Open Source Careers

This is a discussion on Open Source Careers within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; Hello, My basic question is how does one make a livable career with open source? I hear alot of people ...

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    Open Source Careers

    Hello,

    My basic question is how does one make a livable career with open source? I hear alot of people talk about providing support, but I don't know exactly what that means or entails - I don't want to work in or operate a 24/7 call center. I have also heard stories of people making a good living working from their home office doing programming.

    I am still a university student, so I am interested to know how I can make it out there. If I could, I would love to be able to work primarily in programming in a home office, either in my own company (I would love that!!) or by telecommuting to a company. I am really not interested in relocating and I don't like to think of long commutes to an office in the city. Nor does the prospect of frequent travel appeal to me - I just want to stay put where I am. Is this type of career possible or is it just a pipe dream? What areas can someone like me make a decent go at?

    Advice please.

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    Jack of many languages Dino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMJ_coder View Post
    Hello,

    My basic question is how does one make a livable career with open source?
    Get hired by Sun.
    Mac and Windows cross platform programmer. Ruby lover.

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    and the hat of wrongness Salem's Avatar
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    It's certainly possible in the longer term. But fresh out of college with no track record, not may people will want you as a remote worker.

    Take small free lance jobs on the side which don't interfere with your studies or employment. As you build your free lance client base and reputation, you'll be in a much better position to make the jump.

    While you are employed, keep pushing for the telecommuting. Keep it low key to start with (say a couple of days a month). If your employer refuses to budge, then find another one more open to the idea.

    Not all work is suitable for telecommuting; Getting everyone in a room to discuss face to face is simply the best way of making progress.

    Also remember that along with that freedom comes some responsibity for things like contracts and taxes.
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    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    My basic question is how does one make a livable career with open source? I hear alot of people talk about providing support, but I don't know exactly what that means or entails - I don't want to work in or operate a 24/7 call center.
    You could read Open Source Case for Business. The "support" you are talking about is most likely the one mentioned at the end of the article: "Support Sellers (otherwise known as "Give Away the Recipe, Open A Restaurant"): In this model, you (effectively) give away the software product, but sell distribution, branding, and after-sale service. This is what (for example) Red Hat does."

    After-sale service could include things like customisation of the software and training of staff.
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    Jack of many languages Dino's Avatar
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    Many companies are reluctant to bring in software, even free software, without an option for support.

    Let's say you are a bank and need to put in a network of ATM machines. You find this great piece of open source software that runs the User Interface for the ATM, and it seems to work. You've done an analysis and determined that to write the same piece of software in house at the bank, you would have to hire 12 programmers and spend the next 18 months designing, writing, testing, documenting, etc...

    What to do? What to do?

    What you will NOT do, because you are a prudent business entity, is use the free software without an option for support. If it stops working, so do your ATMs. Not a good thing.

    If you decide to spend the next 18 months writing it yourself, when you are done, you still have to support it yourself and eat that cost of doing business. And, you are 18 months behind the competition.

    Or, you can use the free open source software, and subscribe to the authors for maintenance at about the same price you would be spending to support your own software, or less, or more, and not have to have the staff and all the other personnel overhead that goes along with it. And with that, perhaps you will be 18 months ahead of the competition. Also, your support organization consists of anybody and everybody in the world that also uses that software. Think of the Verizon Wireless TV commercial (if you are in the U.S.A. and have seen that).

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    Amen brother!

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    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Let it also be said that open source tools don't necessarily entail open source software. You can use gcc, or open source libraries, for instance, to produce commercial programs.

    Making a career out of open source tools is definitely promising.
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    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMJ_coder View Post
    I don't want to work in or operate a 24/7 call center.

    <snip>

    either in my own company (I would love that!!)
    What do you think running your own company means? Certainly not 8-5 M-F in the absence of a "boss". Entrepreneurs put their life into their work.

    My suggestion is to take a job and get as much vertical experience as you can. i.e., don't be a jack of all trades, become an expert in a related set of technologies.

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    Hello,

    Let me try to rephrase the question: Can I have a livable career as a C/C++ programmer for Linux/UNIX open source software?

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    Crazy Fool Perspective's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMJ_coder View Post
    Hello,

    Let me try to rephrase the question: Can I have a livable career as a C/C++ programmer for Linux/UNIX open source software?
    Yes. Companies like Red Hat hire skilled programmers to work on open source projects that are key parts of their product... like the kernel, gcc, etc..

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    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Not to mention regular companies which maintain linux servers and workstations, or companies that wish to port their products to linux; Web hosts, commercial software companies, insurance, banking, web designers, marketing and publicity, communications, defense, universities, ...
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    Captain Crash brewbuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMJ_coder View Post
    Hello,

    Let me try to rephrase the question: Can I have a livable career as a C/C++ programmer for Linux/UNIX open source software?
    Yes, but there are a million others who want the same thing. Bottom line, you have to be good.

    One great example of a small, open source success story is Glyph & Cog software, creators of the Xpdf viewer. As far as I know, Derek Noonberg is the sole creator and maintainer of that code base. I have an idea how much money he makes, let's call it "A lot," and leave it at that.

  12. #12
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    But the money isn't directly related to xpdf, is it? I tool a look at his distribution conditions, and I'm curious.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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