Before talking about an individual developer's
"responsibility" to do free work for a hardware company, we should
be talking about that developer's worth to the company.
Perhaps - but let me put it like this. The professional Linux audio
market is currently so small as to be insignificant to a hardware
company. We currently rely on good will to get any loan hardware or
If a particular company wants to donate hardware worth thousands of
dollars to a libre software developer, they won't expect it to be
lost, damaged or sold on eBay. As for 'free work', we're not talking
about taking bread out of developers mouths, since these companies
probably aren't paying anyone for Linux support at the moment.
Another consideration is this: many companies will have a budget for
supplying hardware to third parties for review and test, but won't
have one for third party tech support. It would therefore be much
easier for that company to supply hardware. The value would also be
greater than cash, since the hardware company doesn't have to pay
retail price for their own equipment.
Besides, the responsibility I was talking about was the responsibility
of an individual to work with the community in return for having
primary access to the hardware. If you want free stuff, it's only
reasonable to make some commitment in return.