I am a free software developer. I work on a couple of larger projects and also develop a few smaller tools independently. My primary motivations for working on free software are the reduction of duplication of effort and improving the accessability of knowledge.
When proprietary software is produced, it may be well-written and well-documented but if it does not fit exactly with the workflow or use case that I would like to use it with, my only option is to reimplement the entire system save for a few changes that would make it more useful to me. Refusing to allow paying customers to make modifications to a tool that would make it more useful to them is suboptimal. Free Software Foundation Europe have a campaign related to the ever more locked down nature of proprietary computing.
If all software is trade secrets, we reduce the pool of developers that have the knowledge that is necessary to create it. If we, humanity as a whole, want to strive for excellence then it seems pretty foolish to force very smart people to waste their time constantly reinventing solutions that already exist but have been withheld in the name of profit.
When the companies holding the rights to this so-called “intellectual property” cease to exist, often times the software products die along with them. Unpatched security vulnerabilities, backwards incompatible changes in dependencies and changes in hardware all go unfixed. With free software, anyone is able to come in and collaborate with the developer, pick up where the previous developer left off or take the project in a whole new direction in paralell with the existing product.
Debian is a free software operating system. It acts as the project that glues together the kernel, system tools, installation and user applications to create a coherent software ecosystem. Through the Debian Policy and Debian Social Contract, the project produces an end result that respects its users and has minimal suprises.
I first became involved in the development of the Debian operating system at a sprint organised near Aberdeen by Debian Med. It was here that I learnt the basic procedures for creating Debian packages. Five-hundred-and-fifty-eight days later, I became a Debian Developer and now regularly contribute to the project.