastructure scalability is a problem for medium-sized organizations (100 to 499) in particular. The project teams are often not receptive to third-party suggestions or bug reports.

Lack of a clearly defined policy for community release support has a significant impact on early-stage startups as well as medium-sized businesses.

Linux Distributions Gaining Ground

In this survey, Ubuntu was again the most popular Linux distribution. 46% of respondents used it at work, which represents a 26% rise over the prior year. Likely, controversies in the Linux space — such as Red Hat’s decision to restrict access to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) code and the fast-approaching end-of-life for CentOS 7 on June 30 — have further benefited Ubuntu’s growing adoption.

CentOS is the third most used distribution in the survey, only 1% behind Debian. CentOS is still the most popular distribution in the technology sector, with 28%.

Open Source Linux distributions used by organizations

According to researchers, it is likely that many companies still using CentOS have not yet had the opportunity to migrate.

Also, they noted that it was still too early to declare the winner of the “Linux Wars.” AlmaLinux, on the other hand, is popular among organizations that deal with transportation or vehicle logistics. Rocky Linux holds a slight advantage in the pharmaceutical or health care sector.

Many respondents suggested alternatives to CentOS as it nears its end-of life. These include AlmaLinux (CentOS Stream), Oracle Linux, Rocky Linux and Navy Linux.

According to the latest data, the report did not include any of these items. StatCounterLinux’s share of the desktop market has risen by an additional 1% over the last eight-month period, now reaching 4.03%. Microsoft Windows tops the charts at 72.13 %. Apple’s MacOS comes in at a distant second with 15.46%.

Open-Source security tools are often overlooked

The State of Open Source Report 2024 suggests that more attention should be paid to security tools and licensing compliance when using open source technology.

  • Only 30% report that they perform security scans and/or have security/compliance policy.
  • North America has the most legal teams who are familiarized with OSS licences.

Open-source tools for security scan for vulnerabilities, create SBOMs and secure firewalls. These tools are growing in importance due to the increased focus on security at software development stages and for networking and operations.

What open source security tools does your organization use today?

Only 20% of organizations create software bill of materials (SBOMs). The manufacturing industry, which includes the chip manufacturing sector, is leading in this area.

When asked what open-source security tool they use in their organization, more than a quarter (27%) chose “I don’t Know”.

Sponsorship Patterns Among Leading Open Source Entities

The Linux FoundationOpenSSF, OpenJS and the other foundations that are part of the organization. Cloud Native Computing Foundation 15 % of respondents support the CNCF.

The researchers found that the four top organizations (Linux Foundation Apache Software Foundation Open Source Initiative Eclipse Foundation and Open Source Initiative) are all within a few percentage points of one another, suggesting that sponsorship has been evenly distributed among these open source organizations.

All of these numbers are lower than the previous year. North America and Europe, however, have the highest levels of sponsorship participation.

Editor’s note: The charts in this article were sourced from Perforce Software’s 2024 State of Open Source Report.