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Motivation behind open source

8 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: Mar 14, 2007 7:36 AM by siddharth mandal

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Rahul Chaudhary

Posts: 10
Nickname: javaguru
Registered: Jan, 2003

Motivation behind open source (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Nov 4, 2003 12:42 AM
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Summary
Why do people develop open source software?
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Last week I attended Colorado Software Summit, Java and XML Programming Conference. One of the keynotes,The Economics of Open Source, was delivered by Simon Phipps of Sun Microsystems. I am a big fan of open source. I use lots of open source tools/libraries and in my free time I love to play with different open source software. There are so many websites out there that give you access to tons of open source software. Sometimes a thought comes to my mind that why do people write open source software? What is the motivation behind it?

In my opinion, here are the reasons why people write open source software

1. Lot of times people are not able to design/develop the kind of software they would like to in their full time job and so they develop open source software to fulfill their dreams.

2. It is one of the best ways to keep abreast of latest and greatest technologies.

3. For some people,it becomes the showcase of their credentials to get a job.

4. Few open source projects have been developed to support the needs of the organizations and later on open sourced.

5. In the last couple of years or so, a new business model has emerged. Develop an open source software, give it free and then offer fee based professional services including training, support and consulting for that software.

6. Companies encourage their employees to participate in open source projects so that they can influence those projects to suit their needs.


b'b

Posts: 7
Nickname: bawjaws
Registered: May, 2003

Re: Motivation behind open source Posted: Nov 4, 2003 9:17 AM
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It seems to me that all of your points could apply equally to software developed under a restrictive licence (whether given away or charged for, and whether by a single author or large corporation) and so miss the true motivations for F/OSS development. The reasons for choosing to create under an open source licence are perhaps therefore orthogonal to the points you raise.

I'm also slightly worried that open-source developer is being presented as a synonym of "hobbyist", in your list you mention a couple of paying professions but it seems to be regarded as the exception rather than the rule. It is almost implied that you give away open-source software merely to gain entry to the world of proprietary software where you make the real money.

On the contrary, a recent survey had 50% or respondents claiming they got paid for their knowledge of or contribution to F/OSS, and note that a quarter of respondents were students. (http://www.stanford.edu/group/floss-us/stats/q33.html).

You may want to read ESR's "The Magic Cauldron" (http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/magic-cauldron/magic-cauldron.html) for some info on motivations for open-source development, particularly bits like this:

"First, code written for sale is only the tip of the programming iceberg. In the pre-microcomputer era it used to be a commonplace that 90% of all the code in the world was written in-house at banks and insurance companies. This is probably no longer the case -- other industries are much more software-intensive now, and the finance industry's share of the total has accordingly dropped -- but we'll see shortly that there is empirical evidence that around 95% of code is still written in-house."

Now that open-source is a respectable idea these developers, who have *never* sold their work output, can do their jobs better by giving it away (and build on other Free/Open Source software in return).

On a related note, an interesting article on motivation and Free Software can be found here: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/motivation.html

Matt Brubeck

Posts: 1
Nickname: mbrubeck
Registered: Nov, 2003

Re: Motivation behind open source Posted: Nov 4, 2003 12:27 PM
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Many people develop free software because they use that software, and they benefit directly from improvements to it. This is a very common motivation among the free software developers I've worked with, and it seems to be left out of your list.

Joe Grossberg

Posts: 244
Nickname: jgrossberg
Registered: Mar, 2003

Re: Motivation behind open source Posted: Nov 4, 2003 2:44 PM
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You're missing what should be number one on the list, Rahul -- many people write free software because they believe it's the right and moral thing to do.

It's not necessarily about advancing one's skills, career or income. It's about freedom.

Rahul Chaudhary

Posts: 10
Nickname: javaguru
Registered: Jan, 2003

Re: Motivation behind open source Posted: Nov 4, 2003 6:48 PM
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> Many people develop free software because they use that
> software, and they benefit directly from improvements to
> it. This is a very common motivation among the free
> software developers I've worked with, and it seems to be
> left out of your list.

I listed the reasons/motivations I have seen and/or experienced. If you guys have seen or experienced other motivations,please feel free to list them here.

rahul kumar

Posts: 2
Nickname: rahulk
Registered: Nov, 2003

Re: Motivation behind open source Posted: Nov 7, 2003 12:37 AM
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Rahul
What about sharing ?
I thought that was one of the main, if not number one, reason for developing open source.
--
re
rahul kumar

Johannes Brodwall

Posts: 19
Nickname: jhannes
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: Motivation behind open source Posted: Nov 9, 2003 12:17 PM
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My main reason for using and/or writing open source code is economic. Developing an application from scratch is very expensive, so we have to use some kind of third party software. The problem is that I have been bitten so many times from using commercial products. Usually, the software doesn't do its job well enough, the provider is slow to give updates, and/or the provider is financially unstable and liable to go out of business within a few years.

S. Fanchiotti

Posts: 10
Nickname: impatient
Registered: Nov, 2003

Re: Motivation behind open source Posted: Nov 11, 2003 3:48 PM
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I second that! In addition it makes the possibility of moving
to a new job much easier if you can carry with you the tools
that you used before,instead of learning new ones or variations of them. Typical case: text editors.

Sort of like what happens in other mre established trades
like carpenters and mechanics. There they expect to use some standard tools in addition to the specialized ones on the shop. Note that this does not imply that in time new tools
are used or deprecated.

It would also make the software job market more liquid and a bit less chaotic in principle.

Sergio

siddharth mandal

Posts: 1
Nickname: reaper
Registered: Mar, 2007

Re: Motivation behind open source Posted: Mar 14, 2007 7:36 AM
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yeah absltly agree that should be the # 1 on the list.....

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