×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Paid Developers Power the Linux Kernel

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the back-in-your-day-maybe dept.

GNU is Not Unix 191

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."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

191 comments

C++ programming cultists? (5, Informative)

razvan784 (1389375) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450088)

It's written in C, not C++.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (2)

bcmm (768152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450108)

Mod parent funny. I think that bit really sets the tone for the rest of the summary.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34451454)

It's not funny, OP has noted a sign that the person who wrote the summary isn't really knowledgeable about what he's writing about. That in turn would indicate that there is an ulterior motive, something the author _would_ know something about, like inciting flamewars by using an inflammatory and biased tone.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34452504)

Score: -1. Looks like I hit a nerve. :)

Re:C++ programming cultists? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450112)

There is a very small part in C++, how ever Linus got alot of critique for that but none the less committed it.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450192)

I know /. is not the place for reasoned discussion, but do you have sources or a git link to the C++ code, is it actual kernel code or one of the support apps...?

Re:C++ programming cultists? (2)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450216)

"make xconfig" as far as I know uses Qt.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (3, Funny)

bogolisk (18818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450248)

make xconfig!!!!

Then you probably can claim that Linux is written partly in bourne shell.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450624)

where's the code?

Re:C++ programming cultists? (2, Insightful)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450184)

C++ programming cultists often write in C.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (0)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450332)

Only if they need their program to give the same results when they compile it again.

The "templates" in C++ are mishandled so often, that alone is a compelling reason to keep the Linux kernel and long-term stable projects in C.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (2)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450428)

That would be a reason to not use templates... But the Linux kernel is already so dependent of GNU tools that it may not even be a problem.

Really, classes are a very good thing to have. You don't need to throw it away with the rest of the C++ language.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450534)

Then why not use C with classes?

Re:C++ programming cultists? (3, Informative)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450572)

Because Bjarne Stroustrup's C with Classes language is merely an early version of C++. I mean modern C has evolved quite a bit since that time, and it would be a shame to have to limit yourself to the C language constructs of 1983.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (0)

zakeria (1031430) | more than 3 years ago | (#34451076)

C++ is simply not portable enough to compile everywhere, and would not make a good choice for kernel code anyhow as it's mangled and not flowed so debugging is a lot harder!

Re:C++ programming cultists? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34453012)

C++ is simply not portable enough to compile everywhere

C++ is not any more or any less portable than plain C. If you have any specific examples of it being otherwise, please share them.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34451356)

How they both evolved and C++ is no longer a superset of C could mean a bit of a headache during migration (and...is there anything broken as is?)

Re:C++ programming cultists? (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450722)

The Linux kernel currently compiles with GCC, Clang/LLVM, PCC, Path64 (development branch only - some of the inline asm isn't handled correctly by the released version), ICC and (I think) XLC. An earlier version also compiled with TCC. It's not really that dependent on GNUisms. Or, rather, the GNUisms that it depends on are pretty well supported by other compilers.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34452994)

bullshit. 90% of the driver modules won't build under anything but gcc. if I wanted a good kernel with no drivers I'd use plan 9.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34451208)

C++ programming cultists often write in C.

However C cultists rarely write in C++.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450520)

I blame Microsoft. Developers that use Visual Studio don't make the distinction because Visual Studio does not.

Re:C++ programming cultists? (3, Funny)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450848)

Actually, little known fact, if you run it through a C compiler you get the Linux kernel, if you run it through a C++ compiler you get SCO Unix.

I'm not surprised (5, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450120)

My employer uses F/OSS extensively - and as the sysadmin, I've started to notice a pattern.

F/OSS products which scratch an individual or a small group of peoples' itch generally get developed to a certain point and then stagnate. If you're lucky, that point is acceptable to you.

The products that do really well - the "best of F/OSS", if you like - are almost invariably the sort which scratches a very common itch. They're usually bankrolled by a number of companies (the Linux kernel falls under this category) or become self-funding when the project leader sets up a company to sell a commercial version with support and possibly extra features.

Re:I'm not surprised (2)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450160)

Are you saying that a meme has come true?!

1.) Develop F/OSS
2.) Market it to a broad range of users
3.) ???
4.) Profit!

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450698)

One real benefit is that if you are a company developing kernel code and contribute it back you will get goodwill and you will enhance the competence of your employees.

And the Linux kernel is a known stable solution that will be around for a while. It is also easy to find people with knowledge about the kernel itself (to some extent at least) which makes it easier for a company to find competence instead of having to waste training on the employees and hope that they will pay off in 6 to 12 months.

Re:I'm not surprised (4, Interesting)

jc42 (318812) | more than 3 years ago | (#34452734)

One real benefit is that if you are a company developing kernel code and contribute it back you will get goodwill and you will enhance the competence of your employees.

Actually, I've long thought it strange that the business/industrial world has an objection to supporting things like an OS kernel, runtime libraries, etc. The obvious parallel comes to mind: Lost of companies farm out part of their operations to subcontractors. They routinely subcontract for cleaning, delivery, electrical services, for example, not to mention their phone, water and sewage systems. They don't seem to be taken aback by the fact that the companies that supply these services also subcontract to "the competition".

The idea of paying a separate company for software development and supports services is also hardly new. That is how IBM has made much of its money, after all. Paying a company like Red Hat doesn't strike me as very different from any of the above. It doesn't take much management genius to understand that paying a contracting firm for software support at the "system" level is a fairly good idea. That way, you can share the cost with all the other companies that hire the same software firm, and everyone can get the benefits from having the software organized by people who (hopefully ;-) know what they're doing.

So why is this even a story? You'd think there would have been enough sensible businessmen all along for lots of Red Hats to prosper.

A related question is all the propaganda against "open" software. Systems such as water, sewage, electrical, etc. all have "open" designs, with everything published and the detailed specs easily available to anyone. Companies don't often buy fleet vehicles without shop manuals, which give the detailed specs for the innards of the vehicles. Why would people classify open software as "hippie" or "communist", when they don't say the same about shop manuals or electrical diagrams? You'd think that sensible managers who approve of open standards for these other things would also want software that follows published standards (e.g., POSIX), and whose specs (i.e., the source code) is easily available to everyone.

But for some unexplained reason, business people keep buying software systems with hidden, "proprietary" innards. They wouldn't do this with delivery vans or electrical wiring; why would they accept it with software? Exactly the same reasoning says that software should be open, standardized, and accessible to anyone with the technical training. And the same reasoning that supports specialized firms to do common tasks should also support specialized firms for software needs.

It may be yet another example of a theory that keeps popping up: Whenever a computer is introduced anywhere, all precedent is forgotten, and people have to relearn from scratch all the things that they knew from before there were computers. I wonder what it is about computers that causes this social amnesia and inability to see parallel situations?

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

cloudcreator (1527763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450170)

Yes, neither am I. I would say that behind the scenes of a larger and successful open source project always stand a lot of interested companies.

Re:I'm not surprised (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450180)

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.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

devent (1627873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450570)

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.

The solution is rather simple. If you know enough people who need a particular software but can't make the software themselves (artists, musicians, authors, etc) make a donation pool. The first developer who will create the software will get the donation pool but the software is free (both open source and free of charge). The cost for each client are minimal (like 10$) but the pay for the developer will be good (if 1000 people donate each 10$ that's 10000$ for the developer). The end product is a free software which the developer can continue to make money (with support and additional features).

The alternative is to wait for a commercial developer and then each client has to pay a high price for a copy.

Here is an example (not a software but a movie) http://questioncopyright.org/sita_distribution [questioncopyright.org]

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450364)

F/OSS products which scratch an individual or a small group of peoples' itch generally get developed to a certain point and then stagnate.

Indeed. I use it extensively, and have noticed that they always forget to put in the malware, nagware, and crapware parts.

I suppose you could adopt a business model whereby you'd put those things in there and charge a premium just like closed-source software, but since you'd have to make the source available somebody could just take it out again. Why anyone would want to, I don't know.

So it works the way Stallman envisioned? (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450366)

The products that do really well - the "best of F/OSS", if you like - are almost invariably the sort which scratches a very common itch. They're usually bankrolled by a number of companies (the Linux kernel falls under this category) or become self-funding when the project leader sets up a company to sell a commercial version with support and possibly extra features

Interesting quote.

It seems to work almost the way Richard Stallman would have hoped. Somebody likes a piece of software enough to pay a programmer to fix some aspect of it that needs to be changed.

I understand how the money is being made with commercial versions and support deals.

I don't see how money is being made with "several companies bankrolling" a piece of software that scratches a common itch. Is it that a particular company sees that it can make money by using, though not owning, a particular piece of software and they don't mind their money making improvements available to other people?

Re:So it works the way Stallman envisioned? (3, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450662)

The thing is, those other people have to make any of their own improvements available. Compare and contrast that with the BSDs, where there is no obligation to re-release improvements. Lots of expensive, specialist kit is based around a BSD Unix (eg. F5, Juniper). But BSD doesn't have anything like the mindshare in the generic server market.

Re:So it works the way Stallman envisioned? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34452168)

Iirc, the changes only have to be made public if a binary containing said changes are made public.

I think Google have some extensive changes that they have not shared because they only use it in their own data centers.

Re:So it works the way Stallman envisioned? (3, Informative)

cduffy (652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450692)

I don't see how money is being made with "several companies bankrolling" a piece of software that scratches a common itch. Is it that a particular company sees that it can make money by using, though not owning, a particular piece of software and they don't mind their money making improvements available to other people?

Typically it's "bankrolling" by assigning some of your people to spend some of their time on making improvements you happen to need and contributing them upstream.

(Contributing improvements upstream means that you won't need to continually maintain your patches, that they'll eventually be included in vendor packages/kernels and thus that you'll later need to do less packaging yourself, and is otherwise a money-saving action. As a somewhat-related aside -- once upon a time I worked in embedded Linux, and you had companies who structured their default contracts for kernel work such that everything was submitted upstream, making each contract effectively a one-time engagement when everything was done right, and others who didn't... ehh... encourage their clients to pursue submitting their code, such that said clients would keep paying in to keep their patch current with newer upstream kernels).

Re:I'm not surprised (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450390)

Well, more people = more developers. But when it comes to paid developers, I'm not sure the same is true. If it becomes too common an itch that you're trying to collect microfunding from millions of people then it's not doing that great. Even though millions of people need a little photo editing they aren't funding GIMP and the professionals rather end up paying for Photoshop, same goes for OpenOffice vs MS Office. Firefox is a bit different in that Google is paying indirectly rather than the users directly, but in general OSS fans are very opposed to any kind of applications that "sells" your eyeballs or your data or direct you to specific services. It seems easier to make one company pay $1000 for RHEL than to make 100 people pay $10 or 1000 people pay $1.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#34451216)

Gimp isn't getting much funding at all. The glacial pace of development demonstrates that pretty well, IMV.

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34452460)

Even though millions of people need a little photo editing they aren't funding GIMP and the professionals rather end up paying for Photoshop, same goes for OpenOffice vs MS Office.

Yah, but GIMP alienated a *lot* of potential fans when they bull-headedly refused to even consider fixing their horribly-broken UI years ago. I'd consider them a special-case.

OpenOffice, though, just has the issue that it's bloated, slow, and not-very-compatible. The optimist in me says that with a few more years of development, it could massacre MS Office sales. The realist in me says "well they've been in this position for years now, and it's still bloated, slow, and not-very-compatible." So...

Re:I'm not surprised (1)

aurispector (530273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34451604)

In short, information isn't ever really free. Someone, somewhere is either donating their valuable time to development or there's an organization funding the devs. Nobody can really afford to slave away coding without compensation - everybody has to eat. The for-profit model works because it's a fair exchange of value for both parties.

This might seem like an unnecessarily elementary point, but there seems to be an awful lot of people who sincerely believe in the adolescent idea that work gets done by magic and the end product should be given away for free.

Old News (5, Informative)

PiAndWhippedCream (1566727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450138)

Do even the editors read [slashdot.org] anymore?

Re:Old News (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450232)

Cmon, editing failed a long time ago (at least 5 years). Anyway, editors don't fact-check, that's for sub-peons. Editors select which stories get canned and which get promoted to suit the day's agenda.

non-story (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450146)

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. [...]
That Linux is primarily developed by paid developers should come as no surprise

Hang on a minute. If there's an illusion that it's written by smelly vegan hippies, then surely it should come as a surprise that it's written by paid employees of €eevu£ corpra$hunz.

Though the question is actually irrelevant - everybody has known it for years. It's a non-story.

Not a total non-story (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not a total non-story (4, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not a total non-story (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450418)

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.

If they're interested in that, which IMHO they are mostly not. Many companies have learned the hard way the true cost of custom software, which in many ways can be worse than proprietary software. If there's at least a semi-functioning marketplace, the proprietary companies have to evolve their solutions and keep their prices (thus your costs) to what the market will bear. Custom software OTOH stands dead still unless you pay every inch of the way, which is why they're not interested in doing anything custom. And if you talk "small custom changes" they think the kind of rates proprietary tools charge them for small changes, which are normally disproportionally expensive.

Re:Not a total non-story (3, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450470)

If they aren't interested in that, how do you explain all of the companies that pay programmers to work on Open Source?
Most (if not all) of those companies already had programmers on staff to write custom software for the company. They discovered that it was easier and cheaper (and often better) to modify Open Source Software than it was to write their own application from scratch (or to buy such an application from some proprietary vendor).

Re:Not a total non-story (4, Interesting)

cduffy (652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450786)

Many companies have learned the hard way the true cost of custom software, which in many ways can be worse than proprietary software.

If you're making custom software out of your OSS software, you're doing it wrong.

If you're doing it right, you're submitting your changes back upstream -- so the software doesn't "stand dead-still", as you put it, even on those times when you aren't shoveling man-hours into improvements. If you happen to be curious for some examples, google around for patches under my name submitted to open source projects over the last decade. Just about all of those were paid for by my employers -- from the OS X VNC plugin bugfix to the feature enhancements to libvirt to improved cover page generation for HylaFAX.

For the work I did at Dell, we worked together with Red Hat to get as many of the libvirt and qemu improvements we wanted as possible into the RHEL6 release schedule, enabling some of Dell's internal QA tools to work out-of-the-box with RHEL6 (whereas those same tools required heavy tweaking on RHEL5). Sure, we could have gotten the same thing done as a professional services engagement rather than a friendly collaboration between engineering groups... but this way was far easier, cheaper and lower-paperwork (and by building the patches in-house, we made sure that we got exactly what we wanted).

No surprises in this article for me.

Re:Not a total non-story (1)

romiz (757548) | more than 3 years ago | (#34451618)

If you're making custom software out of your OSS software, you're doing it wrong.

If you're doing it right, you're submitting your changes back upstream

What if you can't get it, because it conflicts with the interests, goals or methods of the developers of the package you want to customize ? A good example for this case is the android wake-lock, which was rejected by the kernel team, and one year after there was still debate about how to replicate the function. During all that time, there were companies shipping products with the Google patch, but it was not integrated into the original kernel tree.

Re:Not a total non-story (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34452334)

What if you can't get it, because it conflicts with the interests, goals or methods of the developers of the package you want to customize?

Then you've got a decision to make, obviously -- comparing the costs of maintaining your patch in-house versus the benefit it provides.

These are fairly uncommon edge cases, however. Upstream may fairly often reject a specific implementation, but it's generally quite possible to work with them to come up with a solution for your problem which makes everyone happy.

Re:Not a total non-story (1)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 3 years ago | (#34453092)

If you're making custom software out of your OSS software, you're doing it wrong.

Not at all.

The freedom to run the program, for any purpose is Freedom 0.
The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish is Freedom 1.
The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others is Freedom 3.

If you are obligated to redistribute your modified version, then it's not a freedom at all, because you have no choice.

Re:Not a total non-story (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34453140)

I didn't say "illegally", I said "wrong"... and then gave practical reasons why it's typically in one's self-interest to contribute upstream.

As such, I have trouble considering your post anything short of an intentional misreading.

Re:Not a total non-story (3, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450410)

Of course opening the code doesn't make it automatic. But closing it often precludes such change or sophistication: when I have professional access to the software base for commercial packages, I'm often _amazed_ at the boneheaded practices I'd pull a release candidate for on the spot, and make the author go back and rewrite it during our code review meetings.

How "many eyes" work (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not a total non-story (2)

jc42 (318812) | more than 3 years ago | (#34452818)

The idea seems to be that there are just tons and tons of developers out there ...

It doesn't usually take very many software developers to make a ton.

Re:non-story (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450374)

Fortunately, GNU Hurd _is_ still written by smelly vegan hippies,,, and just look at how successful it has been!

Gnu Hurd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450480)

Development seems to be stuck in a loop of infinite recursion.

Re:non-story (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450754)

Actually, GNU HURD seems to be mainly written by academics. It suffers the fate of most similar projects - lots of technically very interesting work is going on, but there's no strong motivation to bring it to a state where it can be used by the general public.

strange brew that's also good for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450154)

That would be Kombucha.

The real question is... (3, Funny)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450220)

Is Windows written by a bunch of C# programming neophytes living in Steve Balmer's basement or huddled together in Delhi, India dormitories?

Re:The real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450336)

Yes. He's locked the door and our manager is a Viper. Send help.

Re:The real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450430)

Most of the drivers are certainly written in Asia. The rest written by the MS marketing department and then made to compile by there programmers.

big deal (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450228)

I, personally, have no problem with these developers being paid. Open source is not always free and vice versa. I think what's important is the code remaining accessible.

Not sure about the conclusion (4, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not sure about the conclusion (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450858)

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.

I think there's another piece or two as well, and I think the bit about "no license fees" is overstated. Sure, not having license fees to pay is nice, but in most cases companies who are building profitable products wouldn't care about paying some money for an OS license. They can buy something like QNX for relatively small amounts of money and customize it however they like, without the requirement that they publish their changes to potential competitors. So why don't they do that?

I think you're right that it comes down to cost, but not cost of license fees so much as cost of maintenance and cost of developer training. On the maintenance side, it's cheaper to get your improvements pushed into the Linux kernel than it is to maintain your own set of patches on top of whatever base OS you're using. I suppose it might be possible to push your additions into QNX, but it's not done that way, mostly I think because there's a reticence to give your valuable work for free to a company who will sell it back to you. In the case of Linux, the "giving back" is considered both "good citizenship in the community" and, basically, the price paid to use the OS to begin with.

A side benefit of this contribution model is that the software progresses much faster than it would if it were dependent on the work of one company, unless that company is exceptionally large and well-funded (e.g. Microsoft -- but they're reluctant to provide source in many cases).

As for developer training, Linux is available for free to anyone who wants it, so people use it and play with it themselves, and its usage in industry is widespread so many developers have experience with it from other employers. The same applies to development tooling as well.

I think the lack of license fees does play a small part as well, but mostly because it allows speculative projects to start up with very low costs, which may grow into more "serious" projects. Projects that begin with ample funding and a significant development staff wouldn't be bothered by some license fees, but are often convinced to choose Linux by the maintenance and training issues.

"Believe it or not" ... I'm a not (3, Informative)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450346)

I doubt this has been the case for 10,15 years or more. The fact is that most of these "counter culture" people are inventions of the media or hollywood and have never, really, existed in the real world. The few people who would describe themselves as such may still exist in some parts of the world, and are usually referred to as criminal hacking gangs, but they've not contributed a dam' thing to the Linux kernel.

That's not to say some individuals with long hair and others with low personal hygiene standards haven't done their bit, but those attributes don't make you counter-culture.

Just pulling this out of you know where (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450400)

It has seemed to me for a while that the really popular pieces of FOSS (or the majority) are done by professionals. The bearded, Simpson's comic book store owner types come in afterwards either to complain about how something isn't politically correct enough to get people to make a castrated, completely free version of it. That or they pop up on Slahsdot talking like they are the ones who built the stuff and dissing people who want the software to be friendly.

not really the point (3, Insightful)

ninja59 (1029474) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:not really the point (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34452126)

Someone should also point out that it wasn't started as such and that it's openness helped entrepreneurs create many of these companies that now pay people to give back - sure Red Hat pays people to develop Linux but if there was no Linux to begin with there would be no Red Hat. Not all of the companies that develop it were sprung from it, but I think we can all agree the profiting from it came before the assistance to it.

Re:not really the point (2)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 3 years ago | (#34453036)

It was always people from major companies and universities. Read the names and affiliations of the people listed in the man pages :) (-- there's a history of development there).

This is how OSS is SUPPOSED to work (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Define "better software" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450442)

Does that include full 64-bit compliance? If so, Linux fails [spinics.net] :

While you guys are at it, you might consider preventing sendto(), etc.
calls from requesting >= 2GB data in one go. Several families have no
restrictions on total size (or even worse, assign the size to a signed
int type and then do a signed comparison as a check). This can result
in all kinds of ugliness when allocating sk_buffs based on that size,
some of which result in kernel panics (due to bad sk_buff tail position)
or heap corruption.

Well, that's not an unreasonable limit, you say?

Yep, because 640K, errr, 2GB should be enough for anyone.

The opposite side of the coin (1)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450454)

I think what's worth equal amount of attention (and probably harder to get real data on) is the willingness to accept new code for the kernel, and how it relates to the same willingness on the part of the distros to accept new code. I'm not a C programmer, so I can only speculate about this, but I'd imagine that you'd have to cry pretty loudly in order to get code you've written accepted into the Linux Kernel project, just as the same would probably have to do the same for some of the major corporate-backed distros to accept new code. By contrast, I'm pretty sure that if you contribute a bugfix to Arch or Crux they'd probably take you seriously.

Corporate-backed distros often have support plans that they profit from. They also have in-house technology running the same software they're developing. If one of their paid developers notices a problem and it's a kernel problem rather than a problem specific to their distro, it only makes sense that those who are paid to work on Linux for a living would be taken the most seriously when it comes to making changes to the Linux kernel itself.

Yeah methodology (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450466)

No it's the elimination of "copyright" that makes it good, dumb ass.

wrong conclusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450512)

over 70% paid developers means less than 30% unpaid developers. That means about three paid developers for every unpaid developer. For a project of that size and importance for many companies it is still an impressing number of unpaid developers.

cb

Re:wrong conclusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450578)

over 70% paid developers means less than 30% unpaid developers. That means about three paid developers for every unpaid developer.

About two, you moron.

Isn't this how it should work? (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450524)

Isn't at least some of the point of open source that people and companies who develop software for their own use share it with others? If we do this as a community, we lower the cost of computing, and keep the software closer to the actual needs of the users.

Paid Developers Power the Linux Kernel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450574)

"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...

- I have not seen that attitude expressed in 10 years or more. Most people I know that aren't Linux savvy, but know of it, assume the distro's are created by shirt and tie folk, who work in a nice office with cool things like spreadsheets and deadlines, and project managers! OooOOoooo...

To those of you who earn a paycheck writing the coolest, professional OS out there.. Good for you.. and Thank You!
To those of you who contribute your time and expertise for free.. Thank You! A labour of love is a bitch to cash at the bank.
To those of you who just use Linux..Thank You, you are helping to spread the word at the friend and grandma level.

 

Re:Paid Developers Power the Linux Kernel (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450716)

i still do both. being my paycheck comes from being a linux network admin but my code still free.

its natural (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 3 years ago | (#34450674)

little story for me hear. typical user wanting to get away from the windows lockfdown. went to linux over the years got good with it. offered help to people on irc still do. but one daya i helped the right guy heh and got hired in to manage his coprate server systems. so now im payed. linux devs probly whent threw the same transsion from the hobbyist in a basement to working on paid dev.

Re:its natural (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34450812)

Unfortunately, all those years spent on IRC have degraded your spelling, grammar, and capitalization abilities. Let this be a lesson to everybody.

Re:its natural (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34451914)

once you learn to type at 240wpm, to ATTEMPT to keep up with the 20 people you're trying to help in IRC, your spelling will go too. :P

Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34451158)

It's just a way of saying everybody needs to eat.

Featured on Slashdot in August of 09 (2)

ojintoad (1310811) | more than 3 years ago | (#34451210)

The Myth of the Isolated Kernel Hacker [slashdot.org]

Ant writes...

"The Linux Foundation's report (PDF) on who writes Linux — "... Linux isn't written by lonely nerds hiding out in their parents' basements. It's written by people working for major companies — many of them businesses that you probably don't associate with Linux. To be exact, while 18.2% of Linux is written by people who aren't working for a company, and 7.6% is created by programmers who don't give a company affiliation, everything else is written by someone who's getting paid to create Linux. From top to bottom, of the companies that have contributed more than 1% of the current Linux kernel, the list looks like this: ..."

Sorry CNET, you're just a tad late on Computer World on this one [computerworld.com] .

Not the way forward. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34451424)

Getting paid as a F/OSS developer is selling out.

Re:Not the way forward. (3, Insightful)

Izaak (31329) | more than 3 years ago | (#34452358)

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.

Cathedral and Bazaar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34451690)

More like the Cathedral and the other Cathedral.

I'm one of those paid kernel developers (4, Interesting)

Izaak (31329) | more than 3 years ago | (#34452120)

I've been working as an embedded Linux developer for almost a decade now, and yes, most of us kernel hackers are paid for our work. For example, right now I'm working for a major microchip manufacturer that wants to make sure their products are fully supported by Linux. Consequently, they fund teams of open source developers (often hired through big name consulting firms) to port the kernel to their latest CPU's, develop drivers for integrated peripherals, etc. Just look at the email addresses in the submit logs for major open source projects. You will see ibm.com, intel.com, ti.com, redhat.com, windriver.com ..., and many, many more big commercial technology companies. Its been this way for a while, which is why I would always laugh whenever some MS fanboy would try to denigrate Linux programmers as a bunch of basement dwellers. I make a better than average living from Linux coding, with multiple job offers right now, even in this horrid economy.

This is also why I have no worries about Microsoft ever killing off Linux. There are far too many companies making far too much money from Linux based products in market niches that MS has no traction in. The embedded and mobile markets are pretty much owned by Linux, and those are pretty much the only tech sectors seeing strong growth right now. If you haven't yet added Linux skills to your resume, do it.

If anyone wants to ask me about the Linux / embedded / open source consulting world, go ahead and post your questions. I'll check back and answer if I can.

In Cambridge? (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 3 years ago | (#34453016)

>or huddled together in Cambridge, Mass. group-houses.

Fandom House was in Somerville, blocks away from Cambridge. And to be clear, most of the people living there a) had worked at BBN at some point and b) earned over $100K/yr in current dollars. (The house on Linnean St. was in Cambridge, true, but I might point out that the basement their was converted into a sauna level with five cold and hot pools, hardly what the OP implies.)

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...