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GNU is Not Unix Open Source Programming Linux

Paid Developers Power the Linux Kernel 191

Posted by timothy
from the back-in-your-day-maybe dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Believe it or not, there is still this illusion that Linux and open-source software is written by counter-culture, C++ programming cultists living in their parents' basements or huddled together in Cambridge, Mass. group-houses. Now CNet reports that the Linux Foundation has found that 'over 70% of all [Linux] kernel development is demonstrably done by developers who are being paid for their work.' That Linux is primarily developed by paid developers should come as no surprise considering that Linux enables many companies — hardware, software, and online services — to be more competitive in their markets and to find new ways to generate revenue. 'What's important about how Linux and open-source software is created isn't the side issues of politics or how its developers are perceived; it's that its fundamental methodology produces better software,' writes Stephen Vaughan-Nichols."
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Paid Developers Power the Linux Kernel

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  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@noSPam.slashdot.firenzee.com> on Sunday December 05, 2010 @09:41AM (#34450180) Homepage

    Well the same is true anywhere, the more potential users a given piece of software has the more interest there is in developing it...

    Commercial software works the same way, something with mass market appeal is highly likely to be developed and either result in multiple competitors or serious effort to stifle competition...
    But something small with a very limited market either won't exist at all, or will be extremely expensive if that niche market has the money to pay for it. Niche products also tend to be rather buggy.

    OSS serves certain niches very well, ie those niches occupied by technically minded people who are capable of writing what they need for themselves... Other niches are served somewhat less well because those who would be capable of producing software have no need for it, and those who need it aren't capable of writing it.

    You also get a lot of businesses and individuals using software which is extremely poorly suited to their needs because they aren't able to customise it for themselves, and the only people who would be capable of doing so aren't willing to.

    I'm sure there are many things that could be improved by being computerized, but where the people capable of producing such software either don't realise or don't care.

  • by mswhippingboy (754599) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @09:42AM (#34450184)
    C++ programming cultists often write in C.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @10:02AM (#34450274)

    This perception of OSS still remains rather strong. You will notice that a common advocacy for OSS is the "many eyes" thing. The idea seems to be that there are just tons and tons of developers out there with amazing amounts of time that will jump on a project and help, if only it was opened up. The advocates then point to things like Linux or Firefox or MYSQL and how great they are. What they miss or don't understand is that these high profile, top-flight OSS projects have heavy financial backing. They have developers who's full time jobs it is to work on the software. That's wonderful and all, but don't then try to claim that you'll get that kind of development on a project just because you open up the code.

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @10:17AM (#34450338)
    No, what’s important about how Linux and open-source software is created isn’t the side issues of politics or how its developers are perceived; it’s that its fundamental methodology produces better software. That’s why businesses invest in Linux’s development. Linux works. If it didn’t, big business wouldn’t bother with it.

    I am not sure the methodology produces better software; it does however produce software companies can use and modify to their needs without paying ongoing license fees. That's why they use it - it allows them to develop other, higher-value, products and maintain control over the source and not be beholden to some third party company. The methodology does work to produce high quality software since many people are looking for bugs, with that part I agree - but companies don't invest in software because others are QC'ing it; they invest because it enables them to make money. While what the author says is, IMHO, true about the Linux kernal, I don't think it is true for many other FOSS projects; unless they are used as part of a larger product, such as a server. There simply isn't the same incentive to spend time and money on an application, such as an office suite, that you can't use to sell something more profitable.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @10:18AM (#34450340)
    Actually, most of the people who miss that are not listening closely enough. The point of the "many eyes" thing with Open Source software is that if an OSS project is of interest to a company (in particular a company that hires programmers anyway) that company can have its people look at the software from the perspective of the way that company uses the software and they can make changes (either bug fixes or otherwise) to make the software better for their company. If they were using proprietary software, they would be at the mercy of the company that owned the rights to that software for any fixes or improvements.
  • by ninja59 (1029474) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @10:34AM (#34450420)
    who cares? The point is that it is open. Today paid programmers are doing, before nerdy basement dwellers did it, maybe tomorrow homosexual vampires will do it. Being open allows the "who" to change.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 05, 2010 @10:38AM (#34450440)

    The GPL facilitates (forces) the work to be shared among stakeholders. My company buys maintenance and feature development on Postgresql just the same and it's a really great deal for all of us who contribute to eachother not having to buy Oracle licenses.

  • by mangu (126918) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @12:45PM (#34451222)

    The idea seems to be that there are just tons and tons of developers out there with amazing amounts of time that will jump on a project and help, if only it was opened up

    This is a common misconception about free software.

    "Many eyes" does not mean every user is a developer, as a matter of fact the vast majority is not.

    What "many eyes" means is that IF a user is bothered enough about a bug and that user has the ability to develop software, then he CAN fix that bug. There might be a million users, but if only 0.1% of them are interested developers then there will be a thousand people fixing that bug.

    And every user will profit by that fix.

  • by Izaak (31329) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @02:49PM (#34452358) Homepage

    As one of those 'sell outs', I'm curious why you think that? At the heart of the open source ethos is the license under which the software is distributed. As long as the code that is developed is submitted back to the open source community, that ethos is satisfied. How or even if the developer is paid is not really relevant. Indeed, a world in which most commercial software is open source and the developers are paid for their efforts is very much in keeping with our dreams of an open source utopia.

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