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From Martin Cooper <mart...@apache.org>
Subject Re: Are devs who work on or use open source happier in their employment?
Date Fri, 24 Sep 2010 04:13:36 GMT
On Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 8:37 AM, Grant Ingersoll <gsingers@apache.org> wrote:
> One of the things I've noticed in my day job, which is admittedly self-selecting since
I work for a company that engages with people deploying open source, is that I routinely hear,
how shall I say it, more enjoyment from the developers in their work as compared to the old
days when they worked on a proprietary equivalent, and I think it even holds true when working
on "troubleshooting" engagements where something is broken.  Since, most of us here likely
work on open source, I'm curious as to what others think?  Are devs who work on or use open
source happier in their day jobs?  And I don't just mean committers/contributors here, I
mean people who are using the software to solve some bigger problem for their company and
who may never do anything more than ask a question on a mailing list from time to time.  Has
anyone seen _independent_ studies that say one way or the other?  (References please.)  I
do think, that some of the answer depends on the quality of the software they are working
on (just as it likely does when working on proprietary software), so perhaps I should separate
out what could be called hobbyist open source versus open source that has a large community
of followers (regardless of license) like Linux, ASF projects, Eclipse, etc.  Therefore,
assuming two different pieces of software, one being proprietary and one being open, both
of which will solve the problem, are developers who solve the problem with open source happier
in their job?


I'll add another factor, one that I haven't seen mentioned here yet.
Developers who work with open source know that the skills and
knowledge they are gaining while working with open source can be
directly transferred to their next position. Compare spending, say, 3
years learning the ins and outs of a proprietary code base with
spending the same amount of time working with open source software.
When it comes time to move on, those working on proprietary code can
take their experience with them, but their knowledge of the code base
is, in most cases, no longer useful.

The other thing I'd say is that the answers to these questions are
going to depend a lot on the particular developers in question. A
couple of people have commented here on how great it is to be able to
dig in and find the root cause of a bug, and even fix it. That's great
for us open source nuts. But the vast majority of developers don't
give a hoot about why a tool or library or whatever doesn't work,
whether it's open source or not - they just want it to work. Also,
even for open source nuts like us, it almost certainly depends on the
domain of the software in question. If I had a problem with a Commons
library, for example, I'd likely dig in and take a look, but if my
Linux kernel driver wasn't doing what it should, well, I'm not going
anywhere near that.

--
Martin Cooper


> At any rate, my motivation for asking is that I'm writing an article on some thoughts
in this area spurred by something a client told me (at a very old, established company, mind
you) about why they wanted to get the word out that they were using open source:  they felt
it would help them attract and retain developers b/c they would be more satisfied in their
jobs b/c they got to work on innovative open source technologies.
>
> Thanks for your insights,
> Grant
>
>
>
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