Anibal Monsalve Salazar and Niv Sardi are both Debian developers; the points they raised resulted in a lively discussion during the Debian mini-conference at the Australian national Linux conference.
Salazar said big companies could support the project by paying Debian developers to maintain packages which were of commercial importance to them (the companies); providing private infrastructure for the project; or helping to defray expenses for the annual DebConf, the Debian Project's developer conference.
He pointed out that while big companies like HP, IBM, SGI and Google used Debian internally, only HP - and that too to some extent - was willing to say so.
HP uses Debian in embedded systems while Asus' eePC, which has been a great success, is using a Debian derivative (Xandros) as its operating system. Sears in the US has started selling a sub-$US200 PC which runs a Debian derivative.
Salazar provided these facts to show the extent to which Debian was creating and maintaining software, using which big companies generated decent profits; yet, the thought of giving something back had not yet arisen.
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