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Re: Free Software Development, Money, and the Hacking Experience

by diskcrash (Hermit)
on Apr 12, 2001 at 06:29 UTC ( #71930=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Free Software Development, Money, and the Hacking Experience

It has been said - "If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life".

I don't look at "work" as a trade for my soul. When I code, manage, design etc. its done in concert with other creative people. They stretch me and vice versa. When I code alone its great fun, because the risks are low and I enjoy my results. In fact my home Linux/Perl/C hacking has added greatly to my ability to create at work, where I do relatively little coding. (But I do get paid for going to work.) I am also an amateur astronomer, but I wouldn't like getting "paid" for it. It would ruin the beauty.

The Open Source world is a lot like early impressionist painters in Paris. They didn't get paid much (or at all) but the freedom and breadth of expression they exercised helped change society in 1890-1910. Eventually their work was recognized as mainstream and was highly valued.

I have talked to many software and engineering professionals that "don't get" OSS and express uncertainty and fear. I tell them how I post questions right on this web site and get quality answers in minutes, due to the spirit and interest of the community. That is a very different business model than a $XXXK support license from Sun or IBM. The only difference is that I get better answers faster in the OSS world.

Now OSS is peaking over the edge of mainsteam (support from IBM, governments and anti-redmonium forces.) Can you make money at it? Heck yeah. Write books, do training, sell support, but give away the code. Its all still work, TANSTAAFL, as they say.

Final OSS thought. A problem in OSS is that it tends to be reactive to hardware, rather than being a design driver. Therefore other software, OS development, vendor lust and marketechtures tend to drive the environment that OSS lives in. Is this good or bad? I wish there were more opportunities for hardware designers to get input from OSS communities. Not just for simple driver availability, but crafting new solutions and business models that cohabitate with OSS support and thinking.

Follow your muse man, but pay the rent.


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