] ] I just want two simple things (in this case): Audio, and
] ] my LCD powered off after a timeout.
] Keep reading...this is good stuff! :)
The basic realities are as follows:
1. Open Source Software works. It produces more effective software over time because it is more efficient and allows for derivative innovation.
2. Free Software does not work. It does not work because programmers do not get paid. Programmers that are not getting paid do not have time to sweat the details. Sometimes things like Perl get produced by hackers, but these are the exceptions. The rule is that this does not work as a social model.
3. "Free Software" has been a mixed bag. In some cases people have been paid to produce stuff, and it has been good. This includes the Linux Kernel and Apache. These things are given away for free, and this is extremely useful in the systems space because you can grab things and innovate on them without having to shell out cash up front. People can build complex systems in their garage without having to have big budgets. On the other hand, people usually confuse "free software" with free software. Stuff that is consumer oriented doesn't get funded because consumers aren't paying for it.
4. Building an effective social system that has most of the benefits of OSS without the hindrances of unpaid programmers would really, really benefit humanity.
Ultimately, we need better fund raising for grant based open source software development. Not RESEARCH oriented software development, but OPERATIONAL software development. The grant process must be carefully managed so that it does not hinder innovation. Probably lots of competing systems with competing models. No government. Non-profit corps.
There are things that exist, but they are not professionally managed, or they are too political for their own good. We need something that does fund raising as effectively as the United Way. We need a professional organization that funds software in the public interest.
Would you give $50 a year to make linux better?
Could you get 1 million people to give $50 to make linux better? $50 million would fund about 600 to 700 well paid programmers for a year. You could do a hell of a lot with 600 to 700 well paid programmers. A hell of a lot.