Where do I fit?I'm not much of a coder; my ability to produce cool code widgets, or even root out bugs in other people's code, is so wanting that I dare not even start. And so much of what the FOSS community is asking for help with is coding and related tasks that there's very little space for someone like me to contribute. Of course, you ask immediately, "what can someone like you do?" And I have a hard time articulating that, too.
As someone who's been using computers since 1980, wading through a variety of software from MagicWindow on the Apple //e to the GIMP on my SUSE laptop, I have some sense of what works in a user interface and what doesn't. Also, as someone who has made a career out of implementing enterprise class software (you know, the stuff that gets business done in a data center rather than "cool stuff" like network snooping utilities and filesystem managers), I have some sense of what integration means beyond knowing whether or not all the components can "speak" XML. But what does that all mean to the open source software world? Where do I fit in? My ego is sure that there's value in what I know. But how do we (my ego and I) present what that is in a manner that's convincing? Furthermore, how do I put it into practice? I sense a challenge.
Partial AnswerBut the point of this post was to delve into the depths of why open source software is a good idea. The knee-jerk responses are that "information wants to be free" and "you can't have security without being able to see the code." But how many of us really look under the covers of Mozilla to see how it works? I know I don't, and I even mentioned that once. And, looking at that Slashdot post, I now remember why open source is a good idea:
"The biggest thing, though, is the openness. I don't read C code well enough to be able to delve into the bowells of the kernel or the GUI, or even modestly complex applications and have a chance of knowing what's going on. But there are people who can, and I know where to look to find out what they think. There's a certain safety that I feel when I run Linux that I don't feel when I run Windows. It's public safety, and it's maintained by the neighborhood watch."
So, there's the answer, or at least part of it. I'm sure there's more. So, tell me, why do you think open source software is a good idea?