[Techtalk] opinions wanted again! why would anyone code for free?

Akkana Peck akkana at shallowsky.com
Fri Jul 24 05:31:53 UTC 2009

Carla Schroder writes:
> How can a dev make a living writing Free software?

By working for a company that pays people to develop free software. 
There are lots of such companies for kernel developers, especially
those who specialize in network and storage, but there are also
companies paying people to develop other open source products --
Mozilla, Canonical, Redhat, Novell, Oracle and a number of lesser-
known companies. And there are a lot of university people writing
open source software as part (probably not all) of their jobs.
I'd like to see government jobs doing that as well, but there
don't seem to be many, at least in the US.

> Why should anyone code for free? Especially when they're seasoned 
> professionals, and not noobs looking for experience?

- Scratch an itch: create programs that do something you need,
  the way you wish they'd do them.
- Chance to write the sort of code YOU want to write, not
  what your boss wants you to write or some committee says
  you should write.
- Chance to learn new technologies, either because you find
  them exciting or as resume-building material you can't
  get through your job.
- Chance to use a language you like better than the one they
  use at work.
- Fame and glory. Okay, that's flippant, but it really is a
  chance to get your name on something that's useful to a lot
  of people, which a lot of programmers don't get from work
  (a lot of programming jobs involve writing little one-off
  stuff few people will ever see, internal websites, business
  apps, etc.)
- Chance to get known in a community as a good developer, so you
  can eventually get paid for working on that or similar projects.

That last one is especially important for anyone trying to break
into programming jobs: students, career changers, people with the
wrong sort of connections who got stuck in a dead-end job instead
of real programming.


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