James Long gives some solid advice: always keep in mind that there are a lot of things that are more important than coding.
The goal of free open source development is empowerment: everyone can not only use code for free but also contribute to and influence it. This model allows people to teach and learn from each other, improves businesses by sharing work on similar ideas, and has given some people the chance to break out and become well-known leaders.
Unfortunately, in reality open source development is rife with problems and is ultimately unsustainable. Somebody has to pay the cost of maintaining a project.