I'd like to share two random trains of thought in the area of free open source software. The first is my continued annoyance with the likes of Richard Stallman and his acolytes for their insistence that all software must be free and that commercial software vendors are somehow unethical. I hear this refrain time and time again on message boards and at geek fests around the world. What right do they have to tell me I can't sell software that I write? Why is it that selling software services is OK, but selling software is unethical? Is this not the same as saying all scientific discoveries and works of art must be free? What of the livelihoods of research scientists and artists? Who will fund general R&D? Should artists work only on commission, or give away their creations for free and charge for modifications? I have never heard an explanation that didn't boil down to a bizarrely software specific axiomatic belief.
On the other hand, free open source contributors are greatly underappreciated philanthropists. FOSS allows developers to share ideas and improve patterns and practices. Giving your valuable time to contribute to the body of software available to schools, underfunded research institutions and other worthy organizations is a great and noble thing. This sort of contribution helps level the playing field for programmers from developing nations by providing abundant free study material. Your FOSS component could be one of the gears that powers a key administrative application for a cash strapped hospital or charitable organization.
I am a huge fan of free open source software, and I've made my own modest contributions, but I don't like religious zealots in any context. I like blended models such as dual licensing and commercial software that is free to charitable organizations. I encourage those who are able to steal a few free hours here and there to contribute to the body of free open source software. It's a worthy form of global community service. As with many things, its best to travel the middle path.