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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

State of the Open Source Movement

The open-source scene pretty much took the fun out of programming. It's become an industry of egomaniacs engaged in constant one-upsmanship. There is little-to-no collaboration, constant reinvention of the wheel, and little done of actual technical merit -- most work tends to be the manipulation of known and well-documented APIs, or the debugging of someone else's code. All in all, it has become distasteful.

There is a lot of grief for little, if any, reward. Open source users -- not to mention developers -- are more impatient, demanding, rude, and insulting than their counterparts in the commercial world. Why put up with this when people will pay you for your time and effort, and actually thank you for taking the time to read a bug report?

You know, I was reading the Van Roy paper and took a nap. I had this dream where I encountered this really nasty bug in something I released, so I stayed up late figuring out how to fix it, uploaded a new version, then posted a news item telling users not to use the previous version, and what the (now fixed and closed) bug was. This post got a few comments saying stuff like good catch, validated that the new version does indeed fix the bug, etc.

Now I woke up a bit later and thought all over this and realized that this is completely the opposite of how open source projects work. Commercial software works this way, but not open source stuff. The lesson here is that you don't want IT people as your userbase; they're bastards; even though they should be more understanding than any other people that software takes time, bugs happen, and some problems aren't solvable.

I think it goes back to the social problem of many IT people- every coder thinks they are better than other coders, even when their stuff sucks. Coders look down on sysadmins (who are often their users), and sysadmins in turn think that coders don't know their jobs as well have the deluded belief that writing a large multithreaded highly complex piece of software is as easy as using a scripting language to read text logs.

So yeah, to be happy, write software for closed source.

You know, since that stupid bazaar vs cathedral essay came out, I always got the impression that the cathedral was a nice, serene place of thought and meditation, and that the bazaar was a place one would get stabbed during a shouting match over haggling about some feature/bugfix.

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