"Enthusiasm for the benefits of open source, however, should not
be allowed to paper over the drawbacks. Specifically, open source
has a critical flaw which has little to do with its suitability as
an alternative to proprietary products. That flaw consists of a
lack of concrete incentive to motivate developers to contribute to
open source projects.
"The benefits of open source are apparent. It enables
collaborative development on a global scale, as anyone with the
skills can view the code and contribute to it. It is highly
flexible due to source code access (third parties can customize it
completely) and the requirements of a development model wherein the
atomic contributions (as in small, not nuclear) of thousands of
developers are organized within a single product. It serves as an
educational tool, as teachers can show students the inner workings
of a production-scale product. It is free, and that makes possible
usage scenarios not available to fee-based products (think low-cost
routers running a streamlined Linux OS).
"The problem, however, is that open source must rely on the
willingness of programmers to contribute code without financial
compensation. The Free Software Foundation claims that in a world
of free software, people will program because 'programming is fun.'
In their opinion, the promise of high returns has corrupted the
programming discipline, as people have been 'trained' to expect
that they will be paid well to program. The solution to this
problem is to remove, or at least reduce, the compensation
incentive through widespread adoption of open source software, as
stated on the FSF's Web site: 'If we take away the possibility
of great wealth, then after a while, when the people have
readjusted their attitudes, they will once again be eager to work
in the field for the joy of accomplishment...'"
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