LinuxQuestions.org
Visit Jeremy's Blog.
Go Back   LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Non-*NIX Forums > General
User Name
Password
General This forum is for non-technical general discussion which can include both Linux and non-Linux topics. Have fun!

Notices



Reply
 
Search this Thread
Old 03-27-2006, 11:20 AM   #1
librano
Member
 
Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Here, there and everywhere.
Distribution: Arch+KDE, Linux Mint Fluxbox CE
Posts: 163

Rep: Reputation: 31
Why code for free when you could be getting paid?


Hi all!

I have been a keen Linux user since mid 2004 and I'm loving every minute of it. I do not miss Windows at all.

Now, I am a doctor so my idea of using the computer is general stuff like browsing, office apps, multimedia etc... though I have a project which will involve setting up a LAMP server and I think I can handle it pretty confidently... This coming from someone with zero training whatsoever in using computers... all going by trial and error and the brilliant LQ forum help ;-)

On the other hand my brother is a Computer Science major still in University... also, MS has close ties with his univ and so they teach and train them in everything MS. Hence, he is an avid MS product user and likes their 'ease of use'. I have tried to show him how much of a joy it is to use Linux, how much easier it is, stable, etc etc... even though he denies it, I know he is beginning to appreciate the beauty of Linux.

One day though, he asked me "who writes the code for Linux?" I answered "coders in their free time...". His argument was that it is not fair to the coders who put out their work under GPL for everyone to use and dont get a penny for their time and effort whereas organised companies like SuSE, Mandriva, RedHat, and the like with their commercial versions get paid for putting together a load of free software, some propietary software and support for programs they didnt write. He says that he would rather code for a closed source company like MS and earn a living from it... than write code under GPL and be happy that he is helping to save the world from corporate evil...

I am happy that there is so much software that is open source for me to use freely but, how do you open source programers actually make it out there in the real world where at the end of the day you have bills to pay and kids to feed? Can open source coding be a source of income? What makes all this worthwhile (in terms of cash) for the person making all of this wonderful software?

lib.
 
Old 03-27-2006, 11:41 AM   #2
ctos
Member
 
Registered: Mar 2006
Distribution: Slack 10.2, kernel 2.4.31 on a Dell Inspiron 1150 Laptop
Posts: 57

Rep: Reputation: 15
I'm not a programmer but I think these constellations of software exist because programmers are effectively always tweaking things anyway; by releasing material for everyone to work on they reap collective gains. Also I suspect that some projects are partly helped by students who use them as learning experiences.
 
Old 03-27-2006, 12:00 PM   #3
pilatus666
Member
 
Registered: Mar 2006
Location: cyprus
Distribution: Mandriva 2009.0;
Posts: 263

Rep: Reputation: 30
I'm not a programmer and I always wanted to ask something like that... (and they do a wrelly good job...)
 
Old 03-27-2006, 12:32 PM   #4
Dragineez
Member
 
Registered: Oct 2005
Location: Annapolis
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 275

Rep: Reputation: 32
Knowledge Is Good

Nothing has ever explained this phenomenon for me better than this article on How To Become A Hacker
 
Old 03-27-2006, 12:42 PM   #5
Hangdog42
LQ Veteran
 
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Maryland
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 7,791
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 414Reputation: 414Reputation: 414Reputation: 414Reputation: 414
Quote:
His argument was that it is not fair to the coders who put out their work under GPL for everyone to use and dont get a penny for their time and effort whereas organised companies like SuSE, Mandriva, RedHat, and the like with their commercial versions get paid for putting together a load of free software, some propietary software and support for programs they didnt write. He says that he would rather code for a closed source company like MS and earn a living from it... than write code under GPL and be happy that he is helping to save the world from corporate evil...
How is open source unfair to coders? Nobody is making them donate their time or release any code they write under GPL (unless they are starting with GPL code). It is voluntary. They do it because they want to. That said, there are people who are paid to code on GPL programs. In that case the programmer is paid for their work and it is a corportate decision to put the code under GPL. Usually in cases like that, the company is trying to make money off of the services around the program(s). The companies you cite are doing exactly that, and that is a good thing in that it does provide a living to the people writing open source code. It is just that their income is based on service, not code. The reason this scares MS'ers to death is that MS is a product company, not a service company, so open source is a direct threat that they can't respond to unless they either kill open source or change the way their company makes money.
 
Old 03-27-2006, 12:44 PM   #6
rickh
Senior Member
 
Registered: May 2004
Location: Albuquerque, NM USA
Distribution: Debian-Lenny/Sid 32/64 Desktop: Generic AMD64-EVGA 680i Laptop: Generic Intel SIS-AC97
Posts: 4,250

Rep: Reputation: 60
Of course a lot now is initially done by people who are getting paid for it by Novell, Redhat, IBM, HP, and others. Work done under those auspices is released to the community for refinements and extension.

...and, don't overlook the satisfaction of peer recognition. A nicely turned piece of coding that you can show to everyone you know, gets a lot of kudos.
 
Old 03-27-2006, 01:12 PM   #7
Michael_S
Member
 
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 78

Rep: Reputation: 23
"His argument was that it is not fair to the coders who put out their work under GPL for everyone to use and dont get a penny for their time and effort whereas organised companies like SuSE, Mandriva, RedHat, and the like with their commercial versions get paid for putting together a load of free software, some propietary software and support for programs they didnt write."

Think carefully about that logic. Let's say I tried to sell a recipe for brownies that used turnips and motor oil as ingredients, and you gave away a prize winning recipe that used chocolate and sugar. Would you be being unfair to me?

Or what if I build houses for Habitat for Humanity and you operate a construction business. Am I being unfair to you?

Or if I sing at one bar that charges $10 per person to enter and you sing at another one that lets anyone in for free? Are you stealing my business unfairly?

There's nothing wrong with giving things away for free.

There is also nothing wrong with proprietary software that has a price tag. The business model works as long as the product offers features you can't get in free software. For example, I installed XP on my machine without a hitch. I tried Knoppix, Debian 3.1, Ubuntu, CentOS, and finally Suse 10 before I managed to get the machine to boot into KDE and also find and properly activate my USB wireless card. I'd be royally miffed if I paid for Linux. Since it was free, and I can do anything I want with the software, it's just a minor irritation.

I wish your brother good luck. Getting that first programming job after college is probably the single hardest step in a computer industry career. Once he has a few years under his belt, it gets much easier.
 
Old 03-27-2006, 01:43 PM   #8
aysiu
Senior Member
 
Registered: May 2005
Distribution: Ubuntu with IceWM
Posts: 1,776

Rep: Reputation: 66
There are many answers to this question:

1. I read Linus Torvalds' sort-of-autobiography, and he basically said that open source programming is good as a way to get recognized and then get hired by a closed source company (which is what he ended up doing when he first moved to California).

2. The program itself may not earn any income, but it can earn its programmers income in other ways. For example, Firefox is a free browser that's open source, and it earned something like US$72 Million last year from Google searches from the search toolbar.

A lot of Linux distributions earn money from support, manuals and documentation, and packaging, and/or subscriptions.

3. Some people just program for fun. OpenOffice is a pretty serious (and it looks like corporate-funded) project, but something like SharpMusique appears to have been written by one person for fun and has very little quality control.

4. Oh, and don't forget donations.

Last edited by aysiu; 03-27-2006 at 01:47 PM.
 
Old 03-27-2006, 03:23 PM   #9
pixellany
LQ Veteran
 
Registered: Nov 2005
Location: Annapolis, MD
Distribution: Arch/XFCE
Posts: 17,802

Rep: Reputation: 729Reputation: 729Reputation: 729Reputation: 729Reputation: 729Reputation: 729Reputation: 729
This issue is not about fairness---it is a fundamental paradigm shift. If you set out as an individual--or as a corporation--to make money in IT, there are lots of ways of doing it, e.g. sell HW, sell SW, sell service and support.....etc.

What OpenSource is really about is changing business models. If, for example, you start a company based on the new paradigm, you might pay people to support the writing of the SW, and then make your income selling systems with support.

Also, as an individual, you might do coding for fun (and knowledge) and then sell your services as a consultant or sysadmin.
 
Old 03-27-2006, 05:41 PM   #10
primo
Member
 
Registered: Jun 2005
Posts: 542

Rep: Reputation: 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by librano
One day though, he asked me "who writes the code for Linux?" I answered "coders in their free time...". His argument was that it is not fair to the coders who put out their work under GPL for everyone to use and dont get a penny for their time and effort whereas organised companies like SuSE, Mandriva, RedHat, and the like with their commercial versions get paid for putting together a load of free software, some propietary software and support for programs they didnt write.
Don't understimate the contributions by these companies. They provide a lot of new ideas, bug reports and they even hire kernel developers (eg, Alan Cox @ RedHat).

He would have to understand it and learn to love it to grasp every implication of the various OSS models.
 
Old 03-28-2006, 12:36 AM   #11
foo_bar_foo
Senior Member
 
Registered: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,553

Rep: Reputation: 51
yea your friend has a very naive view of things with the "not a penny" remark
Hewlett-Packard recently sold its second Linux system to the U.S. Department of Energy — for $24.5 million dollars.
The pentagon is essentially, in america, the big corporate giveaway system for high tech subsidies/welfare. All US government agencies use Linux including
Navy, FAA, in total 249 U.S. government agencies.
think none of this cash flows to linux developers think again.
corporate consortium just retook controll of x server
many full time programmers for major US corporation work on Linux.
unfortunately Linux is right now moost likely flying a multimilion dollar cruise missile up someones rear end.
think linux if free to US taxpayers think again.
free like we say but NOT as in beer.
also not in any way free of the "system"
but at least unlike miscrocrap we don't have to pay twice for it to use it.

Last edited by foo_bar_foo; 03-28-2006 at 12:38 AM.
 
Old 03-29-2006, 10:45 PM   #12
oblivious69
Member
 
Registered: May 2005
Distribution: debian
Posts: 79

Rep: Reputation: 15
There is nothing wrong with writing closed source code, but I have an issue with something so critical such as operating system being closed to everyone. Just like the code running the Diebold machines shouldn't be closed.
 
Old 03-29-2006, 11:09 PM   #13
rjcrews
Member
 
Registered: Apr 2004
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 193

Rep: Reputation: 30
Free code can be (many times it is) WAAAYY different than, pay for code.

Standards, language, platforms requirements, doing exactly what you want VS how someone else wants, etc.

For example, getting paid to code at the company I work for (by paid i mean good pay) requires ASP devlopment, which is .NET... Tons of fun right?
 
Old 03-31-2006, 06:20 AM   #14
Jaqui
Member
 
Registered: Jan 2006
Location: Vancouver BC
Distribution: LFS, SLak, Gentoo, Debian
Posts: 291

Rep: Reputation: 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael_S
I wish your brother good luck. Getting that first programming job after college is probably the single hardest step in a computer industry career. Once he has a few years under his belt, it gets much easier.
and if He is known in the open source owrld for his code contributions, then he has a foot in the door for that first job.

Quote:
Originally Posted by foo_bar_foo
All US government agencies use Linux....
According to several members of TechRepublic, that work for US Federal Government, their particular offices are standardising on windows systems and removing linux even from the server room.

Last edited by Jaqui; 03-31-2006 at 07:58 AM.
 
Old 03-31-2006, 06:45 AM   #15
dopehouse
Member
 
Registered: May 2004
Location: Hildesheim(Germany)
Distribution: Debian Etch with Kernel 2.6.x (latest vanila)
Posts: 62

Rep: Reputation: 15
You can release your program under the GPL and earn money for it at the same time. The GPL didn't say, that you don't have to earn money. It just say's that you have to open the source .

But ask brother what people in the 3rd world or just people from Europe or America with little income should do, if they want to learn how to program. Should they by an operating system for about 100€ (~100$) and an integrated develop environment for about 300€ (~300$) or should they by one package with all that stuff for about 60-100€ or even nothing for Debian (if you don't make a donation).

I think the main income of the big distributors is support for big companies. The 60-100€ for the packages is a very fair price. They have to collect all the packages, print manuals, supportlines and last but not least they give back the error corrections to the developers.
 
  


Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
No source code in Mandriva 2006 Free? qscomputing Mandriva 4 03-15-2006 08:31 AM
Paid or free? Thulemanden Linux - General 15 10-27-2005 09:36 AM
User Preferences: Use HTML code instead of vB code? (vB code is overrated) stefanlasiewski LQ Suggestions & Feedback 5 07-26-2005 02:37 AM
Don't know if my distos are free or should I have paid for them ghost_raf Linux - Distributions 3 05-28-2005 09:58 PM
Differences between the "free" and "paid" versions eraser Linux - General 1 08-03-2000 05:35 PM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:22 PM.

Main Menu
Advertisement
My LQ
Write for LQ
LinuxQuestions.org is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
Syndicate
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
identi.ca: @linuxquestions
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration