Advogato: Chewing Up and Spitting Out Our Leaders

“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

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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