There are certain debits that you will simply never be able to payback in full. For me the big ones are being raised and nurtured by my parent, the teachers who educated me, and the one that to this day contributes to me and my family, Open Source. I get way more from Open Source than I will ever be able to give back. I've been so deeply emerged into Open Source culture and philosophy that I've totally lost perspective of the "cool factor". The massive advancements and low barrier of entry is such a normal thing in Open Source I don't really think twice about it. For the most part the battles over the myths around not being able to make money from Open Source, or Open Source not being supported, or that Open Source is generally bad have all be fought and disproven time and time again where it's not even fun engaging in those conversations anymore. I have exposed myself to so many different solutions and platforms which have let me grow so much. Solutions from basic web servers to LDAPs, databases (relational and NoSQL), monitoring, CRM's, File Servers, Firewalls, IDS, Security scanning, Programming (PHP, Rails, Python, Perl, Java), Mail Servers, Proxy, DNS, BackUps, Version Control, Media Servers, Telephony, Analytics, and so many more. All these I've at some point had taken a significant amount of time to really dive into and learn, and all at zero financial cost to me for the experience.
I am not a preachy Open Source zealot who screams about the evils of proprietary solutions. I am very comfortable with my Open Source status and if you ask me my opinion I will give them to you. This has let me retain some very Microsoft focused friends. I forget they are Microsoft people, they forget I am an Open Source person. This lead to a recent conversation in which my MS Friend was frustrated with his MSSQL implementation and was complaining about not being able to afford Oracle or IBMs solutions. No, this isn't going to be another "look you I converted and how" post. I did engage in the typical Open Source database solution conversation with him, of which there was a good amount of "it can't be as good as a 'real' database, it's just not possible" statements made. Yeah there is still this much ignorance on the topic. But it got me thinking about how that is just not an issue in my universe. If I don't like a solution, my main concern if I don't have the time or knowledge to change it, is how long will it take me to migrate to another solution. This event got me thinking more and more about how I take this way of thinking for granted and I started thinking about how I take Open Source for granted.
I am no spring chicken, I've been messing with computers in some form or fashion since my Dad bought me my first, newly released, Radio Shack CoCo TRS-80, and I've been seriously focused on Open Source for the past 15 years. Needless to say, I've been doing this for a while. I recently meet a couple new comers to the Open Source world and they reminded me of the excitement of it all. New desktop, new tools, powerful tools, exploration. I've forgotten how exciting it was booting up my Linux desktop. Not just the first time but for months. Or being in public and having someone seeing me using a Linux desktop and ask me questions about it. I still get asked question from time to time but my "giddiness" of having it is no longer there. It is refreshing to see that this still excites and intrigues people.
There is no real point to this posting, just me rambling and wanting to remind myself when I reread my old post and get to this one; stop, think about what you have and think about what you are doing to contribute back.