These were some comments I left on an other blog where a discussion was taking place. I thought I would post it here as well to help me save these thoughts.
I am very much the outsider in the the open source discussion. I have spent the better part of my 35+ year career working for companies that make and sell proprietary software. While I have worked on projects that more or less follow the open source model of development these projects have been pretty small and not in the LINUX world at all.
So how do I judge the welcoming ways of the open source world? By the way the people who self identify with it interact with me. Those experiences have been overwhelmingly negative. It is as if they see me as irredeemably tainted and the enemy of all that is good and right in software. This is of course not a good way to win me over. 🙂
People in this thread see open source as more welcoming of people than proprietary software projects. I had one big dream after college and that was to one day be a developer on the RSTS/E (a proprietary) operating system. I did get the chance and it wasn’t all that hard for me. Dang, I am batting 1 for 1. Home run the first time. So my personal experience has been that people are much more welcoming in proprietary software. Send in a resume, get an interview, people offer to pay you money to write code. How is that not welcoming?
What is the model for open source? It appears (remember I am on the outside looking in) that one can get the code and start working but that it often takes quite a long time and lots of hard work before people are willing to take and use your code. And then they still take it for free. You get a pat on the head and people use your code and that is about it. This is encouraging to people who need to make a living? Really?
It seems as though the process to work on open source as a company employee is pretty much the same as for working on proprietary software though. In any job having a portfolio of work to show people is an edge – open or proprietary. And frankly my observation is that makers of proprietary software are way a head in realizing the importance of a diverse population of contributors. They are well out in front trying to recruit women, minorities and all sorts of different people into the development process. Diversity is a core value where I work. Is it in open source? I don’t see it.