Subject: Re: Open source vs. Closed Source salaries?
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 18 Dec 2000 11:15:32 -0800

   Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 13:15:40 -0500
   From: Alex <xela@MIT.EDU>

   > Does anyone know what the median salary is for a full time programmer at
   > the Free Software Foundation?  How many full-time programmers does the
   > FSF employ?  Part time?

   Everyone at the FSF is paid the same, always has been.  (Though 
   I did hear a rumour a couple of years back that they'd started
   paying the office staff --- the people who ship CDs, etc. ---
   something like 80% of the standard salary).  Last time I knew what
   it was (about 5 years ago), it was around $32k.  I've heard it
   mentioned in the past few months; it was still in the 30s but I
   don't recall exactly what.  So, less than half the datamation
   survey's claimed average --- and this, mind you, in one of the
   most expensive places to live in the country.

Comparing salaries at the FSF to salaries at a private computer
company isn't very interesting.  The FSF is run as a charity.  People
who work directly for charities are normally paid less than people who
work at private companies.  People who work at charities get other
benefits, such as, hopefully, good feelings about their work and,
often, much more flexibility about what they do and how they do it.

The last time I checked, $32K is what a starting public school teacher
earns in Cambridge, MA.  I doubt most grad students earn more than
that--and there are a lot of grad students in the Boston area.  It's
not a poverty salary, unless you happen to be used to high tech

I'm not seriously trying to defend the FSF's policies.  I just don't
think that they are relevant to a discussion of salaries earned by
free software programmers in industry.