[Dclug] The Economist says recession is a boon for FOSS
gmaxwell at gmail.com
Sun May 31 11:14:36 EDT 2009
On Sat, May 30, 2009 at 11:46 AM, <ethan at 757.org> wrote:
>> No, geeks win in several ways. But few people get paid to write software.
>> They get paid to deploy and service it. And the rest of the geeks get better
>> (or at least more fun) software to work with.
> I understand the point of view, but it's kind of puzzling. Right now, lots
> of people get paid to write software. If there is an expectation (for the
> corporations) that people should write it for them for free, then that hurts
> the software authors.
Wow. Who let this FUD in the door?
Free software doesn't and has never implied that people will work for
you for free. Thats just a load of nonsense.
The overwhelming majority of people paid to program are being paid to
develop one-off and in-house tools. Custom work. Free software
doesn't diminish the need for custom software, if anything it
increases it as more opportunities for customization are created.
Free software does pose some risk to those operating within the "write
once; profit forever" dream model of commercial software publication.
As a result the relatively few developers operating in that model may
find that they have some additional competition from FOSS. It isn't
like any real geek couldn't see the coming decrease in viability of
rent-seeking software business models, so I can't feel too much
sympathy. Want an income? Do some work that people want. Geesh. The
world doesn't owe coders a windfall just because they wrote a useful
line of code once.
It's especially odd that you'd make this comment in response to an
article describing the strong income of companies like RedHat. Or
were you under the impression that they use slave labor?
Free software developers get paid like most other software developers:
Based on jobs completed or hours of work. They often have the added
negotiating power that if they leave one employer they can find work
elsewhere on the same code-base; potentially leveraging their years of
experience rather than losing it.
> Yea, but by the same token I'd argue that only a subset of the open source stuff is highly successful and
> maintained over time. Lots of it falls when the interest from the author(s) falls.
It's generally true that most software projects fail.
I don't have a cite, but I'm fairly confident that most commercial
software companies eventually fail.
If you have the source, the build environment, and the rights to
change the software at least you can pay someone to continue to
develop and maintain code which is important to you or your business.
Free Software means you'll have those. It means that you shouldn't
have to spend as much money constantly reinventing the wheel and can
focus your software-spend on whatever customization or maintenance
that you need.
An economy that includes a robust and healthy set of free software
options is simply more efficient and that benefits geeks and non-geeks
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