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Open Source Businesses Software The Almighty Buck

Open Source Payday 129

itwbennett writes "The recent Slashdot discussion on the open source community's attitude on profits neglected an important point: 'no profits' doesn't mean 'no money.' There are plenty of open source not-for-profit organizations that take in millions of dollars in order to pursue their public-minded missions, and some pay their employees handsomely. Brian Proffitt combed through the latest publicly available financial information on 18 top FLOSS organizations to bring you the cold, hard numbers."
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Open Source Payday

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  • Working on FOSS or commercial, its good to know your value. On commercial, I have a dollar value on mine. RS
  • Brian Proffitt should shut up and stop trying to manufacture some kind of controversy over absolutely nothing controversial or even notable.

  • H. Peter Anvin (Score:5, Informative)

    by game kid ( 805301 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @04:33AM (#39464759) Homepage

    The source article mispells H. Peter Anvin [] as "Alvin" where he's listed for "The Linux Kernel Organization". I normally wouldn't have cared but for all the times I've seen his name on various Linux bootloaders...he's kind of a big deal. :)

  • Electrician.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 25, 2012 @05:21AM (#39464847)

    If I need a new electrical socket, I may hire an electrician to put one in. I pay him some money.

    Yet, the specs of the socket, the wiring, how to connect them all up are easily available and in the public domain, for free. After he's connected the socket, I can see his work, I could even copy it to add my own socket in another room.

    The electrician would be paid money for what he did. He does not fit sockets out of 'love'!!

    Why should Open Source software development be any different?

    • Re:Electrician.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:10AM (#39465229) Journal

      Why should Open Source software development be any different?

      Wrong question. The correct question is why should software development be any different? Back in the day, putting software on disks, boxing it up and distributing it was a large part of the cost of development. Now, with the Internet, distributing software is basically free. Writing software, however, still takes time, which means it takes money (even if it's just opportunity cost). In fact, given the increase in complexity of software, it often costs a lot more than it used to.

      So does it make sense to do the expensive bit (creating the software) for free and then try to charge for the trivial bit (copying the software)? Absolutely not! It would be like your electrician putting in the socket for free and then charging you a small fee every time you turned it on or off.

      I write quite a lot of open source software. Some of it I write because I want to use it. Some of it I write because I'm paid. The people who pay me are almost always people who want to use the software. It's usually much cheaper for them to pay me to add a few features to an existing project than to pay a team of people to recreate it. I get paid to write it, so I'm happy. They get the software that they want to use and don't have to worry about EULAs, license audits, or hidden costs when they scale up their business, so they're happy. The only people who are unhappy are the ones trying to cling to a business model that doesn't make any sense.

      • Either from the consumer or the author's standpoint. The real problem is with software that is complex and expensive to develop but, if done right, easy to use. There's little to no ability to sell support on it if you do it right because it is easy to use, well documented, and so on. So you aren't going to make money trying to sell support contracts. However you also can't rely on good will. If you need to spend $10 million to write the stuff you'd better have a way to make that money back. However it isn'

        • The problem with FOSS is what I call the "Busted shitter dilemma" which you ran into when you couldn't find a replacement for Vegas. As you pointed out taking one of the existing FOSS editors and bringing it to to Vegas level? Really really REALLY not fun, instead it'll be long, slow, headache inducing thankless work. Since as you have pointed out it is VERY difficult to make money with FOSS except in some very niche circumstances that work simply doesn't get done.

          I bet the FOSS editing software you looked at had lousy or incomplete docs, obvious features missing, and one or more nasty bugs that had been well documented but not fixed. That isn't because all FOSS software is shit, its because of human nature. We humans love to create new things but HATE long boring tedious jobs. Ask for someone to write you a song or paint you a portrait for free? you'll probably find several willing to do so. Ask them to come fix your busted shitter? Watch as you have ZERO willing to do this, its just the way it is.

          That is why I have been saying for years we need a NEW license, one that will allow companies like Canonical the ability to get paid for fixing busted shitters. Wouldn't it be nice if Canonical didn't have to flail around trying to find some way to make money, like slapping together Unity and trying to sell it to TV and phone OEMs that will never bite? Wouldn't it be nice if instead they could pay developers to ONLY make things better? Better docs, QA, regression testing, insuring that all software fit the UI conventions, in short making a truly world class OS? Wouldn't that be nice? Because like it or not for every creative job you have in FOSS you have 100 that are about as pleasant as being the guy that cleans up the puke at the Chuck E Cheese. So instead we need a new license i call the "Hard Work" license, because I think we would all agree if you bust your ass you should get to be paid for your labor. here is the new license:

          1.-You are allowed to have the code, 2.-You are free to modify that code for personal use in any way you desire, 3.-If you distribute that code YOU MUST PAY for a license, which must be offered.

          See how simple that is? You still get ALL your freedoms, even the freedom to distribute (since the other company can't just refuse to sell you a license) but those that actually fix the busted shitters can be paid for their doing the thankless jobs nobody will do for free. Imagine how truly incredible the FOSS landscape would be in less than 5 years...Vegas? There would be software MUCH better since the devs would get feedback direct from the users and wouldn't have to depend on selling new features. Operating systems? Apple and MSFT are stunned when the latest releases come out and ALL the complaints have been wiped out, all drivers are solid and stable, upgrades never break, all the docs are well written and helpful, the entire ecosystem thanks to having the users and devs tied tightly together and the devs having a monetary incentive to listen to their users causes a complete change, no more itch scratching and "will not fix" blowing off the users since those that strive for a "it all just works perfectly" mantra get rewarded for their hard work.

          Its really simple folks, the GPL works in SOME places but not ALL places and I would argue not even in most places does the GPL license work. It works in both servers and embedded because large corporations make money on those servers and embedded devices and thus see it as an investment, this model simply doesn't work on the desktop or on software that will primarily be used on a desktop. What you end up with is what we have now, where companies that try to treat FOSS as more than a hobby blow millions before finally folding for lack of a way to recoup costs. The landscape is littered with the dead, gOS, Xandros, Linspire, Novell, Mandriva any day now and within 3 years Canonical. If you want the desktop software to get beyond some guy's hobby and the desktops to have more polish than "Bob's distro" then you simply have to

          • And I'd be fine with some hybrid model software. In fact I really don't care at all what model the software has. I just want something that does what I need for the lowest cost possible. If that means OSS, great. If it means pricey commercial software, fine. I am a pragmatist about software, I view it as a tool to get a job done. My concern is thus the right tool for the job.

            The problem is as you say that people don't want to do the boring shit. However the boring shit is also the highly important shit. Als

          • by Mandrel ( 765308 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @01:05AM (#39471771)

            1.-You are allowed to have the code, 2.-You are free to modify that code for personal use in any way you desire, 3.-If you distribute that code YOU MUST PAY for a license, which must be offered.

            I'm not clear exactly how this would work. Is it similar to my Rails Wheels Licence []?

            Under a Rails Wheels licence, although a software package's source and build system must be made available, the software's owner has the option to only allow people who have paid for the software to run it in other than a test system.

            Second, other developers can freely fork the software, but if they re-distribute it they must pay the original developer their normal asking price for each copy they distribute, meaning that they'll usually have to charge at least as much, keeping any premium their enhanced package can charge.

            This makes the licence differ from a FOSS licence in two respects: The freedom to run (FSF Freedom 0) restricted to paying customers; and redistribution can require a per-copy fee to be paid to the original developer (though is otherwise unfettered).

            Such a system can percolate money up fork trees so that each fork only gets paid for the value they add. All the FOSS benefits of being able to tinker with the software are unchanged.

            I think an app marketplace centred around this licence would be a way to make commercial 100% open source software a reality, where by commercial I mean charging for the software itself rather than back door methods like product placement (Mozilla), support, donations, or proprietary extensions.

            • While I like your idea mine was based on killing the "you're hurting the poor!" arguments I've often seen thrown about, like how they'll always point out some third world country using FOSS in schools or giving it to kids and say 'You'll destroy that you monster!".

              So I based my idea on a license that has been around for ages in the Windows world, the "Free for non commercial use" license. this lets individuals and charities, those that are making NO profits on the software, the right to use it. in my modifi

              • by Mandrel ( 765308 )

                So I based my idea on a license that has been around for ages in the Windows world, the "Free for non commercial use" license. this lets individuals and charities, those that are making NO profits on the software, the right to use it. in my modified form you lose NO freedoms, you simply have one freedom modified and that is the right to distribute which says if you distribute then you MUST pay for a license that MUST be offered.

                Right. That seems to be the same concept as Rails Wheels: don't stop people forking and re-distributing the software, but remove the GPL freedom of allowing the distributor to charge whatever they like (including nothing) for their version — ensure that money flows back to who did the work.

                Ultimately as things become ever more complex and integrated i believe you will see the GPL model dying out, simply because good programmers don't have the spare time to futz with software they can't make a cent off of. if the numbers in an article.

                I think GPL and BSD can work well, and will continue to be the best licence for very large foundation software projects that provide a common resource to many. But I agree that we need a licence that allows Inde

                • I just don't understand why so many act like you are a baby killer if you want to actually get paid for your hard work, I mean they act like all programmers should just starve rather than get paid to fix the busted shitters. As Apr 2014 approaches I've been looking long and hard for a distro that will actually "just work" for all these off lease office boxes that are coming through my door and so far have found ZERO that will work, and it all comes down to 3 problems nobody is willing to fix: 1.-updates/upg

      • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

        It's usually much cheaper for them to pay me to add a few features to an existing project than to pay a team of people to recreate it.


        My dad's a master carpenter. If you asked him to, say, add in a bay window to the front of your house he'd be able to estimate what it would cost including materials, time, and potential cost overruns. Contractors pretty much always pocket the difference.

        I really like the whole "bug bounty" thing as it provides an economic incentive to find bugs... so why aren't there more software developers that do the same thing? "Want me to add a feature to this program? Ask me. If enough people ask me I might do

        • why aren't there more software developers that do the same thing? "Want me to add a feature to this program? Ask me. If enough people ask me I might do it for free. If it's something you really want, I may very well do it for a fair price."

          Most open source developers will do this. If you want a feature, we'll quite happily give you a quote for implementing it. I usually work on a fixed price, so I estimate how long it will take, multiply that by my daily rate, and will do it for that amount. Even if projects don't advertise it, a mail to the list saying 'I want this feature, what will it cost' will usually get some replies...

          • Re:Electrician.... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Sunday March 25, 2012 @04:24PM (#39468501)

            Most open source developers will do this. If you want a feature, we'll quite happily give you a quote for implementing it. I usually work on a fixed price, so I estimate how long it will take, multiply that by my daily rate, and will do it for that amount. Even if projects don't advertise it, a mail to the list saying 'I want this feature, what will it cost' will usually get some replies...

            Consider my ignorance of the fact a hint that maybe you guys should advertise it a bit. Think of all the people who are not taking advantage of something they otherwise would had they known it exists.

      • Back in the day, putting software on disks, boxing it up and distributing it was a large part of the cost of development. Now, with the Internet, distributing software is basically free.

        Way back in the day, I wrote code for single configuration computer systems (8 bit Apple/Atari/Commodore), and when I had it working, I copied it onto a disk and shipped it. There were some optional fancy loader schemes, but basically, no headaches at all.

        Now, get out NSIS or whatever to make an installer, test it on 3 or 4 of the OSs it's supposed to run on, put in the "live patching via web" module, test that... you could invest a couple of hundred man hours in distributing "Hello World" to a typical spr

    • Saying things to make the subject go away avoids useful investigation. As usual, the money needs understanding.

      For example, Mozilla Foundation is a rich, rich corporation. No one should make the mistake of thinking that work on Firefox is done mostly by volunteers.

      But where does all the money go? Did you see $78.6 million worth of improvements in Firefox in 2008? []

      Did you see improvements suggesting that Mozilla Foundation had $168 million in assets in 2010? [] -- (Official PDF file, see page 2. Numbers
      • Microsoft's fault (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Sunday March 25, 2012 @09:21AM (#39465655) Homepage Journal

        When Firefox corrupts Microsoft Windows it often damages operations in Windows that are not connected with browsing.

        That Windows allows itself to be corrupted in a way that survives killing firefox.exe is the fault of Microsoft (for defective Windows code) or of hardware manufacturers (for defective driver code).

        • Let's not get away from the main subject.

          Mozilla Foundation makes more than $100 million a year, paid by Google to make Google the default search engine in Firefox. Where does that money go?

          That's not $100 million total, that's $100 million each year.

          There is a LOT to be learned in analyzing the profitability of open source software organizations.
      • Crashes per 100 active daily users, version 10.0, the version before the most recent: []

        Version 11 is less stable. Crashes per 100 active daily users, version 11.0, the most recent version: []

        Comparing crashes this way isn't quite fair. Firefox interacts with other software (plugins, extensions, injected DLLs) and it is likely that a new release will cause more crashes that a release that has been out for 6 weeks already because the developers of this software haven't tested or updated it to work in the new version. One would need to compare the current crash rate in 11 vs. the crash rate in 10 at the same point in the release cycle to come up with meaningful numbers.

        • Every time someone talks about Firefox instability, someone else gives excuses. In this case, Mozilla Foundation changed the Firefox version number more than once a month and broke a lot of the extensions. That should not be listed as an excuse, as the parent comment does, it should be listed as a fault of Mozilla Foundation management.

          Mozilla Foundation
          Top 20 Excuses
          for Not Fixing the
          Firefox Memory and CPU Hogging bugs

          These are actual excuses given at one time or another. They are not all the exc
          • I'm only pointing out that the methodology you're using in that specific comparison is flawed. I'm not even saying you're wrong (I don't know if you are).

            I'm not making up excuses, I'm actually trying to help you come up with more compelling arguments.

            You can spare us the list/rant. I know I've read it many times before.

      • The crashes are often preceded by rapidly increasing memory use. Firefox often corrupts Microsoft Windows, so that Windows needs to be re-started. When Firefox corrupts Microsoft Windows it often damages operations in Windows that are not connected with browsing.

        Can you give any references for that? Given that Windows (NT, anyway) has process separation and all that other nifty stuff, the only way a user mode process can "corrupt" the system is if you've stumbled into a kernel security hole that would be potentially exploitable - and those kinds of things tend to be Slashdot front page news.

  • by nzac ( 1822298 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @05:21AM (#39464851)

    As long we can obtain the source code for free (as in both beer and freedom) does anyone care if someone found a way to make a profit off it?
    I would much rather give a company selling FOSS related products so they could profit over someone else.

    • Some do (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )

      You find a number of people like OSS not because it is free as in speech but because they don't want to pay for anything. They don't tend to claim that is the reason, of course, but it is. I've met more than a couple people that were big OSS heads and claimed it was all about freedom of the code (though they never did anything with it themselves) but were completely opposed to the idea of paying for any software.

      How they expected developers to put food on the table I'm not sure.

      • Re:Some do (Score:4, Interesting)

        by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @06:14AM (#39464939)

        "You find a number of people like OSS not because it is free as in speech but because they don't want to pay for anything."

        Which they have perfect right to do. *I* don't want to pay for anything, from software to Ferraris. When I pay for something is because I *have* to do it.

        "were completely opposed to the idea of paying for any software."

        I am basically opposed to the idea of paying for something that it is already done, payed for and that has zero replication costs too.

        Paying for writing new software or servicing said software, both of them activities that have obvious production cost tagged to them, on the other hand, I find perfectly reasonable.

        "How they expected developers to put food on the table I'm not sure."

        I'll tell you. By doing what they are qualified to do: writing software, not distributing software of tagging artificial scarcity to something with no replication costs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by firefrei ( 2569069 )

          I am basically opposed to the idea of paying for something that it is already done, payed for and that has zero replication costs too.

          So what if the replication costs are zero? The work to make the software in the first place isn't free (we're assuming of course a for-sale product), so compensating for said effort is appropriate. It might take quite a number of sales before the costs for developing a product breaks even. Then there are the distribution costs, which even if it's something as simple as a serv

          • I think he favours the Blender model of FOSS: there are people in the community coming up with ideas for new features and making fundraisers for it. It's like Kickstarter except the result becomes OSS. If not enough money comes together, less features will be implemented. Of course it only works for people with proper resume/portfolio. (See their OpenCL renderer.)

          • Many years ago I stopped paying for non-free software. I don't want it. I don't need it. And I'm not going to pay for it unless it's (going to be) free.

            After all, for most software the major part of the value comes from all the other lemmings.

            (And, yeah, I know, that means I should be running (pirated) Windows .... But I'm not, I'm on Debian atm.)

          • "So what if the replication costs are zero?"

            I already said what. Why do you cite out of context asking question already answered within that text?

            "compensating for said effort is appropriate"

            No, that's never appropriate. If it were, I could make a living out of farting. Compensation is never asociated to effort -and it shouldn't, but to percieved benefits to the recieving end. That's in fact why selling software usage licenses have been such a good business no matter how much I dislike it: because there

          • An illustrative example, taken from real life:

            Many years ago, I was working at a small cell phone company who wanted to introduce a new voice mail system. The dev team's manager found an OSS project that did the job and did it well, but was written for GSM phones when the company was running CDMA phones. Now, we looked through the source code (which we could never have done if it had been closed source), found the portion that was specific to GSM phones, then placed some appropriate ads and found somebody w

        • There is no such thing as zero replication cost. It may be small, you may be able to get/sucker other people to bear the cost, but it's not zero.

      • Shit, I'll admit it. It used to be because I though it was a nice ideology (and it is), but nowadays I'll freely admit that I just like free software. I don't want to pirate anymore, but I don't want to buy software if there's a perfectly good OSS alternative available. Plus by using the OSS alternative I future-proof myself in case I finally decide to move to Linux (which may never happen, but it can't hurt to keep my options open and make the possible transition as painless as possible).

        There's nothing wr

        • I don't want to buy software if there's a perfectly good OSS alternative available.

          What's your opinion on income tax return preparation tools? Even if the engine is free, Intuit and H&R Block treat their machine-readable interpretations of this year's amendments to the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and the 50 states' respective tax codes as a valuable trade secret and thus have no business case to make their products free software.

          I tend to now buy games and media more than tools, so long as the games are cross-platform and the media is non-DRMed.

          Except for the fact that a lot of games that aren't FPS, RTS, or MMORPG aren't cross-platform; they're either Wii exclusive, Xbox 360 exclusive, PS3 exclusive,

      • The real problem isn't people using Linux because it's free.. If a developer wants to create a piece of software and give it away, or they sign up to work on a project that they know will be free, there really isn't a problem.

        The problem is when those users, start making demands that cost the developers money. They demand features from a commercial version be added to the free version; or they demand tech support; or even just free downloads instead of a torrent. (Yes, that download of Ubuntu wasn't free..

    • by ix42 ( 222898 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:05AM (#39465207)

      I don't hate RH. I like RH. I'm kind of annoyed with RHEL because people keep using ancient bug-ridden libraries and blaming me.

      I've lost track of the number of times I've had this conversation:

      Them: Foo doesn't work. Fix it. Fix it now.
      Me: That was fixed upstream in library bar 7 years ago.
      Them: We use RHEL4, and our policy won't let us install 3rd party library update packages.
      Me: So you have an expensive contract. I'm sure RedHat will provide an official patch.
      Them: Actually, we use CentOS4.
      Me: . o O (Go buy a RHEL contract, you cheapskates. Or change your idiotic policy.)

      But that's not RedHat's fault.

      • I was going to post almost exactly this, but then I thought it would be interpreted as trolling. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who's had this experience. If any RedHat employees are reading this, please pay careful attention to the following:

        A stable system means not changing the ABI. It does not mean refusing to ship bug fixes.

  • by chrismcb ( 983081 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @05:38AM (#39464885) Homepage
    TFS claims that plenty of projects take in millions of dollars. And then points to an article that list 7 (about half) that take in at least a million dollars. And these projects have thousands of volunteers. Sure a handful of people are taking home some bacon. But the majority of the people contributing are not.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I agree. Frankly I'm shocked about the low numbers reported. Surely the author of Python deserves more than $30K/year? I'm not a big fan of the coders behind the GTK+ code base. Could it be partly because the whole Gnome organization runs on about $500K/year? Maybe that doesn't buy very many good coders? Apache makes practically nothing. How is that a good thing? I had no idea that our collective generosity added up to so little. I mean, we seem to be able to put together a couple hundred million i

      • Re:Plenty? millions? (Score:4, Informative)

        by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @07:32AM (#39465099) Homepage

        Hmm, just because the foundations don't get a lot, doesn't mean the programmers don't - some (many?) of them are employed by other companies.

        For example, the creator of Python, Guido van Rossum, is employed by Google not by the PSF, so you can be well sure he gets more than $30k/year.

      • The amount that developers on a project make is not always limited by the amount that an associated foundation makes. For example, some of the work I did last year on FreeBSD was funded by the FreeBSD Foundation, but a lot of it was not. Some of it is funded by other companies. If a company wants a new feature in FreeBSD, then it's often easier for them to pay someone to add it (or hire people to work full time, as companies like Qualcomm and Yahoo do) than it is for them to go via the FreeBSD Foundation
  • Take 5 of the most grating bugs collated from any Slashdot project discussion, particular those which are often compared to 'the leading (non-floss) brand.' Imagine 5 programmers hired FULL TIME every year to work on each respective area. Subtract an average programmer's salary times 5 from (the top few, with some assumptions in data) salaries occupied in the upper management echelon.

    A simple calculation shows which management figureheads understand the long term role of floss in public technology. You can

  • by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @06:29AM (#39464969)

    I work for a for-profit company. What the boss decides to do with the software is none of my buisiness - I still need to put food on the table.

    If I worked at a company who's target was not to make profit - I still would need to eat if its my full-time job. Just that at the end of the day(year) the company won't cut a big check to shareholders.

    I have no problem with non-profits making money - if you don't have fulltime developers the company will collapse sooner rather than later.

    • cash cows (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:14AM (#39465243)

      there are aspects of 'non profit' where there are no profits because the directors pay themselves such large salaries that there's (strangely!) no cash left over each year. I don't consider these non-profit at all.

      eg. from TFA:

      the Mozilla Foundation generated the highest compensation levels for Baker and Eich who, while receiving no direct salary from the Mozilla Foundation, were compensated $589,953 each from "reportable compensation from related organizations" and "estimated amount of other compensation from the [Mozilla Foundation] and related organizations."

      "Related organizations," in this instance, is the Mozilla Corp., the for-profit subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation that generates much of the Foundation's revenue.

      With a revenue of $1,934,659, the Mozilla Foundation ranked fourth of the eighteen FLOSS-related non-profits researched for this report. But with a net cash flow loss of $1,333,815 for the 2010 fiscal year, the Mozilla Foundation was next to last on money lost for the year.

      so, basically Mozilla Corp pays Mozilla Foundation cash to make stuff that the corp then sells/advocates/etc. Only the foundation sat on a net loss of $1.3m, yet the corp paid its 2 directors $1.2m..... hmm.

      Now I don't mind the directors making a reasonable amount of money from the situation, we all got to eat after all, but I'd say a more reasonable remuneration would be more like $100k, not nearly 600k. And I totally disagree with directors sucking the non-profit cash-cow dry.

      • by laffer1 ( 701823 )

        And it doesn't stop with cash. Mozilla had a private jet for "advocating" that the CEO used to travel. There are many perks associated with the job.

        I get angry they have money for private jets and large salaries but won't support more operating systems and get more development going on the products. Don't tell me you don't have resources to officially support mobile or even larger OS projects when you can fly around the country in your own plane.

        • by BZ ( 40346 )

          Citation please? I'm not aware of either Gary Kovacs or John Lilly traveling in a private jet during their tenures as CEO....

          • by laffer1 ( 701823 )

            It was Mitchell Baker. I'm having trouble finding the article now. It was something I read on a mozilla blog some years ago.

            • by BZ ( 40346 )

              I would also be very very surprised by that. Please do cite, because so far this looks like pretty basic FUD to me...

      • by BZ ( 40346 )

        Do you really think $100k is the correct salary for a full-time job being CTO of a 500+ person company whose main business is technology? In the Bay Area?

        This is not money Brendan and Mitchell are being paid as "directors"; this is money they are being paid as employees with quite specific jobs involving a good bit of responsibility.

        • by guises ( 2423402 )
          So... If $100k isn't enough, then how are the rest of Mozilla's employees getting by with a median income of only $86k?

          • by BZ ( 40346 )

            Mozilla has employees in multiple locations, some of which have lower cost of living than Silicon Valley.

            Mozilla also has a number of employees who happen to not be the CTO...

            Was your question serious (as in, you really don't understand why different people in an organization might be paid different amounts), or are you just trolling?

            But last of all.. The site you linked to just has bad data. For one thing, it lists a "high" of $116k, which is quite obviously bogus....

            • by guises ( 2423402 )

              Mozilla has employees in multiple locations, some of which have lower cost of living than Silicon Valley.

              Tha'ts very interesting, but the locations of all of the positions given on the site are listed right next to them - Mountain View, California. I'm not sure where the site gets it's data, but you're right that it's clear that they don't have information on every employee. I suspect that this is self-reported information.

              Given that I didn't ask why different people are paid different amounts, your question is a nonsequiter. I wrote what I did in the hope that a reader (you) would be able to do a modicum of

              • by BZ ( 40346 )

                > with some variation a software engineer at Mozilla is
                > making 75k, and a senior software engineer is
                > making 110k.

                Those numbers are too low, especially if you look at total compensation (including bonuses), and not just salary.

                I have no idea where the site you linked to is getting its numbers, but they're just flat-out wrong. If Mozilla was paying those rates in the Bay Area they wouldn't be able to hire people. The correct numbers for salary+bonus are probably close to 1.5x to 2x that much for

  • No money (Score:2, Flamebait)

    I guess I'm being voted flamebait or troll for this, but someone's got to say it.

    The only problem with FLOSS is that you can't make money with with two exceptions: (1) You can earn money if your software is sufficiently complicated; in that case you get money mostly for support work and maintaining the software, not from selling the software itself. (2) You can earn money by making the software FLOSS, but using obscure languages, build systems, or distributing the source in a way that makes it almost imposs

    • You got moderated flamebait, but that seems to be a placeholder because there is no moderation option for 'just plain wrong'. You categorically can make money from open source software - I do. The difference is that you make money from writing it, not from copying it. If you write something that ever gets to the state of being feature-complete and bug free (and comes with a free unicorn) then you probably can't make any money from it, but why should you? It doesn't need improving in any way, so what wou
      • Take the example of a video game. A single-player or non-massively multiplayer video game is supposed to be feature-complete upon release; any big new features are supposed to go into the sequel so as not to break game play balance. So once a video game is reasonably bug-free, it gets to the point of "doesn't need improving in any way" apart from keeping it compatible with changes to the underlying platform, so where's the money to develop a sequel?
        • where's the money to develop a sequel?

          From people who want to play the sequel, perhaps? If you enjoyed playing the first game, would you pay $10 towards the development of a sequel? If you're allowed to share the game with any of your friends, then this increases the number of people who might be similarly willing. This also reduces the risk for game developers: they don't invest a lot of money in developing a game and then find no one buys it, they pitch the game to people who will buy it and then get the money in advance if they will.

          • by tepples ( 727027 )
            So where does the money come from for the first game in the series get developed and promoted?
            • From people willing to invest based on the reputations of the authors. And this is gained by either releasing the first game for free, getting a sponsor based on the idea, or by working on a project run by someone else first.
      • by brit74 ( 831798 )
        So, basically, you have to make software that's great enough to attract a whole bunch of people, but incomplete enough that they still want to pay you money to keep improving it. Sounds like walking a fine line to me, and you'd better make sure you're working on a product that has a fairly wide gap between "good enough to attract a large audience" and "complete enough that people stop paying you to customize/improve it".

        > It doesn't need improving in any way, so what would you do to justify the mone
        • Re:No money (Score:4, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday March 26, 2012 @06:25AM (#39472643) Journal

          You seem to be missing the reason why most software is written in the first place. It's not done because someone wants to make money, it's done because someone wants to use the resulting code. This accounts for 100% of the open source code I've worked on. Some projects I've started because no one else provided the tools I wanted. Some projects other people started and I've contributed to because it's easier than rewriting everything.

          Clang is a good example: it was started because Apple wanted a modular [Objective-]C[++] front end that could be used in a compiler, in refactoring tools, for syntax highlighting, and so on. My first contribution was to support the GNU Objective-C ABI - something of no use to Apple, but a great deal of use to me. I didn't get paid for this directly, but having a decent compiler for Objective-C stuff on Linux/*BSD has helped me get paid for other stuff. I've since done paid work on clang for other companies that needed other features implemented, or other systems supported.

          Clang wasn't started in the hope that its authors would be able to get people to pay, it was started because its authors' employer needed it. It was open sourced because that helped reduce the cost of development for everyone involved. Apple probably could have kept it proprietary and developed in house, but then companies like Google and ARM, and individuals like myself, wouldn't have contributed anything, so their costs would have been higher.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @08:40AM (#39465357) Homepage Journal

    The people who do the real work don't.

  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Sunday March 25, 2012 @10:46AM (#39466083)
    I thought the point of "free" software was that you are free to obtain the source code. Not that it's no cost. Whatever the distribution charge, someone pays for it, even if that payment is in the form of time donated to the project.
    • No, the point of free software (per FOSS definition of "free") is that you're free to obtain and redistribute the source code. That's what makes the traditional sales model of commercial software inapplicable here.

      • Here's how it works under the GPL: FAQ - Does the GPL allow me to sell copies of the program for money? [] Most of the info is behind the "right to sell copies" link. tl;dr: you can sell the binary for whatever price you want, but (1) you have to also provide the source at no additional cost (except reasonable shipping fees if you send physical media) and (2) the user can turn right around and sell the software for whatever price they want. AFAIK this is exactly what happens with Red Hat Enterprise Linux v

        • That was precisely my point - you can't base your business model on selling copies, when users can copy and resell one for a lower price as soon as they get it. You have to look elsewhere for profits.

  • more importantly, non profits doesn't mean that the organzizaion doesn't make profits... non-profit is simply a tax designation that says "profits aren't our first motivation", and in exchange get slightly different tax considerations under the law, especially in regards to 'gifted contributions'. Every organization must make at least as much as it spends, or it dies. whats leftover from year to year is the profit.

  • I've never been a big fan of doing open source development work, and these numbers tell me I made the right choice. I never really understood why people are fans of doing open source work. I'm happy to use it, of course - not because I think it's better, but because it generally works well enough (though often not as well as paid programs), but it's big advantage is that it's free. I couldn't care less about being able to change the source code - it's often a pain in the ass to get projects to build in t

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