Google is certainly one of the largest Internet companies today that entirely relies on open-source software for its technical and organisational foundation since its inception. It has heavily made use of the Linux kernel and develops its software and projects based on open-source code, for instance Chrome for iOS, TensorFlow, etc. But there wasn't a way to find all these projects in one place, until today where Google launched a website dedicated to all its open-source projects.
"This new site showcases the breadth and depth of our love for open source. It will contain the expected things: our programs, organisations we support, and a comprehensive list of open source projects we've released. But it also contains something unexpected: a look under the hood at how we 'do' open source," wrote Will Norris, software engineer at Google's Open Source Programs Office.
It's worth mentioning that Google makes several projects and software every day under open source licences ranging from larger products like TensorFlow, Go, and Kubernetes to smaller projects such as Light My Piano, Neuroglancer and Periph.io. While a few of them are fully supported, some of them are just experimental or for fun. The idea behind this as explained by Norris is that "We don't know which projects will find an audience, so we help teams release code whenever possible."
Technically, it's not a source-code site such as GitHub, but a directory to all the Google's open source projects. "With so many projects spread across 100 GitHub organizations and our self-hosted Git service, it can be difficult to see the scope and scale of our open source footprint" reads the blog post emphasising on the need of its open-source directory website. Google has also published an internal documentation on how it does open source. This is meant for the companies that want to use open-source software development to its maximum capabilities or for someone who wants to know how big companies do open source.
"These docs explain the process we follow for releasing new open source projects, submitting patches to others' projects, and how we manage the open source code that we bring into the company and use ourselves. But in addition to the how, it outlines why we do things the way we do, such as why we only use code under certain licenses or why we require contributor license agreements for all patches we receive" Norris explained further in his blog post.
Notably, Google has been an avid initiator for several open-source programmes like Google Summer of Code and Google Code-in. It has also sponsored projects and communities through organisations like Software Freedom Conservancy, the Apache Software Foundation, and many others.