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The Billion Dollar Kernel

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the that's-a-lotta-dough dept.

Government 289

jesgar writes "The Linux kernel would cost more than one billion EUR (about 1.4 billion USD) to develop in the European Union. This is the estimate made by researchers from the University of Oviedo (PPT), whereby the value annually added to this product was about 100 million EUR between 2005 and 2007 and 225 million EUR in 2008. The estimated 2008 result is comparable to 4% and 12% of Microsoft's and Google's R&D expenses on whole company products. Cost model 'Intermediate COCOMO81' is used according to parametric estimations by David Wheeler. An average annual base salary for a developer of 31,040 EUR was estimated from the EUROSTAT. Previously, similar works had been done by several authors estimating Red Hat, Debian, and Fedora distributions. The cost estimation is not of itself important, but it is an important means to an end: that commons-based innovation must receive a higher level of official recognition that would set it as an alternative to decision-makers. Ideally, legal and regulatory frameworks must allow companies participating on commons-based R&D to generate intangible assets for their contribution to successful projects. Otherwise, expenses must have an equitable tax treatment as a donation to social welfare."

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Oops... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260096)

Just think how many cans of Mountain Dew we could have bought with that.

Re:Oops... (1, Interesting)

Useful Wheat (1488675) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260554)

You have the right idea, but the wrong implementation.

How much would it cost to professionally produce every video on youtube? I heard somewhere that roughly 20 videos are posted a minute, so that would be about 10.5 million videos per year. There's a lot of good content on youtube, excellent science demonstrations (look up SF6, and see an aluminum boat floating on a gas), some excellent comedy, and some great drama. However, the remaining 95% of the videos on youtube are trash that needs to be burned, and then shot into the sun to keep it from infecting the rest of us.

I'm sure that producing all of these videos would run into many hundreds of millions of dollars a year. On top of that, the writing staff needed to produce the comments would probably break the billion dollar mark. The real question is, is this an accurate measurement of value?

Maybe, Maybe not.

What I would be more interested in seeing is a comparison of what the open source community has been able to produce, compared to what the closed source community has been able to produce. Is open source labor as cost efficient as hiring a real programmer? If I paid a team of 20 experts to write code for a year, would their output be better than the same number of lines produced from open source?

I don't know. However, if I had to guess I would say no. If you look at the state of 3d video drivers, and gimp, the closed source version is typically better. Windows drivers are almost always better for video cards. Photoshop is better than gimp.

One hand tied behind your back (4, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260624)

I don't know. However, if I had to guess I would say no. If you look at the state of 3d video drivers, and gimp, the closed source version is typically better. Windows drivers are almost always better for video cards.

People who write windows drivers are usually given specs for the hardware.

Given the additional difficulty of reverse engineering, it's a miracle open source drivers work at all.

Re:One hand tied behind your back (2, Informative)

domatic (1128127) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260788)

Not all Linux drivers had to be developed from reverse engineering. For hardware typically used in servers like ethernet cards and RAID controllers, the hardware companies often supply drivers and if not drivers at least specs to the kernel devs. Even Broadcom helps with ethernet drivers, it's with wireless that they're difficult.

But with Nouveau, yeah, it's a miracle that it works at all.
 

Re:One hand tied behind your back (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31261404)

"given", if by "given" you mean "they have to help the hardware people design it, from scratch, because it does not yet exist and hardware doesn't just appear out of the sky without regard for the software that will ultimately run on it", then yes, they're "given" it.

Most FOSS stuff is literally just copying things that have already been done. A small subset of that is an improvement on closed source software (such as Firefox and... I can't actually name anything else that isn't incredibly subjective - sure, Pidgin supports multiple IM services, which is nice, but it also doesn't do any of them quite right...) and an even smaller subset of that is actually original (such as bittorrent).

Frankly, working from a spec or a working example is far easier than inventing it to begin with. You think the OSS world has it hard writing an exchange client off its specs because the specs are poorly written, or poorly organized? Those are the same specs Microsoft used, and in addition they had to deal with investigating if bugs were in the client or the server FAR more often than OSS clients do. For the most part, OSS clients can assume the server has already been written and debugged (by the closed source teams) and they have a much easier task.

A lot of the overhead and time consumed in my work in closed source software hasn't been implementing some simple protocol, it has been designing it to meet needs that are only partially defined, getting everyone to agree to it, writing it, testing it, discovering we needed some information that no one bothered to tell us about, fixing the protocol, rinse and repeat.

I imagine the Direct X people have similar problems. The OSS people whine on and on about Microsoft and their closed source work with the hardware vendors giving them "advantages", but what they really want is the closed source people to do all the hard work of coordinating with the hardware makers, figuring out what features make the most sense for the next version, designing and developing specs and APIs for the hardware, interfaces etc, and then to hand them all of this on a silver platter so they can code-monkey the shit out.

There is a word for the work most closed source teams are doing: "engineering". When you're handed a spec to code to, you may be figuring out your implementation, but you're not engineering anything. You're implementing. Sorry the world doesn't do all your work for you.

Did you intend to be condescending? (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260902)

Is open source labor as cost efficient as hiring a real programmer?

Wait, are you saying that Linus Torvalds, Larry Wall, Bram Cohen and Bram Moolenaar are not real programmers?

Or... well, exactly what do you mean by "open source labor"? As I understand it, a copyright license can be open source, as can software* released under an open source license. But I don't know how to extend that to labour---do you mean the labour that goes into producing open source software? If I look at a work process, how do I tell whether it qualifies as "open source" by your definition?

(* and music, movies, books, and other copyrightable stuff)

Re:Did you intend to be condescending? (3, Insightful)

fusiongyro (55524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261208)

The bread and butter of the open source community are not as high functioning as Linus et. al. A lot of software gets written because it's sexy to write rather than because it's needed. Windows and Mac OS X each have a single window manager and maybe two filesystems; Linux has hundreds of one and dozens of the other because they're sexy and fun to write. We have a half dozen version control systems where MS and Apple each maybe use one or two at most internally. Yet we have few working video drivers. This is a clear benefit of having paid programmers. They write fewer developer tools and spend more time improving existing user-facing stuff, because if they don't, they get fired.

Furthermore, a lot of green programmers start OSS projects to become better at programming. Very little commercial software is written entirely by new programmers. This is why it's hard to stay up-to-date in the Ruby community. A lot of the code is written by new Ruby programmers enamored with language features, and then it has to be thrown away and rewritten differently in the face of real-world demands. There's also more glory in starting projects with promise than in carrying through and maintaining older projects. Few people use FVWM2 even though it's stable, fast and highly configurable. Most Linux users today are probably using Metacity or KWM instead.

Most OSS projects reach a certain level of maturity, get stale and get abandoned, leading to this churn. That doesn't happen in the commercial world because code is perceived as having a dollar value. Sometimes, maybe even frequently, this belief is wrong or overestimated, but it does mean that commercial software is often older than OSS, which (IMO) compensates somewhat for the lack of eyeballs finding bugs. Age finds bugs too.

It's hard for me to imagine the world's most highly performing programmers not contributing to open source, but it's just as silly to expect that they aren't outnumbered by average programmers who don't have time to contribute, or that a dozen average programmers can't produce solid code. In many cases I find they produce simpler, more maintainable code because they're less inclined to the theatrics which are the chief form of compensation for OSS developers.

Of course he did (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261296)

Come on. This was an artfully crafted troll. Comparing open source to YouTube crap videos, without ever making a direct comparison, yet implying that most open source is like most crap videos: textbook propaganda. Then we have the 'real programmers' line, again implying that open source programmers are not real programmers, without ever stating it directly. Finally, there's the 'twenty experts' line, again, implying that no open source programmers are experts.

Seriously, people pay good money to learn how to write propaganda of that quality. And people who are that good at writing propaganda get paid very, very well. I wonder who 'useful wheat' is working for?

Re:Oops... (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260904)

Want to know WHY the Closed source drivers are better?

Closed source driver programmers get the full specs and all details of the hardware including several hardware samples in a test jig setup.

Open source driver programmers get NOTHING. they have to go out and buy the hardware, then buy equipment to reverse engineer it, spend months poking at it trying to figure out how it's supposed to work and then write a driver based on those assumptions.

IT does not have to be that way, it's just that hardware makers really enjoy being raging assholes and intentionally go out of their way to screw with Open Source developers because it's how they get their kicks and gives them something to brag about at parties. There is no legitimate reason for holding back the full hardware interface documentation. NONE.

Re:Oops... (1)

dmesg0 (1342071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261308)

It is no longer true. A lot of Linux drivers are written by the hardware vendors themselves, often sharing code with other platforms. In some areas Linux drivers are a MUST, and are released simultaneously for all supported OSes.

However it also means that some drivers, despite being open source, are badly written by the same people who are used to closed source standards, with very questionable quality.

Re:Oops... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31261464)

IT does not have to be that way, it's just that hardware makers really enjoy being raging assholes and intentionally go out of their way to screw with Open Source developers because it's how they get their kicks and gives them something to brag about at parties. There is no legitimate reason for holding back the full hardware interface documentation. NONE.

And here I thought it was because hardware makers simply wanted to keep their trade secrets, well, secret... I mean, if they're open for open source driver makers, they're clearly open for the competition... And seeing how this is the DRIVER, with barely any abstraction, I think said competition would just love to see their opponent's features work.

Hardware makers aren't assholes, they're just businessmen.

Re:Oops... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260590)

at that price, I'd consider outsourcing rendering php webpages to india. How many line of php an indian may interpret by hand? how many line of php are interpreted by all the linux web servers?

One BILLIOIN DOLLARS (3, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260108)

/pinky to mouth ....

Re:One BILLIOIN DOLLARS (4, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260116)

"Frikkin' kernals with frikkin' lazer beams in their frikkin' code!"

-The truth behind Linux's security

Re:One BILLIOIN DOLLARS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260144)

You had the second post and that's all you could think of?!

Re:One BILLIOIN DOLLARS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260246)

The Slashdot summary is clearly wrong. It says right there in the first line its 1.4 (1.3547 billion U.S. dollars) bn USD. Come on!

Re:One BILLIOIN DOLLARS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260278)

They're just trying to start a new meme.

In European Union this meme would cost ONE BILLION DOLLARS to develop.

Re:One BILLIOIN DOLLARS (0, Troll)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260346)

more like ass-to-mouth, based on the linux devs I've met.

And yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260154)

And yet no one would use it on the desktop.

Re:And yet... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260444)

And yet no one would use it on the desktop.

not yet. But there's always mañana...

Re:And yet... (3, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260568)

It's all about the apps and drivers - mostly the apps.

It does not matter how fast, secure, reliable, or inexpensive an OS may be; if it doesn't run the apps, it's not of much use.

Re:And yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31261306)

So you are saying Linux is of not much use?

They didn't factor in the cost of pizzas (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260162)

That 1 billion would soon seem like chicken feed!

Seems a bit high (0, Flamebait)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260170)

Given a dozen developers and a hard spec, Linux could be developed in 8 to 9 months.

Now, the beauty of OSS is that are no hard specs, so that could indefinitely extend the development time, I suppose.

But to say that the OS couldn't be developed for under a million bucks is pretty fucking stupid. Maybe if they got their tongues off of Linus's dick for a minute or two they could refer to actual development schedules rather than make-believe schedules based on projects done by idiot students.

Re:Seems a bit high (3, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260312)

Cathedrals are susceptible to top-down error. You know, the idiot at the top who doesn't know he's an idiot and leads the whole company into ruin over a few decisions. The bazaar of Linux is much more resilient to this at the cost of speed. Also you have not touched on the Freedom aspects (capital F) at all which for most, including myself, is the real reason to use F/OSS.

Re:Seems a bit high (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260336)

Most of that development time is not initial implementation. It's debugging and interoperability. Initial implementation is trivial, yes, but initial implementations do not a platform make.

Re:Seems a bit high (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260368)

Given a dozen developers and a hard spec, Linux could be developed in 8 to 9 months.

I would call that a billion-dollars hard spec then :-)
The value of a program is not in its number of code lines, but in its architecture and in the cleverness of its design. Sure, given a good spec, all you have to do is convert it into line code literally and it may be a short job. But such a spec would be the value of the code and writing it would be an enormous effort.

Re:Seems a bit high (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260374)

Now, the beauty of OSS is that are no hard specs, so that could indefinitely extend the development time, I suppose.

Isn't it an implementation of the POSIX specification? Not that I'm volunteering myself, but haven't Debian basically developed a replacement to the kernel (which is all they're talking about) out of BSD code. Did it cost them a billion? I guess using BSD is cheating but if you were replacing it for practical reasons instead of as a game then that's probably a good way to do it.

Re:Seems a bit high (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260750)

http://os.inf.tu-dresden.de/L4/LinuxOnL4/ how much did this take? how much did this cost?

but more importantly, how much of the kernel is the kernel? is the intel firmware part of the kernel? I think that there are enough example of linux replacements to draw some figure, instead of guessing on the sole development effort. Which is moot anyway as the linux kernel is constantly written and rewritten better and better.

Re:Seems a bit high (5, Informative)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260524)

You are nuts.

12 people at 40 hours a week for 9 months is 1123200 minutes. The kernel is about 12 million lines of code. That works out to a line of code every 5 and a half seconds.

Good luck with that.

Re:Seems a bit high (2, Funny)

maino82 (851720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260808)

40 hours a week? We don't hire slacker programmers here. 80 hours a week minimum means they have 10 whole seconds per line. Plenty of time.

Re:Seems a bit high (0, Flamebait)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260994)

His only reference is the Windows OS code. and that is banged out by a room full of monkeys... the typically deliver a line of code every 4 seconds. And from the quality of the product, It's spider monkeys.

Adobe products are written by Golden Snub Nose Monkeys.

Re:Seems a bit high (3, Funny)

Albert Sandberg (315235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261060)

Maybe they estimated Chuck Norris would do the coding.

Re:Seems a bit high (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261414)

That's assuming that a replacement would be 12m lines of code. I recently rewrote a few classes for an open source project that I contribute to and replaced 5,000 lines of code with 500 (which did more, ran faster, and fixed some bugs along the way). Just because the current implementation is 12m lines, doesn't mean that the correct implementation is 12m lines. From the Linux kernel code that I've read, I suspect that there is a lot of redundant and duplicated code in the kernel. I wouldn't be at all surprised if you could implement it with a cleaner design in closer to 1m lines of code.

Taxes (2)

nagnamer (1046654) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260184)

It would be cool if companies involved in open-source development would not have to pay taxes for related activities.

Re:Taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260264)

Or if individuals contributing to open source projects had to pay taxes after their work, as anyone who donates something, like money.

Re:Taxes (2, Insightful)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260290)

I agree. I do disagree with one line in the summary tho,

Ideally, legal and regulatory framework must allow companies participating on commons-based R&D to generate intangible assets for their contribution to successful projects

Why should it be limited to successful projects? Since this is open source, even a failed project can be hugely beneficial to society in terms of code, ideas or even just experience. Plus, who would declare success? Would a "successful project" be one that gets 1000 downloads a month? Or would it be a project that has a certain amount of community involvement? These questions (and others) are way to vague to justify that clause. Simply allow companies to deduct a portion of taxes for time donated to an open source project as a charitable donation. Sure, there will be abuse, but you can't stop abuse, you can only try to limit it at a huge expense... Plus, I think that the benefits will outweigh the negatives to such a system...

Re:Taxes (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260674)

Companies involved in open-source projects generally intend to profit from it. It's not a charitable donation but a marketing strategy.

lol wut? (-1, Flamebait)

bmajik (96670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260194)

The cost estimation is not of itself important, but it is an important means to and end: that commons-based innovation must receive a higher level of official recognition that would set it as an alternative to decision-makers. Ideally, legal and regulatory framework must allow companies participating on commons-based R&D to generate intangible assets for their contribution to successful projects. Otherwise, expenses must have an equitable tax treatment as a donation to social welfare."

Can someone decode this for me?

Do they want to tax companies that sponsor F/OSS development? Or subsidize them? Or do they want the flexibility to do both, and will change their mind depending on which company and which year we're talking about?

Normally, my in-built translation apparatus resolves "Social Welfare" as "unethical extortion of wealth via the threat of state violence". But that's perhaps just my American perspective..

American perspective? (2, Interesting)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260230)

What you call your 'American perspective', I call brainwashing

Re:American perspective? (0, Flamebait)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260276)

What you call brainwashing, I call logic.

Re:American perspective? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260566)

Haha, I modded you AND toastar down. Life isn't black and white you guys. Mmm'kay?

Re:American perspective? (3, Informative)

cromar (1103585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260622)

O dammit posting anonymously still undoes one's moderations XD

Re:American perspective? (2, Funny)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260680)

Now who gets the last laugh!

Re:American perspective? (3, Funny)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261256)

Now who gets the last laugh!

The other mods who modded you Troll?

Re:American perspective? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31261168)

Good thing too; what you posted was an abuse of power.

Re:American perspective? (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261152)

So wait, how come I get modded troll but the OP doesn't?

I demand equality and fairness!

Re:American perspective? (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260280)

And he feels the need to distinguish his opinions from his employer ;) From my perspective that is granted.

Re:American perspective? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260402)

It's acutally probably granted from his perspective as well, but perhaps less so from that of his employer or legal team

Re:lol wut? (2, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260536)

Vitriol aside, "Social Welfare" can mean anything, like a organization (say, a Church) in a community providing a non-trivial benefit to said community, while operating as a nonprofit. To put it tactfully, you need your "American Perspective" checked. It improves the welfare of the society (albeit in a somewhat hard to measure way). Saying that society as a whole (outside the open source community) has not benefited from Open Source (to which it pays no material compensation for) is ludicrous, therefore donations to open source should be treated just as any other donation to a nonprofit group.

I'm not sure COCOMO is a good measure (5, Insightful)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260200)

Something based on lines of code like COCOMO is probably not a good estimate for a kernel. Kernel debugging is harder for one. Many of the drivers required some level of reverse engineering as well.

I'd say every "Kernel line of code" is probably worth 10 lines of code in userspace, if not more.

Re:I'm not sure COCOMO is a good measure (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260316)

I'd say every "Kernel line of code" is probably worth 10 lines of code in userspace, if not more.

Why? Because you think there's some fundamental difference between low level and high level code?

Papayas don't need to be ripe to be useful. Green papayas can be pickled and be just as tasty as sweet ripe ones. The only differentiation is the time of picking.

Why would you give bonus points to the early pickers just because you don't understand the pickling process?

Re:I'm not sure COCOMO is a good measure (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260376)

Papayas don't need to be ripe to be useful. Green papayas can be pickled and be just as tasty as sweet ripe ones. The only differentiation is the time of picking.

What in the fuck are you talking about.

Re:I'm not sure COCOMO is a good measure (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260500)

Ah, you're clearly a user-space developer.

I wish I had some shiny pieces of glass to distract you.

Re:I'm not sure COCOMO is a good measure (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260842)

Yes, I think there's some fundamental difference between low and high level code.

Lemme 'splain. Let's say I'm writing sexygrep, which takes the search regex from a computer-connected fleshlight.

In any case, I can code it, try to compile it, fix any compile errors, and try to run. Then I fix any logic bugs/crashes. Repeat until satisfied (or tired out from testing).

If I'm writing kernel code, I'm a lot less casual about it. The edit-compile-test loop is a *lot* longer, for one. But more importantly, there's not a lot of "easy" code left to write in the kernel. For sexygrep, you'll be setting up files, parsing options, etc. Not much "grunt" work to improve on, which only leaves the really hard stuff.

So by nature of the kernel and the people working on it, a NEW line of kernel code is worth 10 NEW lines of userspace. I'd say the same about things like glibc, etc.

Re:I'm not sure COCOMO is a good measure (2, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260980)

Actually, I would say 10 is low. Every bug at the kernel level will be responsible for several orders of magnitude more bugs in userspace. It's not just a question of implementing to spec, it's a question of implementing to spec in a manner that is clear and consistent to every developer using the system.

Re:I'm not sure COCOMO is a good measure (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31261264)

He explained the reason above, DumbAndFuckingHighAnalogyGuy.

Re:I'm not sure COCOMO is a good measure (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260366)

Especially lines like:

#define ENOENT 2 /* No such file or directory */

Re:I'm not sure COCOMO is a good measure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260516)

#define ENOENT 2 /* No such file or directory */

I recognize it! It was copied from SCO!

Linux is communist and nigger chow (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260222)

From each according to his coding ability (Western programmers)
To each according to his wants (China downloads and builds on top of Linux, without committing any patches; the fucking niggers)

It could have been the 1000 Dollar Kernel... (3, Funny)

billrp (1530055) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260274)

...if developed off-shore

Only 1 billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260308)

Seems like spending 2 billion on a twice-as-good kernel would be a good investment.

That's the linux kernel alone... (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260320)

...but in order to make comparisons with Google, Microsoft or Apple, you have to add many, many lines of code. If you start to include the OSS equivalent of the standard installation of windows XP + MSOffice + Visual Studio: Linux + GNU + Firefox + GNOME/KDE + various drivers + open office + Eclipse ... you get much much more code. I think that more man-hours have been invested in the regular Ubuntu install than in the premium XP install.

But please, don't use dollars as a metric for that. As soon as any sum reaches more than one billion, a politician will try to tax it.

Waiste of money when there is FreeBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260378)

Waiste of money when there is FreeBSD

-paul

Ramifications (4, Insightful)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260408)

Wait a minute...Am I allowed to write off my FOSS development as a charitable donation on my taxes? Am I allowed to charge the $50 an hour I think I'm worth? I'm sure this has been asked before, but it's the first I've ever actually thought about it...

Re:Ramifications (4, Informative)

dylan_- (1661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260574)

Am I allowed to write off my FOSS development as a charitable donation on my taxes?

You'd need to check local laws, but I doubt it: charitable donations are usually only deductable to a registered charity. Mind you, if your local LUG is a registered charity, then you probably could...

Re:Ramifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260628)

LOL, and no.

Re:Ramifications (2, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260684)

Wait a minute...Am I allowed to write off my FOSS development as a charitable donation on my taxes?

My friend the electrician informs me that when a church gives him a receipt for installing an outlet or whatever, he gets to deduct his labor on his taxes as a gift to the church. Its not such a bad deal for him, if he has nothing better to do at that time, assuming that the church gets the parts donated from a store or the church pays for the parts. Technically I guess he's increasing his liability insurance premium by the value of his gift, and he has to drive his truck to the church, so its not all gravy, just mostly.

Get a church to "hire you" to maintain their website, then ...

Am I allowed to charge the $50 an hour I think I'm worth?

You would be OK. To prevent being accused of fraud, your church either needs to do competitive bidding, have some kind of long term business relationship, or pay standard union rates. Which works pretty well for my union electrician friend, not so well for you. Chalk that up as reason number 0x1010110110101011101 that programmers should unionize as a skilled trade...

Re:Ramifications (1, Redundant)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260896)

What your friend is doing is against the law.

Only actual expenses are deductible, never labor.

See here:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/yc/churchlawtaxupdate/judge_donationsoflabor.html [christianitytoday.com]

Which strangely uses the exact example of donating electrical work to a church...

Re:Ramifications (2, Informative)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260852)

No. Donations of time or labor aren't deductible.

Re:Ramifications (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260974)

As far as I know, in the US at least donations of labor are not tax deductible. Btw the whole idea of deducting charitable contributions strikes me as a bit weird. If you are donating something to charity, why would you want (or be allowed) to pass that cost onto the rest of the taxpayers?

Re:Ramifications (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261162)

Because Christians wanted it.

Re:Ramifications (2, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261258)

Ostensibly, because charitable contributions benefit everyone and therefore the government should encourage them in the only light-handed way possible, i.e. by not taxing them. Certainly, there are more political answers as to why it has come to be like it is.

You could look at it another way, a charitable contribution is almost necessarily a 'gratis' contribution, as in you receive no quantifiable return for your donation (outside of things like a 'gift' with marginal value). Therefore, it's as if you never made the money in the first place. Why there are no charitable deductions for simply setting fire to money, is a question left for the reader.

Re:Ramifications (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261482)

Am I allowed to write off my FOSS development as a charitable donation on my taxes? Am I allowed to charge the $50 an hour I think I'm worth? I'm sure this has been asked before, but it's the first I've ever actually thought about it...

I don't see why not. Charge the open-source project $50 an hour, and then donate your salary to offset the cost of hiring you. Of course, that's a lot of paperwork for no net gain... and it only works if the FOSS is a registered non-profit.

If you're asking "can I work 40 hours a week for a charity, and 40 hours a week for a business, and thus pay no taxes" then the answer would be no. How would that make sense. You're working 80 hours a week. You're donating 40 of them. You therefore pay taxes on the other 40.

Responses specific to my locality, and my unprofessional (non-lawyer) assessment of the law.

So, FLOSS developers; (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260428)

where is your paycheck? Hmmmmm?

You're slaving away and others are getting rich.

Don't be a sap; develop for Microsoft or even Apple!

Tolling, trolling, trolling,

Keep those wheels 'a trolling.

RAWHIDE!

Having problems pay'in your bills,
Cod'n for free!

Tolling, trolling, trolling,

Keep those wheels 'a trolling.

RAWHIDE!

Yeah, it would cost a billion to develop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260452)

Yet it's been around nearly 20 years, it's given away free, it has advocates that make the mac fanboys look calm and reasonable, and it still hasn't cracked the 3% mark in desktop market. If anyone actually funded its development to the tune of a billion dollars, it would be considered a catastrophic failure on par with Enron, Duke Nukem Forever and pets.com.

Re:Yeah, it would cost a billion to develop... (2)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261182)

If anyone actually funded its development to the tune of a billion dollars, it would be considered a catastrophic failure...

Yeah, right. If Linux is so inadequate that IBM and Cray should be interested in using it, then everybody else should shun it too.

that is not how capitilism works in the us (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260458)

Quote 'The cost estimation [implies] that commons-based innovation must receive a higher level of official recognition...." I don't think that is how the US system works, which is by market recognition. It doesn't matter how hard you work or how much money you put into it; what matters is if people buy it. That assumes, somewhat naively, that people are "rational economic actors" and that companies like MS and GOOgLE don't have massive FUD machines (aka marketing)

Re:that is not how capitilism works in the us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260766)

The only way to determine the value of a thing is to tally what people are willing to pay for it. That may, or may not, exceed the cost of making it. If it costs more to make than it can be sold for, then it's a failure as a product. If it costs less, then it's a success. Any other calculation, based on anything other than sales, is just political grandstanding to push a cause.

I don't get the point. (2, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260474)

Ideally, legal and regulatory framework must allow companies participating on commons-based R&D to generate intangible assets for their contribution to successful projects. Otherwise, expenses must have an equitable tax treatment as a donation to social welfare.

This doesn't make any sense to me. Since the code has been released as open source, it isn't really an asset of the company that wrote it anymore than it is to anyone else who uses it. It isn't something that could be liquidated to pay off debts, and allowing them to specify it as an asset on their balance sheets seems like just another way to distort the books and confuse investors. I don't see any good coming out of that.

Secondly, I don't see the point in letting them receive tax deductions for their contributions. They made these contributions because it was in their best interest to do so regardless of the tax status. And while it is nice that their contributions help the community as a whole, they themselves are helped by contributions that others have made. If they weren't taxed on the later, why should they get a deduction for the former? Open source is already provides economic and social benefits to those that participate in it's development - government wealth distribution is not needed in a system that already does so inherently.

Finally, even if I did agree with these goals, I don't see how having an estimate of the cost of the kernel as a whole would help - what matters are the specific contributions of the company and there are better ways to figure that.

Re:I don't get the point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260816)

Ideally, legal and regulatory framework must allow companies participating on commons-based R&D to generate intangible assets for their contribution to successful projects. Otherwise, expenses must have an equitable tax treatment as a donation to social welfare.

This doesn't make any sense to me. Since the code has been released as open source, it isn't really an asset of the company that wrote it anymore than it is to anyone else who uses it.

That's why they're called "intangigle".

Re:I don't get the point. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261126)

No, that's not what is meant by the term. Intangible assets [investopedia.com] refer to non-physical things that realistically increase the value of the company. Copyrights and patents are intangible assets because they can be capitalized, and this ability is exclusive to the holder. If anyone could reproduce an image or re-implement an invention, then they couldn't be claim as assets. If push comes to shove, they could sell their copyrights and patents to pay off debt. Brand recognition is another intangible asset, and again companies have absolutely been bought and sold primarily to acquire the name. If anyone could use their brand, this would change.

Average annual base salary 31,040 euro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260476)

An average developer won't be able to write the Linux kernel.

Loss leaders and many-sided markets (1)

poppycock (231161) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260480)

Its an interesting estimate, but I don't buy the argument for favorable tax treatment for "social welfare." For many companies, open source is one side of a many-sided business model: i.e., they're making their money somewhere else. Giving special tax treatment for such a thing would be similar to giving Adobe special tax treatment for Adobe Reader, or AT&T for giving away free cell phone. The freebie is a necessary for them to build a profitable market elsewhere.

Tax Credits (1)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260504)

What would be lovely is if I could get tax credits for committing to open products that further help mankind in my spare time!

Re:Tax Scams (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260656)

Two words: tax scam

There is enough of tax scams going around already. If you chose to donate your time for charity, that is your choice. You see what happens is layers would start to "donate" their time at $3000/h and soon they end up donating more than their earnings. So we are back to step 1, tax scam.

The bottom line is people either write Linux code because it is their job or they like to write Linux code. It's like anyone else. I either look at Mars and Jupiter because I'm a professional astronomer, or because I like it and spend thousands of dollars a year on equipment. In the latter case, my work is free because I like that work.

So yeah, it would be great to live in a Star Trek world too, where you do what you like and there is no notion of money as there is today. But until then, we have to settle for today's crappy world where you work to live and then work for free some more on stuff you like to work.

Beh (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260508)

Did they factor in two-hour lunch breaks and the afternoon nap? I guess this calcultion was something to keep amused with as the day goes by.

Congratulations, slaves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260518)

You've put billions of dollars of effort into something, and you didn't even get PAID for it.

Hahahahhhahahahahhahaa!

Salary (2, Interesting)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260520)

31,000 euro for a _kernel_ developer?? Probably closer to 3 times that. I know it's an average, but do you really think the maintainer of a memory system, or the scsi stack, etc are worth less than 6 figures?

Re:Salary (2, Insightful)

cormander (1273812) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260584)

Depends on where they live, of course. 31k to someone in the Philippines is a fortune, while someone living in California would go bankrupt on that salary.

Re:Salary (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260898)

On average and probably not full time. Considering kernel hacking is probably (on average) 1/3 of a full job, it's not too bad.

Re:Salary (2, Informative)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261024)

If said kernel developers were actually working in Oviedo, the city where they researched this, 31K is more than most would ever make. Your typical graduate in his first local programming job gets 15K at best. 30K is a top level salary over there. Last summer, no local company ever came close to offering me half of what I make in an affordable town in the American midwest.

Re:Salary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31261104)

There is no way on earth they could get enough programmers to develop the Linux kernel to move to Oviedo for that kind of cash.

Re:Salary (1)

ooooli (1496283) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261106)

31,000 euro for a _kernel_ developer?? Probably closer to 3 times that. I know it's an average, but do you really think the maintainer of a memory system, or the scsi stack, etc are worth less than 6 figures?

Keep in mind that that kernel developer would be working on the scsi stack of a commie plot...

Linus's pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31260794)

Bank executives are payed 10s of millions of dollars per year for their amazing contributions to society. Hedge fund managers pull in hundreds of millions of dollars for all they do to make the world a better place. Considering Linus's work benefits society more than anything any of these asshats have ever done by a mile, he alone should be pulling a 10 figure salary - so I think these estimates are way too small.

What a silly estimate (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 4 years ago | (#31260876)

No, what you'd get for a billion Euros is that many lines of code. No idea if the code would be any good. But usually when managers are fixated on the LOC, you get lots of LOC, not necessarily GOOD or FAST code. Just lots of it. Been there, seen it, upchucked, many times.

Or... (0)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261102)

12 dollars 32 cents if it had been outsourced to India...

Actually (1)

koinu (472851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261120)

I bet, even when you offer 1.4 mrd USD (aka "billion USD" in US) to commercial delelopers and it would take 20 years, they would not manage to write something like Linux. It would rather be a concept on paper or on powerpoint slides. But... they would take the money anyway.

31,040 EUR??? (2)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261332)

An average annual base salary for a developer of 31,040 EUR

What kind of silly number is that? I am 100% sure there is no single person who earns that little... is there?
Definitey not with all the taxes included. That would result in 2299 EUR a month (plus 1.5 months of holiday and christmas bonus.)
Or about 1250 EUR net money on your bank account. Or just below 8 EUR (net) an hour.
As a programmer?? Just... Silly.

That wouldn’t leave you with much, after apartment, food, phone/internet and basic clothing & co. With a bit bad luck (in a big city), you couldn’t even pay for a car. (= expensive fuel)

Corporations need intangible assets? (1)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31261398)

Yeah, like monkeys need pants. Haven't we had enough of you-hide-it-we-find-it accounting? The cost of this work should be realized when the funds are spent, not in some theoretical future when the benefits of FOSS may come back to the roost. Why? Because the primary benefit of FOSS is the avoidance of those costs in the future. To handle it otherwise would be double counting the benefit.
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