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Advogato: Chewing Up and Spitting Out Our Leaders

Nov 15, 2001, 12:16 (3 Talkback[s])
"Recently, Christoph Pfister, founder of the Fink project, loudly and publicly resigned. There is a lively discussion of this on MacSlash and Slashdot. Advogato would like to use this event as an excuse to discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses of free software.

It is very easy for this cat to sympathize with Christoph. It is the rule, rather than the exception, to put blood, sweat, and tears into a free software project (not to mention long hours), and get precious little in return. Even the satisfaction of knowing that you have given valuable software to many users is tempered by hearing them whine and complain. Even more frustrating is when other people get fame and fortune off the coattails of your work. The fact that all this effort is not rewarded with money is the major shortcoming of the free software process. There have been quite a number of attempts to fix this, but few have been successful, and of those that have, most don't seem to generalize.

That said, these events display one of the strengths of free software, as well. Christoph has created something of value (a package management system for Mac OS X based on Debian's), and a community has formed around it. It's likely that this community has reached critical mass, so that it can continue to thrive even without Christoph's participation. This post from David Morrison points the way for how this might happen in the case of this particular project. There is great resilience in free software, not obvious to those who see only the surface of Linux business failures and public expressions of burnout."

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