Has working on Linux Distros has gotten more rewarding?
Published by marco on
I saw in the news today that a new version of the Alpine Linux distro is available. It made me wonder whether those who work on distros like Alpine—that a few years ago would have been more rarely used—are excited at the uptake in usage for containers.
Working on open-source software has always had a bit of altruism bound up with it: if you don’t get compensated—most interpret this as remunerated—then why do it? There are a host of reasons to work on something, besides getting paid for it. Many get satisfaction simply from doing the work, and/or knowing that others are able to benefit from it.
This logic always seemed applicable for smaller software—which doesn’t require a large commitment on the part of the user to install. In order to get someone to use an operating system, though, a user has to make a much larger commitment.
Until recently, someone could install an open-source distro side-by-side with their “main” operating system, but they would still end up using it less. There are many of us who would have loved to use Linux on more than just on servers, but couldn’t move away from Windows entirely. VMs were helpful, but still not a good solution.
At least that used to be the case. Nowadays, we have containers instead of VMs and we’re all using Linux more than ever. In fact, I’m used to using Debian or Linux for servers, but have been using something called Alpine Linux for my Docker containers that only need to host a PostgreSql or SQL Server or build and run some .NET Core tests.
It’s nice to think that the increased prevalence of containers is increasing usage of smaller distributions, making it ever-more likely that open-source work will be rewarded by increased use.