NO CARRIER

Computers, Science, Technology, Xen Virtualization, Hosting, Photography, The Internet, Geekdom And More

On tit for tat

Posted on | March 27, 2008 | Comments Off

There’s two ways that you can look at the rewards of writing free / open source programs licensed under the GNU general public license. What you expect is of course entirely relative to your motivation for writing something.

Way # 1 – `Tit For Tat’ (somewhat coined by Linus) means simply “I give you source code, you give me source code.”

Way #2 – `The GNU’ (deeper, moral motivations) meaning simply “I don’t care if anyone gives me anything, I just write free software to help my neighbor.”

I’m somewhere in between the two, I’d keep writing stuff even if I receive little feedback, patches or donations .. but I really appreciate (and look for) them.

There is way more tatting than titting these days, especially in smaller projects (i.e. not the Linux Kernel, Xen, or similar). I’ve been thinking about why this might be and came up with a few possibilities.

First, foremost and most obvious is the fact that the FLOSS ecosystem has grown exponentially since 1991. Since there are a dozen programs that serve (basically) the same purpose, all projects see less contributors than they did in 1991 unless of course they become famous. That leads me to thought number two.

Thought number two is the realization that FLOSS is often developed by some of the world’s most talented software engineers, typically working at Intel, AMD, Citrix, IBM and others. When these people jump on a project, other similar projects tend to stagnate. Additionally, these guys tend to dominate projects (as they should, really) which causes lesser skilled people to sit back and learn rather than taking wild stabs at improvements while requesting peer review.

The third and final thought is that its impossible to know if an end user or developer is downloading any given program or source tree. This coincides with FLOSS picking way up in popularity over the last 5 – 6 years. If a program ‘just works’, you’ll almost never hear from users. Most developers focus their time on just a few projects, which makes it unlikely that they’ll ever see your code.

I am in no way complaining. Self taught hackers are now honing amazing skills by watching and learning from some of the best minds in the industry (Xen, Linux, etc). This will ensure a consistent growth in GPL programs saturating both the server and desktop market.

Tail end of this thought, Microsoft will soon find that using patents as daggers doesn’t deter people who just want to make neat stuff :) Where there’s a will, there’s a (much better and non-patented) way. This led me to … “who cares if I get patches?” :)

Comments

Comments are closed.

  • Monkey Plus Typewriter
  • Stack Overflow

  • Me According To Ohloh

  • Meta