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I'm an intern working for a company for the summer. I've been warmly received and I manage to impress my manager a lot (I guess I'm more experienced than the other people he interviewed). Recently I've been developing a kiosk type application which will generate a simple GUI menu from a text config file a 4 year old could write.

I love the project and it has become my baby. However, in the corporate world, whatever you develop for your employer... becomes theirs (or so I've heard). I would really love to be able to keep on working on the project after the summer and I would also want to open source it.

How would I go about asking for this? The code doesn't have any company secrets and most of the people here advocate open sourced software.

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I did this once and made sure that any company-specific information was totally left out. I explained to my manager that it was a "skeleton" of the product I made with the intent of helping others. They were very receptive. – Nic Jun 21 '11 at 18:32
@melee, thanks good to know – n0pe Jun 21 '11 at 18:38
I didn't add it as an answer because the function of the product was for a check in-check out dashboard(basically where people are), so it is probably a lot different than most cases. @Berin Loritsch has a much better general perspective :) – Nic Jun 21 '11 at 18:50
up vote 17 down vote accepted

Your success depends on a number of factors, but if the company tends to advocate open source software you are probably already at an advantage. However, don't be surprised if you hear "no".

  • If this is a revenue stream maker for the company, they will want to protect their investment. Remember, they are paying you to do it, so it costs the company money.
  • If this is a supplementary part of the overall solution that they have for their clients, then they may be open to the idea.
  • There's a world of difference between advocating the use of open source software to save money, and advocating the concept of open source by donating their own resources toward it.
  • If you don't ask the answer by default is "no." So you really have nothing to lose. Just make sure the license you choose is compatible with your company's goals and they donate the copyright to the code. It's currently a work for hire product, so the company owns the copyright.

Alternatively your company may choose to open source it themselves. That means they still retain they copyright and they dictate the terms for licensing, but all other aspects of open source should still apply.

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Great answer, thanks! – n0pe Jun 21 '11 at 18:44

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