Microsoft's Fake Patent Attack: Should You Care?: Page 2

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Death of Free Software

Of course flying against this was the a reported statement by Bill Hilf that Linux was dead. Of course, when you actually read the piece, (I’m not sure most got past the headline) what he was actually saying was that most who work on the core parts of a Linux distribution are paid to do so. He clearly could have worded what he is reported to have said better.

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Whether true or not, paying people to develop Linux would have virtually nothing to do with killing Linux, and it doesn’t even mean there is no free software. Microsoft pays its developers and there are a number of free Microsoft products, so getting paid really doesn’t mean the product doesn’t exist or can’t be free.

This was helped by the fact that Bill weighed in personally on the subject, and while purists that think folks shouldn’t be paid to work on software might disagree, most of us who have to pay bills probably have no real problem with people getting paid to do work.

From a Linux perspective, far from making the product appear dead, the implication is actually that it is maturing, and credible organizations can pay folks to work on core aspects of any application that should result in a better product, or at least a more consistent one.

But outside of a few folks who are likely a few beers short of a six-pack, and of course the people doing the work, I doubt many really care if folks are paid to work on Linux or not, and that most who use Linux today in IT shops probably think that paid developers are a good thing. Probably because most are paid and like being paid themselves.

So, even here, Microsoft wasn’t really trying to scare anyone. Bill Hilf was simply addressing what he thought was a misconception that is important to him as a paid programmer, and that is that folks doing good work on products, open source or otherwise, are being paid. And seriously, I doubt even he thinks that is a bad thing.

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