Lack of remuneration continues to be one of the main problems for free software developers 


Remuneration in open source projects

One of the tmost controversial issues in free software is the issue of "remuneration" for developers, and that is Not for nothing is it a rather complex and debated topic, andBecause, on the one hand, the balance is the financial sustainability of open source projects and, on the other hand, there are sponsorship models, collective financing, donations or even "paid versions."

The reason for touching on this topic is that recently Thomas Stringer an open source software developer and programmer, talks about the problems open source developers face.

Thomas Stringer details that The lack of remuneration in the open source space is increasingly discouraging developers.

In his post he shares:

Although I am a software engineer by profession, I am also a computer programmer by hobby and passion. So I do what I've been doing for over a decade: I turn on my computer to write code.

What to do, what to do... Learn something new? Maybe. Write a blog post? Well, here I am. But… deep down, I know I have open source projects that need some attention. Turns out one is heavily used. I have almost 3/4 million downloads and it's something that people seem to think has some level of usefulness. Those are the good parts. The bad thing is that there are a dozen problems that I haven't even reviewed, much less classified, investigated, and solved. There are some community PRs I need to check out. There are dependencies that need to be updated. The list goes on and on. This project has reached a not-so-uncommon OSS milestone: maintainer burnout.

Although developers in the free software world often voluntarily contribute to projects without receiving direct financial compensation, the lack of remuneration can pose significant problems for those who wish to spend more time contributing, but must cover their financial needs and obligations.

Thomas Stringer addresses this dilemma in his publication and suggests various solutions that have already been raised by other developers and/or projects that have gone through the same situation and are financing or supporting the project.

And although for many Hearing "pay for free software" may be a "sacrilege", it is without a doubt the best option to address the problem of remuneration for free software development, although it is not as simple as it sounds. This small "detail" has become a big problem for developers and open source projects.

A clear example of this is the developer who sabotaged his own libraries "Faker.js and Colors.js", because he decided to no longer "support large companies with the work he does for free."

This is something that also mentions Thomas Stringer's publication on how corporations take advantage of open source ecosystems without adequately paying developers for their time.

That is why the dilemma of enumeration for free software is difficult to address and becomes a vicious circle, because even though free software developers respect the criteria established by the Open Source Initiative, that is, the possibilities of free redistribution, access to the source code and creation of derivative works, many organizations or commercial projects take advantage of this to generate their profits without giving a list of the projects that make their product possible.

And since The approach to the problem is not new. Thomas Stringer mentions that developers should receive compensation and/or that the project receive adequate collaboration from the benefiting companies/projects.

Likewise, if you've submitted a couple of commits about a product that no one uses, the money (or lack thereof) should represent that. But it's not that simple, because there are different types of open source software developers. Some write OSS code as part of their employment, in which case they are probably already compensated for their contributions. It comes in your checks twice a month. But the other type of OSS developer is the one who makes those OSS contributors after hours and not affiliated with an organization.

Companies using OSS should fund these projects. After all, they are using them. And although they are not required to purchase licenses, that does not mean they should not contribute.

Companies may have full- or part-time employees who contribute to open source software projects. A great example of this is Kubernetes and all the developers who contribute to Kubernetes during work hours. The companies on that list (Google, Red Hat, VMware and Microsoft, to name the main ones) are contributing to the success of these projects. They are giving the developer time.

When a company doesn't contribute enough developer time to projects, it should supplement it with money that is distributed to OSS developers who aren't doing it on behalf of their company. 

That is why it is important to recognize and support the work of these developers, since their work often contributes significantly to the advancement of technology and benefits the community in general and that above all it must be taken into account that in the end they are "people" who have needs and who do not "eat air", although for For many companies and corporations the latter would be great, no, it is not and even if they replace the human factor with an AI, they must pay and there will still be a person behind it for control, maintenance and improvement issues.


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  1.   Carmeline Kiran said

    We live in a crazy world, on the one hand, we have companies complaining about a lack of talent and on the other we have talent with insufficient remuneration or without any gratification.