How do people benefit from building free open source frameworks?

Presenting open-source as a hobby is an untrue way to look at it. Most open-source code comes from huge commercial and very profitable projects. Talks about open-source as a hobby / way of life are usually marketing to make the tech geeks look like the saviors of the world.

Let ‘s look at Linux kernel or even Android. It is developed mostly by people that are paid to do so, not by hobbyists on their Sunday afternoon. Many of the best coders are paid to integrate new features for the service they are working on. If I sell server hosts, I need it to be working properly so I will track bugs, add patches, test and integrate new features, etc. I use what have already been built by others for my own business. Who wants to rewrite a whole OS and every piece of software each time you open a new website? That was how people did things 30 years ago.

Now for smaller project, the logic is the same. Let ‘s say you need to convert specific part of your websites into images. You write some library that does it but you don ‘t have enough time to optimize the code, fix the bugs, support different formats , etc. So what you do is : you open-source your draft and advertise it as a “cool “ project. Some other guys that also need to convert pages to images find your project. They may fix a few bugs, add some more features. You can now integrate their work in your own website, which then become better.

So there is a pretty clear economical logic to open-source, not related to any hobby. There are also hobbyist projects, of course but they are often built on top of bigger open-source code. For instance, you could make an open-source camera drone in your local hackerspace but then you will be using tons of existing code that have been produced during commercial projects.

Hope it is clearer now !

This text was originally published in quora.

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