Google recently donated more than a quarter of million dollars to help create an open-source technology lab that could lead to new and better free software.
Google gave US$350,000 to Oregon State University and Portland State University to fund an open-source technology center, which will provide classes on writing open-source software and hardware development through the state university system in Oregon.
OSU already has a large role in open source, as the school's Open Source Lab is the home of major software hosting sites for the Linux kernel, Mozilla Firefox and the Apache Web server project.
Google is not new to open source either, as the firm funded its "Summer of Code" project, which ended in September. The initiative gave more the $2 million to open-source software developers, allowing them to eat, buy coffee and pay for other expenses while working on more than 410 open-source software projects over the summer. Apache, FreeBSD, Fedora Core, GNOME and Google, of course, were among the leading software projects funded by the Summer of Code. Each project was given a stipend of US$4,500 for the summer.
Of course, Google's stake in open source isn't completely about charity; Linux is at the core of the vaunted search technology responsible for its fame and now billions of dollars in market value. With thousands of clustered Linux nodes running Google's complex search software around the world - and given the company's increasing tension with Microsoft - we can only expect Google's role as open source's sugar daddy to grow in the long run.