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The Mercedes-Benz FOSS Manifesto - Our commitment to be truly open

by Dr. Wolfgang Gehring, August 02, 2021

Reading time: 5 minutes

Over the last few years, Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) has become the foundation of just about every application across the industry. At Mercedes-Benz, we have been transforming our approach towards software development for quite a while – away from a strict “we develop our own code” attitude towards embracing Open and Inner Source.

To fully embrace Open Source means to become a good citizen of the worldwide Open Source community. It doesn't suffice to just “use” Open Source. We want to actively give back, contribute to Open Source and share code of ours that might be useful to the outside world as well. In order to support this goal and drive forward our transformation, we have created the Mercedes-Benz FOSS Manifesto.

The Mercedes-Benz FOSS Manifesto is a set of core values which proclaim the importance of FOSS for us as a modern company and its IT organization. A transformation in a big company can only be successful if the employees at the base believe in it and live it by example, and if at the same time, management fully backs it up. Thus, our Mercedes-Benz FOSS Manifesto was born, and it ingrains these aspects into the company’s DNA.

The Mercedes-Benz FOSS Manifesto consists of three parts:

  • Preamble: A brief preface – in its wording slightly reminiscent of the Treaty on European Union – stating the overall goals and giving the Manifesto a solemn note; moreover, it shows that the Mercedes-Benz CIO and our FOSS Center of Competence are fully committed to the Manifesto.

  • Company Principles: The principles from the company’s point of view. It gives our engineers the message that they are fully supported in their FOSS endeavors by the company. It sends them on a mission to be active in the Open Source world as well as in Inner Source, underlining our Share First approach.

  • Employee Principles: The principles from an employee’s point of view. They ask of an employee to be active in the FOSS world – and to think FOSS first, Open Source as well as Inner Source. Employees are expected to be responsible and respectful Open Source citizens.

To fully embrace FOSS signifies a big cultural change, with all its questions and challenges. It means to be exposed, to be vulnerable to criticism, and to possibly have to deal with other issues unforeseen. At Mercedes-Benz, we are confident enough to know that we have some of the best and most brilliant engineers in the field, and at the same time, we are always curious and keen to learn from everyone out there. So please forgive us if we don’t always get everything right with regard to Open Source from the start. As a company whose core business has not traditionally been software development, we still have a lot to learn, in particular from those of you who have already been walking this path before. We hope that our Mercedes-Benz FOSS Manifesto may also help others towards the Open Source way, and we promise that we’ll take every opportunity to improve and grow, to pursue our best!

Thank you for joining us along the ride.

Kudos and thanks go out to the creators of the Agile Manifesto and all the folks out there in the Open Source world who have been and continue to be an inspiration for us! Thank you.

Dr. Wolfgang Gehring
FOSS Ambassador

Dr. Wolfgang Gehring

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