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> Can One Get Paid To Develop F/oss?
Armagon
post Apr 19 2007, 09:05 PM
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Greetings.

I am looking for a new programming job (having programmed video games in C++ for three years), and, it occured to me that I might be able to work on free/open-source software and get paid to do it. [My wife is supportive of the idea, too!]

I just don't even know where to begin, and figured that if ever there was an on-topic post for an off-topic forum, this is it wink.gif

I expect that there are not many paying F/OSS jobs, but there must be some. (Right?) It seems likely that one could work from home, provided they had a decent computer and a broadband connection. I've done some google searches (and will do some more) but haven't really found good information yet.

Unfortunately (no, please don't look at me like that!) I have not contributed anything to the F/OSS movement, and am unfamiliar with software development on linux. I know that this is a large and poorly specified question, but, does anyone have any insights on how to best (and quickly) develop the skills I need to be a F/OSS contributor (even if there is no job to be found)?

As you can see, I don't even really know which questions to ask, or if it is at all reasonable to look for gainful employment in this sector.

I appreciate any insights.
Armagon
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Snappy
post Apr 20 2007, 08:22 AM
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There are two things that I think we are talking about here. 1. OSS vs Closed Source Software and 2. Freeware vs Commercial software.

One can write OSS that is commercial or charges for related commercial services such as customisation or support or distribution etc. Redhat I think offers support services for it amongst others. Ubuntu is F/OSS while Canonical Ltd has vested commercial interest in it for it provides commercial support services for Ubuntu servers etc through support packages. So their developers who contribute to Ubuntu, would fall into this group.

One can also write OSS and not charge for it, eg GNU/Linux etc. Many others write software like GIMP, GNU XYZ ... etc

Closed Source Software usually refer to commercial software, and in most cases, commercial software are closed source, although the reverse is not always true. eg, practically all commercial software, including of course, the most beloved public-enemy M$ (Not mine anyway)... etc ... interestingly, it was said that IBM was one of the biggest software houses, that earned through expensive custom business apps that its (consulting) services arms delivered to their customers together with their "boxes".

The last group is slightly obscure, but at the same time common. This includes practically all the freeware that made DOS and Windows so popular amongst hobbists since the 80s. A good deal of these freeware are not open source, but are freely available for download as binaries only.

Strangely, one of the early concept of open source, I thought, was authenticity and security in that one could be 100% that an app was doing what it said it was doing, by having access to its source code for compilation and building. One could then scrutinize and weed out rogue code snippets that are stealing info. This point seem to have become overshadowed today by the high and noble "Knowledge should be open, so open source is the way" message. Color me old-school ... but sometimes I find it funny when I read OSS fanboys go religious or puritan with being open. It just makes me grin.

So if you are looking to be paid, you can do it either freelanced or under the clock, in a closed or open source manner. But doing OSS projects seem to be mostly freelance at the moment. Most commercial software house are still quite closed source.

Granted, if you have some good idea for a killer-app, you can also write Free OpenSourceSoftware and have a donate button on your site or something.

One thing though, if you look at the zaurus platform, on the reality side, there are approximately 10,000+ unique users on this site. And not all of them are active users. I won't go in the math here, but do some estimate so that you don't get demoralized with the wrong expectations ya? smile.gif

Keep us posted if you cook up something ya? smile.gif
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jfv
post Apr 20 2007, 09:05 AM
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What about Trolltech?
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Armagon
post Apr 20 2007, 09:08 AM
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QUOTE(Snappy @ Apr 20 2007, 08:22 AM)
Keep us posted if you cook up something ya? smile.gif
*


All right, I'll keep you posted.

And you are right, 10 000 forum users ... but not enough to pay for a full-time zaurus developer.

I would love to work for Canonical/Ubuntu (particularly on Edubuntu). Interestingly enough, they are having their second "open week" next week, in which (I gather) they talked about how Ubuntu is made and how one can contribute -- I will have to look into that.

Armagon
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Armagon
post Apr 20 2007, 11:08 AM
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QUOTE(jfv @ Apr 20 2007, 09:05 AM)
What about Trolltech?
*


That's an excellent idea!

Their careers' page implies that telecommuting is not an option (and I'm nowhere near any of their locations), but I'll send them an e-mail and see what I can learn.
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Armagon
post May 26 2007, 05:09 AM
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QUOTE(Snappy @ Apr 20 2007, 08:22 AM)
Keep us posted if you cook up something ya? smile.gif
*


Well, life has been crazy for the past little while. In short: I worked like mad to finish up my programming tasks before leaving my last company, and on my second-last day I finally got a bite from the resumes I handed out. Amazingly, a school district wanted to interview me for an IT job. As I've never done IT professionally, I was surprized that they called. It hurts to answer questions at an interview negatively (ex. "No, I'm not familiar with Macintosh Terminal services."), but, (miraculously,) I got the job! Since then, I've been getting the house ready for when my wife and son come out in a few days.

I never did contact TrollTech. I did monitor the Ubuntu Open Week, and still want to help out with the project.

I'm very happy to have a new job--I start on Monday.
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jfv
post May 26 2007, 06:44 AM
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Good luck!
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speculatrix
post May 26 2007, 06:46 AM
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very few people are lucky enough to get a job developing open source software - I suppose you'd have to work at Novell (SuSE), Redhat or Ubuntu for that.

what you probably need to do is find a company who use open source software extensively as part of their systems (linux, apache, perl, php) and are developing software in-house on linux, and encourage their staff to help out on OSS projects

e.g. 1. if you were working on some program which used KDE/QT/Qtopia, you could feed bug-fixes, utilities and useful library functions back to the KDE.
project.
e.g. 2. if you were doing some work which used bluetooth or zigbee as a communication channel, you might develop a test tool to help you debug your system, and your employer might be willing to opensource the tool to gain respect in the industry

just a thought.
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