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The Almighty Buck GNU is Not Unix Sun Microsystems

Sun Says, "Compensate OSS Developers" 210

Posted by kdawson
from the just-haggling-over-the-price dept.
krelian writes "Talking at Netbeans Day, Rich Green, Sun executive vice president for software, expressed doubts about the current open source model in which developers create free intellectual property only to have others scoop it up and generate huge amounts of revenue. Green said, 'I think in the long term that this is a worrisome scenario [and] not sustainable. We are looking very closely at compensating people for the work that they do.'" Green didn't provide any details about how payments from Sun or others might work.
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Sun Says, "Compensate OSS Developers"

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  • by glavenoid (636808) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:15AM (#19033441) Journal
    So what, another corporation thinking about the bottom line on behalf of its developers?

    I thought the whole point of Open Source was doing good for mankind in general, not categorically for the investors...

    • by TapeCutter (624760) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:20AM (#19033467) Journal
      It's brilliant. Sun can collect money for starving coders like the mafiaa collecy money for starving artists, what could possibly go wrong?
      • by DrYak (748999) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @07:16AM (#19034029) Homepage

        It's brilliant. Sun can collect money for starving coders like the mafiaa collecy money for starving artists, what could possibly go wrong?


        The GPL is what is fundamentally different.

        - In case of art/media, paying the MAFIAA toll is the only legal way to get it legally. If you try to get it with another way. The MAFIAA will come after you and sue to death the whole building where you live (including all less than 2yo toddler or recently deceased elderly neighbours on the list of sued people).

        - In case of OSS, there's a license called GPL whose purpose is to enforce that no matter what the company try (and the version 3 is about pluging the hole that the company may have tried), YOU will ALWAYS be granted to do whatever pleases you (get the software, analyse the code, modify the code) as long as you transmit further that freedoms along the chain.
        If any company ever tries to refrain you to get the code and do whatever pleases you, and tries to force to go only through their paid route, that company is in violation of the GPL and loses the right to use the GPLed code in their applications.

        Some company may try to make you pay for the OSS software, but that will never prevent you to get the stuff from the original programmer who developed it for FREE and, while browsing his site to download the code, stumble upon a "donate" button and decide to give him some money or hardware.

        The motivation of that programmer is also different.
        Companies' main motivation is to make money no matter what they deliver (even if it's crap like in Microsoft's case)
        OSS programmer's motivation is to develop the software in the first place, because they're scratching an itch (ie.: the motivation is that they actually need the software. Building a working app that solves their initial problem is what they hope to obtain).... Yeah, that, and pure boredom as featured recently on /.
      • by Znork (31774)
        Dump the mafiaa and simply implement a flat tax on revenue derived by reproducing/transmission of (any) copyrighted work. Divide money to creators according to amount of copying and (significant) contribution levels. Put a ceiling at a more than reasonable means of living.

        Tada, suddenly there's no need for the mafiaa corps, nor any lawyers for creators to get paid. And everyone could copy to their hearts desire, and simply pay a tax if they feel like doing some ad-financed broadcasting or selling physical c
      • by kaffiene (38781)
        WTF? Sun wants to pay OSS DEVELOPERS and you see that as Sun being evil?

        You rabid Sun haters are unbelievable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drgonzo59 (747139)
      These are corporate managers who only have dollar signs in their eyes. They don't see how anyone would possibly develop or create anything without wanting to make MORE money. Sure, some developers end up making money but some don't off of their OSS, yet the fact that someone would just want to volunteer their time and create something completely escapes these individuals. This goes actually says quite a bit about _them_.

      • you nailed it (Score:4, Insightful)

        by misanthrope101 (253915) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:38AM (#19033851)
        It's not that the OSS model is "unsustainable," but that business managers just don't understand the mindsent behind, say, Debian. They don't understand how it can be that someone would write an app or maintain a distro because they find it enjoyable or gratifying, and so they don't find that model predictable, much less harnessable. And if they can't harness it, it must be suspect, inferior, useless, or about to die.

        Businesspeople use greed to motivate--it works, is easily understood, easily harnessed, and reproducible on demand. Offer money, and people will show up to work. But since that's the only tool they have, it's the only one they trust.

        It's also why so many businesspeople are instinctively against OSS. FreeBSD or whatever may be more stable and secure in the server room, but they aren't going to rely on something that is maintained by hippy visionary volunteers, even if what they're offering is more relaible than the product sold by the guy from MS or whoever. I really think that a considerable part of the resistance to OSS, whether it be GNU/Linux or OpenOffice or whatever, is on principle, not merit. Businesspeople don't understand or trust a product whose existence isn't dependent on someone's search for money.

        • by hackstraw (262471)
          It's not that the OSS model is "unsustainable," but that business managers just don't understand the mindsent behind, say, Debian. They don't understand how it can be that someone would write an app or maintain a distro because they find it enjoyable or gratifying, and so they don't find that model predictable, much less harnessable. And if they can't harness it, it must be suspect, inferior, useless, or about to die.

          All of this is true. Most people in business don't care about their business or product pe
        • by nametaken (610866)
          Yup. And the word you hear quite often in this debate is "accountability".

          They naturally assume that because you pay a software company they're somehow accountable, which is obviously not true when it's MS.
        • They don't understand how it can be that someone would write an app or maintain a distro because they find it enjoyable or gratifying, and so they don't find that model predictable, much less harnessable.

          Well, they're right - it's not "predictable". And there is a risk basing your IT department on it. Programmers lose interest in projects all the time, and most of the time the projects are not taken up by others, but simply die off (see the mass of moribund projects on sourceforge). Payment would at leas

          • And there is a risk basing your IT department on it

            There is risk in anything. Software routinely gets abandoned, or the vendor changes everything and you have no real choice but to spend more money, institute more change, to get their new offering. Didn't MS recently shift their entire Visual Basic language? Using closed-source software doesn't save you from risk, because vendors go to such great lengths to achieve lock-in via proprietary formats and so on. They still make new versions incompatible

        • Re:you nailed it (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @11:19AM (#19037313) Homepage
          Businesspeople use greed to motivate--it works, is easily understood, easily harnessed, and reproducible on demand. Offer money, and people will show up to work. But since that's the only tool they have, it's the only one they trust.

          I think businesses would love it if it was a service that was free, and if they needed an extra gear they can throw in some cash. Unfortunately, like the Debian incident putting money in doesn't always make it progress faster. Cash is concrete and transferable. You can't give a person who's lost the spark to program a new spark plug. In fact, there's been cases where a company has become heavy users of something and the developers go tired of acting like their support desk. And they don't want to become tech support just because you're willing to pay them. "Hippy visionary volunteers" are a fickle bunch, even if they produce brilliant software. The trouble is that if they aren't looking for what you have to offer, you have no leverage at all. It just becomes some sort of unmanagable software that's going whereever they want to go, and you can either tag along or fall off. You don't know how to prod or poke it make it suit your business needs without breaking it apart. In that sense, I can understand why they don't like it.
          • by drgonzo59 (747139)
            The company has the code (it's free after all), they seem to have the money. -- Time to hire a couple of geeks full time that will be motivated by the $$$. Yes, some people will code for $$$$ (a lot will actually - this is the IT grunt force), some will code only for fun. Some will code for both either at the same time or at different stages in their life. The point is, that company can fork the OSS, mentain it and so on if they want to. Or they can just rely on other fickle hippy visionaries to come onboar
        • It's not that the OSS model is "unsustainable," but that business managers just don't understand the mindsent behind, say, Debian. They don't understand how it can be that someone would write an app or maintain a distro because they find it enjoyable or gratifying, and so they don't find that model predictable, much less harnessable.

          Most business managers I've known have hobbies, and many of them have rather intricate ones. I doubt very much that they, as a broad class, have any trouble understand why peop

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Phisbut (761268)

        These are corporate managers who only have dollar signs in their eyes. They don't see how anyone would possibly develop or create anything without wanting to make MORE money. Sure, some developers end up making money but some don't off of their OSS, yet the fact that someone would just want to volunteer their time and create something completely escapes these individuals. This goes actually says quite a bit about _them_.

        Would you please share your secrets on how you keep yourself fed if not by buying food

    • by DavidNWelton (142216) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:27AM (#19033777) Homepage

      I thought the whole point of Open Source was doing good for mankind in general, not categorically for the investors...


      Ok, but even so, you have to make it sustainable, and how to do so is still an open question.

      There's no doubt in my mind that open source works, and works well. It has produced some great things, but I think we're still figuring out exactly how it works in terms of the economics. Proprietary software is certainly simpler:

      1) Write product.

      2) People buy it.

      3) Profit!

      4) Improve product, hire developers, etc..

      Or:

      2) No one buys it.

      3) Go out of business, product goes away.

      With open source, things are different... You could create something great, and there's no guarantee at all that you'll get anything back for it. In practice, people don't seem to get screwed that badly, but it's not as tight a feedback loop.

      I wrote some more about this several months ago:

      http://journal.dedasys.com/articles/2007/02/03/in- thrall-to-scarcity [dedasys.com]

      • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @08:07AM (#19034285) Homepage

        I believe that a vast majority of software is written not to be sold off the shelf, but custom made for internal use in some company, either by in house developers or by external parties, but still on custom specs.

        If you have it developed by an external party, on your specs but with them retaining copyright, the business case for getting an open source license is very clear: no vendor lock-in. It should be no-brainer, except when the externals offer a major price discount for a closed license.

        When developing in house, usually no licensing at all is involved, proprietary or OS. But it can still make sense to release internal tools as OSS: for goodwill, and because others may improve your tools for you, and release their changes as well. Since software isn't your main business, there is no harm in sharing some code with other companies (possibly in completely unrelated businesses), but you may well reap some rewards.

        So in my opinion, the economic case for OSS is at least as clear as for proprietary software - except in the relatively uncommon case of a company developing software to sell off the shelf.

        • by Phisbut (761268)

          So in my opinion, the economic case for OSS is at least as clear as for proprietary software - except in the relatively uncommon case of a company developing software to sell off the shelf.

          And those are exactly the companies that would get screwed a million times around by the abolition of copyright.

        • I agree in theory most (90% or more) software is custom written for internal use by some company. But in most cases it make not sense to open source this stuff. Foe example I wrote a Linux device driver for a custom one-off hardware. I did GPL the driver but who would want it? I knew everyone who owned tha hardware by first name. Now I'm working on something to process telemetry from space lift boosters. Again a rather linmited market. There is only one user. Most custom written software is this wa
      • Ok, but even so, you have to make it sustainable

        Why? Helping fellow humans existed long before money was invented. Why does Rich Green substitute others Good Intentions with Greed?
    • Why do slashdotters have this attitude that it's morally wrong for a publicly traded company to try to make profits? I mean seriously guys, that's their JOB! If they bother to do it and be nice to geeks at the same time, we should be thankful that they're going out of their way at all.

      Open Source will never do much good for mankind unless it can first do some good for the investors. Please people, wrap your hippie minds around that concept.
    • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @07:57AM (#19034217) Homepage

      I thought the whole point of Open Source was doing good for mankind in general, not categorically for the investors...

      That's a misconception. People write OSS for all kinds of different reasons, including for profit, and that is great. Sun itself is probably the biggest contributor to open source in existence (with Solaris, Open Office and Java), but they obviously do it because they believe it's good business practice.

      • I have been write free/open source software for profit. I'm not talking big projects with many developers here - just a small project with me as the sole developer. This is satisfying because I Believe in free software (that's a capital B). But idealism doesn't make this project my priority. The willingness of organizations to pay for deveolpment does.

        I already knew that open source projects effetively governed the participation of many people. I have learned that even with one developer, open source

    • I'm sorry, I fail to see any FUD in this article. Sun isn't talking about buying out the license from the developers or anything similar. All the article seems to say is that open source developers deserve to be recognized for their software. The way Sun wants to recognize them is by compensating them for the software. You are still completely free to say no to them, they will still use your software as they see fit and the license (GPL, BSD, etc.) allows, just as if you had taken the money.
  • by achten (1032738) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:19AM (#19033457)
    From the FTA
    Meanwhile, author Tim O'Reilly said at CommunityOne that the days in which developer salaries differ based on the nation where the developer is located were numbered. Developers overseas now are asking why they should get paid less than others, he said. "We're actually coming to the end of cheap outsourcing," O'Reilly said.
    When these numbered days are over, a great wave of levelling will start if our friend TOR is proved correct.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Kurrurrin (790594)
      Oh boy, I'll finally be a lvl 4 web developer!
    • by zotz (3951)
      "Developers overseas now are asking why they should get paid less than others, he said."

      Because it costs you less to live well where you are?

      Not saying I agree or disagree, but that would be one reason given to such a question.

      Why should your landlord get paid less than a landlord elsewhere? Your grocer? Etc...

      all the best,

      drew
  • by l3v1 (787564) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:20AM (#19033465)
    As all B5 fans know, truth is a tripple edged sword. Sun has right, but to a very limited extent. Let's think about it this way [what's coming is a somewhat pessimistic speculation, take it as such]. There are ten thousand people who contribute to a huge FOSS project. Then comes a company and says, hey people, you did a great job, we'll compensate you, and they pick some of these people based on some rules and give them something for their work. What will the others think, what will happen to them ? Will they think hey, we worked and they think our work isn't worth a dime ? So what will they do, stop contributing ? If so, who'll continue the work ? Those who've been "compensated", which pack would probably become smaller and smaller, in the end landing the whole development in the hands of the "compensators".

    Offer prizes for some goals, make donations for larger and/or more important projects, or to people whose work is sympathetic to you, but when you start differentiating smaller groups of people based on blurry criteria I don't think you're working towards helping FOSS as a whole.

    There is a need to work closely with those in the open-source community to share revenues, said Green. - share theirs or share yours ? :))
     
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by l3v1 (787564)
      correction: "understanding is a three-edged sword"...

      • by MadJo (674225)
        the original saying is "Understanding is a double-edged sword"
        1-up that, and you get triple (three-fold)
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      This is exactly right, and we've even got an example already: Debian. Some of the devs were picked as having contributed 'better' in some nebulous way, and paid money. The others, who probably felt they worked just as hard, got nothing. It's human nature to want to be 'equal' to others around us, even if only in our minds.

      If Sun gets to collect money for OSS developers, they should have to distribute it equally. And at that point, everyone and his brother is suddenly and OSS developer and raking in the
      • Wanting to be equal does not mean you are equal. I'm pretty sure that there are Debian devs who are 10x as productive as the other devs and if the lesser devs have self esteem issues with that well too goddamn bad. They can go and get bent.

        Lets take the Linux kernel for example. If you were to start paying those devs I would pick out say maybe the top 15, Linus Torvalds, Alan Cox...etc and pay them handsomely and the rest get bupkis. Writing a driver here or there really isn't worth compensation in my book.
        • Besides, if anyone bitches you can just throw open source back in their face and say "This IS the way you wanted it isn't it? I mean you COULD have gone to work for a proprietary software company but you CHOSE to code for free instead. So what exactly is your problem with this, genius?"

          You really don't want to be shitting on the apparently minor developers, because every one of the people who will be the "new major developers" next year is one of those "minor" developers right now. If you drive them away,

    • by tcopeland (32225)
      > What will the others think, what will happen to them ?

      So true. It's the same sort of thing with folks who write books about open source projects. For example, I recently bought the Ruby Quiz [pragmaticprogrammer.com] book because a) it seemed like an excellent book and b) I knew that the guy who has been running the Ruby Quiz for the last few years had written the book and would benefit from the purchase. If the book had instead been written by a "professional author" who had swooped in and written the book in a furious thre
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:26AM (#19033505) Homepage Journal
    McNealy used to say plenty of stupid shit too. Just because some high level executive expresses his personal opinion, it does not mean that he is talking for the company.

    If the Open Source Market Development Manager for Sun had said something like this, then we'd have something to talk about.

    Instead, people make want to make out that companies are individuals with single opinions.
  • One word: Hookers. Lots of'em!
  • by cies (318343) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:27AM (#19033513)
    i remember debian compensated some people to get 4.0 out quickly... this complicated things; some unpaid contributers to the debian project protested by working very slow. the compensation policy had the opposite effect of what was intended.

    i also think that a large part of the reason for FLOSS to be of high(er) quality (than proprietary software) is that it is written from for fun and from passion. people dont like to produce low quality stuff for fun and from passion. nope, that kind of stuff is produced for money, e.g. compensations!

    so: sun, please dont pay us, but make some anonymous donations to some projects without letting know why you did it. this will keep us healthy.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      some unpaid contributers to the debian project protested by working very slow.

      And lots of unpaid contributors to the debian project actively sabotaged it by rabble-rousing instead of doing things they have promised to do.

      Just to keep this in perspective, yo.

      And for further perspective, this is just Sun FUDding. "I think in the long term that this is a worrisome scenario [and] not sustainable." Remember, Sun is still in bed with Microsoft. The entire statement was made so they could deliver that sentence.

    • by Jellybob (597204)

      some unpaid contributers to the debian project protested by working very slow


      The phrase "grow up" springs to mind - they weren't being paid before, they aren't being paid now. Of course this assumes that the people being paid were being paid for things that they specialised in, and other people wouldn't be able to do.
  • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:28AM (#19033521) Homepage
    Companies are free to pay OSS-developers if they like. And infact, a pretty large part of the core OSS-developers are paid by some company to do what they do.

    But it's pretty strange to claim that something which seems to have worked just fine for the last 15 years is "not sustainable", without providing any argument whatsoever as to what, exactly, prevents the next 5 years for working for the same reason that the last 5 has.

    • I think what SUN really mean by compensate is that they are growing concerned with the amount of influence IBM now wields with several Java based OSS projects and a looking for a way to gain some more control themselves.
      • by Eivind (15695)
        That was my first thougth. Well, not your answer, but the question -- what exactly does Sun want ?
        • Why would SUN care one way or another if some people work for free ?
        • Why does it matter to sun at all if OSS is "sustainable" or not ?
        • In what way does it benefit SUN if companies reward OSS-developers more ?

        SUN has been really fuzzy for like literally a decade now. It's perfectly unclear what role they see themself playing and how they want to interact with the community. Sometimes they do something good,

  • by segedunum (883035) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:32AM (#19033813)
    Like it or loathe it, that's why the GPL is such a fair license. Developers, whether individuals or large corporations, are compelled to put any code contributions back into the project for the benefit of everyone else. In essence, everyone gets paid in kind by the contribution of code which dramatically increases the quality of the project over time, and the ability to use the software for free.

    This means that companies who would never be able to maintain a whole OS by themselves, such as Red Hat and even companies like Novell and IBM now, can use a kernel and an operating system to do what they want on a level playing field which would have cost them billions to develop purely by themselves. Smaller contributors and those not contributing get a kernel and OS they can use for free, and do what they want with, and they make up something called the open source community.

    This article should be re-titled "Sun Doesn't Understand the GPL or How Successful Open Source Projects Work". I find that a touch worrying from their perspective. It seems they've been drinking too much of the Intellectual Property anti-freeze.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arun_s (877518)
      Exactly. When I read the line 'developers create free intellectual property only to have others scoop it up', I thought, why's Sun getting worried, they're using the GPL after all, not the BSD license. Even if the returns are not monetary, the GPL at least guarantees positive, useful returns that every one can profit from.
    • by petrus4 (213815)
      Like it or loathe it, that's why the GPL is such a fair license. Developers, whether individuals or large corporations, are compelled to put any code contributions back into the project for the benefit of everyone else. In essence, everyone gets paid in kind by the contribution of code which dramatically increases the quality of the project over time, and the ability to use the software for free.

      Interesting. I wonder how it is then that the BSDs are able to continue to exist, if these benefits are conferre
  • by itsdapead (734413) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:34AM (#19033815)

    Does that mean that they are going to honour this request from the NeoOffice people? [neooffice.org]

    Meanwhile...

    in which developers create free intellectual property only to have others scoop it up and generate huge amounts of revenue

    The only way* for a company to make "huge amounts of revenue" from Open Source software is to add value so that people are prepared to pay you money for something that they could get elsewhere for free. That "value" might be providing top quality support, or it might be investigating in marketing or just having a number of employees who wear suits and use words like "leverage" that give corporate clients a warm fuzzy feeling. Either way, does anybody really have a problem with that?

    Any company director who looses sleep about getting all this "money for nothing" simply needs to let their employees use some of their paid time to contribute to writing OSS code or coordinating OSS development.

    *(excluding the "extort protection money on the back of questionable IP violation claims" method, of course).

  • by martinde (137088) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:34AM (#19033819) Homepage
    That seems like one obvious way to compensate them.
    • Java, OpenOffice.org, and OpenSolaris are all mainly created by Sun employees.

      Actually, Linux, Firefox, Apache, SAMBA, MySQL, GCC, and the other high profile free software projects are mainly developed by people who get their salary for doing exactly that.

      It works the other way as well, half the developers surveyed by the EU FLOSS project [flossproject.org] state that they do their free software work as part of their job (some indirectly, they contribute to projects they use in their work). The other half consist of equal am
      • by qwijibo (101731)
        These are good examples of where this works. All of those projects are more than high profile - they directly contribute to the ability of companies to make money. The companies who are on the trailing edge of technology can save money by leeching off of free software. However, there aren't a lot of companies with a business plan of "do what everyone else was doing 10 years ago, but do it poorly with untrained staff".

        The companies that invest in these projects are doing it to help themselves. They get t
  • Long-term? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GnuDiff (705847) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:36AM (#19033827) Journal
    Excuse me, but hasn't the open source been around for a bit longer than "current model"?
    I would say that it has already proven its sustainability.
  • I think I am going to cry reading this cheesy statement that serves nothing more but Sun's PR campaign, besides of course insults to OS movement.

    OS developers _are_ compensated. Not directly, but in a long-term in a much more effective way for their careers.

    Immediate gratification is joy of creation is followed by long term effect of improved programming skills, establishing networking with peers, "header file publicity", fame, all ultimately leading to much better employment than they could have been offer
  • doubts about the current open source model in which developers create free intellectual property only to have others scoop it up and generate huge amounts of revenue. Green said, 'I think in the long term that this is a worrisome scenario [and] not sustainable

    Worrisome? To whom, Sun?

    Not sustainable? I don't see why not, and Green gives zero reasons why it wouldn't be... he just gives a general robin hood analogy and hopes that gives Sun some "thoughtful guy" PR.

    Open source dev has been going on of

  • Leaving aside the question of whether anyone should do this at all, I'm going to discuss how it should be done, if anyone were to do it.

    Firstly, grants should be provided on a programmer-by-programmer basis, not a project-by-project basis. This addresses some of the issues that came up with payed Debian developers.

    The patrons should establish a committee, which should evaluate the applications of individual programmers, and provide grants (similar to those already given to artists) so that
  • by toby (759) * on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @08:43AM (#19034705) Homepage Journal
    1. BSD explicitly allows the wholesale appropriation of IP.
    2. GPL explicitly disallows it.

    Any questions?
    • Which party will be doing business by signing licensing agreements while the other is out innovating?

      Extra credit:
      Why would avoiding IP be beneficial?
    • So?

      GPL doesn't prevent people from profitting on others' work without any compensation going to said others.
      BSD doesn't either, but it's more honest about that fact. People releasing code under BSD know what they're doing without the utopian-dogma that surrounds GPL and clouds the issues.

      It's said that Google uses a huge amount of GPL code. They're making billions while the programmers that created the GPL code get none of those billions. And Google isn't even contributing code back to the "community" (w
  • Compensation is already available for some OSS developer/contributors.

    I found Tim O'Reilly observations more intriguing. ...the days in which developer salaries differ based on the nation where the developer is located were numbered. Developers overseas now are asking why they should get paid less than others, he said. "We're actually coming to the end of cheap outsourcing."

    Imagine following the sun, snow or moving to some place with a low cost of living and living like a prince.
  • > developers create free intellectual property only to have others
    > scoop it up and generate huge amounts of revenue

    Anybody care to give an example of this happening? I am not aware of any free software that was "scooped up" and is now generating "huge amounts of revenue".
    • by swordgeek (112599)
      Endless examples are out there. One that comes to mind is Tripwire. OS X is another one. Commercial Sendmail must have made a dollar or two for someone. Also, depending on how you view things, the entire set of commercial Linux companies might qualify.
  • Sun's model for Java has been to get experts and open source developers work for them for free and then to commercialize it. At the heart has been Sun's misguided JCP. Now, they are compounding the problem with their dual-licensing scheme, which imposes a GPL license on the rest of the world, while Sun reserves a commercial license to themselves and requiring developers to sign over rights to them. Let's not even get into how Sun attempted to rebrand Gnome as the "Java desktop".

    Sun is a prime example for
    • The solution is for companies like Sun to stop playing games with open source license. If Sun releases Java under a single open source license, then there is no problem and nobody is taken advantage of.

      Sun might feel that they, themselves, would be taken advantage of. After all, they spent billions on Java R&D, and still have yet to see much return on the investment. Then to just open source the thing and throw away all hope of ROI - well that has some pain associated with it (as far as Sun sees it).

      • Sun might feel that they, themselves, would be taken advantage of. After all, they spent billions on Java R&D,

        I'm sure that's the way Sun management sees it. I think they're wrong. If Sun spent billions of dollars on Java R&D, they haven't gotten their money's worth, since it's been really just a run-of-the-mill bytecode language from day one. The primary value of Java is that it's widely known and used.

        and still have yet to see much return on the investment. Then to just open source the thing an
  • The problem with open source development is that to build large projects in timely fashion (i.e. in less than 10 years) simply require more resources than can be realistically put together by a group of volunteers. It requires a team of people working full time. Traditionally, building these sorts of large-scale applications happens either by:

    a) Someone with a lot of money and a specific need hires some contractors to build a custom system

    b) Someone with a big idea is able to raise capital based on their
  • Community (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Xymor (943922)
    How about creating a developers community based on an entity that uses open source software for profit, and than splits these profits with developers, proportionaly to their ratings, achieved by the voting of members evaluating things like ammount contributed and importance/quality of the work.

  • After all, as everyone knows, the archetypal Linux developer is a rabid anarcho-communist; usually modelled after the prototype, Richard Stallman.

    You also cannot, without deservedly being labelled a hypocrite, have it both ways. I'm aware that BS rationalisations have existed historically for Commies having/making money such as "we're using the system in order to bring about its' downfall," but let us - for once - be honest here. The topic of making money with Linux has always been governed by the old Sta
  • .... which developers create free intellectual property only to have others scoop it up an...

    That was all I needed to read to know that the rest of it was going to be out of touch. The first problem they need to get over is that "intellectual property" is not property, and is anti free market. If you want to give money to OSS developers, then fine, but intellectual "property" has no place in modern societies nor the information age. It's sorta like the guilds of midevil times that claimed things like "

    • The first problem they need to get over is that "intellectual property" is not property, and is anti free market.


      But "intellectual property" is exactly as much property (and exactly as compatible with the "free market") as any other kind of property, so why should they get over something that is manifestly the truth?
  • First of all, I do not know of any open source projects that are free.

    Someone, somewhere is paying or compensating the person for the time he spends writing the code.

    Even if you are living on welfare, and are writing code your still being compensated obviously by the government because you are making the decision to write the code with your own free time.

    Green has the montra of GREED that has twisted logic that works like this:

    1) If you walk down the street, and you pick up garbage, your not being compensat
  • by Toad-san (64810) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @11:36AM (#19037613)
    Back in The Day when a lot of us were contributing to Public Domain (which was the term for a loose, undocumented, unlegalized form of Open Source back then) .. we always heard the whines, "Well, what happens if someone takes this Public Domain code and sells it?"

    Well, they sell it, that's what happens. If they were clever enough to find a buyer (to pay money for what would otherwise be free), more power to them. Hell, you're so smart, YOU go sell it! Feel free!

    Add services, support, a fancy front end, user customization, whatever it takes. It's free, like beer! Do what you want!

    Contribute to Public Domain if you want; we all do it for our own reasons (usually to share what we've learned, and to encourage more PD code so we can learn some more). If you're concerned about someone taking advantage of that .. well, we ALL take advantage of that in our own ways.

    That was then. Some great stuff came out, and still does. Public Domain, Open Source, GPL, whatever .. the thieves and cheats are going to take advantage. That's life.

    One great example, of which I was most proud to be a very small part, was the Info-Zip Project (or Workgroup). Google it; that was a project :-) I'll bet there are pieces of that really great code buried even in the Microsoft "compressed file" functions added around WinXP time as I recall.

    And I'm sure lots and lots of commercial archiving programs stol... errr .. incorporated parts of our code, and probably with not a hint of credit either. (Wouldn't want anyone's lawyers worried, eh?)

    But we were all in the Info-Zip Project for our own reasons (mostly to share and learn); we produced a great .zip archiver (for every kind of system from Commodore C-64's to Crays (really!)); and we all learned a lot. So what if none of us made a bloody penny?

  • How about developers that chose to produce Free Software, do so becuase they want there to be more Free Software? Releasing something under the GPL specifically prevents some company from taking it closed and making money off it, becuase anyone can get it for "free", and if they modify it, they have to release their modifications as Free Software as well.

    I think most programmers that write Free Software do so becuase the like to. And probably if they have time to write software at all, they are probably alr
    • by petrus4 (213815)
      I think most programmers that write Free Software do so becuase the like to.

      Here's a question...are you one of said programmers yourself?
  • The Open Source model only works because the commercial services, hardware, and software industries are generating the revenue to give OSS developers a day job of some kind (whether that day job is developing commercial software or OSS software isn't relevant.) I would wager that the majority of this contribution is via jobs developing commercial or proprietary software.

    This extends to college students as well - their contributions aren't free, they are paid for by loans, grants, college savings funds, etc.
  • Spending money on (Probably more skilled and cheaper) open source development makes most sense for a monopoly, the technology developed will only work inside their framework. However it will also have the problem of creating possible competitors for the monopoly.

    The best use would be somewhere like the auto industry which has stagnation in control systems and competes indirectly with other competitors (Ford/Chevy build in the U.S., Kia in Korea etc.) These companies could band together to pay for open sou

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