I think this is a bit idealistic. Raspbian development is an excellent example of how to handle a project properly (I really can't praise the developers enough), but it also demonstrates that it takes far more than simple programming chops to bring a project to maturity.mikerr wrote:Using open source means you get thousands of those 50k contract programmers for free - already.
Firstly, it needs someone at the helm to identify the requirement, to formulate the best means of addressing the requirement, sift through (possibly conflicting) bug reporsts, provide effective communication, documentation, support and all the other faff. This is a big ask for a programmer working for free in his / her spare time. Github / Souceforge are groaning under the weight of unfinished / buggy / unsupported / badly documented apps that were started in good faith by people who didn't realise how much effort and how many different skills it actually takes to do something properly. Every piece of clunky O/S software (and there are a lot) reflects badly on O/S as a whole, but I digress.
So yeah, even if you can amass a pool of programmers, beta testers who can replicate bugs and write reports (rather than just cry "it doesn't work!"), people who can write clear documentation etc and be able to promise a reasonable amount of time to the project, you still need someone in charge. Someone to delegate, prioritise and whatnot. You might get lucky and get it all for free, but it all depends on the timescale you're looking at and whether your customers are the F/OSS variety (who seem quite happy with spending their lives applying sticking plasters), or folks who have paid real folding money for something and (not unreasonably) expect properly functioning hardware drivers, for example. With a user pool of the size of the Pi the hardest thing is probably not gathering the expertise in the first place, but ensuring that those experts can dedicate time and effort when it is required and making sure that their time is used wisely, with no duplication of effort or shadow-chasing. That suggests a formal structure, rather than ad hoc community.
Remember that we're not dealing with something purely free any more. The unexpected level of sales has moved the goalposts somewhat and exposed the product to an unexpected demographic (for better or worse!) The upside is more funds for the charity's goal, the downside is more customers (for that's what they are) who expect a finished product. And anyone who hollers "it's only $35" at this point probably doesn't understand business very well.