I’m always torn on the concept of OpenSource. Probably because I’ve seen how mega-corps use this process to essentially bypass the purchasing of software to create their own software and cut jobs. I have yet to have anyone explain to me how reducing the number of people getting paid to write software in this industry actually will help the industry.
I’m from a very untrusting society where any time someone gives you something for "free" – we feel it’s a really good idea to check to make sure you still have your wallet when they’ve finished talking to you. Let’s just follow this logic and see who actually benefited from the story above. Five people get together and decide to create an application and make money off it. (Yes, that is their goal – none of them figured they could quit their Silicon Valley Jobs without some method of paying the bills… don’t kid yourself here.)
They take software code and in many cases, entire software, and modify it to what they want without paying the people who created the software a penny. They then in turn release that software into the wild … and it in turn is used by people who don’t pay anyone for it’s use … so they don’t have to pay other people who sell software.
Okay – anyone catch on to a trend? Sure, no one having to pay for software – but no one is getting paid for it either — and H&R Block and companies like them, who can afford to pay for software … gets something out of the deal. The only winner in this equation is the guy who can afford to pay for it. This has become a trend throughout the software industry and for that matter the Internet itself.
Those who can afford to do things – don’t have to pay, while everyone else puts their nose to the grindstone in the hapless belief that in time, down the road it’ll all pay off. If this were any other kind of business – it would probably fall under the category of "Bunko" scams. It’s the Amway of IT. All it’s missing is the chanted slogan of witless zombies in a Holiday INN conference room saying, "Multi-level Marketing Works!!". It’s the ultimate pyramid scheme. Anyone who’s personal dreams and ambitions are locked out by an uncaring management structure gets to believe that they too – will become the next "Google", or Linux.
Only for 99.6% of them – they won’t. They’ll put in hundreds of thousands of man hours … just to have some guy who works for a major corporation take their code, rewrite a sufficient number of lines – incorporate it into something they’re doing. That guy in corporate America might get a raise, heck if the compnay is big enough he might even get a percentage of the patent they’ll put together for it. But the guy who slaves at home for hours and hours? He gets the corduroy snow pants of shame. He gets bupkiss. Maybe a nod to his work – but that’s about it.
What’s worse – is that overseas there’s an entire industry devoted to taking OpenSource code – and using that for projects that are replacing developers here in the states. Ironically, some of whom, helped write the OpenSource code now being used to replace their jobs. Let’s face it the cheapest application is one that comes from OpenSource code, being modified and maintained by laborers who make 1/20th of what we do here. The argument in favor of non-OpenSource code has always been "Who will maintain it?", "Who will provide support?". Well, about 2,000,000 people who consider $20,000 a year to be a small fortune.
When that happens … sure, we’ll all have cheap software. But then, we’ll all have jobs where we make $20k a year. The good news for me is, I have skills operating heavy equipment and construction. The bad news for me is, I really like writing software and will hate to see it become a hobby industry again.