Clemens has a nice post on Open Source here. I completely agree with what he says, and the only qualification that I would make, I suspect he would agree with. I would add that, if you want to make free software as a hobby, there is nothing wrong with that. Many programmers enjoy what they do so much that doing it on evenings and weekends is actually appealing. It's no way to make a living, but speaking for myself, I know it makes me feel good for a bunch of reasons:
- I use a lot of open source stuff, and giving back to the community seems like a conscientious thing to do.
- I get a tool that works just the way I want it to, and other people get use of it too.
- For stuff I was going to write anyway, the potential benefit of having other people improve is nice.
- Putting your work out there where other people can see it is scary the way getting on stage to sing is scary: if you screw up, people know it. But it's also a good thing for the same reasons.
Also, for consultants like me, writing stuff that a bunch of people use can be a reasonable way of getting your name out in the community, and that can lead to business. No direct benefit, of course, but it's not a zero-output effort, either.
I think it's safe to say that Clemens understands all that. After all, his name is closely associated with the open source project DasBlog, and there are probably a few people that know him only through that product. So, Aiden, wherever you are, don't give up on open source - Clemens was just saying it's not a good career path. It's still a ton of fun. :)