Getting Paid to Develop

Beaver photo (c) S Phipps

We've got an exciting development bubbling that I hope to be able to announce in full detail at FOSS.IN in Bangalore on Friday when I speak there.

Just to give you a glimpse of what's happening, Sun will be announcing a multi-year award program in support of fostering innovation and advancing open source within our open source communities. We'll be providing a substantial prize purse and working with the communities involved to develop the approach that works best.

I'm announcing it in India because that's where I expect the greatest open source community growth to come from in the near future - the FOSS.IN programme committee relaunched their CfP a while back with this in mind. If we can play a part in catalyzing the emergence of India as a key international open source power-house, the effect on the software industry will be huge. Not to exclude others in the region of course, so much is going on there.

This year's participants include OpenSolaris, GlassFish, OpenJDK, OpenSPARC, NetBeans, and OpenOffice.org. This is a great opportunity for members of these open source communities to take their passion and creativity and push the innovation boundaries - and get paid in the process!

Update: I've added more detail as well as information responding to questions in the comments here to a new posting.

Update Jan 2008: Details of the individual programmes are now available.

Comments:

"I'm announcing it in India because that's where I expect the greatest open source community growth to come from in the near future - the FOSS.IN"

There you go, well done!
Why enlist the top notch European, Japanese & US coders, when you can enlist cheap Indians? I see where you're coming from.

Unfortunately, you can't beat Samuel Adams:

"you get what you pay for."

What in blue blazes is going over there at Sun? You've guys have had one fiasco after another in a span of mere weeks.

Posted by UX-admin on December 03, 2007 at 10:30 PM PST #

Would it be fair to call this Sun's equivalent of, or answer to, Google's "Summer of Code"?

Posted by Ed Burnette on December 03, 2007 at 11:34 PM PST #

In the EU and the US, it would be fair to call that discrimination, which would lead to a nice hefty lawsuit and damages awarded, possibly in millions of Euros/Dollars.

Not to mention another scandal.

Posted by UX-admin on December 04, 2007 at 01:42 AM PST #

Hi Simon,

congratulations for the brilliant initiative! I believe that it could be also a good idea to launch it in Europe as well. OpenOffice.org migrations do need lots of tools and add-ons, and the Google's approach - as Ed suggests - seems working very well.

Best of luck to the initiative!

Posted by Roberto Galoppini on December 04, 2007 at 04:12 AM PST #

@ux-admin: What in this statement makes you think the program would be restricted to India just because it gets announced there? Wait for the details to be announced and then apply yourself.

India is a big country, yet the Indian open source community is underdeveloped. So it's fair to assume a big growth there.

You said:
>>"you get what you pay for."

The implications of your statement above would actually more qualify as a discrimination against Indian coders.

Posted by Frank on December 04, 2007 at 04:16 PM PST #

"What in this statement makes you think the program would be restricted to India just because it gets announced there?"

Reality. And the reality is, Sun just got done laying off a whole bunch of people in the United States, and they're going to be laying off some more.

At the same time, Sun will "be providing a substantial prize purse" (quoted from original post) -- get this -- in India. Coincidence? More like an insult to one's intelligence.

Posted by UX-admin on December 04, 2007 at 05:04 PM PST #

"The implications of your statement above would actually more qualify as a discrimination against Indian coders"

Moinak Ghosh, a well respected Sun engineer and a capable UNIX(R) hacker once confirmed on opensolaris.org my observations about the current state of affairs of high tech in India.

Fact is, up until recently, Indians have had little to no contact with high tech like UNIX(R) and UNIX(R) hardware. What has been brought in, has been brought by a few west firms.

Majority of the country is still in stone age (read: desktop PCs and Microsoft Windows). That is, of that population which could be called "computer enabled".

UNIX(R) Indian coders are good, but there are far and few between. On the other side, the European, Japanese and US coders have decades of experience with the technology; some countries in Europe even used to be Solaris strongholds.

The problem? One has to pay them what they're worth. If that's not discrimination, I don't know what is, conveniently wrapped in "sound business practices", and "cost reducing measures".

Posted by UX-admin on December 04, 2007 at 05:15 PM PST #

I hope that Italy is not again excluded from the contest as it happened with Android. Some top level lawyers have blogged about the restrictive italian laws and asserted that for technological contests the restrictions can be dropped.

Posted by Fabrizio Giudici on December 04, 2007 at 11:23 PM PST #

Just got to Malaysia and found a surge of comments, sorry for the delay responding.

@UX-Admin: You're on a real anti-Sun tear there, but sadly all your comments are false since I am announcing a global programme. I just happen to be announcing it in India, for a change from the norm.

@Fabrizio: I'll check.

@Ed: Similar in spirit, yes. But we don't want to restrict it to students.

Posted by Simon Phipps on December 05, 2007 at 12:46 AM PST #

UX-admin: You are reading things beyond what was written. The best you could've done was try to confirm your hunch (which was wrong, as per Simon's reply) by asking the right questions, and not go off on a tangent.

Posted by Anil on December 05, 2007 at 01:05 AM PST #

[Trackback] In the end contests like this re-establish proprietary business relationships that open source seeks to tear down. Maybe they’re as natural as predator and prey. Maybe I’m just being a Scrooge. ...

Posted by Open Source on December 05, 2007 at 01:20 AM PST #

@Fabrizio: I checked and it seems Italy is not forbidden. It's up to each community to devise its scheme though.

Posted by Simon Phipps on December 05, 2007 at 01:32 AM PST #

The adoption of open source standards is a boon to everyone so I say congratulations on finding new and innovative ways of "spreading the word". After all, there really wouldn't be a Netbeans as we know it today if it were not for the open source community and its belief that the system works.

Posted by Jeff Schwartz on December 05, 2007 at 02:31 AM PST #

Thank you Simon. Longing to hear the details! Cheers.

Posted by Fabrizio Giudici on December 05, 2007 at 03:37 AM PST #

"UX-admin: You are reading things beyond what was written. The best you could've done was try to confirm your hunch (which was wrong, as per Simon's reply) by asking the right questions, and not go off on a tangent."

All I have to say to that is: actions speak louder than words.

Posted by UX-admin on December 05, 2007 at 04:55 AM PST #

"@UX-Admin: You're on a real anti-Sun tear there, but sadly all your comments are false since I am announcing a global programme. I just happen to be announcing it in India, for a change from the norm."

Right, Simon, right. It's just "a change of the norm". Give me a break.

As for the "anti-Sun tear", I just checked, and MY Sun stock hasn't gone anywhere. So much for me being on an "anti-Sun tear". And I don't believe I'm the only shareholder being "thrilled" by Sun's salami-tactic and sensationalist approach, all while laying people off.

I'm not buying stock in your company so that middle management can be going around laying people off and threatening them to change the constitution to what it was before, jacking up the price of sparc hardware 5x more than what it's worth, growing a miserable 1% year over year, and generally mistreating small & medium size businesses.

Again, actions speak louder than words. It's the Sun management which is on the anti-Sun tear here.

Boy oh boy, is the next shareholder meeting going to be FUN!

Posted by UX-admin on December 05, 2007 at 05:05 AM PST #

I have recently suggested on my blog that JCP spec leads acting as individuals rather than as a member of a company should be supported. This appears to be excluded from the very narrow list of projects given here. Is that the intention?

(BTW, the appearance so far is of fairly narrow self-interest by Sun, as I'd describe the projects listed as Sun sponsored source rather than open source)

Posted by Stephen Colebourne on December 05, 2007 at 08:16 AM PST #

It is sad for marketing guru, but it is absolutely non-clear from your statement: is it for India only?

Posted by Denis on December 05, 2007 at 11:25 PM PST #

@UX-Admin:

<snip>
Fact is, up until recently, Indians have had little to no contact with high tech like UNIX(R) and UNIX(R) hardware. What has been brought in, has been brought by a few west firms.

Majority of the country is still in stone age (read: desktop PCs and Microsoft Windows). That is, of that population which could be called "computer enabled".
</snip>

Majority of the "computer enabled" population across the world use MS Windows on desktop PC's.
This include the average American Joe and the Toms, Dicks, Harrys elsewhere. And the average computer-literate Indian.

The "high tech" folks, as you mention them, or the folks who work on high-end technologies (on UNIX) are mostly trained in the many engineering institutes/ universities of India, and hardly any of them has a Windows desktop anywhere.

I went to school in India and never saw a Windows desktop till I joined the industry. In fact, calling Windows "stone age" is almost blasphemous in the literal sense, unless you want to say that UNIX was written by primates.

I believe you're not in the right frame of mind, for whatever reason. May I suggest taking a vacation in India? The beautiful warmer climes might just soothe some ruffled nerves.

Posted by Santanu on December 06, 2007 at 02:18 AM PST #

@ux-admin and all those 'simon phipps'

" Not to exclude others in the region of course, so much is going on there." dont ya read this line mentioned by the blogger simon phipp...

wat the hell u mean by this ux-admin:

Why enlist the top notch European, Japanese & US coders, when you can enlist cheap Indians? I see where you're coming from.

Unfortunately, you can't beat Samuel Adams:....blah,blah"all this is bullshit..

other than spending ur time critisizing ppl u prove ur worth coding and contributing to open source...u betta write some damn statements and arguements in programs rather than writing it here critisizing the blogger...ur views are pathetic
Frank is right"The implications of your statement above would actually more qualify as a discrimination against Indian coders."

Posted by sukrit vashist on December 06, 2007 at 02:26 AM PST #

It is a good thing - for Sun.

You lay off the permanent employees and then you "hire" helping hands when needed. Of course you don't formally hire them. You offer prizes to avoid all the laws and extra cost of permanent employment. The total cost is maybe one-hundredth of the cost of properly employing developers.

And I too don't believe it is a coincidence this worldwide program will be announced in India first. A Dollar goes a much longer way there than here. So there is a much bigger chance of getting a positive reception. For something which is just an attempt to undercut market prices for developers.

Posted by register2 on December 06, 2007 at 02:34 AM PST #

@ux-admin

"Majority of the country is still in stone age (read: desktop PCs and Microsoft Windows). That is, of that population which could be called "computer enabled".

UNIX(R) Indian coders are good, but there are far and few between. On the other side, the European, Japanese and US coders have decades of experience with the technology; some countries in Europe even used to be Solaris strongholds."

\^\^\^\^\^\^\^\^\^\^\^\^

All the above said words are nonsense...calling windows versions like XP and Vista ,the OS used by billions of users worldwide itself,the stoneaged entities proves how baseless ur comments are...

Posted by sukrit on December 06, 2007 at 02:44 AM PST #

You managed to touch the greatest flaw of open source.

Innovation. You see, aping what Apple or Microsoft or someone else did years ago already is not innovation. Innovation is new frontiers and seeing things in new ways. That is what does not happen due social filtering. To innovate you need knowledge also from other domains besides technical.

You are sponsoring only technical domain. There is much much more such as usability, marketing and making strategic product decisions. Which you are neglecting once more with your program. Open source still is software made by engineers for other engineers.

If you want to see one great example of chances becoming better, take a look at the OOo user experience discussion mailing list archives from the last summer. There is a completely new, fresh, and frontierline usable proposition for a new GUI (a complete overhaul) for OOo. Naturally it did not lead into anything because a) these projects are engineerish and see the user experience only as auxilary thing b) there is a complete lack of sponsorship for such things.

You should do what others are not doing to become actually innovative and build good PRODUCTS. You should sponsor all the NON-coders. I am dead serious. Only roughly 5% of a final product is technical. The rest is entirely different things and Sun (nor the open source community) never has had any clue.

Posted by troll on December 06, 2007 at 02:54 AM PST #

Great news for us South Americans!!

Posted by Diego Naya on December 06, 2007 at 03:00 AM PST #

@Denis: The program applies globally, and not just to India.

Posted by Simon Phipps on December 06, 2007 at 03:23 AM PST #

Well I am in doubt that this will lead to more indians coding open-source software.
Most of them will code as long as they get paid for, period.

I know what I am talking about, I am working for an out-sourcing company since 6years, and I am program coordinator. Yes, call me frustrated ;)

Posted by Regina Anger on December 06, 2007 at 07:32 AM PST #

I pretty much wrote what I had to say, but I'll leave you with this, perhaps you'll learn something:

"Majority of the "computer enabled" population across the world use MS Windows on desktop PC's.
This include the average American Joe and the Toms, Dicks, Harrys elsewhere. And the average computer-literate Indian."

That is exactly right. And as "K" said to "J" in "Men in black":

"A person is smart; people are stupid, panicky animals".

And so the average Tom Dick and Harry aren't very bright; Humanity as a whole is so dumb it hurts. Any time the humanity as whole has made major steps forward, was when one person pushed it forward. Galileo, Newton, Copernicus, Einstein, ... people who used their brains and thought with their heads. Some of them paid with their lives for pushing the humanity forward, like being burned alive by an angry, stupid mob under control of evil, selfish people.

That, if you didn't happen to know, has been the history of the human race for the past 10,000 years.

"In fact, calling Windows "stone age" is almost blasphemous in the literal sense, unless you want to say that UNIX was written by primates."

And I quote:
"A primate is any member of the biological order Primates, the group that contains all the species commonly related to the lemurs, monkeys, and apes, with the last category including humans."

Your homework will be to study up on the topic, and next time, please think.

Posted by UX-admin on December 06, 2007 at 05:04 PM PST #

Hi,

First off, congratulations to Simon and Sun. I imagine that the global financial awards will encourage increased contribution to the projects you've listed. I see that as a good thing.

I was however taken aback by some of the vitriol in the comments by other people. I think skeptics ought to examine the changelogs of their favorite kernel or favorite app and spot how diverse and broad-spectrum the contributions already are. The free and open source community is globally distributed and there's never been a regional or ethnic monopoly on ideas or skills. Simon's post reinforces this fact and it is something that I find very positive.

Thanks,
jayakumar

Posted by Jayakumar on December 07, 2007 at 07:02 AM PST #

And why should SUN wake up only after sf.net, RHX and Google SoC succeed?
Will you, at least now, wake up to \*marketing\* the SUN/JAVA \*\*brand\*\* to \*all\* people?

Make radical new \*\*devices\*\* using the famous hackability of opensource programs.

No more keyboards and mice, please. SUN is a hardware company too. Show it. Finger pointers, touchpads, touchscreens (not so good), VOIP phones, thin-client DIY kits, Peltier cooling chips, SUN PC, SUN Laptop, SUN \*solar\* devices, SUN joysticks-cum-mice, SUN WiFi dongles, OpenSolaris on USB, Java3D-based gadgets.

Green SUN means state, province and nation-wide WANs for specific educational or multimedia content made with Java tools, running on mobiles and stuff - nothing new - just fulfill the original Jini promise.

You seem to have forgoten your own biggest gift to the Corporate-IT thought pool - Jini.

And for hell's sake, tie up with telecom and finance cos to make local-currency and cross-currency PAYMENT GATEWAYS.

Paypal does not work in third world countries.
This one thing will make the SUN brand a major success.
Showing the way is my job.
Walking it is yours.
(1 me == 10 picoYodas)
Obviously, it hurts that SUN does not show signs of activity or intelligence until someone else succeeds. Or maybe you guys have been very very badly burnt by the classic innovator's problem - the second bird takes away the bigger worm - we all know what I'm talking about.

So, you are not innovating tech and you are not innovating marketing and copy-cats make merry.
What's with you guys?
Innovation like SUN works next best to Linux.
SUN-WANs for multimedia. SUN-WANs for education. SUN-Money for no-petrol offices.

Goal #1: Headline on NYT:
"SUN-Money ties up with Citibank, HSBC and StanChart to make paying programmers and creative people extremely easy all over the world"
Time-Estimate: 6 months - 1 year
Status: Open
Allotted to: Jon, Simon

Posted by obviousclown on December 08, 2007 at 06:57 AM PST #

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