My Motivation for Doing Opensource
There’s been a lot of blogs, tweets, dents, podcasts, rants, etc about Canonical not giving enough back to the projects they use to build Ubuntu with. I’m not going to go down that rathole, so if you are looking for a juicy quote to start a flame war on…you can stop reading now.
What I do want to comment on is why I personally like opensource. It may shock some, but I don’t care too much about all software being free…just like I don’t care about all music, video content, or internet access being free. It’s not because I wouldn’t love it if these things were, it’s just that I understand the people who create them might want to eat, or clothe their children, or have a home…and these things all require money. The reason I like working in opensource is that I believe the fundamental core of it, is to give…that’s it. Giving feels good. I’ve donated my time and money to various charitable organizations, and while they are all good causes…helping people who needed…deep down, I do it because it makes me feel good (and I know I’m not alone).
When I was the maintainer for the Linux Test Project , while my initial reason for doing it was because my employer requested me to, the reason why I stuck with it for so long (even when my job and employer changed) was because I knew people needed it. It felt good to know that I was helping to improve the “reliability, robustness, and stability of Linux”…it felt good to know that I was helping Red Hat, Novell, Terrasoft, and God knows how many other distros test their releases…it felt good to know I was helping IBM, Intel, HP, and loads of other technology companies test their hardware against Linux…it simply felt good. Hell, I even created the infamous crash test tux logo over a weekend because I thought it would give the project more of an identity…which lead to shirts being printed…banners being made…and me sitting for hours in a 2 person booth in the “dot org” pavilion at too many Linux World Expos to mention. As a project, we were always happy to receive testcases, bug fixes, and improvements from our users and others looking to help, and not once did I ever point the finger at someone using the test suite to improve their for-sale product and say, “you’re not giving enough!”….because I wasn’t doing the work for that reason. Now I’ll admit not participating as much as I should since passing on maintainership, but it’s not because I switched jobs, companies, or career paths…it’s because I got married, bought a house, and had 2 kids…and even got a dog…so how I choose to spend my free time has changed as a result of these life events…plain and simple.
I guess all I’m trying to say is that if the reason why you participate in opensource is because you want to push a utopian view of the world on to others, or berate those who you feel didn’t give you enough credit or contribute to your project in a certain way….well, then prepare to be disappointed a lot, I prefer to just give and be happy.