I think the better question would be why there are so many northern European open-source developers. Germans just stick out because they are by far the biggest group in that larger category.

As for why northern Europe? Bad weather combined with high living standards and a more socialist leaning history?


a more socialist leaning history?

In Latin America, this example is more than clear: Nations with more socialist governments (political spectrum more left-left than left-center) tend to push free software. The Venezuelan public administration works almost exclusively with free software, most of it developed in the country. Cuba’s health system is fully integrated with a free software infrastructure (the only one of its kind). Even the current Mexican government (our first leftist government) is gradually moving towards open source solutions.

  • Good, technical education system. There might be no worthwile IT classes in school, but its very easy to get into a computer science course in university.
  • Relatively wealty country, so programmers can work on their personal projects and not worry how to pay rent.
  • Big IT industry, which helps both with education and paying rent.
  • Maybe more free time compared to other countries?
  • And Germany simply has a high population, the second biggest in Europe after Russia.

Europeans are generally more aware and concerned about privacy and freedom, Germany being at the top. For instance Germany has a lot laws and regulations to protect user rights. Complying with them requires free and open source most of the time. Citizens themself, or at least what appears to from the internet, care too much about their freedoms.

Source: external observation. I am not even in Europe.


I agree with you, to add my few observations. I’m Pole, living in Germany since 2017. What is characteristic here is: physical money is more than habit. Even after so time under Covid in some places w/o cash you will buy nothing. Current times pushed more people to use cards or EVEN (sic.) phone payment (nfc). People are fully sounded by insurances. Lack of willingness to risk is highly related with why in Germany rent is more common, than loan for “own flat/house”. Also going more into question due to history “left side” is more popular. Same for dislike for National related things. There is reason why German police or army has so few candidates. I’d say Germany (as culture & country) is really unique, what leads to situation that many people are active in OSS.

I don’t imagine there’s any one thing that “causes” it. High standard of living helps (so more disposable income to spend on things like computers); a technological society, in the sense that people aren’t afraid of technology or of being seen as an “engineer”-type of person; a somewhat left, privacy aware population and generally more altruistic attitude than in other countries I’ve lived in; finally, for my list, I think there’s somewhat of a Streisand effect in that there are a large number of foss developers in Germany because they see that there are a large number of foss developers in Germany.

France also seems to have a fairly strong free software culture. In general it seems like the free software movement has more of a presence outside the Anglosphere, although I’m not sure if I can pin-point a specific reason for it. I think there is a growing mistrust of the Anglo-led proprietary software industry in those areas.

largely because they were born in Germany I imagine

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