So most people make their money from… uh not writing boxed applications but actually writing custom software and making kind of improvements to software, and fixing software for other people. And actually free software is a wonderful place to do that kind of work. I’ve been doing free software for a long time. Previously I worked… uh… way, way back now… 10 years ago in NHS IT. It’s the National Health Service IT project based in Leeds, in the UK. And my job there was really to maintain… um… some free software we were using to power our website. So we had… um… a thing called Plone. And we were using Apache and Linux and GNU and Debian And all these other things to kind of make this thing happen. So my job was primarily to make sure that kept working to add features to it, to add new functionality and to kind of maintain it. And so I was paid to do that job And I left there, went to the University of Manchester, And had a job that also paid me to make and maintain free software. And there’s kind of an overriding pattern here, where I did that for a lot of my jobs. At the free software foundation, my job was more focused on campaigning. I was the masterhead behind some campaigns like Defective by Design, Windows 7 Sins, PlayOgg for a coupla years. So I would write articles and I would do a lot of editorial-type work on those things. But at the same time, maintaining my own free software projects… uh… in my spare time. And now I’m at Creative Commons, and Creative Commons – surprise, surprise – pays me to uh… look after free software projects and to maintain and write free software. And so, um, if you would like to work in this kind of field, I would suggest you… become reasonably good at programming, you know your licenses, know your background and kind of have a… strong desire to make free software a reality and people need free software developers. Um, WordPress is a great example of a very, very common piece of free software, that’s not going away anytime soon. People will always need people to write plugins, help the people, be supportive Um, write themes, write add-ons for WordPress And if you’re really good at free software development, then you can even, y’know, work on WordPress itself! Y’know WordPress is a community project, too, so people need… The people who work on WordPress are volunteers, primarily in their spare time. But, some of them also work for the company behind WordPress. And so I think… the very best WordPress developers in the world get the opportunity to work, full-time, as their paid job on WordPress. You have to start somewhere, you don’t just get a job in free software from nowhere, but you can uh… If you already have a job writing programming, doing programming stuff you probably already use some free software tools. See if you can convince your boss to allow you to release your changes out to the world. And if you can, then find the right community and give them the changes back and you could very soon find yourself doing that for a living. [Sean] How does it work in terms of organizing teams of developers to kind of maintain free software. [Matt] The way it really works is that, um… If you are a developer and you enjoy a piece of software, you can be part of its upkeep. So, generally speaking, most software that’s free software is developed in public, using sites like Sourceforge historically or nowadays in things like Gitorious or Github. You can go along, get a copy of the code, find bugs, fix bugs, add new features and kind of push that code, that you’ve made, back to the main development team. In general, what happens is there’s kind of a process whereby You send in a few bugfixes, a few, like, suggestions and then eventually, after a while, they get kinda like, “This guy’s okay we’ll let him into the team.” And then, you become part of that development team. If they use Git, for example, go and check out a copy of the Git code and, make your changes locally, but also, as you make your changes, check those changes into Git. So that you have your own version of that code locally You can kind of back-and-forth through it and kinda see what you did along the way. And when you makes commits to that good Git project make good comments, so you kind of remember what you did. Don’t just leave a one-line, sarcastic response, which is what I often do. Try and leave good comments and that way you’ll kind of be able to go back in time and see what you did. And then when ultimately, when you eventually get those changes adopted by the big community project, they’ll be able to see the same thing you can see they’ll be able to see what you did. And so, it’s not so important to structure your code super-well because, as long as you kind of make it work and you make good comments then that can be cleaned up afterwards. Look at companies like MySQL and redhat, and they’ve made lots and lots of money from doing free software stuff. So, you would definitely [Sean] Canonical are one one of those are they as well? [Matt] Canonical does have teams developing certain pieces of free software. I think the difference between Canonical and redhat is that redhat develops software that’s generally widely used by all the free software users, like Gnome Desktop and other things whereas I think what Canonical does is a different model and they actually develop kinda their own free software. They release it as free software but it’s mostly used for the Ubuntu community and the Ubuntu users. It’s not so widely used outside of Ubuntu. That’s not an unreasonable thing that’s a, y’know, perfectly valid way to create software, y’know. And, of course, there’s nothing stopping the teams at redhat and other companies and other organizations from taking the Canonical code and reusing it for other things. y’know, so… If you are gonna take code from other projects, and you can of course do that, then you make sure that the code you take is under a license that works with the license of the project you’re taking things into. So, for example, if you’re taking code from, um… WordPress, you can’t really take that code and put into a project that not under the GPL. You would have a hard time wrangling that and you would have an even harder time getting your changes taken in by another project because that file would then be under at least partially under the GPL. You should never let that kind of thing dissuade you from taking stuff, because it’s free software, it’s there to be taken but, at the same time, you should just know the obligations that you then have, um, as a developer to kind of make your changes available to people. So that, y’know, when you take your widget from something that’s GPL and you put it on the web, you then have to make sure that people can get the source code to your changes, too; you can’t just uh… [Sean] Is that the share-alike sign? [Matt] That’s the share-alike part of things, exactly, yeah. So if you have companies that for some reason don’t want to use free software, well then, take advantage of them and sell them a copy for 2,000 dollars or 10,000 dollars whatever you can get, but, the same product should be free software at the same time for those of us who are in the community that want to take it and improve it and share it.