Christopher Pratt (cpratt) wrote,
Christopher Pratt
cpratt

The thing I never did get.

Yesterday I briefly mentioned that Red Hat is now going all-corporate, all the time [more or less]. They have discontinued their consumer Linux desktop - their cheapest desktop product is now $179. They're doing something similar to what Netscape did back in 1997 - they're trying a business model where they run a not-for-profit [the Mozilla Foundation = the Fedora Project] that is designed to generate software that can then be reused to make the company big money [Netscape 7 / the AOL client / iPlanet servers = Red Hat Enterprise Linux].

To overly simplify, this is one of the things that has always baffled me about open source. The value proposition here strikes me as, well, unclear. I, as an independent software developer or tester, am supposed to contribute my own personal time to Fedora or Mozilla... so that they can then take the work I've done, sell it to corporations, and make money. Huh?

Call me crazy but I like being compensated for my efforts.

Of course, there will always be people who will contribute regardless. Ian, for example, is a phenomenally bright young man who gave lots of his time to the Mozilla Project and even worked at Netscape for a bit. As far as I could tell, this all sprang from a deep love of CSS and a singleminded devotion to creating a browser that delivered the best CSS implementation ever seen. But what will it be like for Ian when he's no longer at university, when he has to fund his life out of his own pocket? I really do wonder.
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