Registered: May, 2003
Re: Motivation behind open source
Posted: Nov 4, 2003 6:17 AM
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