Questions for developers:
Dan -- from USA

Please give a potted professional history...
Currently, I am a Senior Computer Engineering student at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). This my 5th year. Currently I work for the MSOE TRIO Programs on campus developing free software for all TRIO programs. I used to work for L.S. Research Inc. doing embedded systems programming which was proprietary software.

Did you at some point `convert' to the idea of free software? If so, what was it that convinced you?
Yes, I had been using GNU/Linux systems for a while and never really understood any of the philosophy behind Free or Open Source software until I looked I took a course in ethics. In that course I decided I wanted to write a position paper on the ethics of free software. It is then I started to realize what free software was all about and the differences between that and open source (which was the buzz word at the time). Since then I have taken other philosophy based courses and have written a lot more on Free software. Eventually, I am going to put these essays up on the web.

The thing that convinced me was that it just seemed that free software was the way things ought to be. I was drawn to it's sense of community, cooperation, and sharing. I myself have never fit much into the corporate world. I enjoy doing things and pursuing things that help other people. Money is not as important to me as freedom and making a difference in other people's lives and the world.

Have you worked for a proprietary company in the past -- if so, did you leave, and when and why did you decide to leave?
Yes, I worked for L.S. Research for about 4 months or so and then, after some soul searching, and the exposure to Free Software Philosophy I was getting from reading RMS, I decided it was not for me. I did not want to be involved in something I did not whole heartedly believe in.

What are the ways in which developers become disenfranchised if working for proprietary companies -- please could you give a few examples of the things you have personally found most frustrating?
Developers become disenfranchised in a number of ways. When you write some software and you are really excited about it then somebody asks you, "Hey can I use it" and you have to tell them no it very heart breaking. You see how your program could've made an impact in their lives and you feel resentment and shame. This a huge red flag for me. What's wrong with this picture?

Is it fair to say that most developers are frustrated with the proprietary model, even if they chose to work for proprietary companies? Are there many developers who think the proprietary model is a good thing per se? If so, why do they think that?
I am not sure how many people are frustrated by it. Some developers are only doing it for the money so they don't care if the code is free or not. I, on the other hand, am driven by other things such as freedom, sharing, cooperation. I do not want to look back on my life and feel that I haven't made a difference in this world. I think that free software is a great and noble way for me to do just that. More importantly, it is the right way.

Have you made any personal sacrifices (money, time, prestige etc.) for your free software principles?
I am making sacrifices right now. I know I could go somewhere and make a rediculous amount of money, but I know this would not make me happy. I will be a lot happier fighting for something that I believe in. Doing something that I feel is worth while. I have made a conscious decision to not compromise on my beliefs no matter what. Even if some company offers me the world.

How did you hear about FreeDevelopers, what influenced you in your decision to join, and what are your hopes for the company?
I found FreeDevelopers from the link on the GNU home page. The one thing that I liked about FreeDevelopers was that there is actually a potential for being able to make a living developing free software; doing something that I believe and that would make me happy. It is a dream come true.

We will make this dream a reality, consequently changing the world forever.


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by Ross Moore, 2022-01-20 for FD-IT