The FreeBSD project and the money

The new Daemonnews issue is out.
As always they are suffering from lack of content (hint, hint). But this time there is an interesting article from phk, where he is reasoning about the FreeBSD projects relation to money

As you may know from slashdot, phk started a fundraising campaign. The initial goal was to get enough money for phk to work for a few months fulltime on FreeBSD. This goal was reached immediately.
In his article he described some of the feedback he got during the campaign and raises some interesting points:

Have we as developers through our fear of commercialism and impurity and corrupt influences of money slowed down FreeBSD development and through lack of courage and visions hampered our own progress ?

First I have to admit his diagnosis right, some developers have a feeling that one can be described as “fear of commercialism and impurity and corrupt influences of money”. You can read it between the lines in a lot of Mailinglistposts.
I think the reason for this feelings are manifold. One is probably bad expierience in the past, think WRS. Another reason I think is the fear that with money in it, the “fun” may vanish and may be replaced by “envy” – He gets money for it and not me although my hacking skills in that area are better – and “greediness” – Hm, I could write this patch in my freetime, or I can wait until someone donates enough money. It is not likely, but discussions like this have taken place in the not so far past.
Next I like to comment on “slowed down”. IMHO one of the big misconceptions of the current FreeBSD development are the pre-defined timelines, like “Release X will be released on $DATE” (Did you remember any past release being released on time?), or “Release 5.x need this and that feature, volunteer please start coding” (There are still some features missing that were planned for 5.0). Other Opensource projects are not doing it that way. E.g. as far as I understood the KDE release engineering, every KDE developer defines what he wants to get ready for the next release. This is a lot more realistical and opensourcelike. Everyone in Austria probably knows about “Speed kills” which is the motto of the current government and they are not very successfull. IMHO especially in OpenSource there is no need to drive fast. We will be ready when we are ready. So my personal answer to phks question is a honest “No, I don’t think so”.

The ball is back between the FreeBSD developers, and there is no better time for it than right before our core team election in the next couple of months: We need to decide how we want to tackle the very hard development tasks in the future, given that our user community seems willing and able to fund some of it.

I am currently in the process of receiving my second Hardware donation, via the developers wantlist. I am really motivated by the fact that the user community is willing to support FreeBSD development, and I can imagine what feelings phk had when he saw the incoming money. So I think the efforts of the donations team should be continued and encouraged. But I don’t think this should have influence on our descision process, what development tasks we want to tackle in the future.
Disclaimer: No, I am not planning to run for core in the coming elections, since I believe that i don’t have enough project expierience yet, especially in the non-ports area. But of course I would encourage candidates with similar opinions.