Subject: Re: improving project maintainership
From: Adam Turoff <ziggy@panix.com>
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2002 09:33:20 -0500

On Fri, Feb 08, 2002 at 10:03:11AM +0000, Simon Cozens wrote:
>     1) shelling out to make someone a full-time maintainer doesn't give
> the company any competitive advantage other than the dubious quality of
> "prestige". There's no business case for doing it; it might be nice,
> public-spirited, and generally a great idea, but, like it or not,
> the purpose of a business is not to be a good citizen, it's to make money
> and keep the shareholders happy.

Actually, there is a business case for hiring developers full-time
to maintian free software.  The point to note is that typically
these developers tend not to maintain free software on a full-time
basis.

Zope Corp. appears to be having a reasonable amount of success
employing the team that's developing Zope as well as the a good
chunk of the team developing Python.  The advantage to the shareholders
is that funding the development of Python (or rather, insuring that
it is funded) makes the Zope platform stronger; funding the
development of Zope strengthens their position as a vendor for
consulting and maintenance services for Zope.

I'd argue that similar relationships exist within SuSE and Red Hat
(thanks for the concrete examples Michael), where again the issue
isn't full-time maintenance for the sake of ego boo, but part time
maintenance to strengthen the core of the business.

I'd also argue that there needs to be a balance struck between
package maintainership and other work done by these maintainers.
We've all seen how the public-spirited gift of salary isn't
sustainable in the long term; removing free software developers
away from free software development is likely to be equally
unsustainable in the long term (for FSBs, that is ;-).

Z.