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FOSS careers

Back when I was a wee pup, like, 3 years ago - you know, when Slashdot was still cool? - I read Slashdot frequently. (Admit it, you did too.) I don't recall exactly which one of the pedantic stories this comment was attached to but someone basically said:

OPEN SOURCE IS NOT A CAREER PATH.

I don't know why this random guy (who was incidentally moderated +5) stuck in my mind. It wasn't a particularly insightful comment, but there you have it. It stuck. Fast forward to today. I'm 24. I'm the head tech. guy at the company I work at.

I can't seem to find qualified Linux programmers. We have resorted to employing, on a part-time basis, various hackers on projects that our product distributions are built off of. Sure, plenty of Linux users are out there - just not programmers. The irony is, that everyone I would like to hire has a job - and these aren't crappy jobs either. Open source programmers are raking in some nice cash making it difficult for our company to make a competitive offer. And it's not just limited to our company. Our business partners and even customers whom are MUCH larger than us are having trouble finding good FOSS help. So much so that they are looking at employing companies like ours on a contract basis to fulfill the odd jobs that an employee probably should be doing.

The latest installment in my anecdotal evidence that the FOSS market is on fire: this week, through a contact in GNOME, a company-which-shall-remain-nameless, who has a very profitable nameless-market, who is one of the most coveted employers, AND who has a huge operating budget called me for an interview. They are having a hard time finding people to work on GTK+. I don't know what will come of it (the suspense is killing me), but I do know that if I were not a FOSS developer and I had submitted my resume, I might have had trouble getting someone to pick up the phone; rumor is that they get hundreds of applications for every software engineering position.

I can't predict the future; I don't know if I will even be offered a job at this company. But, what do know is that right now, any ankle-bitters reading this: don't listen to the old guard! Keep screwing around with FOSS in your free time. We have a serious FOSS developer shortage on our hands. And FOSS pays.

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jasondclinton
Jason D. Clinton

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