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Woah, buried in there was this claim:

Well, in a perfect world I’d just work on Lamson but the days of companies actually paying people to work on open source are pretty much over.

Have I missed something? I thought that, at least, most of the kernel and gcc devs were employed by companies to work on those projects. Is he right, and something has fundamentally changed?

That's very wrong... you could argue that most of the kernel maintainers are employed by companies to work on the kernel, but not all the code gets written by them, and some companies do not employ people to work full-time on the kernel, otherwise do you think the Intel driver would be in the current state?

And of course Lamson is not GCC or the kernel. Those are very special cases, look at the GNOME or KDE project... or Django for you web guys, who gets paid to work on Django? not even JKM

Hmm it doesn't really count but JBoss is open source and has paid developers. jQuery UI is maintained by a consulting group. Firefox's core developers are paid. I'm pretty sure there are paid contributors on Hadoop and Lucene.

And lets not forget Rails....

Perhaps less well known are open-source reporting companies like Actuate (sponsors/main developers of the top-level Eclipse BIRT project), Pentaho, JasperSoft. Not sure about revenue models for others, but Actuate sells support for their open-source tools and offers proprietary add-ons for those that need to scale their deployments.

37 signals doesn't get paid specifically for rails though. If 37 signals went away, rails wouldn't. Not without a huge fuss anyway.

But is the current state of things different than, say, a few years ago?

That's a pretty small subset of all open source developers, though.

A large number of companies also pay developers to work on Eclipse as well.

In fact, IBM, one of the largest paying contributors to Eclipse, also pays people to work on a boatload of open source stuff. You don't realize until you actually dig into it yourself.

Most sysadmins need to know lots of different config file syntaxes, protocols, security etc. As a result they are unlikely to be that familiar with C, also there is a massive learning curve with knowing how the kernel works and how to fix it (I've tried). People who know much about the linux kernels and the low level in gerernal are in increasing short supply as more and more students gradate only knowing high level languages and concepts and then following careers in that direction. Also when your employed to run 100 or 1000s of servers it's probably for something business critical, so the employeer pays lots to RedHat and other for support, which in turn pays for kernel devs.

In contrast, for example, a PHP programmer who probably does PHP day-in-day out and not much else is going to find it pretty easy to fix a bug in a PHP framework him/herself and therefore his/her employer doesn't need to pay a big support contract. If problems are found they are probably in the development phase and if the team can't work around them, I would expect any number of freelancers could pick up the problem and fix it.

Basically I'm saying it's supply and demand.

I think he's alluding to "Why I (A/L)GPL":


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