The gist of the research? Open-source developers are largely salaried to be such, at least on the most heavily used/developed projects. Joe gives good reasons for this:
- Core contributions require more time and expertise than peripheral contributions.
- Core contributors are desirable employees. Everyone wants to hire the contributors who can and do influence the projects.
- Volunteers can work on "peripheral" aspects of projects that can be performed in volunteer-sized chunks of time. Which is to say, a few hours a week on average.
As he says, "You get what you pay for." Anyone who still believes open source is a hippie phenomenon hasn't been paying attention. Money fuels Linux. Money fuels Apache. And so on.
The return on this open-source financial investment may not come directly in the form of royalties or license fees for most, but it is there. Otherwise the IBMs and Red Hats of the world wouldn't be investing so heavily in open source. Open source is about freedom, but it's more about the freedom to serve customers and crush competitors than many suspect.