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Why Code For Free? Yet More Linux/FOSS Devs Speak! (part 3) - page 2

Job Opportunities, Corporate Support

  • July 30, 2009
  • By Carla Schroder
Sarah Newman, embedded software engineer & aspiring kernel hacker, addresses a subject that is a hot-button for me: hardware support. Windows-only hardware is so idiotic I wish I knew a word a million times stronger than "idiotic". Sarah presents a much saner perspective:

> How can a dev make a living writing Free software?

One way to make a living writing free software is so other people can sell hardware.

If a company is selling a computer component, and they want it to be usable with Linux, they need a driver. �Someone outside the company might write a driver independently, but if Linux is a big enough market it's worth paying for that driver. Standard devices can use standard drivers but in many cases that doesn't take advantage of the devices full capabilities.

Open sourced and hopefully upstreamed drivers are also easier to maintain as the kernel changes. �Look through who contributes to the kernel and you'll see a lot of hardware companies.

Linux also is used for consumer oriented devices: cell phones via android, my beloved Nokia internet tablet, routers - see the wrt54g, etc....

And Linux is a cheap OS to use when selling computers that are specially branded and have a custom GUI. �For example my HP netbook shipped with a derivative of ubuntu for people who don't care if they're running Linux.

Even open hardware is sold, see Beagleboard and Arduino.

> Or: Why should anyone code for free? Especially when they're seasoned professionals, and not noobs looking for experience? Or: What does a person get out of writing Free software?

In addition to what Akkana said, all of which I agree with:

Because it's cool or fun. �Kind of the maker mentality I guess you could say. �Not something that you need, but something that amuses you. Ever wanted to implement http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2324.html ?

Another part of the fun is showing other people what you've done. Granted �that doesn't mean it has to be open sourced, but why not? �Then you can see where other people go with it.

Thank you!

Thank you to Daniel and Sarah for contributing to this series, your wisdom is very appreciated.

Carla Schroder is the author of the Linux Cookbook and the Linux Networking Cookbook (O'Reilly Media), the upcoming "Building a Digital Sound Studio with Audacity" (NoStarch Press), a lifelong book lover, and the managing editor of LinuxPlanet and Linux Today.

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