R – Are we shooting ourselves in the foot by working on Open Source projects?

By | October 10, 2023

I’ve been considering the idea of working on some open source projects, mainly because of the same reasons that everyone else does it: for fun and to learn something new. But now more than ever these OS (Open Source) projects are taking more and more strength and becoming more and more popular. So, I’ve been thinking, are we developers killing our profession by working for free? I know there are some OS projects that pay something, but nothing compared to what you would get paid for working in a full time software company.

Think about these worst case scenarios:

  • OpenOffice or any other of these office suits brings Microsoft Office down and now Microsoft has to lay off thousands of developers because of this…
  • Linux becomes the #1 used operating system, and both Apple and Microsoft have to lay off Windows and Mac developers.

Think of this analogy:

  • What if there were “Open Source Banks”?! Where the tellers, managers, execs, etc are super friendly, worked for free, and offered some kick ass products, why go to a Bank of America and pay tons in fees, right?

In other words, what if all software became open source? This probably will never happen or even if it does there will still be plenty of jobs for us out there, but anyway, I wanted to see what other people thought of this crazy paranoia of mine

See Also:
The difference between Free Software and Open Source Software

Best Solution

Open source does not mean working for free. Even though the products themselves are free most developers who work on larger open source projects are paid. This payment can come from either a 3rd party supporting it or from a foundation created to run the project.

Do you really think the lead developers on projects such as Open Office are doing their work for free?

Also there are normally many corporations started because of open source software based around support and installation. A lot of the time these are run by the creators of the software. Asterix is a good example of an open source project that has a corporate side based on installation and support.