Thursday, March 27, 2008

Open Source (Smallish Post 6)

My roommate just asked me when the last time I used Windows Vista on my new laptop was. I thought about it and realized that I hadn't used it since the day I first bought the computer! I wanted to learn and use Linux, and got excited about it pretty quick. I had more features than I could get on Vista, and all for free; anything I need, I can just go get. The "bazaar" approach of open source is working well, I thought. Then I thought of another problem: what happens when Red Hat becomes "old hat"? Since compensation for work on open source is generally nil, it is more of a hobby than a source of income. Developers do love to fix the problems they see and create tools that help everyone, but they also like to eat; if everyone can just get tools for free, will the open source community eventually make it prohibitively difficult to get work as a developer? Even open source companies could be in danger once more advanced tools than their commercial versions are made available for free, and the improvement of forums and help sites could doom their efforts at making money on servicing. I love Linux and open source programs, but I sometimes wonder if I'm not putting myself out of a job.

1 comment:

Adam W said...

You're right. There are plenty of great pieces of open source software. This is where that minor in Business helps. One software package does not fit every business. This is where programmers can make some dough. If you have indepth knowledge of MySQL source code, Google may be interested in you. If you've contributed to the project, you're even more likely to be hired. What's the reasoning? Google doesn't use the "out-of-the-box" version of MySQL. It's been tweaked to meet their specific needs. As we see the colossal open source projects that rival Windows and Exchange Server, you'll see that companies will dish out tens of thousands of dollars to get it tailor made to their niche. So, in conclusion, most open source projects at this point are more volunteer work than contracting. But, as it gains traction in the open market, more opportunities will present themselves.