Matt Barber <> wrote at 13:10 on 2009-02-11:

> What about all the jobs that people have when they develop software that  
> is paid for and licensed? If the switch to free software were to  
> suddenly happen, would these people find themselves out of work?
> This isn't a stab at anybody, it's just an observation that I'd like to  
> put in there. And I'm genuinely interested in the response from  
> enthusiasts to the idea.

Well, quite a number of people are employed to work on OS and GPL
software, both writing enhancements and fixing bugs. Certainly the
growth in use of OS doesn't seem to have lead to hordes of unemployed
developers. Indeed, most of the developers I know work using OS tools to
write commercial software (webapps mostly) that runs on OS platforms and
this has been a huge growth area in the last decade. Some are paid to
write to write code which is subsequently opened.

I'd be much more worried about sales, marketing, licensing and
compliance people TBH. If your job is keeping track of licenses to avoid
having your organisation beaten up by BSA/FAST and those licenses
suddenly become fewer in number (I don't think anyone is suggesting no
use of commercial software) then there's a reduction in the amount of
work needed. Whether this is repaid by the removal of a bureaucratic
brake on Getting Stuff Done* is up for debate. I think it is, but as a
Linux/BSD guy I would, I suppose.

*When I used to work in Windows/Mac shops, keeping track of licenses was
a huge time-sink. Long hours spent reciting long alphanumerics back and
forth to call centres are weren't really what I'd been hired for.

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