Open source in my day job

From people in the open source community and then especially friends and fellow hackers in projects I am involved in, I sometimes get questions on how my open source participations affect my “real job”.

I work as a consultant during the days and I do contract development for hire. I’ve been a consultant since 1996 and during this time I’ve participated in more than 25 “full-time” projects for almost as many customers.

I contribute to numerous open source projects and I’ve done it for many years. I lead and maintain several open source projects. I’ve committed many thousands of times to public source code repositories.

Does the contributions make me more attractive to potential customers? Not particularly is my rather sad experience. While some of my customers notice my track record (my CV does of course mention my most notable contributions) most of my day-job clients focus solely on other paid projects I’ve done and that exact technologies and products I worked with and created in the past. It may of course not be too strange as things I do and get paid for is then potentially “good enough for someone to pay me for” while the stuff I do for free in open source projects are… well, not paid for and thus it can’t be qualified by that ruler.

Do I get new assigments thanks to my open source projects? Yes, I do, but usually they tend to be on the smallish side and not of the bigger kinds my regular assignments at work are.

And the reality is of course also that the vast vast vaaast majority of all software consultants that people hire to do development have no public record of open source involvement so it could just be a result of that this is so rare the customers never had a reason to learn or adapt to using open source contributions as a “factor”.

Or maybe I’m just ignorant and haven’t figured out how my customers truly work.

Do I work with open source in my day job? Yes almost exclusively. I’ve been working with Linux in various embedded systems basically the last 8 years and working with Linux systems pretty much implies a wide range of open source development tools as well.