Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Proposal to Fund Debian Sparks Debate 162

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the much-ado-about-something dept.
lisah writes "The announcement earlier this week of 'experimental' group Dunc-Tank's plans to bankroll the work of certain Debian developers has sparked some controversy across the open source community. The leaders of Dunc-Tank say their primary motivation is to see that Debian version 4.0, also known as etch, is released on time this December. Debian developer Lucas Nussbaum, however, says that research shows that 'sometimes, paying volunteers decreases the overall participation.' Dunc-Tank member Raphaël Hertzog countered that the opposite is true and 'many Debian developers are motivated to work when things evolve,' a veiled reference to Debian's notoriously slow release cycle. Dunc-Tank member and kernel developer Ted Ts'o took the idea a step further and said, 'If money were among anybody's primary motivators...they probably wouldn't be accepting a grant from Dunc-Tank; they could probably make more money by applying for a job with Google — or Microsoft.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Proposal to Fund Debian Sparks Debate

Comments Filter:
  • the office (Score:3, Interesting)

    by macadamia_harold (947445) on Friday September 22, 2006 @12:40AM (#16158970) Homepage
    Debian developer Lucas Nussbaum, however, says that research shows that 'sometimes, paying volunteers decreases the overall participation.

    That's because when you pay volunteers, they become employees. And anyone who's ever worked in an office knows how that works.
    • by g4sy (694060)
      Not always the case: I just got back from 7 hours of volunteer work putting in ice at the local (small) ice rink. I just found out that for every hour a volunteer puts in at the beginning of the season to get everything going, he will get 5$ of credit. Meaning that if I volunteer as much as I had planned, I will not have to pay anything for my locker room. Am I paid? yes, kinda. Am I an employee? Certainly not. Would I have volunteered anyhow? Of course! Did the quality of my work decrease because you decl
    • Increased motivation and, subsequently, productivity?
    • Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Friday September 22, 2006 @01:18AM (#16159069)
      You speak of things you don't understand.

      Highly motivated people can often not devote as much time as they would like to OSS because they have to go to a regular job to pay for food etc.

      There are a lot of key Linux developers who provide huge benefit to the community, but would like to make it pay so that they can make a fulltime job of it. Go look at what some people like Hans Reiser have to say http://kerneltrap.org/node/5654 [kerneltrap.org] "Doing GPL work is doing charity work in our current legal and economic framework. That should be and could be changed, but for now it is so. I have done my share of charity, and I would not have a problem doing proprietary work.", and http://www.namesys.com/ [namesys.com] "For free software based on support revenues to be viable, people have to be more inclined to use our support service than they are to use the support services of persons who bundle our software with what they sell. Frankly, they are not, and this is why providing service on free software is failing as a business model for producing free software."

      For my own part, I write OSS that saves people literally millions of dollars per year, yet I can only treat it as a hobby because it can't pay my bills.

      Hopefully at some stage people start **paying** for stuff that is valuable to them. Unfortunately people grab what they can get for free.

      Having good roads is very valuable, and you would not have those if they were not paid for. They are typically paid for by taxes because most people would not voluntarily dip into their pockets to pay for roads etc.

      I think any methods that help get money into the hands of **key** OSS developers is a good thing.

      • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot AT monkelectric DOT com> on Friday September 22, 2006 @01:37AM (#16159116)
        You are right, but I would like to add a management perspective (although I am not a manager), I have worked on at least one very large OSS project. When you bring money into the equation -- you have to make a judgement call about who is most important, and who deserves money the most, and that inevitably pisses people off. There really is no fair way to distribute money in an OS project. So you loose people, and the project goes slower.
        • Re:Nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

          by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Friday September 22, 2006 @01:44AM (#16159132)
          Or people don't have the time to devote to the project, so the project goes slower anyway....

          I don't think payment is a solution to all developer problems, but it would allow some **key** developers to be able to do their OSS stuff fulltime instead of just part time. If you have a full-time job + family, then you can only spend x hours per week on OSS before you get fired or the wife kicks you out or whatever.

          • by QuantumG (50515)
            Look, if it aint interesting to you, you shouldn't be working on it. This whole "I'm coding on FOSS to make the world a better place" bullshit is the problem. Suggesting that you should be paid because other people find your playing around valuable is just pretentious, not to mention pernicious. Working on FOSS should be fun. If it aint fun anymore, go work on something else. So long as you are motivated to work on X, you shall never be paid to do X. If you are, think yourself lucky and shut up about
            • Re:Nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Tim C (15259) on Friday September 22, 2006 @05:29AM (#16159561)
              I'm not sure you get the OP's point. Take me, for example - I have a 9-5:30 job, an hour long commute either way, and a family. Between that and the need to eat, sleep and do chores, etc, I get maybe 2 hours per night to myself. That I have to split between everything I want to do - code, watch TV, socialise, etc. I imagine that most working family people are in the same position.

              If I were coding on an OSS project, they'd get maybe a handful of hours per week out of me. Perhaps that's enough, perhaps it isn't. If I were being paid to work on it, and paid enough to do it full time, suddenly that goes from maybe 10 hours/week to 40 or 50.

              It's not a question of interest, it's a question of time - there are only a certain number of hours available, and when you have a fulltime job and a family, you "lose" almost all of them to those commitments.

              He's not saying that any given person should be paid because they deserve it, just that if people were to be paid, they could devote much more time to it.
              • by QuantumG (50515)
                Thing is, if I'm going to pay someone to work on something full time, I can get a lot better value for my money than giving it to a random open source developer. For one, I can hire someone and claim 100% rights over their work. Also, I can hire someone who I know will take orders and do what I want. If you're suggesting that whoever is paying the bills shouldn't demand these two things, I gotta wonder why they would do it. Surely they'd expect to pay the developer less, at least. In which case, the de
                • You don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by xeno-cat (147219) on Friday September 22, 2006 @08:13AM (#16159945) Homepage
                  "For one, I can hire someone and claim 100% rights over their work."

                  And not gain any of the benefits of open source. The reason to use open source on a project is to gain the benefits of that approach. If your gaining benefits than it should not be such a stretch for you to pay to maintain those benefits as long as the cost/benefit ratio is in your favor.

                  You could hire an in house tech to work on some secret version of Debian for you alone or you could just pay the foundation to get things done quicker in the trunk. It should be readily apparent why the latter option would be preferable.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by gmack (197796)
                  This has already been proven to be completely untrue. If I hire my own programmer that programmer has to start from scratch (can't use OSS code) and duplicate thousands of hours of work already done or that programmer needs to spend a large amount of time synching with the lastest release of whatever software is being used as a base so it doesn't get left behind. It's actually much easier to hire a single developer to work officially on the project and then everyone benefits.

                  Many companies hire OSS deveop
                  • Quite often, you can hire your own programmers who can quite easily use OSS code -- this is (one of) key GPL v2 vs. GPL v3 difference(s), to site an obvious example. This is especially true if you don't distribute the result, which is rapidly becoming the norm.

                    I've known at least dozens of top-quality programmers who did exactly this, for years.
              • Re:Nonsense (Score:4, Interesting)

                by tacocat (527354) <tallison1&twmi,rr,com> on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:12AM (#16159758)

                Perhaps a solution can start with a simple process something like:

                1. Development community identifies who they consider to be the top contributors. Perhaps Debians popularity contest software can help weigh in on what's most often installed on machines.
                2. Users are given the opportunity to make donations (eg: via paypal) to the community in a general fund.
                3. top contributors are given a strict percentage of the general fund (adding up to 100% of course)
                4. Additionally, you can opt-in for specific projects/products/packages to get their contributions directly. In case you really like a specific project -- frozen bubbles!!
                Probably not enough there to retire on. Probably some will feel they deserve more than the next guy. But the advantages are:
                • It's better than not getting anything at all
                • You know the rules before you begin -- everyone gets the same percentage.
                • Who gets the percentage is collectively determined and user installation base can be a factor.
                • Even if you aren't top dog on the porch, there is still a mechanism for you to get some contributions.

                I have no doubt that it isn't going to be perfect. But it's an organized way of saying thank you to the developers and helping them to see the benefits. For most companies it would be far cheaper for them to simply make an annual donation to a tax deductable organization than it would to manage the contracts or employee benefits.

            • by pnewhook (788591)

              Suggesting that you should be paid because other people find your playing around valuable is just pretentious, not to mention pernicious. ... So long as you are motivated to work on X, you shall never be paid to do X.

              What are you, some kinda communist?? Why the hell shouldn't I get paid for my time and efforts?

              If you are, think yourself lucky and shut up about it, otherwise the sucker who is paying you will figure out he doesn't have to.

              Maybe the person that isn't getting paid should shut up and no

              • What are you, some kinda communist?? Why the hell shouldn't I get paid for my time and efforts?

                Get paid for your time and effort, not the quality of and demand for your work? What are you, some kinda communist?

                • by pnewhook (788591)
                  Get paid for your time and effort, not the quality of and demand for your work? What are you, some kinda communist?

                  Are you telling me you pay more for your McBurger when it's busy, or if they manage to put it together nicely?

                  • Get paid for your time and effort, not the quality of and demand for your work? What are you, some kinda communist?

                    Are you telling me you pay more for your McBurger when it's busy, or if they manage to put it together nicely?

                    I implied nothing of the sort, but as it so happens, I do, when I make my own food. My time is more expensive to me when I'm busy, and I prefer to have the option of putting it together less nicely.

                    • by pnewhook (788591)
                      Then what are you trying to say? I never said that you shouldn't be paid based on the quality of your work. My point was it's unrealistic to expect everyone to work for free. Everyone has a right to be fairly compensated for work performed. And if someone does better quality work and is therefore in more demand, they have right to get paid more than the average joe.
                    • Then what are you trying to say?

                      I was making fun of the statement "what are you, some kind of communist?" made while endorsing communist/socialist principles (pay based on effort or time as opposed to quality or demand -- a mistake that unions have made for years). Just because you perform work doesn't mean that you have a right to be compensated for it. You have to first arrange for somebody to pay you, but that's not a right. You have the right to not be cheated, and you have the right to find yourse

                    • Sorry, I forgot to respond to your point:

                      My point was it's unrealistic to expect everyone to work for free.

                      I don't think anyone does. The natural expectation is that nobody will work for free, which makes is all the more valuable when someone chooses to.

                    • by pnewhook (788591)
                      Yea, you're speaking of the vast majority of painters and musicians :-)
                    • by pnewhook (788591)
                      I don't think anyone does. The natural expectation is that nobody will work for free, which makes is all the more valuable when someone chooses to.
                      I agree completely. So I dont understand the attitude of these OSS people getting upset when someone manages to get paid for their work.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by ericlondaits (32714)
              I really don't get any of these arguments. I don't understand why OSS should be:

              - Developed ad-honorem.
              - Developed by individuals and not by companies.
              - All developers considered equals.
              - Fun to develop.
              - Not a job to develop.

              OSS is about Open Source... and all that implies. If some large OSS projects are handled like any other commercial software projects, more power to them... it's the "open" that matters. As long as the sources are open, volunteer groups will be able to apply a completely differe
        • by pnewhook (788591)

          You are right, but I would like to add a management perspective (although I am not a manager), I have worked on at least one very large OSS project. When you bring money into the equation -- you have to make a judgement call about who is most important, and who deserves money the most, and that inevitably pisses people off. There really is no fair way to distribute money in an OS project. So you loose people, and the project goes slower.

          Sure but that is true in every company of every industry. If you pa

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by QuantumG (50515)
        Hopefully at some stage people start **paying** for stuff that is valuable to them. Unfortunately people grab what they can get for free.

        You're the one handing it out for free, what do you expect?
        • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Kjella (173770) on Friday September 22, 2006 @05:14AM (#16159537) Homepage
          You're the one handing it out for free, what do you expect?

          Imagine for a moment, that you were working on an extremely specialized OSS project that only one company could profit from (absurd, I know). Since the code is free, they needn't pay you anything. However, you tell them that you need to put food on the table, and that to do any future work he will need pay. What can you expect of pay? If the expected value of having that developer work on that project is worth $X to the company, they should rationally be willing to donate up to $X voluntarily (ignoring some details like risk premiums). Why? Because the return on investment is good. Obviously in this case it'd be easier to hire him as an employee or contractor and make it an internal instead of OSS project, but that's not the point.

          Now instead imagine that there's a million people who each would get $1 of value if that developer kept developing. For a modest $50k salary, that means a ROI on 1900%. Sure you could not pay, but it'd be stupid. However, here's where it breaks down: Imagine one person doesn't want to pay. You now have 999,999 people to share the costs, which means it's still profitable (expected value > investment), but it is far more profitable to the one not paying at all. Repeat that 950,000 times and it's no longer profitable. And the last 50,000 will go "Why should we be paying for everyone else?" and not pay either.

          Basicly, it's the mass version of the prisoner's dilemma. They could have gotten a very good value for their money, but because everyone is acting egoistically, the result is that they don't.
          • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Informative)

            by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday September 22, 2006 @05:33AM (#16159571) Homepage Journal
            Basicly, it's the mass version of the prisoner's dilemma.

            It's called the Tragedy Of The Commons.
            • "It's called the Tragedy Of The Commons."

              Except that the scenario with OSS is a bit different in that the grazing lands of the commons were not covered under the GPL nor was there a vast array of individuals and businesses making boatloads of money off of a common resource that is not depleatable.
            • by Fred_A (10934)
              It's called the Tragedy Of The Commons.
              So where should I send my grass to help fund the project ?
          • It would if most corporations are sane and rational, but they aren't. Here are the big arguments you'll hear from most companies when it comes to funding OSS:

            "It is supposed to be free". No matter the value, people have a problem paying for stuff that they think should be free and feel screwed when they are asked to pay for it. I have tried to convince a company that I work with that they should make voluntary contributions to the FSF. This company doesn't blink about paying hundreds or thousands of dollars

    • Re:the office (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ex-geek (847495) on Friday September 22, 2006 @02:29AM (#16159230)
      I think you misunderstood Nussbaum. I believe he was trying to say that once some volunteers are paid, the other volunteers lose interest. I've witnessed this first hand in an originally volunteer based NPO.
      • Paranoid mode on (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Crayon Kid (700279)
        What are the chances that behind Dunc-Tank is a company such as Microsoft? Offer money to some Debian volunteers but not others, then stand back and watch them turn against each other. Quite a poisoned apple. And you end up crippling one of the most important Linux distributions around, one of the oldest, one that stands at the forefront of many things that Linux also stands for, such as proof that an open, decentralized system is viable. And all that for crumbs as far as money goes. I don't know, it's so i
        • Well... so close that it doesn't matter.

          I know some of the people behind dunc-tank and they are not the kind of person MS or any other puppet-master would have much success with.
      • The best policy is to secretly fund the developers you value most.

        As it is, some contributors have more spare time than others, due to external circumstances. Some may be independently wealthy, and thus all their time is to "scratch" the itches they want, or to engage in whatever altruism tickles their fancy. Others may have families to feed. The illusion of a distributed project like Debian is that everyone is equal and all things fair. Disrupting that illusion unleashes resentment. Better to keep the illu
  • by also-rr (980579) on Friday September 22, 2006 @12:42AM (#16158976) Homepage
    Why do you think Vista's release cycle is so long already?
  • No no no (Score:1, Insightful)

    by 1310nm (687270)
    Debian is one of a very few of the major staple distros that hasn't been taken over by greed (see RH (RH), Novell (SUSE)). I really like the fact that the Debian I use is the same Debian everyone else is using, not a development playground or redheaded stepchild money pit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)

      I really like the fact that the Debian I use is the same Debian everyone else is using, not a development playground or redheaded stepchild money pit.

      So wait-- you seem to be saying that you like using Debian because there aren't any other organizations who are taking Debian, altering it, and using it as a base for their own distro...?

      I'm not saying that you can't like Debian or think it has a better philosophy or something, but complaining about Fedora/OpenSuSE on the grounds that it's used as a base fo

      • by QuantumG (50515)
        I was kinda of the opinion that taking something, altering it and using it as a base for something else was the point of FOSS.
        • What may not be so obvious is the way they return the effort (Utnubu was pleasing to see).
          • by QuantumG (50515)
            When it is relevant yes. But often you want to take something in a completely different direction to the stated goals of the project. When that happens it's a good thing that the effort is not returned to the parent project.
    • I don't understand the connection being implied here between getting paid for work and greed.
      • by 1310nm (687270)
        Look at RH. Can you get support from them for Fedora? From Novell for SuSE?

        You have to pay them just to get into their package manager repositories. Forget talking to someone involved in development without a support contract.

        The way I see it, RH and Novell walk a fine line between rejecting people who don't pay them, and maintaining a connection with "freeloaders".
  • by aliscool (597862) * on Friday September 22, 2006 @12:43AM (#16158981)
    than bounties paid by Ubuntu or Drupal to contributers?
    Dunc-Tank.org is organizing and raising money to step in and fund full time coding to ensure a deadline is met...
    I work a lot with Drupal and see this on the message boards often. "I'd like to see this feature built and I'm willing to pay XXX for it" Someone builds the feature and cashes in. Innovation and capitalism at work.
    I think Dunc-Tank.org has a great thing going here and wish them well with it.
    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday September 22, 2006 @01:05AM (#16159037) Homepage Journal
      No-one actually collects those bounties. It's a failed experiment.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jtwronski (465067)
        I've been thinking of posting a bounty on Ubuntu for a good vpn front-end. What do you mean that nobody collects them? Somehow, you got modded +5 without qualifying your opinion.

        Not trying to troll here, but am very curious as to why its failed. Do folks post bounties and then not pay up when they get their features added? If so, then Ubuntu/Drupal/whoever should look into taking the cash first, and putting it into some sort of escrow. Say, $100 in escrow for 60 days until the feature gets added, or yo
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by QuantumG (50515)
          $100 is exactly the problem. I can earn $100 in an hour, what makes you think I can write a vpn frontend in an hour? People are not willing to pay market price for their bounties, so no-one bothers collecting them. Now, if you actually started writing a vpn frontend (even if that means just firing up the GIMP and putting together some mockups) and told people what you would doing, you would find you receive a lot of offers for help from people who also want that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Saxophonist (937341)

      I work a lot with Drupal and see this on the message boards often. "I'd like to see this feature built and I'm willing to pay XXX for it" Someone builds the feature and cashes in. Innovation and capitalism at work.

      Some open-source projects have seemed to operate almost entirely on this principle. Take, for instance, LilyPond [lilypond.org]. Development for some time seemed to be done almost entirely by core developers who seemed to be getting paid for custom features. Spending time on these custom features, though, mea

      • by QuantumG (50515)
        I think musicians are used to paying for everything so they embrace the opportunity to hire a developer to implement their favourite features. I've walked out of many a book/music shop empty handed after seeing the prices that musicians pay. $80 for a book of 5 songs of sheet music? No thanks. It's no wonder so many kids learn to play by ear.
      • by krmt (91422)
        Lilypond is a fraction of the size and complexity of Debian. When you have a large and diverse group of developers involved, who gets paid and who doesn't can cause friction. And not everyone can get paid in a project like Debian, it's far too large.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rogerborg (306625)

      Not different, but not necessarily good.

      I don't see how it can work without resulting in:

      1. Duplicated effort.
      2. Sooner rather than better.

      Have you ever worked with any of the big Korean or Malaysian software developers? They run their operations like battery chicken farms, with developers crowded in elbow-to-elbow. Time to market is everything, and so they deliberately duplicate effort by promoting internal competition, with individuals and teams rushing to hammer out code before someone else beats th

      • Which leads to another problem. People will pay Joe to hack together a lousy program. Nobody will pay for Sally to fix it. The end users suffer.
  • by denmarkw00t (892627) on Friday September 22, 2006 @01:08AM (#16159044) Homepage Journal
    but is something, and that something is, well, money.

    I've rarely seen a better motivator for getting something done - especially in a timely manner - than money. If I'm volunteering with children or for a good cause (no, I know - Debian is a good cause too, but you know what I mean) then I'm going to do my best regardless because I feel like I'm helping benefit people who are less fortunate than me. However, if I'm working a job to maintain myself (and possibly my family) and I'm volunteering to develop a large open-source project and not getting payed for that extra work I do when I get home or when I'm up late at night, then a little money can go a long way.

    I don't think money would cause those being payed to work less at all, instead I think we'd see an increase in both the timeliness of development and the quality of code in the next Debian release.
    • but is something, and that something is, well, money.

      No, money is nothing real. It's a tool we use to get real things, but for people who know what they really want from life, pursuing money isn't always the best way to reach their real goals.

    • by QuantumG (50515)
      Ya know what's a better motivator than both money and "social conscience"? Fun. And it's the primary motivator for most open source developers, beating out even need (scratching an itch) and conceit (look how many users I've got!). Developers who code for the fun of it tend to produce the best code too because they're not rushing to meet some deadline or hacking up the first thing that works so they can get the job they actually wanted to do done or adding arbitary features to attract users.
    • by yankpop (931224)

      I don't think money would cause those being payed to work less

      That is not the point of the argument. Rather, as I understand it, the concern is that once you introduce money into the reward scheme it serves as a disincentive to the vast majority of developers who are not paid. It effectively introduces a two-tiered system. Without money, everyone can believe that they are contributing equally, or at least according to their effort and ability. With money, the unpaid volunteers might be left feeling that t

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:53AM (#16159887) Homepage
      The code I write at home for my own enjoyment is far higher quality than what I write to satisfy the terms of my employment contract. End of anecdote.
      • by jesterzog (189797)

        If your employer is like my employer, then chances are that ultra high quality code isn't as important as actually getting something out the door so you can be put to working on other projects. On the other hand, if your employer wanted high quality code as a priority (which tends to be wanted by many drivers of open-source), I suspect you'd be happy to oblige... if writing high quality code is one of the things that makes you happy, of course.

  • What happened? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frogbert (589961) <frogbert.gmail@com> on Friday September 22, 2006 @01:09AM (#16159047)
    What has happened to Debian of late? I'm the first to admit that I don't follow the politics of the linux scene with anything more then a passing glance but the current Debian team appears to be disolving into a clusterfuck of massive egos clashing about trivial changes. Wost still it seems that they end up bitching and debating more then they actually spend doing something. The whole situation reminds me of the People's Front of Judea, fighting with the Judean Peoples Front. They just debate endlessly and end up doing nothing.
    • Re:What happened? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by glwtta (532858) on Friday September 22, 2006 @01:26AM (#16159085) Homepage
      There does seem to be a lot of actual development activity as well. I wonder if the people bitching and the people doing work are, as usual, different people?
      • I wonder if the people bitching and the people doing work are, as usual, different people?

        That's something that tends to happen on all projects. As the amount of activity in the project increases, the project becomes more interesting, then all sorts of armchair experts drop in to offer an opinion. The current round of sniping's probably a good sign for Debian in the long run.

        And as someone who's just had a bit of an install-fest to try out the current crop of distros, I'd have to say there's a lot going

      • by Kjella (173770)
        Probably. But you should be relatively certain what the "people doing work" think about it, because you're right, they're not going to bitching about it. For one, that'd mean spending more time than they already do and secondly they're not the type to go bitching around. If they don't feel appriciated, they're a lot more likely to just silently cut down on work. I guess it all depends on who it is that's doing the bitching, I mean it rarely takes long time in a group to figure out when it's a "STFU whiner"
  • Ok, it's only considered news if a Debian-related matter doesn't spark debate.

    (I do like and use debian the distro though)
  • by Qwavel (733416) on Friday September 22, 2006 @01:32AM (#16159103)

    Paying selected developers could cause problems.

    Instead, use the money to ensure that any developer who wants to contribute has a good experience, and to get the stuff done that no developers want to do. For example, you could pay people to do testing.
  • Why pay? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dragonquest (1003473)
    You could achieve the same level of motivation by a Karma system, works here doesn't it. :-), but seriously, people would be happy just to see some credit given even if its in terms of silly awards or fun titles.
    • Maybe RMS knows how to make a Karma sandwich, I sure don't.

      Karma is overrated. Sure you can get a buzz to know your software is being used all over the world by hundreds of thousands of people, but it's far easier to get a buzz out of knowing that while you're driving around in a nifty new car paid for by your earnings.

  • No problem (Score:2, Insightful)

    by atokata (872432)
    You've gotta pay people to work on deadlines sometimes. I've done volunteer work which has led to paying work, driven by nessecity. Most volunteers have day jobs, and aren't extremely wealthy. If they're being asked to put in a lot of hours, it's only fair to compensate them for the time they can't spend working at their normal job, be it freelancing, a normal desk job, or whatever.
  • Agile Vs Debian (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drDugan (219551) * on Friday September 22, 2006 @02:40AM (#16159249) Homepage
    Gotta say, the speed at which we're developing software makes the Debian "notoriously slow release cycle" a non-starter for doing interesting stuff with the latest tools.

    With cash to spare, I'd put significant money into support for keeping all the apps in stable updated on weekly and monthly horizons, not bi-annual.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by marcello_dl (667940)
      I want the apps in debian stable to be bug fixed not updated to the latest versions. And debian does that already. I don't want a newer version to ship with modified configuration files and option and having all the debian servers require to edit the configuration files just because the new config has a different default value. There's nothing more agile than debian stable updates when it comes to upgrading. Security updates often run as a cron job if one is not concerned with testing them before deploying.
  • Volunteering (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gatzke (2977) on Friday September 22, 2006 @06:28AM (#16159652) Homepage Journal

    In college I volunteered at the Atlanta Kids Science Museum.

    About a month in, I realized all the other workers were not volunteers, they were getting paid. For doing the same stuff I was doing.

    That really destroyed my motivation. Why give away your time for free when others that are less motivated and less qualified are getting paid?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eraserewind (446891)
      That really destroyed my motivation. Why give away your time for free when others that are less motivated and less qualified are getting paid?
      Same reason you volunteered in the first place?
      • by gatzke (2977)

        I assumed I was working with volunteers. I thought we were all there to interact with kids and teach them about science.

        They were there to get paid and saw the job as babysitting.

        I am not sure there is a parallel to the Debian project. There have always been Linux people that got paid to do linux, and things still keep going along.
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      Where I can understand being disillusioned there, your motivation didn't change. -You- were there for the 'right' reasons. It doesn't matter that they had to pay all those slobs to do the work, you were there and making a difference.

      I'm not saying I wouldn't have been disheartened also... It would have taken some time to figure out what to do about it. But in the end, my reasons would have been the same. (I hope... Hope I'm not being a hypocrit here.)

      I know this is at least partially true of me becaus
    • That really destroyed my motivation. Why give away your time for free when others that are less motivated and less qualified are getting paid?

      Obviously it varies for different people, but just because someone's being paid doesn't mean they're any less motivated. Ideally, you'd want to pick out the most motivated people and give them a salary so they can completely devote themselves (instead of 50% of their time), but it doesn't mean that there's no benefit from still getting help from others. I can thin

      • by gatzke (2977)

        My "less motivated" comment was from personal experience actually talking to them. They hated working with these kids to expose them to science for some reason.

        That New Zealand thing sounds terrific. We have something similar here on the Appalacian Trail (2200 miles up the East Coast of the US). Small shelters every 5-10 miles along much of the trail. Personally, I would never go without some sort of backpacking tent, just in case. During peak season, you have to stop hiking at 2:00 to "reserve" a spot
  • by Uteck (127534)
    Even Linus accepts money in return for his contributions to OSS and I don't see kernel devlopment slowing down because he gets paid for it other kernel hackers don't. Debian sees their problem and have come up with a good solution for it, perhaps this is a sign that some of the other things at Debian that move at glacial speeds will be reworked and made more dynamic.

    Change can be good people, and it's not like this will be a perminate paying job. It's just for the next 2 months.
  • by Respect_my_Authority (967217) on Friday September 22, 2006 @07:35AM (#16159824)

    Linus Torvalds started to build a Unix-like kernel "just for fun" and his fun project soon attracted contibutions even though Linus never offered any bounty or payment. So what's the difference between Work and Play? The former often sucks all the fun out of doing things while the latter usually encourages people to contribute simply because it's fun.

    Raising funds to employ one or two release managers for a short period of time just before the "etch" release may actually be a very good idea but I hope that the people behind this "Dunc-Tank" idea keep in their mind that fun and play will always be much more powerful motivators than money in a volunteer project like Debian. A crash course into understanding why this should be so can be found in the second chapter of "Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/74/74-h/p1.htm#c2 [gutenberg.org]
  • Try paying for the OS by packaging it in the back of a nice, clear, four-color manual. Techies routinely pay $50 for O'Reilly books. Why not pay that, or even less, for a manual that comes straight from the developers?
    • Have existing documentation companies like O'Reilly help fund core developers on the technologies they document, with the understanding that O'Reilly (or whoever) gets precedence on the developer's time whenever they want something explained.

      This would be especially mutually beneficial on *new* projects which, if developed, would need a new O'Reilly book.
      • Have paid developers work on high-quality closed-source Linux-only games, or maybe only *partially* open like Quake, then use proceeds to help fund the OS on which they run. Games are non-essential, and therefore, I think, do not break the spirit of the GPL ideology when they're sold closed-source.
        • by Kjella (173770)
          Or free OS supported by unfree games!!
          Have paid developers work on high-quality closed-source Linux-only games


          See now, there's a slight problem with this: In order to contribute to something else, it must be profitable in the first place.

A computer scientist is someone who fixes things that aren't broken.

Working...