Originally Published: Thursday, 5 October 2000 Author: Emmett Plant
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Std View]

Because We Love It

There is a frightening number of people in the world that don't enjoy their jobs. There are people who have made a business out of making the ordinary dayjob an interesting and fun experience. Companies will invest millions of dollars in making the boring drudgery of their business seem exciting and interesting to employees. Profit-sharing and free soda are definitely motivators, but people in the Linux business work from the heart.

My mother was a single parent, and my father has never paid a single dime of child support. When I was growing up, money was tight, and my mother put herself through nursing school. She worked as a bartender and a waitress. She had to suffer through work she didn't love, doing things she didn't enjoy to pay the bills. In the Linux industry, people are paid to do work that they would normally do for free out of love and interest. How many people get to turn their hobby into a profitable job?

Walt Whitman said that if you enjoy your work, you'll never work a day in your life. If what Walt says is true, I haven't been working for a while now. I enjoy my work. I'm a writer and an editor, and I get to work in the most exciting corner of the computer industry. Every day, I wake up, wondering what cool things the Linux.com volunteer writers have put together for me to enjoy. Okay, I'm probably overstating a little bit here; they're writing for you, the reader, not Emmett the Editor. Still, I get a lot of satisfaction out of being on the bleeding edge of the industry press.

When I was in Canada for the Ottawa Linux Symposium, I had the opportunity to hang out with my friend San. When the sun goes down, San is an incredible trance DJ. During the day, he's an engineer for VA Linux working on high-end server solutions. San loves his work. At one point, I asked, "San, do you ever wake up in the morning and think that you're the luckiest guy in the world, getting paid to do something you'd do for free?" "Every day," San said. I find that this attitude is held in almost every corner of the Linux industry.

There is a frightening number of people in the world that don't enjoy their jobs. My grandmother was a prison guard. My mother is a full-fledged nurse now, and she can't stand doing what she does. Most of the people I know that truly love their jobs work in the Linux market. I think there's more to this than meets the eye. There are people who have made a business out of making the dayjob an interesting and fun experience. Companies have found that the happier their employees are, the better their employees work. These companies will invest millions of dollars in making the boring drudgery of their business seem exciting and interesting to employees. Profit-sharing and free soda are definitely motivators, but the people I know that work in the Linux business work from the heart.

I remember talking to my friend Scott Draeker a while ago about the hiring process at his company, Loki Entertainment Software. Loki ports games from Windows to Linux, and they do a really great job. He told me about one of the applicants they were considering hiring for a programming job. The applicant was more than qualified, and had real talent and skill. He didn't get the job. Why? Because in the interview process, Scott figured out that the applicant was only interested in working for a game company. But Emmett, I hear you cry, Loki is a game company! Loki is definitely a game company, but more importantly, Loki is a Linux company. Loki has a vested interest in the widespread use of Linux. If you're not interested in Linux, Loki doesn't want you.

It's late at night here on the east coast; as a matter of fact, it's 4:15 in the morning. I can log onto IRC and find my friend Dave, who is in the same timezone, up and working. Surprise, Dave works for a Linux company. Linux community members are so happy with their work that they are willing to stay up super-late and get the job done. We don't do it for raises, we don't do it because we're told, we don't do it because we're afraid of getting fired. We do it because we love it. Not to be too self-referential, but think about Linux.com. The vast majority of writers for Linux.com are volunteers. Volunteers! They spend criminally long hours and personal time writing for Linux.com because they love Linux, and they want to see their favorite operating system succeed.

Linux is more than a business. Linux is a community. Linux is more than an operating system. Linux is a dream. We know that as computer users, we represent a small percentage of the computer industry as a whole. The important thing is that we know we're right, and we're going to change the future of the software industry one long night at a time.