Open Source is the How, not the What

That's something we say a lot here at xTuple when people ask, "Why open source?" Yes, we're proud to call ourselves the world's #1 open source ERP software. For us, though, open source is important because it is how we're able to make better, faster, cheaper software — not because we set out to make free software for some kind of ideological reason.

Turns out we're in good company in thinking like that. None other than Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux operating system, said during his live, on-stage TED2016 interview that he took the approach he did primarily so he could get other people involved in making his code better.

We get that!  That's why we make the xTuple bug tracker publicly available, use GitHub (another Torvalds creation!) to manage our freely available source code, and even publish nightly builds of xTuple's open source software for those who don't want to be bothered with compiling code themselves.

Matt Asay, who's been around open source as long as anyone, makes a related observation about why Linux creator Linus Torvalds doesn't really care about open source:

Torvalds' first instinct was right: Software doesn't want to be free, necessarily. It just wants to be open enough that developers can get to work with a minimum of fuss.

We've embraced this idea with commercial open source xTuple, for our customers who are small- and mid-sized companies who need a management software solution to grow with their business. You can get started with the free and open source PostBooks®, and when — and if — you need more advanced features or functionality, you can upgrade to xTuple Distribution, Manufacturing, or Enterprise Editions. You still get the source code, and still ride the innovation curve of everybody else working in the xTuple community.

And that is how we are able to make mission-critical software that competes favorably with companies like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft. Thanks, Linus, for showing us all the way!

Ned Lilly

President and CEO

In October 2001, Ned co-founded xTuple, originally called OpenMFG, with the aim of bringing the worlds of open platform software and enterprise resource planning (ERP) together to solve the unmet needs of small- to mid-sized manufacturers. In 1999, he was a co-founder of Great Bridge, an early business built around the PostgreSQL database which is also the core technology for xTuple today. Great Bridge was incubated inside Landmark Communications, a mid-sized media company where Ned directed corporate venture investments, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and startup activity. Prior to Landmark, Ned worked for a regional technology group in Washington D.C. and had a brief first career in political media — television, radio and a non-partisan news wire. He holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and an M.A. from George Washington University.