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Ubuntu Linux - Frequently Asked Questions
Linux programmers can make money in a variety of ways. They usually work for the private vendors (such as Red Hat) on custom applications for large companies, that may or may not be Linux related. For example, you could have a factory with several production computers all running Red Hat Linux, but the factory one day needs a special custom program written for a specific task. This kind of job falls under the broad category of services such as on-site or remote technical support and assistance. These kinds of special tasks are just examples. But remember that most of the people who contribute to the Linux project and the Free Software Foundation overall do so voluntarily because they enjoy it. It might be difficult to think of a person writing computer source code as a hobby, but believe it or not, there are millions of people out there who do that very thing. There are a limited few whose paid full time job is to help program source code and advance the development of Linux/Ubuntu, but they're just there to help improve the quality of the software under the guidance of the distributor. From source code development to simple bug reports or questions brought up on ubuntuforums.org, every bit of participation, public or private, counts..
The very nature of open-source software and the volunteer work that is contributed by thousands is what drives the development of Linux and Ubuntu. A quote taken from the book Linux for Dummies reads:
Linux is an ever changing and evolving result of a massive collaboration that has done nothing but expand in terms of its number of users and developers at an exponential rate. This expansion coincides nicely with the accelerating expansion of high bandwidth Internet access around the world. The Internet, in its many topologies and physical implementations throughout history, has acted as the primary medium used to further advance the development of the Linux OS. Those who are the most inspired and participate in Linux development are those who respect computer source code as if it is an art form, and that development of a free and open-source operating system is the motivation behind the desire to make a positive contribution to all cultures around the world. Their craft of computer programming is their passion, and source code is treated like sculptured artwork to be built and shared by the world for free.
So in summary, most Linux programmers do make money, but not necessarily from working on Linux development. Right now about 40 paid programmers work for Canonical Ltd., which is responsible for coordinating with thousands of other volunteer programmers and developers from around the world. This allows for a high level of quality, a more rapid turnover during alpha and beta testing phases, and a more diverse bandwidth of feedback which helps improve the overall experience of the operating system in the long run. This model has produced unprecedented results, shocking some and exciting many more. The potential of Linux, as ambitiously predicted by so few years ago, is finally being realized.
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