I have recently talked about how to contribute to the project. As an Open Source project, we always appeal to individuals and ask them for their contributions to make IPFire better - whether that is code or donations.
But today, I would like to talk to the companies that use IPFire and point out a common habit that I have noticed:
There are forks of IPFire
I know for a fact, that many companies out there are maintaining their own fork of IPFire. That is not a full-fledged fork of IPFire with their own website or community. It is rather, that they make a couple of changes to the IPFire system every time they are deploying it.
Those changes can be small. Maybe it is a script that makes monitoring work a little bit easier. Maybe it fixes a couple of minor bugs that we did not find yet. I think these changes technically make their version of IPFire a fork.
But forks are bad. They take away something from a community that should be about giving back instead of everyone working on their own. They immensely create overhead for those companies because work needs to be done over and over again. Not only in the community when a certain bug is found and a fix is being developed although one already exists somewhere out there. It also comes at a high cost for the company that has to adjust their changes and rewrite their patches over and over again when something changes in IPFire. I think everyone can agree on that this is a waste of everybody's time and difficult and painful, too.
Stopped installing updates?
A common recipe against that is that people stop applying updates. I cannot warn strongly enough what a bad idea that is. On fireinfo, we can see that there are many systems running today that have not received latest updates and one often-heard reason for that is that the update "will break our changes" or "the system didn't come back up any more and we had to roll back" and then the system just stays in that state.
Get your changes into IPFire and you will never have to worry about this again.
Come on and contribute back!
Therefore, I would like to invite all the companies out there who are doing this to become a contributor to the Open Source project. Bring in you bug fixes, bring in your smaller features and scripts where you think that only you need them. This is giving something back to the community and you will see very quickly how soon you will benefit from this again, too.
If you think that your code needs to be a little bit polished before it is ready for production, talk to us and get feedback. IPFire developers are available for hire and can help you out.
IPFire will become a lot better through these small contributions and they will make it work in even more environments out there. Tested and approved by you, the community.