This editorial was originally published on February 3, 2005 editorial. Steve is on vacation, but do you think the world of Open Source has changed? I think it certainly has.
Linus Torvalds, the founder and father of Linux said this week that "Open Source is not a career path" at the ODSL's summit. That's funny, because I think most of you reading this and many people that are devout Linux users are thinking exactly that they can make a career of open source.
I've seen many open source writings about the ways you can make things work with examples such as Linus, the authors of Apache, the folks that wrote the Berkley-db, etc. and make a living. But most of these examples are people that are great programmers or technical individuals, the sort of which are rare and would probably succeed in many of their endeavors.
For the average Joe or Jane out there, we do need a career path. We are people that are happy to work and earn our money, but we're not the brightest of best stars in our areas, just competent or even very skilled individuals. For many of us, professionalism is the way and reason that we work. We take pride in what we do, and want to do well, but we don't do it for some ideal. And many of us aren't interested in continually lobbying our management that they should be spending resources and money on that ideal.
I'm sorry, I don't believe all software should be free. If people were more honest and upstanding in how they deal with code, and maybe a little less greedy, then maybe I'd be more for open source, but I think that closed source, proprietary code has a place in this world. I think programmers should be paid for their time as should companies. I think things can go too far in any direction and I'm not a huge fan of some of Microsoft's tactics to keep their platform closed or force upgrades, but I do feel that they have done lots to bring computing to the masses.
I know I'm walking the middle here, but that's how I feel. I like the idea of open source. I've learned many things from examples and other people's code, but I've also written some things that I don't want to give away for free. Nothing in this world is free. We all pay in some way. Free TV has commercials, free giveaways from a store or radio station have some marketing appeal, free newspapers and other media rely on advertising, which in turn raises the prices we pay for everything. Free is non-existent and in many cases I think the Internet is conditioning too many of our younger people that things should be free as in beer when the intent was always free as in speech.