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

Sarah Newman newmans at sonic.net
Fri Jul 24 06:30:43 UTC 2009

Carla Schroder wrote:
> Even though I can do "Hello world!" in 12 different languages I'm hardly 
> qualified to comment on developer issues, so I'm hoping some Chix have a bit 
> of time to answer this question:
> How can a dev make a living writing Free software?

One way is so that other people can sell hardware.

If you have some computer component, and you want other people to be 
able to use it with linux, you need a driver. Open sourced drivers are 
easier to maintain as the kernel changes.

Yeah, other people might write a driver for you, but it doesn't hurt to 
make it easy for people to incorporate your hardware.  Look through who 
wrote the drivers and you'll see a lot of hardware companies.

Or for more consumer oriented devices: cell phones via android, my 
beloved Nokia internet tablet, routers - see the wrt54g, etc....

Another way to do free software is to write something that a lot of 
people want and then people pay you to customize it or write add-ons.
I hear freeside is like that? And possibly asterisk.

And linux is a cheap OS to use when you want to pay someone to develop / 
brand your gui.  My HP netbook and some other netbooks come with some 
weird customized version of ubuntu.

You can even sell open sourced hardware, see beagleboard and arduino.

> Or:
> Why should anyone code for free? Especially when they're seasoned 
> professionals, and not noobs looking for experience?
> Or:
> What does a person get out of writing Free software?

In addition to what Akkana said, all of which I agree with:

Because it's cool or fun.  Kind of the maker mentality I guess you could 
say.  Not something that you need, but something that amuses you. Ever 
wanted to implement http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2324.html ?

And part of the fun is showing other people what you've done. Granted 
that doesn't mean it has to be open sourced, but why not?  Then you can 
see where other people go with it.


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