Bonum Certa Men Certa

Ikey Doherty Gets a Great Job by Developing GNU/Linux, But What Does That Mean to Free Software?

The demise of the grassroots nature of GNU/Linux


Summary: The founder of SolusOS may turn from rags to riches owing to GNU/Linux skills that he acquired through development, but there is more to the story and a much broader perspective

THE LESSON of history is that once a movement becomes popular enough it will get abducted by opportunists and businesses. Ask former hippies about it. We see that in the Free software movement, which was officially abducted when it get branched/renamed "Open Source". The previous post gives away the fact that I have a full-time job (FOSS-oriented), which limits my ability to run this Web site. Likewise, the person behind SolusOS is going to call SolusOS off [1], making it all end despite great success [2]. As Christine Hall reveals, there is a reason for this premature death of SolusOS [3]. The developer, Ikey Doherty, just couldn't afford to develop it anymore. Instead, taking into account what developers can earn in the software market these days [3] (especially with GNU/Linux skills [4]), Doherty decided to move on, just like several other distro developers and even authors of GNU/Linux sites. It seems like yet more authors have quit writing about Free software this year, including The H staff, Groklaw, and Susan Linton, the founder of Tux Machines. Are Michael Larabel, Sean Kerner and a few others the last men (or women) standing? Have corporations taken over the development and news regarding GNU/Linux? Are the Linux Foundation staff members (PR) the principal corporations-funded messengers (no poor people invited [6]) now that the operating system outgrew its grassroots nature? First they marginalise Richard Stallman and the FSF and now we are left with just one major desktop distribution that is spying on users in exchange for money from the CIA's close partner, Amazon. When Richard Stallman got pushed out from the movement he had created it was warped into a more 'business-friendly' strand or trend. Likewise, when Torvalds lost his independence in controlling Linux (his wage is now collectively paid by TPM and DRM supporters) all of us lost, except the corporations. Think about it.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Infant Mortality Strikes SolusOS
    That distros come and go is not a problem for most of us, because there are other distros to which we can migrate. No one weeps that startup businesses fail at a very high rate for similar reasons: too little capital, manpower, niche product, minimal advertising etc. That’s just the way things are. It’s healthy that people make the attempt. It’s a learning experience for them and the world will benefit from better ideas.
  2. SolusOS Linux Will No Longer Be Developed

  3. SolusOS: Life Happens…Distros Die

    Ikey has struggled for the past year or so…even to the point of putting food on the table. But even through his prolonged unemployment, Ikey worked steadily on SolusOS. Those of us who could donated money via his PayPal account so he could concentrate on his work.

    Where I come into play within SolusOS isn’t news. Ikey approached me over a year ago and asked if I would like to help create a customized version of SolusOS for the Reglue project. In that our former Ubuntu LTS was speeding toward end-of-life, I jumped at the chance. I was a SolusOS user already so it was a great offer. Ikey and I became friends.

    So what happened? What transpired between October 20th and October 24th that would make Ikey Doherty just slam the door and walk away?

    If I were to guess, it would probably be a combination of a couple of things:

    Ikey had recently landed a fantastic job. While it is public record for those who want to look, in the last conversation I had with Ikey he asked me not to make a big deal out of it.

    So I won’t.

    Suffice it to say that it’s probably Ikey’s dream job. I believe the demands of that position, along with the stress and constant shifting of SolusOS collaborators, finally took its toll. I believe that the combined pressure of these things rolled over him like a tsunami.

  4. 2013 Developer Salary Survey
  5. announces a new job portal for Linux professionals
    linux announced today a new job portal for Linux professionals effective on January 14th, 2014. Employers of Linux talent are urged to join now in order to receive pre-launch benefits. For limited time only employers can be rewarded with free 10 job postings a month for the first half of 2014. To express your interest go to and fill up the simple registration form.

  6. Elitist Linux Australia has no time for the less fortunate
    Linux Australia, which runs the conference through various organisers in different parts of Australia, and occasionally New Zealand, is mum when asked what it intends to do to help pensioners and the unemployed attend the conference.

    Its president, Joshua Hesketh, has not responded to a request for comment on this issue, which was raised on the Linux Australia mailing lists on October 16. Doubtless, Hesketh has a great many important things to attend to.

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