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Why Do People Write Open Source Software?

CowboyNeal posted more than 11 years ago | from the why-and-the-who dept.

GNU is Not Unix 283

M.Broil writes "Two interesting articles try to answer this question. One's at NewsForge, the other's at Cybernaut.com. The two writers reach conclusions that are almost exactly opposite. Which one is right? Or is it possible that different open source coders have different motivations? (That's what I think, anyway.)" I suspect as well that each developer has their own reason, ranging from ego to malcontent to benevolence.

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FIRST POST@#!&$*@!#& (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814532)

fdhYFUEDY*(&ER@#*(UYDhsaojksaf

fsdajflskdahf!!

Re:FIRST POST@#!&$*@!#& (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814664)

Because the idea of using Unix software on a Fagintosh just makes them want to puke. Who wants to enrich a blue-jeaned, turtlenecked snack oil salesman when you can get and write much better stuff yourself for free?

Re:FIRST POST@#!&$*@!#& (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814675)

Er, that's "snake" oil salesman. Just thought I'd clear that up before the words "fucking spastic" appeared.

By the way, all Fagintosh users have at least 1/128 French blood coursing through their veins.

Re:FIRST POST@#!&$*@!#& (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814685)

In the case of Apple lemmings, don't you really mean "1/3" French blood? Think about it.

Also, why do they call it "frenching"? You know, IT.

Re:FIRST POST@#!&$*@!#& (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814696)

Hey shut up, asshole. Macintosh users are people too and they don't need your contempt. "A tree is a boy is a frog is an Apple user."

Towelboy Kneel (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814704)

Hey, can anybody say why Sowboi Squeal is such a fat fucking oinking pig?

The better question is.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814533)

Why do they only half write it?

Re:The better question is.. (5, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814572)

As the author of a cryptographic toolkit [libtomcrypt] and a bignum toolkit [libtommath], both of which are written in portable ISO C, build out of the box on any GCC equipped machine and generally perform reasonably decent I have two cents to offer.

As an OSS developer myself I have to say that it is not that I'm not willing to go all the way with a complete product it is often that the end users themselves are not willing to put in the effort to review it.

For instance, combined 500 people have downloaded the recent releases of my libraries. Which doesn't seem like a lot except that crypto libraries are generally not horded that much.

Often I will go months before receiving anything from anyone. Whenever a bug is found I often fix it within a few hours at most. Mostly I find the bugs in the libraries as I wander through it.

Though my projects are "limited" scale I bet similar reasoning applies to larger scale projects. If a developer doesn't get user feedback its not only hard to fix bugs they don't know about but often discouraging to continue development.

Tom

BTW my libs are at http://libtomcrypt.org for the curious....

Re:The better question is.. (5, Insightful)

Nick of NSTime (597712) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814676)

Conversely, if you charged for it, people would bitch about it all the time.

Re:The better question is.. (1, Interesting)

biz0r (656300) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814772)

I can relate as I have experienced the same thing. Hell...visit my website...the one project I have up there (removed all of my exremely old ones) currently hasn't been updated in almost a year, why? Because I never hear anything from any users about what features they like/don't like/want added etc. I guess thats ok though...because work has kept me too busy to mess with OSS lately anyhow. Gotta pay the bills first you know...

When? (4, Funny)

Blaine Hilton (626259) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814537)

Wonder when the local collage will be offering "Open-Source Psychology 101"...

Go calculate [webcalc.net] something

Re:When? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814551)

I think you mean "college" you fucking spastic

Re:When? (1)

The Herbaliser (660976) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814639)

do you think the local college will offer eng102: open-source spelling?

Re:When? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814654)

I can imagine what 'Open-Source spelling' would look like after having seen some of the horrors perpetrated here - be very efraid! (I was going to write 'efreyd' but then everyone knows how to spell 'raid')

Re:When? (1)

UserGoogol (623581) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814677)

You misunderstood him. You must never have seen those magnificent "Collages of Learning." Covered with tiny bits of knowledge on a given topic, they are incredibly amusing ways to learn.

You get some pictures from the subject and scatter them freely. Then you take some various articles on the subject and quote as wildly as possible as you can without losing the content of the original articles. (Down to sentence level mainly.)

So you go:

[Linux is a very powerful operating system.][Many explain Linux's strengths by its Open Source nature.] instead of [Linux is][powerful][,][natur][a][l][and][good].

Of course, many colleges sponsor these Learning Collages, so you might have been confused by that point. MIT, for instance, has one of the neater ones.

:O (2, Insightful)

burrfux (654443) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814538)

People write oss because of the fun and the experiences they get!

Re::O (4, Funny)

Blaine Hilton (626259) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814546)

Hmmm also a good thing to do while waiting for the next job.

Most open source coders (-1, Troll)

unterderbrucke (628741) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814540)

Most open source coders just write for the sense of community, the bragging rights, and the ability to put it on their resume. Unfortunately, this leads to the building of integral applications for a platform, and the building of concept applications for a platform, but there is no building of "in-between" applications, such as games and media servers.

What open source needs to do:
1. stop focusing on programming the new hot stuff, focus on the stuff you missed in between text-editing and a 3D GUI.
2. look up the keywords of a SourceForge project you want to start on SourceForge before you start it. If there's another similar project, just missing features from your idea, work on that instead.
3. make things easy to use. have your uncle come over and try to work your program. observe what gives him trouble, fix it.

One last final point: Open source was doomed from the beginning. Yes, it's a blanket statement that sounds ridiculous. Keep reading. Open source is based on the very principles of communism: everyone works on it, everyone owns it. The very thing that led to the collapse of Communism leads to the inability of open source to become popular: workers then tend to migrate quickly, and not work hard, since they can't gain anything from working on one thing hard. So, projects die as they become less "hot" to work on. People ignore the basic fundamentals required (a decent media server), and instead work on a 3D GUI for X. God knows how you'll fix this problem. Call me if you do, that way I can start my own perfect county based on Communism.

Re:Most open source coders (0)

gobbligook (465653) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814559)

I don't believe just because work is shared it should necessarily be compared to communism. Communism was a whole philosophy and society. Open source coding is equivelent to having a huge project team, and sharing that work with anyone who is interested.

People don't have to code open source, but people had to be communist over in the USSR. Quite a difference. Forcing people into a belief or way of life is doomed. remember "you can lead a horse to water but you cant make him drink" open source coders are drinking, and non-open source are being led, but not yet drinking

Noone was forced to be a communist in the USSR! (1)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814765)

Correction: Nobody was _forced_ to be a communist in USSR. The constitution stated freedom of thought etc, it wasn't against the law not to be a communist. You could live all life without being a member of the Party (and being a member didn't mean that you're a communist, usually people joined the Party because you couldn't go abroad if you weren't a Party member...). According to the constitution everyone was free to found their own party or express their thoughts in any other way. It just happened that the KGB (which no law mentioned as far as I know) didn't like it. So, nobody forced the people in USSR to be communists, but they strongly suggested it...

Re:Noone was forced to be a communist in the USSR! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814815)

no one was forced, but the kgb would come after you if you spoke out against the establishment.

Sounds like forcing to me.

If I were to go on to the steps of the white house and say I was communist, what kind of reaction would I get? Opposite is true for ussr. I were capitalist, the kgb would "gently corerce" me to shut up.
Sounds like forcing to me.

Re:Most open source coders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814560)

This is a copy and paster karma whore

Re:Most open source coders (1)

schmink182 (540768) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814777)

...As shown here [slashdot.org] .

Re:Most open source coders (5, Interesting)

bluesangria (140909) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814571)

One last final point: Open source was doomed from the beginning. Yes, it's a blanket statement that sounds ridiculous. Keep reading. Open source is based on the very principles of communism: everyone works on it, everyone owns it. The very thing that led to the collapse of Communism leads to the inability of open source to become popular: workers then tend to migrate quickly, and not work hard, since they can't gain anything from working on one thing hard.

Actually, I disagree that communism failed because people got tired of contributing. In my opinion, there really hasn't been a "ideological" communist state to exist yet. Russia and Cuba are both just glorified dictatorships, not communist states - no matter how much they claim otherwise. Their governments ended up hoarding all the resources and not really giving back to the people they governed.
Getting back to open source software, however, a key difference is that you can LEAVE an open source project whenever you feel like. Do some people have the attention span of mayflies? Sure. But sometimes they just need a break to be able to get back into the project. Since this is their personal interest, it's less likely to be subjected to permanent disinterest. Somewhere, somebody loves everykind of project.

blue

Re:Most open source coders (1)

10Ghz (453478) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814624)

Russia and Cuba are both just glorified dictatorships, not communist states - no matter how much they claim otherwise


Russia??? I assume you mean former Soviet Union.

Re:Most open source coders (0)

gobbligook (465653) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814653)

last time I checked russia was not communist.

communism ended with the breakup of the USSR. (In that part of the world anyway)

Re:Most open source coders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814687)

So are you saying Russia <i>IS</i> a communist state?

Re:Most open source coders (1)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814680)

I assume you mean China, not Russia. Or have you been asleep for the last 15 or so years?

Does any open-source software come out of Cuba or Other Socialist States (OSS)? Since scope for profit-making is rather limited there (and most of these states have a very good education system), I would imagine that some of the disincentives applying here would not apply to people living there.

Re:Most open source coders (2, Insightful)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814755)

Russia and Cuba are both just glorified dictatorships, not communist states - no matter how much they claim otherwise. Their governments ended up hoarding all the resources and not really giving back to the people they governed.

That's because when you have free will, you choose not to live under an unfair system of sharing everything between everyone, no matter what their merit. When most people have free will, they believe they should receive similar to what they give. If you work hard, you get more. If you don't work hard, you get less.

Re:Most open source coders (2, Insightful)

infiniti99 (219973) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814608)

...this leads to the building of integral applications for a platform, and the building of concept applications for a platform, but there is no building of "in-between" applications...

Then pay them to! What does this have to do with Open Source?

What is the "open source" you speak of? (4, Interesting)

jaaron (551839) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814622)

What is the "open source" you speak of?

What open source needs to do:... blah blah blah

Sorry, but this concept really drives me up a wall. What centralized 'open source' organization are you talking about? Open source isn't a single group. It isn't a solid movement. It isn't a company or even a consistent culture. Heck, I'm on open source developer, but I have no connections with most major projects individuals think of when they say 'open source.' Sure you have the FSF and the Apache Software Foundatation. There are larger projects like Gnome and KDE and the Linux Kernal. We also have some companies like Red Hat and SuSE. But they all distinct entities! They often disagree with one another. They often disagree internally! So let's repeat it again: There is NO open source master plan!

Despite what anyone tells you, the 'open source' you speak of is a loose connection of individuals each with their own interests and reasons for contributing. And no open source developer has any obligation to make a peice of software any better for you as a user anymore than you do! I'm doing this as a hobby. Because I like it. Because I want to. Because it's fun. And if I don't want to build "in-between" programs like games or media servers, then that's fine. Who are you to tell me I should. Heck, I don't even have to make my software, which I write and give away FOR FREE, any more user friendly than I want it to be. If you want something more user friendly, then WRITE IT YOURSELF!

I can't stand it when open source users cry about why "open source" is going to fail or why the software sucks. Well, the beauty of it is, if you really think that, go over to sourceforge and start your own! Or maybe you could spend some time writing some documentation, or funding the project (in which case the developer would have an obligation to listen) or maybe even submit some code yourself.

But one last time: OPEN SOURCE IS NOT A SINGULAR MOVEMENT. Each developer does it for his or her own reasons and in most cases that means that they'll write and develop what they want to. No one beyond ESR or RMS has ever promised anything more. Linus sure hasn't. So before you claim the movement will never work, you might want to check if there's really a movement to begin with.

/me steps off soapbox and returns to coding

big difference: (1)

The Herbaliser (660976) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814663)

when people working on an open source project get lazy, the software stagnates for a while until someone who isn't so lazy takes over.

when people growing food in the USSR got lazy (or got purged as the case may be), people starved to death, and the person who wasn't so lazy couldn't take over, because he was probably dead or in a gulag or something.

Re:Most open source coders (2, Interesting)

GrubInCan (624096) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814667)

Well I've seen lots of dupe articles, but a dupe comment [slashdot.org] (although I notice you removed the opening paragraph that made you sound really stupid).
I guess you didn't get enough responses to your Communism troll that time.

Re:Most open source coders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814673)

Deja Vu? [slashdot.org]

Why didn't you reply to the thread that followed the last time you posted that nonsense?

To the non german readers (and moderators!) around here: unter der Brücke = under the bridge. Either he's a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, or..

Re:Most open source coders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814691)

Somone mod this guy way down, the same comment is posted to every artical that has anything to do with oss an quality:-)

I disagree (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814711)

> So, projects die as they become less "hot" to work on.

So do commercial products. If noone bought Windows, do you think they'd continue selling it?

I am an OSS developer. Here's my three reasons why:

1. I want to make the world a better place by contributing with free software. It may not be much, but it helps.

2. Credit. Dislike it if you will, but being an OSS developer is a nice way to show off your code. Read some of the the OpenBSD sources and be impressed. Those guys really know how to code, and the proof rests within the source.

3. I am a "hobby communist". I believe in the communist system - and don't be afraid, communism isn't about torture and repression. The theory behind real communism is sharing the goods.

(But hey, don't get me wrong, not all OSS developers are communists :-D)

So, projects die as they become less "hot" to work on. ...or they are finished, no more work required. That happens too, you know.

Re:Most open source coders (1)

broody (171983) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814729)

How many times have you cutNpaste'd that little snippet? How many clueless moderators have given you points?

You could at least wait a few days before posting the same old tripe [slashdot.org] .

Re:Most open source coders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814741)

Yo, "was doomed"? Do you work for CNN? If not, don't write obits until death occurs!

Open source is not based on the "very principles of communism". So although I agree that communism in any real sense won't succeed, I disagree that it is a valid analogy.

One of the problems with your analysis is its underlying assumption it is a problem that what you consider to be basic fundamentals (a decent media server) are ignored.

Not to mention assumptions that these things (you want) are ignored!

Yes, your blanket statement sound ridiculous and it is because it is ridiculous. Examine your assumptions (hint: there are more than what I mentioned), argue them, then move on to blanket statements.

On the other hand, you spell better than 90% of slashdot's usual crowd of semi-literates ;-)

Re: Communism (2, Interesting)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814829)

Communism has never collapsed, because... ...it has never even existed. USSR was a socialist country, so were all its satellites. Socialism was suppposed to be just a preliminary stage before communism, which never was.

Communism doesn't mean that "everyone works on it", it means only that everyone owns it. In USSR, everything belonged to the state which was supposed to belong to the people, so theoretically I as a citizen of the USSR (only a child back then) owned a microscopic share of everything, but didn't work anywhere.

The idea that communism is "everyone gets paid the same, no matter what they do" is wrong. Being equal didn't, according to (Neo-)Marxist theory mean "finishing the same" (=getting paid the same), but having the same starting position - equal opportunities to get a good education etc. It's kind of the same in the Open Source community - you get your name higher in the list, if you do more work (correct me if I'm wrong), and some people get paid for working on some certain thing.

Why do some projects get "less hot" do work on? Maybe it's because there's nothing more to do?

Simple... (3, Funny)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814541)

Just to piss off Microsoft.

Re:Simple... (1)

schmink182 (540768) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814819)

Disclaimer: I know your comment was a joke.

As was noted in the discussion of a recent Slashdot article, if OSS really is motivated by hatred of MS, then if MS fails OSS will stop. Perhaps people with that motive should find others.

different people different motovations (3, Interesting)

gobbligook (465653) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814542)

some write for recognition, some write for pleasure, some write just cause they are anti-corporation/microsoft.

I personally write cause it passes the time, and because some projects I can submit and get marks in my classes at university for the projects I do.

I guess to answer you have to examine (or almost have to) a persons beliefs and lifestyle. I believe open source is the way to go for most things, some I don't however.

They still don't get it?? (5, Interesting)

bluesangria (140909) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814544)

This one of those "well DUH!" kinda articles.

Does it really take people that long to understand that someone may want to create something just for the sheer joy of creating something useful or helpful? How the hell do you explain drawing, music, painting, etc.? Jesus, corporate-boneheads must think everybody is a greedy, sonuvabitch driven only by monetary compensation.

blue

Re:They still don't get it?? (1)

Jrod5000 at RPI (229934) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814581)

that depends. sure some people do drawing, music, and painting as hobbies, but many people profit from them too.

Re:They still don't get it?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814723)

No, MOST people do these things as hobbies and FEW people profit from them.

Re:They still don't get it?? (0, Flamebait)

Jrod5000 at RPI (229934) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814840)

No, YOU are stupid and FEW people are more stupid.

Re:They still don't get it?? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814595)

The same as with the drawing, music and painting you mention, OSS is written for many reasons.

Some people feed their ego. Others feel it's a benefit to humanity or computing as a whole. Some will find it just easy to do and code to fill in time. Still more will do it because they have a need for a certain app. Some will practice coding, and others to learn, and yes some because creating anything is just kinda cool.

Re:They still don't get it?? (4, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814682)

Even the "selfish" reasons that can motivate OSS developers don't involve a monetary transaction. The resume-building aspect can, in economic terms, be considered an investment in human capital, an investment made with time and effort, not dollars. For many would-be IS professionals, they may not have the financial resources to take a certified class in $hotnewtech, but jumping in on an OSS project can provide similar benefits. It's a nice alternative means of building a skilled workforce.

Simple (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814545)

Cause they can't get a job with Microsoft.

Microsoft (1, Redundant)

Penguuu (263703) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814547)

Because Microsoft won't hire me :-(

OS - why? (5, Insightful)

haxor.dk (463614) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814548)

Because opennes implies freedom. Humans like freedom.

Second, because we have bad experiences with Microsoft. Microsoft is closed. Proprietary. Restrictive. Opressive. User hostil. Unreliable.

Etc.

Mt. Everest (5, Insightful)

finkeldude (656569) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814555)

Because it's not there.

local government ::: OSS (5, Insightful)

dollargonzo (519030) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814557)

it seems to me that people get into OSS for the same reason they might get into local government (i.e. small town politics). if someone is interested in government and politics, they try to do something locally first, because a) people will let them and b) there is less bureaucracy. there is usually little or no pay when involved in local government, but just like working on OSS, it gives a good resume boost and gives valuable experience. i guess the only difference is that local government is not aiming to be a competitor to higher authorities :)

its the new rock & roll (-1)

Miguel de Icaza (660439) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814561)

i am so famous i get recognised on the street, and KDE fanboys at conferences sometimes throw eggs at me :^)

Two reasons... (5, Insightful)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814565)

...to make the world a better place, and just because you can.

money/fame (2, Insightful)

LinuxXPHybrid (648686) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814566)

Yeah... they appear to come to opposite conclusions, but if you read both, they suggest what sounds very familiar; money/fame (NewsForge one suggests money (kind of) and Cybernaut suggests fame (kind of). When we look at companies like Microsoft, Macromedia, and Adobe, open source appears to be some bizarre stuff that geeks do, but at the end of the day, it's backed up by reasons that create much of today's society; money/fame.

pfft (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814568)

The real question is why do people release their code open source. I agree that most of the projects really do start as scratching one's own itch. When you've got someone worthy of release, then you think: wow, I've gotten so much elite software, it would be awesome to give something out myself. That's what motivated me to do it -- and I'd already written everything for a specific purpose, and really had nothing to gain.

Why I wrote it. (5, Interesting)

questamor (653018) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814576)

I wrote mine and released it OSS for one reason - laziness.

One was a simple addressbook, 2 were games, and one a graphics prog - the latter for Commodore 64s.

I released them all as free software, source included, and didn't know what the GPL was at the time. All the same it was open source, simply because I couldn't be bothered with the marketing/distribution/etc. I may have sold them as shareware or donationware had I a strong enough urge to, but for me the majority of the fun was in writing the programs themselves. Getting money for them seemed more work than I could be bothered putting into it

The same answer to different questions? (4, Interesting)

Gefiltefish (125066) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814579)


I'm sure nobody can say why exactly people write open source software because different people are quite likely to have different motives. That said, I think we can look to Slashdot posters for equivalence on at least a few levels.

I say this because I've often wondered to myself, "Self, why do you spend at least a few minutes each week drafting comments to slashdot postings?" And the answer, just for me, varies depending on the day, the post, and my mood.

Some days I post to avoid work and flex, perhaps, a different part of my brain. The same might be said for some authors or contributors to open source software.

Other days, I post because an article catches my interest and I have something compelling to say. Again, the same might be said about open source programmers. They contribute to projects about which they are passionate.

Other days, I post to get a rise out of others or to simply be an attention-seeking karma whore. Surely, some open source programmers contribute for recognition, status, or props from their peers.

My bet is that most people write open source software for many reasons and that, even for an individual, those reasons change from one day to the next.

OPEN SOURCE PROGRAMMING ~= SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY (3, Interesting)

Musashi Miyamoto (662091) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814583)

I think there are a few reasons.

First, most OSS developers do not think they can make money selling their software. They think that software that sells needs to be super stable and perfect, with a perfect UI and a large advertising budget... Though, shareware shows that this does not have to be the case.

They do not realize that they are taking food out of their future mouths.

Think about this.

When someone makes a scientific discovery, usually, thier discovery becomes part of the public domain and everyone can use it without paying royalties. On the other hand, when someone writes closed source software, they must be paid whenever anyone wants to use that software.

Open source software (via the GPL in particular) causes software development to resemble scientific research, as you give your "inventions" to the public domain, allowing others to improve and advance the "science". The progess is then cumulative (or can be), as other programmers add to existing sofware and improve on it.

Re:OPEN SOURCE PROGRAMMING ~= SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY (4, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814683)

They do not realize that they are taking food out of their future mouths.

What a load of crap.

Among my projects is a class I released to phpbuilder.com's "shared code library". It is a method for web servers to send emails through a remote MTA. (PHP's "mail()" function only works on *nix if you have sendmail installed)

By releasing this library into the public (under the LGPL) I've seen it grow and get better as others have used it, and occasionally, tweaked it to fit their needs.

Why people release software to the public is different for each person. It's really like asking: "Why do people drive on freeways?" or, "Why do people dig with shovels?".

Open source licensing is a tool. Different folks use that tool for different reasons. The point, however, is that we *have* this tool, and isn't it kinda neat?

Re:OPEN SOURCE PROGRAMMING ~= SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814809)

Musashi Miyamoto (662091) = pwned~

YOU SIR are a FAGGOT and a WHORE (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814823)

That would make you a FAGWHORE

Speaking from personal experience (1)

lushpuppy (668489) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814585)

Open Source Programmers write code because the creative act gets them high. Speaking as a man whose worked in several mediums, that's the invariable reason in all creative acts. The "love of that goal down the road" is no sustenance. Simple. (In "high" read "esthetically satisfying", "morally satisfying", um... HIGH).

They are employed by large corporations. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814590)

For example, AOL pays for most of Mozilla, Sun for most of Apache and Openoffice.org, IBM for most of Linux kernel, Red Hat and Sun for GNOME...

Most people who develop for the big open source projects work directly or indirectly (through sponsorship of individual developers and smaller companies) for large corporations.

I'm sure most open source developers are there to scratch the itch, but those low profile projects are often less complete, more buggy, and entirely redundant.

Because its a conspiracy? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814592)

Its a conspirary to bring down microsoft. All these "open source" developers are employees of SUN Microsystems, IBM and HP in an attempt to bankrupt Microsoft. GNU is just another department of SUN. SCO was in it too.

There are no more that 500 "open source" programmers...

Linus Torvalds was an agent initially working for KGB and then CIA when the wall went down in Finland. Alan Cox is part of MIT and the Israeli intelligence service.

peer pressure (2, Interesting)

audiophilia (516688) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814593)

everybody's doing it.

why i realease as open-source (4, Interesting)

cribb (632424) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814594)

i think i am not the only person who does this:
my boss tells me: We need a program that does foo
So i write the program that does foo, and if i decide that it could potentially be useful to someone else except me, i release it as open-source. I get enough money from my job, and have to write the program anyway. It's not like i'm obsessed with the thought of one day writing the killer program that everyone simply has to have and that i'm gonna become a millionaire from selling it.

Why open-source? Because my software will be customized for our machines, our OS and it may not work anywhere else. So instead of someone else reinventing the wheel, he could just as well check freshmeat, get my program and it would hopefully work with some minor modifications.

That's not your decision (1)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814643)

my boss tells me: We need a program that does foo. So i write the program that does foo, and if i decide that it could potentially be useful to someone else except me, i release it as open-source.

Generally, you cannot do that. If you're working for someone and you produce something, then the rights for that work belong to them, and not you. Therefore, they need to control how that product is licenced.

Of course, if your boss is some schmuck who doesn't know anything about coding, business, or the law, then sure.. release it. But, technically, they own your work unless you signed a contract stating otherwise.

Re:why i realease as open-source (1)

foo1752 (555890) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814652)

You must work for an interesting place. When my boss tells me, "We need a program that does foo." and I write said program, I am legally obligated to NOT release the source code for it. It doesn't matter that I would release it just to prevent other people from having to reinvent the wheel. The code that I write at work is owned by the company that I work for and needs to stay at work.

I work for a large American company that, among other things, designs mobile phones. I write a lot of tools that are specific to this line of work and are really only useful to help me and my coworkers get our jobs done faster. If I were to fill out the right set of paperwork, I would probably be able to release this code to the world, but no one would care.

Of course, there is also the code that I write that goes into the mobile phones that I work on. There is no set of paperwork that I could file that would let the company say that I could release this code, but yet, I'm sure that there are more than a few people that would be interested in seeing it.

uh oh for you (1)

xintegerx (557455) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814703)

Your company owns everything you do on company time. Even if it was a personal project on company time, they own it. So the information you are distributing is illegal, pirated, in violation of a trade-secret, etc. In your case, it wasn't even a personal project.

I'm not even talking about any job contract you might have signed when offered the job... I think it's standard law that one's employer owns whatever you do/make/invent/create during the hours you being paid to do stuff for him/her.

What about laziness? (5, Interesting)

richieb (3277) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814597)

I think most programmers get tired of doing the same thing over and over again, especially as you move from job to job. I had convinced several companies I worked for to release some of the software as open source, mostly so I can use it in the next job.

For example, this project [sourceforge.net] was part of code we build at a startup (now defunct). Since then I used it in two other jobs. The team that build this software to start with, is still using it at several different companies.

So, rather than building the same thing again and again, I got to build it once and then since it's open source, I get to use it as long as I need.

Why DO people write open source software?? (2, Interesting)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814599)

fame, [slashdot.org] notoriety, [slashdot.org] power [slashdot.org] and cold hard cash. [slashdot.org] ...not to mention the many lucrative job oppurtunities! [slashdot.org]

The Mother of Invention (1)

johnos (109351) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814611)

I agree that there are many motives for people doing anything. But a big motive is play. Because necessity isn't the mother of invention, play is. Not just throwing the baseball, or playing BF1942, but serious play as well. People like to play with things that they are interested in. It keeps them interested. They also want to show their best. Open Source is an arena to show what they can do.

Someone said here one day that nobody writes a sales database 8hrs a day because they enjoy it. But someone who writes code 8 hrs a day needs to enjoy coding. Play is what we call it when they have fun with code into the night after their 8rs are over. Well, play is what I call it. Others call it "free" work. And they wonder why people will "work" for nothing. These are people who measure accomplishment only by money.

Here are two reasons..... (5, Interesting)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814612)

In my own case I do it for two reasons...
1. To show my customer that I can bring them a wealth of functionality with no additional cost (which goes a LONG way towards explaining why we keep getting awarded our military contract year after year even though our expense is a little higher than our competition)
2. To level the playing field and to empower the little guy. Here's a great example, travel agents are being put out of business slowly but surely by airlines and GDSs (SABRE, WorldSpan, etc) by the way of no commissions, etc.

Orbitz, a collusion between carriers to control the distribution channel for tickets, does things like sends ticket holders a notification if their flight is late and so on. Travel Agents have not had that ability until now. They CAN use such CRS solutions like Virtually There and so on but SABRE strips the customer data and will market to their customers behind their backs bypassing the payment of any commisions. This lack of commission is pretty huge. Imagine if your travel agency was turning 10 million dollars worth of revenue for the airlines to get nothing in return?

I created a Perl app called TripTiger [travelagencyhosting.com] that parses CRS terminal data and stores it on the travel agent's web server and stores it in a MySQL database.

The CRS cannot harvest their customers emails, I can have a Perl script running via a cron job to check flight information and send notifications but MOST importantly travel agencies can now control their customer data.

TripTiger is FREE to all trave agencies and they don't have to host with my service at all. It's more important to keep them in business by demonstrating their value to the customer and this helps.

Open Source hasn't crashed the travel technology party and I am trying to help make that happen. Otherwise travel agencies aren't going to be in business much longer.

By the way, I have placed TripTiger on Sourceforge [sourceforge.net] but am having some difficulty with file uploads if anyone can offer advice. I have the spirit just not a master at the mechanics yet.

They write it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814613)

up until they get bored with it, and then they give it to people and say, "Oh, that feature? I never really finished it. Here's the source code. Have a ball."

And then people wonder why Linux will never go mainstream -- imagine a WHOLE OPERATING PLATFORM written like that.

Simple answer (2, Insightful)

Jacek Poplawski (223457) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814614)

We write Open Source software because THIS IS FUN.

Linux is Ripped Off (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814620)

the emperor has no clothes.

all of the decent linux code was written by the folks at SCO, hijacked by IBM, put into the code tree by Linus, and all of a sudden its open source.

Re:Linux is Ripped Off (1)

shrinkwrap (160744) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814749)

"the emperor has no clothes..."

Never tell the Emperor he has no clothes . . .

. . . instead, tell him he's got great legs!

because it's fun (2, Interesting)

brosmike (662936) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814626)

Personally, I think that programming is fun. Sure, it's not as good as gaming, but sometimes I really don't feel like racking my mind with anything but code. Making it open source lets people comment on my poor programming habits, which in turn makes me a better programmer. I think. :) Plus, it's amusing to see the reactions when I give my classmates [I'm twelve ;) ] a link to the source code.

Another reason (2, Interesting)

Chief Crazy Chicken (36416) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814636)

Off-the-shelf games have a terribly short life span. Other software does as well, but I reached this line of thought through the avenue of games. The general industry now uses a model of approximately "realease slightly premature, patch twice, move on to another product".

As such, if there's a particular type of game that you like to play a lot, over a period of many years, you have what I see are two choices: play a series of disconnected commercial games that come somewhat close to giving you the feeling of having played that sort of game for a while, or play an open source game of your chosen genre.

That's the reason to play. The reason to code is to put back into the community -- either you want to see a change to match your style, or you just want to do something to make sure that this product is still around for you in a few years.

It is quite simple really (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814637)


Eric S. Raymond (who is an asshole btw), wrote an entire book on why people write open source software, and why people use open source software. I can sum up the actual reasons in two sentences, one for each.

People write OSS because everyone wants to be a Rock Star.

People use OSS because everyone loves free shit, especially when it isn't taboo to complain about the free shit.

Was that so hard Eric??

Because no one else did. (3, Interesting)

iFlynn (668727) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814651)

This is such a simple subject it's very easy to over complicate it. While there are a variety of reasons to write any software, the overwhelming motivation for most open source software is obvious.

Someone wants an app that does X in a certain way Y. They could only find an app that does X-3 and it does it in a round about way Z. So they write an app that does X in the certain way Y and release it with the source so that others can modify it to suit their needs as well. Perhaps their mods will be benefitial to the original author as well.

Linux, Perl, blah blah blah, all started this way. It's not complicated or difficult to understand.

What's difficult to understand is why so many people release shareware that does one simple thing and expect people to pay them 20 bucks for it.

Boston Research group (5, Informative)

Sepper (524857) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814656)

Didn't the study from the Boston Research group address that question? (study done "In Cooperation with OSDN")

http://www.bcg.com/media_center/media_press_releas e_subpage72.asp

OVERALL HACKER MOTIVATIONS
  1. Intellectually stimulating 43.2
  2. Improves skill 43.2
  3. Code should be open 34.2
  4. Non-work functionality 30.2
  5. Work functionality 30.0
  6. Obligation from use 28.3
  7. Work with team 20.1
  8. Professional status 17.4
  9. Other 16.3
  10. Open Source reputation 11.5
  11. Beat proprietary software 11.3
  12. License forces me to 0.4

Note: Question asked for top three motivators of F/OSS participation

Art (1)

Kircle (564389) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814674)

Some people say that writing open source software doesn't put food on the table. I say boo hoo! You can just eat the disks and CD-ROMs. :)

Seriously though, this analogy brings up an interesting point. You usually hear this saying in reference to some form of art: painting, writing, acting, etc. So when you view the act of writing open source software as a form a art that people enjoy (not as just "work"), then it starts to make perfect sense.

Chicks (1)

siliconjunkie (413706) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814679)

Oh yeah, and the big bucks

I write closed source software (1)

Vihai (668734) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814693)

....oh... wait... the GPL is not a closed source license ?

why ask why (0, Offtopic)

10am-bedtime (11106) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814695)

flotsam and jetsam, the felled logs fill the river.
huddled and starving, i watch the runoff, and shiver.
industrious whores
duplicitous mores
happy and shouting, reduced the great forest to slivers.

a few years more of this self-induced flood
will drown all the tears and soil all the blood.
mole-like ruminition
soul-spiked extradition
can no longer find fungus in the long-buried mud.

but swamps never stand a chance against that meteor unexpected.
and insects adapt, somehow, to the sulfurous brine detected.
so i cannot but suppose
that all will decompose
and start again the cycle neither accepted nor rejected.

Re:why ask why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814789)

..... Burma Shave.

Just Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814719)

Well I've wrote a half decent bit of opensource for clans (wont shamlessly plug though).

I did it because I wanted the application myself.
Dont get to code in my job but still like coding.
Liked the idea that people could take the code and modify it to their own needs and improve some of my mistakes.
But mainly because I wanted to give something back to the web community. I've leeched of people for many a year and felt I should give somethng back.

OT: New worm (0, Offtopic)

caluml (551744) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814730)

Is there a new worm on tcp/139 and tcp/445 ?

I'm seeing loads of hits on this port on one of my boxes, but not on some others?

Open Source For Profit (4, Interesting)

AaronLuz (559686) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814733)

Reduce the cost of your tools and increase the productivity of your labor.

I've worked as a contractor on a number of database and batch environments in and around a small city. The amount of duplicated effort is astounding. Everyone has their own half-baked, written-from-scratch solution that is expensive to maintain and lacking in some respects. As a contractor, I have the advantage since I can apply some of what I learn at company X to company Y.

However, for legal reasons I need to very careful not to re-use code from one place to another. I'm also very careful not to reveal trade secrets that might seem obvious to everyone but a lawyer. Really, I think most companies see sharing of code as a legal thicket instead of a common-sense approach to saving effort.

(Now, I'm not saying a company should give away all its code, just the dull-but-imporant stuff unrelated to the core business.)

I think most of the primary contributors to significant open source projects do so with the backing of a company with an enlightened view of self-interest. I really hope this view catches on, since it would make the workdays of slobs like me that much more rewarding.

They Love Faggotry (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814736)

OSS fags want some man to man loving. They think GNU/buttsex is awesome.

in other news (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814739)

why do people help old ladys across the road?

Don't Know Why, but Maybe When? (2, Interesting)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814740)

I suspect much of it is written on company time, on the sneak, the QT... at least partly.

Assuming, of course, they're employed.

The one thing that has bothered me about OSS (I like the concept, don't get me wrong) is that writing software for free might be a coder pride thing, but folks, vanity don't pay the rent or the groceries.

Unless you're independently wealthy, you have to be doing something to pay for the pork and beans.

Or is it possible that different open source coder (5, Funny)

jasonditz (597385) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814750)

Or is it possible that different open source coders have different motivations?

No... its been my experience that every human being thinks and acts exactly the same.

There is no mystery (4, Interesting)

dsfox (2694) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814757)

Why do people wash their own cars? Cook their own food? Play their own music? Why do people pick up litter on the beach? There are plenty of reasons to do things besides wrapping them up in plastic and putting them on a store shelf. Saving money. Making money indirectly or otherwise fulfilling job or academic requirements. Enjoyment.

Why does this question even get asked? Why are people always questioning the motivation of this particular hobby or activity? It seems like someone out there would prefer that people *didn't* write open source software...

Why I write free software (2, Interesting)

aster_ken (516808) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814792)

I'm currently developing mod_highlight for Apache. It will have functionality similar to the highlighting in Google's cache. The reason I'm developing it as free software is out of good will. I sincerely hope that others can benefit from my work, and I look forward to receiving their feedback so that I can make my product better.

Releasing source code as a consultant (2, Interesting)

shrinkwrap (160744) | more than 11 years ago | (#5814798)

Whenever I release source code, it's for the reasons listed in both articles.

The NewsForge article concludes that we go open source because "there's something in it for me." And yes, that's true. My #1 marketing plan has always been, "Get it distributed; get it used; get it accepted." Open source is a great way to "get it distributed," especially for customers with thin wallets.

On the other hand, Maslow's hierarchy of needs in the Cybernaut article also applies. At this point in my career life-cycle (I'm 53), I've drawn a line and said (financially), "Enough is enough!" So, it doesn't bother me to "give it away" as much as it would have 10-20 years ago.

moron writing kode for the masses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5814834)

it's ALL about motives. if you only work for monIE, that's all you'll get.

if you work to create things that are useful to others, the results/returns are immesurable.

software WILL be free, despite the whoreabull atempts to hold IT hostage buy use of payper liesense stock markup frauds, & va lairIE's patenetdead SourceForgerIE PostBlock device, etc....

lookout bullow.
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