Your views on people using FOSS for professional benefit and not appreciating the essence of freedom?

We have many FOSS users/devs here. Do you agree with people who present open source as a way to build a “good” GitHub profile and get job? Asking here because we have users helping others without hoping for any gain (except knowledge). These are the kind of people I want to be called as role models.

Edit 1 : Due to my limited English vocabulary, the title here might not the the most accurate for what I wrote in the post. Please feel free to suggest change to title if you think it needs change. :pray:

Hi all!

At technical universities these days, there’s a big push towards open source contributions. Looks like a good thing initially, but the motive behind all this doesn’t sound very ethical to me. The argument is that companies will look at your GitHub profile, and if you have more contributions, you present yourself as a more favorable candidate for the job. This is the only argument presented, and I personally won’t say that this is 100% wrong or 100% right. Its incomplete by my definition.

My worry is that nobody mentions the fact that FOSS lets users reclaim their freedom that they are entitled to. Your software runs the way you want; it does only what you want. If you “partially” like a software, you can modify it to your liking. There’s a broader sense of freedom associated with FOSS (very very important), which nobody touches upon.

With open source software, I believe that contributions should happen with the intent of charity. The way some people donate money, food, clothes etc, you donate your time for the benefit of a software and its user community. (Eg. EnOS itself) Don’t do open source because you’re gonna get some goodies as a part of some event or you’re gonna get a “good” GitHub profile. These extra benefits can be a secondary objective, but the primary objective should be the sense of freedom and charity. Ask students if they will even think about FOSS if GitHub stopped showing contributions on user profile page and there were no way to know how much a user has contributed. The standard answer is “No. If it does not fulfill our needs, we won’t do it of course.” This seems to indicate that their intention of open source contribution is only to record contributions and show them during job interview. I think that a person concerned about FOSS will contribute irrespective of whether his contributions show up on a public profile page or not. (I may be wrong).

Worsening the situation, we have YouTubers who present open source as a way to get high salary package/land a good job. I won’t take their names, but what I should is tell that these YouTubers are very popular people. Many students across the country follow them with eyes closed. Last year, before Hacktoberfest 2020, a certain YouTuber gave an example of contribution by editing the README with an unnecessary addition. People followed him en masse and we had a flood of identical spammy pull requests on many repos that time. (those unaware of this should look it up) A very popular YouTuber has again uploaded such a video where we makes some stupid change in the README and creates a pull request. This video was in context of Google Summer of Code, so I’m sure we’ll have misguided students making mistakes.

We have influencers making videos that misinterpret the essence of FOSS. These people are continuing to do so because they are a slave to the (youtube) algorithm. I wouldn’t have cared whatever these people do, but if their actions mislead people into degrading the open source community, then it is a concern for me. Even more because my batch mates are a part of the act. (and as usual, i’m the odd one out :disappointed: )

We have experienced grown ups here, who certainly know better than those algorithm slaves, and users here helping out each other without any hope of monetary gain. I see such people as the the best role models for us students1 wanting to step into FOSS, and their views on this topic is appreciated :pray: What do you think about this situation?

Thanks for reading this long post.

Edit 2: This post is in the Indian context. Cannot say if the situation is same in other countries too.

  1. Unfortunately, I know that most students will follow YouTubers.

My opinion is that any increased usage of FOSS is positive. Even if it is done for a reason not in alignment with the FSF principals, you are still spreading the knowledge and adoption of free software. That will lead to more contributions, more people talking about the software and growth of the platforms.

The same is true of contributions to FOSS. If people are contributing to FOSS for only personal gain they are still contributing to FOSS and making it better. To me it is no different than people who volunteer at a non-profit company to gain experience. FOSS needs contributions in the same way that those organizations need volunteers.


Makes 100% sense to me.

I was thinking that if the majority of contributors are doing it because of personal benefit and not for the “freedom” part, then in the future, FOSS might never be able to make it big or the community will remain to be niche.

We do need more adoption, but we also need more people giving back to the community. This need not necessarily be in form of code contributions or helping on forums. Even a normal user can contribute by spreading the idea of FOSS.

It is good if contributors increase. I don’t like google but I think GSoC is doing some good to the community. But I also want contributors to understand the idea and need of FOSS. These students I talk about don’t think twice before using proprietary software. So while it does help the FOSS community, I personally cannot feel that we’re heading towards a favorable situation.

Anyways, thanks for commenting :pray:. Good to hear from someone who actually gives back to the community.

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Just my opinion, but I think it is the opposite.

The vast majority of people I know outside of Linux forums who use free software use it either because it is free as in beer or for reasons related to data privacy. If you limited free software to only enthusiasts of the free software concept, I think FOSS would get much, much smaller.

Further, the reality is that corporate profit funds most of the large FOSS projects. Take that away and those projects would not exist at the level they do.


I think the reason they fund it is because of innovation. A lot of opensource projects assist and they hope to gain in order to eventually profit from it. I have no problem with that if they would give back and some do. Sometimes (most times) just not enough!


Freedom is hard concept, one should earn it and protect it from that moment.
So to really embrace FOSS philosophy one should be both experienced and brave to never look back.

I agree with @dalto, increased FOSS spread (regardless of reason) - better! :penguin:


I am at odds with most people here, but I see myself as a more realistic user case for the population of the world as a whole.

Open source is just a licensing method. That is all it really is. I know that a lot of non European / Non American schools run Debian or Ubuntu instead of Windows or (god forbid) Apple, but I am pretty sure the decision is 90% because of price (Free as in Beer) and not because of spreading the gospel of Open Source (Free as in Freedom).

It also is very telling that developers and Network engineers etc that use Linux as an actual working tool actually mostly use Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora or RHL with Gnome and its Google Online Accounts feature. Because they use Google Calendar and Gmail and whatnot like most people do.
It is mostly hobbyists and users of more “radical” distros like Arch / Artix that even worry about it, no matter how much you hear people talk about ungoogled Chromium on Reddit.

Point is, there is nothing morally wrong with making a profit off of open source, or to use it in a professional environment.


Replying to my own comment here, because an actual example popped up:

Spotify for Linux is not open source, obviously, but it only exists because it is a weekend-and-evenings project of the actual Spotify devs, who developes Spotify for Windows using Linux machines and just didn’t want to have to use their phones or a browser to listen to their music while working on the main client for Windows at work.


I disagree with the OP.

I’m all for FOSS for profit! Free software is the only ethical way of making and distributing software. If someone can profit by being ethical, that’s even better! When market forces are aligned with ethics, that’s for everyone’s benefit, because ethical behaviour gets incentivised.

All other things being equal, I hope that people who make, distribute and use Free software become filthy rich doing so. :money_mouth_face:


I think I partially failed to convey my point with the post. :sweat_smile:

As dalto said, its good to have more contributors even if they aren’t strictly a follower of the FSF principles. I agree with them. Also agree with Kresimir.

I didn’t exactly intend to bash the contributors here. I more intended to put that against the “influencers” who are uploading clickbait-y videos. They could’ve used their position to make students aware about FSF and such. Not asking them to make video son FOSS propaganda. But in a 25 min video convincing viewers why a “good” GitHub profile is necessary, they can devote 1 minute talking about FSF principles.

Yes indeed I believe making profit from FOSS is legitimate thing. :v: Its a win-win for me. I was against people making money by uploading videos claiming “FOSS is a way to get high salary job” without even touching on the ethics and principles of “free/libre software”.
I wasn’t talking about making profit off free software. I was talking about those who make profit by selling partial facts about open source.


I am just a user. Even worse, a girl,a housewife user and not very clever/geeky with all that Linux shit. But don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful, very grateful for all the nifty Linuxes, and particularly EnOS. But I’m not in the habit of logging into the forum every day and asking Bryanpwo to be the father of my babies. Brrr, babies. :face_vomiting:
But obviously, according to the OP, we all must do it in order to express our gratitude.
For the record, once and for all: I love FOSS, I love Linux, I admire the clever devs who make all the awesome distros. Sorry, won’t ask you to marry me, my man would have some objections about that. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Yes this is the kind of thinking I want to cultivate. People need not be geeky. Being thankful and respecting “free/libre software” principles is good enough for daily users.

Many of these batch mates who contribute to FOSS didn’t even know that many distro developers don’t get paid a proper salary for their incredible efforts. Kinda disturbing to me. Awareness is lacking in students of my age group.

I fully agree with the OP. How is adding fluff to a read me file considered adding anything beneficial to the free software movement. YouTuber’s promoting this type of behavior should be shot with a wad of their own excrement.

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I use the experience gathered any where to ask good money from those who hire me.

My value increases because my knowledge increase and the knowledge gathered is from helping others - whether this is a project or a community - that value will not stop me from using whatever little knowledge I have to help others.

After all we are all humanitarian - at least a some degree … right?


Naaw. Me’s not humanitarian, me’s a penguin! :expressionless:


That particular behavior is quite useless but it also won’t last or become a long-term trend. The reason for that is because people will eventually realize it won’t actually benefit them in any way.

The number of open source contributions you make won’t help you get a job because of the public nature of open source. If you claim on your resume to have lots of open source contributions you are basically begging a potential employer to go look at what they are. When they see that many/all of them are meaningless/detrimental changes to text files that will actually harm your ability to get a job.

On the other hand, teaching people how to contribute to open source projects isn’t really bad for open source in the long-term. Really, the people that youtuber is hurting are their own viewers.

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