Roland Dreier, the Infiniband maintainer for Linux, wrote a great summary of why writing open source software is a smart career move. From the entry:
[…] Contributing to free software is in the rational self-interest of nearly any software developer.
This is something I’ve been saying for years. While contributing to the greater good of all is an important motivation for most open source developers, I don’t think we emphasize enough the direct personal rewards for working on open source. If you are even moderately successful in open source, you will probably end up “employed for life.” Not necessarily by the same employer, but you will always have a crowd knocking on your door.
Update: Fixed Roland’s last name in the title – got it right in the body…