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Open Source Advocates' Attitudes Toward Profit 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-the-case-of-ethics-v-greenbacks dept.
jfruh writes "Marten Mickos, ex-head of MySQL, was discussing his new open source cloud initiative with the New York Times when he mentioned in passing that 'Some people in open source think it is immoral to make a profit. I don't.' This has set off some predictable hand-wringing within the movement. While some community members are ideologically opposed to profit-making, that attitude isn't held by a majority, or even a plurality."
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Open Source Advocates' Attitudes Toward Profit

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  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday March 12, 2012 @05:55PM (#39332227)

    In a large enough group, there are always "some people" (more than 1 person) who believes X.

    Whether X is that they've been kidnapped by aliens or whatever. In a big enough group there will be "some people" who believe it.

    So knock it off! If you cannot point to them, shut your mouth.

    • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:03PM (#39332307) Journal
      My brother calls this the Mother Theresa Principle. No matter how much of a saint you are, someone will hate your guts.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:18PM (#39332479)

        Might be a bad example, Mother Theresa was a strong opponent of women's rights. Lots of people, particularly women, had good reason to dislike her.

        • by Penguinisto (415985) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:21PM (#39332531) Journal

          Thanks for providing a perfect example of his point. ;)

          • Thanks for providing a perfect example of his point. ;)

            That's a really neat way to circumvent criticism of ... well, anyone you choose, really. "Oh, you're just a hater!" I'm not sure what to call this tactic -- preemptive ad hominem, maybe? In any case, it's pretty dumb.

            • How better does one answer a subjective and unsubstantiated claim, especially in this context?

            • by kdemetter (965669)

              It's not circumventing criticism, unless you think Mother Theresa will be answering on slashdot.
              In the above example, you are judging someone who clearly was a good person in regard to her actions, for a specific 'bad' opinion she had, and enlarging it.

              So despite all the good she might have done, you still hate her guts, just for that particular opinion.
              So, thanks for again providing a perfect example to his point.

              I don't appreciate attacking people who cannot defend themselves. I only hope people will be k

      • by Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:33PM (#39332651)

        Mother Theresa [...] a saint

        NOT! [wikipedia.org]

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by HiThere (15173)

        There were a large number of women in India who didn't think Mother Theresa was any kind of humanitarian at all. Saint, being a religious term, she may be by decree. This doesn't mean she was kind to those who disagreed with her religious doctrines.

      • by sFurbo (1361249)
        Shouldn't that be the other way around? Even if you are a hypocritical sadist who oppose women's rights, there will always be someone who are convinced you are a saint?
      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        Do you also know what the principle is called where a person believes something is undeniable correct and therefore everybody who disagrees must be wrong?

    • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:06PM (#39332345)

      Stallman is some person now?

      The problem comes from Stallman's idea that all software should be FOSS and money should be made from support(Stallman isn't opposed to selling the software, but having a buildable source will allow any user to post the software for any cost or free). So the money to be made is squeezed into only support. Take RedHat. The community immediately took the sources and made CentOS which is used in many small businesses instead of paying for Red Hat.

      Maybe some companies and developers can live on giving support, but for the vast majority of software developers, thats not possible when anyone out there can take your code and build their own. Apply this model to the Android or Apple app stores and there would disaster with the software clones. Already games are being cloned without the source code available and this is a huge problem. Forcing the apps to be open source will lead of chaos and there will be no incentive to create big games like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Infinity Blade(cost a million or more develop). What should they do? Sell support for Angry Birds?

      • by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:17PM (#39332463)

        Stallman is some person now?

        The problem comes from Stallman's idea that all software should be FOSS and money should be made from support(Stallman isn't opposed to selling the software, but having a buildable source will allow any user to post the software for any cost or free). So the money to be made is squeezed into only support. Take RedHat. The community immediately took the sources and made CentOS which is used in many small businesses instead of paying for Red Hat.

        Maybe some companies and developers can live on giving support, but for the vast majority of software developers, thats not possible when anyone out there can take your code and build their own. Apply this model to the Android or Apple app stores and there would disaster with the software clones. Already games are being cloned without the source code available and this is a huge problem. Forcing the apps to be open source will lead of chaos and there will be no incentive to create big games like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Infinity Blade(cost a million or more develop). What should they do? Sell support for Angry Birds?

        Problem is, "sell support" doesn't go very far when the "buyers" are cheapskates.

        Stallman's model works fine back in the day when computer operators were revered people, but falls down flat these days when 90%+ of computers are used to accomplish some task, and those knowledgable enough to fix/understand computers are tiny minority. The majority want computers that work, but they also don't want to pay for it.

        If you don't believe me, tell your family member to go to Geek Squad to get their computer fixed. They'll balk at the $40/hour charges, and see no reason why you can't spend the 20 hours it takes to fix up their computer.

        And if you're trying to do computer support, be prepared to have your clients spend hours dickering over every hour you charge. You billed 10 hours, they'll ding it down to 9 and waste 4 hours of your time doing so.

        And no, it doesn't matter what profession the client is - lawyers will dicker just as hard (or harder) over that hour that they charge $200/hr for.

        • The majority want computers that work, but they also don't want to pay for it.

          ...unless "they" are business and enterprise customers, and then they'll buy it even if they don't really need it. Then again, RHEL licensing does include binary patches.

          If you don't believe me, tell your family member to go to Geek Squad to get their computer fixed. They'll balk at the $40/hour charges, and see no reason why you can't spend the 20 hours it takes to fix up their computer.

          And if you're trying to do computer support, be prepared to have your clients spend hours dickering over every hour you charge. You billed 10 hours, they'll ding it down to 9 and waste 4 hours of your time doing so.

          And no, it doesn't matter what profession the client is - lawyers will dicker just as hard (or harder) over that hour that they charge $200/hr for.

          ...they can dicker all they want, but professionally, the price remains the same, and in most cases you get exactly what you pay for (and professionally, you'd better already have a solid contract in place for that sort of thing).

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          >>>"Geek Squad to get their computer fixed. They'll balk at the $40/hour charges, and see no reason why you can't spend the 20 hours it takes to fix up their computer."

          And then they play the "I would help you if you needed help" card. Twelve years later and I'm still waiting for that payback. I don't provide much free support anymore (or free machines); if their computer really did become screwed-up badly I would copy as many files as I could to my USB: drive, insert the Windows CD, watch tv for

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Problem is, "sell support" doesn't go very far when the "buyers" are cheapskates.

          I think that's a vast oversimplification of the problem, by far most cases people want software that works not support. I paid my 7 NOK ($1 + VAT) for Angry Birds, but I'd never pay for Angry Bird support even if you for that dollar could give me platinum 24x7x365 phone/e-mail/onsite direct-to-tier-X support. Because if it works great, if it's broken I'll move on. If I've bought a game and it's crashing and I have to spend any time in the support forums my net pleasure/utility from it quickly goes in the ne

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          It did work for some time and in some places or industries. Cygnus got a lot of FSF coding done while being paid for it. I think we still have plenty of open source projects still being supported by corporate contracts and corporate workers. The real difference today is that I think it is being done more often for commercial jockeying than for a straight-up fee for services (ie, to support a project just to keep MS/Apple/Google on their toes, prevent a competitor from getting too powerful, etc).

        • And if you're trying to do computer support, be prepared to have your clients spend hours dickering over every hour you charge. You billed 10 hours, they'll ding it down to 9 and waste 4 hours of your time doing so.

          Hrm, doesn't happen here. Maybe I need to charge more.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by trevelyon (892253)
          I found an easy way to deal with this. I call it the first one's free approach. The first time a family member or friend needs a reinstall of windows I do it free. The second time they move to Linux or go to best buy. It's pretty simple and right now 75% are on Linux. Linux is also considerably easier to upgrade (the home dir is left intact during upgrades unlike on Windows). My support has gone down to about 2 hours per user per year which I am willing to do. The bulk of support for most users is sp
        • From personal experience:
          Rule no. 1:
          Never (ever) do customer support for non developers. It always (as in 100%) is something they
          did to the machine, usually while trying to get their hands on porno graphical material..

          Rule no.2:
          If you have from some (mad really) reason to take on customer support for non devs (mom,
          brother in law) just re-image the shit out of the system and maybe lock it down even further.

      • by Vanders (110092) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:31PM (#39332635) Homepage

        Take RedHat. The community immediately took the sources and made CentOS which is used in many small businesses instead of paying for Red Hat.

        Well hang on a minute. Yes, let's take RedHat as an example. CentOS and it's cousins like Scientific Linux may well exist, but RedHat are still turning $1b a year in income. RedHat add enough value to their products that apparently there are plenty of people out there who are very happy to pay them rather than use the free alternatives.

        If anything I'd argue that the likes of CentOS actually help RedHat. If a company starts on CentOS they may well decide later to "trade up" to RedHat to get access to the benefits of RHEL (perceived or real).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Well hang on a minute. Yes, let's take RedHat as an example. CentOS and it's cousins like Scientific Linux may well exist, but RedHat are still turning $1b a year in income.

          Cherry picked numbers that mean nothing, are cherry-picked and meaningless. They bring in $1b in revenue, they make ~$90m in profits, and that's been dropping steadily. With CentOS and its cousins offering the free option, and Oracle's OUL's primary purpose being to bleed Red hat dry on undercutting their support, it's hurting them, and it's hurting them bad, to the point that they have to charge the relatively ludicrous rates they do. a RHEL contract will cost you more per CPU than OUL will per system, plu

      • Stallman is some person now?

        No, not in this context.

        Take RedHat. The community immediately took the sources and made CentOS which is used in many small businesses instead of paying for Red Hat.

        And then RedHat promptly went out of business.

        Maybe some companies and developers can live on giving support, but for the vast majority of software developers, thats not possible when anyone out there can take your code and build their own.

        The vast, VAST majority of software is built to order. Hardly any is prepackag

      • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:23PM (#39333239)
        Unfortunately the RMS method of making money means there is a economical motive to make software that is complex and hard to use. The simple and easy to use software is often reserved for closed source applications as there is a motive to make easy to use software so they can get paid for the software license, and not deal with the trouble of support.
      • Providing support isn't the only revenue option for software that's freely modifiable and re-distributable. Other than the most common revenue source, which is using an OSS project to attract an employer, there's:

        • Donations, which most OSS projects handle poorly by offering nothing in return. Kickstarter got this, or
        • Using a near-OSS licence that removes the freedom to run (freedom 0 [gnu.org]) but keeps the important freedoms to tinker and to break-away, which makes it feasible to charge for the software. This c
      • The community immediately ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H ten years later took the sources and made CentOS

        FTFY.

      • by ChatHuant (801522)

        The problem comes from Stallman's idea that all software should be FOSS and money should be made from support

        You know, I always thought this model provides completely the wrong economic incentives. If a FOSS developer writes completely stable and easy to use code he shoots himself in the foot (financially) because his customers won't *need* support, so won't ever pay him anything. On the contrary, he'd have good reasons to write obscure and unmaintainable code, difficult to customize, configure and expand. On the other hand, a developer (or company) that makes money selling the software has serious incentives to m

      • by Mathieu Lutfy (69)

        Your examples are a bit odd. RedHat seems to be doing fine, and more CentOS users means a bigger potential market for RedHat. There are a lot of success stories of free software communities that seem to be doing fine.

        Although MySQL is in a weird spot now, the way it evolved is impressive. Also note that MySQL folks use to explain the dual-license as: "if you make money, then so do I". i.e. if your program is proprietary, no problem, you can link with MySQL, but then pay a licence fee. It was a good model fo

    • "I completely agree with you that it is a very very small minority that thinks so (and I said that to Quentin). And I am specifically not thinking of Richard Stallman. I know that he is not against business. He is only for freedom. I have no issue with RMS; on the contrary I have huge respect for his consistent insistence on software freedom. I don't think the world gives him enough credit for that,"

      It seems that Mickos said "some people think it's immoral to make a profit" when he actually meant "some pe

    • by DRJlaw (946416)

      In a large enough group, there are always "some people" (more than 1 person) who believes X.

      Whether X is that they've been kidnapped by aliens or whatever. In a big enough group there will be "some people" who believe it.

      So knock it off! If you cannot point to them, shut your mouth.

      Yes, shut your mouth. There's no point in arguing that believing in X is wrong unless you can point to a specific individual with that belief. Forget that rational discourse would address the belief rather than the characterist

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      "Some people say..." - FOX News, MicrosoftNBC, CNN, .....

      I don't have any problem with profit. The more you make the sooner you can retire and enjoy life. (Or keep working and hand-out the excess to homeless people.)

    • Oh I think there is more than "some" people in the OSS community. There is the whole Stallman drone subset that think charging for software is evil. I'm guessing we are talking about double digits not single digit fringes.

      Heck I've worked for start-ups that wouldn't even consider free software that needed windows to run. They were so focused on open source that even a platfrom that wasn't open wasn't interesting to them. This was a company that sold THERE software in closed source format. There is a large n

    • Some people say these are known as weasel words. [wikipedia.org]
    • Actually its quite simple, although I get called every filthy name in the book for daring to point out what SHOULD be simple common sense. You see while the GPL works in SOME cases it does NOT work in ALL cases and in fact can be counterproductive in those cases. Case in point why you will never have a real world class desktop.

      Its simple, look for yourself how many companies have already died trying to bring that to you, gOS, Linspire, Novell, Xandros, Mandriva is on life support and soon Canonical will joining them, why? Because the ONLY way to make money with the GPL is by using the support model just as the company in TFA does but this model DOES NOT WORK in desktops. Consumers don't buy support contracts and if you try to write in the cost of support into the OS you've just raised your price above and beyond the competition, which has a hell of a lot more hardware and software support. this is because the OEMs can balance and even make a profit with some SKUs by putting trialware onto the systems. This is why Sony charges you $50 to have a trialware free system, because you are cutting into their profits by removing it. Since so few people will pay for software with Linux trialware is not an option for the most part and is certainly not gonna bring in enough to allow a GPL desktop company to stay afloat, much less spend the $50-$100 million required to bring Linux up to the same level of ease of use and stability as OSX and Win 7. You have to pay for regression testing and tons of docs and help files to be rewritten (or written in the first place as it still amazes me how many only give you CLI use flags or a "to be done" placeholder) along with QA and probably either a complete rewrite of the driver model or for a team to backport to keep from breaking drivers with the frankly insane speed the kernel keeps changing.

      So like it or not if you want a Linux desktop that can compete with OSX and Windows you really need a new license, one that will allow a company like Canonical to make money fixing bugs and making the system better instead of trying ever more crazy schemes like Ubuntu TV and Unity phones trying to keep the lights on. Something along the lines of "You can look, you can modify for personal use, but if you distribute you have to pay" so that these companies can actually stay afloat. Because I have a feeling after Mandriva and Canonical go tits up that's it, you aimply won't get another company to blow tens of millions on something that will never make a dime, in fact Novell didn't even break even [theregister.co.uk] until 2010!

      And before you say "Well the community will do it!" I'm afraid that's a lie because of the "busted shitter" problem. You see everyone wants to be the artist, everyone wants to create new things, nobody wants to be the guy that cleans and fixes the busted shitters which is why they just don't get fixed. look at any GPL OS bug tracker and see how many bugs over 2 years are there, and then realize that don't count all the ones where the devs decided they just don't give a shit and put "will not fix" and threw it in the trash. To fix the above problems you are gonna need skilled developers to dedicate YEARS of their lives to fixing them, nobody is gonna do that, at least not in great enough numbers to matter. This is one of the reasons why communism failed, as it got so bad that they had to order soldiers to do "potato duty" simply to get the lousy jobs done. The above jobs are boring, thankless, time sucking, and overall about as fun as fixing a turd filled shitter overflowing into the floor. Would you go fix that kind of mess in a stranger's house for nothing? of course not, its simply human nature.

      So the sooner the community accepts either they have to change their current model as GPL doesn't work in this use case or simply gives up on the desktop frankly the happier everyone will be. TINSTAAFL folks and while RMS may be truly happy squatting at MIT and not owning anything more than the clothe

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:03PM (#39332303) Homepage

    It seems there's really three different situations we're talking about here, not two as the summary suggests:

    • For-profit: the goal is to make money
    • Non-profit: the goal is to have a steady revenue stream, but only to break even.
    • Working for free: no money ever enters the equation.

    The majority of major open source projects are one of the top two options, but I'd venture to guess the majority of open source projects in general are the later.

    In any case, I wouldn't want to confuse the last two options in the list as they each have a different place in the open source ecosystem.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head. As far as I've seen, it's just part of third group that frowns upon commercialization - why, I don't know. But anyway, the amount of people who hold this view aren't very numerous.
    • by larry bagina (561269) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:28PM (#39332597) Journal

      Why do people work for "free"? Unless they're forced to do it, they're getting something out of it -- recognition, personal satisfaction, utility, resume padding, to get laid at LUGs, etc. Hell, even if there's a gun at head, you're still getting something out of (i.e., not being killed).

      Is it better if someone fixes a bug (for free) in gnumeric because it helps him keep track of all his rape victims vs someone who fixes a bug (for money) in gnumeric because he's being paid to do so?

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>to get laid at LUGs

        What?!?!?

        I wonder how these people pay their bills? I mean if they took their philosophy to its natural end (everything should be open source, and they work on OSS as volunteers), then they'd be doing their full time jobs for free too. How would they pay their bills.

        • that if he hadn't been born and raised in a socialist country, he probably never would have open sourced the linux kernel. it was on the 'fresh air' show with Teri Gross.

        • by gman003 (1693318)

          I'm currently employed at a small local software shop. Closed-source software, but heavily built on open-source frameworks and resources (Linux, Apache, Postgres, PHP, OpenOffice, and so on). That pays the bills.

          In my free time, I work on an open-source video game (expect to see a /. story on it as soon as I can kick my artist's ass into gear). Beyond some vague pipe dreams of selling "Limited Edition" boxed sets with all kinds of feelies, I have no plans or expectations of profit. I make it two other reaso

      • by Tim C (15259)

        Francine Smith: You quit your job!

        Stan Smith: Francine I have a chance to join the Scarlet Alliance.

        Francine Smith: You mean you haven't got the job yet!

        Stan Smith: Francine I'm going to be rich in adventure

        Francine Smith: Rich in adventure!

        [Pretends to be on the phone] Francine Smith: Hello MasterCard do you take payment in the form of adventure, hello colleges I'd like to pay my son's tuition, I don't have any money but my husband is rich in adventure!

        Stan Smith: Well what'd they say.

    • i would monetize the hell out of it. right now i can barely pay my bills with my day job, the open source thing is just kind of an interesting diversion that i spend way too much time on.

      people make fun of 'marketing' all the time but people who can market things are actually kind of geniuses. if i knew how to properly 'market' this stuff, i could quit my day job and hack open source 40 hours a week instead of pushing paper around a desk that nobody cares about and will probably be automated within 5 years.

      • People make fun of marketing folks, not because it is unimportant, but because it is extremely important and so many people who do it drop the ball so heavily. A big problem is when a CEO from a tech background gets it in his head that marketing guys are stupid/sleezy/of-dubious-use and hires a marketing guy who fits in with his stereotypes.

        Marketing is about products, a marketing guy needs to know what product we're selling to consumers and can either tell consumers why they want it, or explain the develop

  • If you create or add value, I think a reasonable profit is a good thing. It is not necessary to have gouging to attract people to invest in or participate in a profitable business model.

    • Those who promote open source always ignore the complexity and costs of switching to open source. The licensing complexity tends to stop using open source because the possibility of a lawsuit regarding rises. The change over to open source can be daunting when you are talking about 100,s or +1,000s changes needed to make it viable. Retraining leads to significant cost to the change over. Modifying existing data from one program to another can be a bitch. User retraining is costly. Support departments also n

  • ... it's not so much a question of profit, it's what you do to get it. If you are secretive, controlling, colluding, or corrupt about it, then I'm against it. If you're transparent, responsible, sustainable, and honest, then I'm for it.

    I've been known to pay for Linux software, and I've been paying for Linux-based services for years. I also use FLOSS in my freelance work.

    I mean, c'mon. No less than RMS has said you can sell software if you want. Who does this guy think is more hard-core than RMS?

    • No less than RMS has said you can sell software if you want.

      He says it, but he doesn't live it. He doesn't make a living writing software, he doesn't make a living selling software ... and the fact is he never did. He also thinks spam is perfectly okay. [wikiquote.org]

      I didn't receive the DEC message, but I can't imagine I would have been bothered if I have. I get tons of uninteresting mail, and system announcements about babies born, etc. At least a demo MIGHT have been interesting.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:10PM (#39332397)

    between making a profit for profit's sake and simply making a living.

    public companies who answer to shareholders first and foremost tend to do the former (and aggressively so), while small businesses and mom and pop operations are usually happy with the latter.

  • by rongage (237813) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:14PM (#39332431)

    I developed a couple of programming libraries for talking to industrial PLCs - Allen Bradley stuff. It started to cost me some pretty significant money to keep up with new hardware releases. The amount of money I made total (gross) was maybe $500. An entry level PLC costs closer to $3000.

    So yeah, nobody willing to spend money on my work killed the work right off.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      If your goal was to make a profit ... you failed!

      if your goal was to have fun fulfilling your passion ... you failed!

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:17PM (#39332473) Journal

    There's always some nutcase out on the fringe.

    RMS himself is entirely happy with making a profit on software---the FSF used to sel lthe GNU tools on tape to raise funds.

  • by willoughby (1367773) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:26PM (#39332577)

    A big part of the dispute is that some folks aren't happy with saying, "I don't sell my software for profit, I contribute it to the community." but instead insist on adding, "And I think that's what you should do, also."

    • by Kjella (173770)

      A big part of the dispute is that some folks aren't happy with saying, "I don't sell my software for profit, I contribute it to the community." but instead insist on adding, "And I think that's what you should do, also."

      I've not really hard that one so much, most seem to agree you do what you want with your own code. But the way distros use applications and applications use libraries, I have heard people insist on adding "And I don't think you should be trying to make profit on my software either." I can sort of see that, particularly if there's a paid support sending bugs upstream to unpaid volunteers so they get the work and downstream get the profit.

    • by Solandri (704621)

      "I don't sell my software for profit, I contribute it to the community." but instead insist on adding, "And I think that's what you should do, also."

      I disagree with RMS on lots of things, but that's not how it works at all. I'm all for selling software. Most people sell it for money. GNU FOSS folks sell it for the rights to derivative works being put under the same license. It's not "And I think that's what you should do, also." It's "And if you want to incorporate my software into yours, the price is

  • by nitehawk214 (222219) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:26PM (#39332579)

    I would also like to know Open Source Advocates attitude towards ???.

    • by tqk (413719)

      I would also like to know Open Source Advocates attitude towards ???.

      That's a regular expression (regexp) denoting a one to four character long string ending in a period. I'm in favour of regexps.

      • I would also like to know Open Source Advocates attitude towards ???.

        That's a regular expression (regexp) denoting a one to four character long string ending in a period. I'm in favour of regexps.

        No it isnt. [regular-expressions.info]

  • by Improv (2467)

    I'm sure what we'll find out in the end is that people vary; many of us have pretty strong notions of what's unacceptable, and provided those notions are met we'd accept profit.
    Principles:
    1) I do want an end to all IP protections, and to see development of custom features and support being the primary ways support happens
    2) I don't want whatever companies exist that work with open source software to sit on closed extensions forever, or for them to reject donated code that duplicates any custom code they use

  • by martenmickos (467191) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:35PM (#39332673)

    All,

    This is a great discussion! I am glad to be back on /.

    As often with press, I was not quoted verbatim. I stated my observation that in the world of free and open source software (FOSS), you find some people (some very few people, to be precise) who are judgmental about how other people perceive or act on open source. So when you have a certain governance model, business model, or development model, there will typically be some people who will loudly rule it out as wrong or improper or something. But I didn't say that I have anything against that, and I don't.

    It's one of the strengths of the FOSS world. Differences in view are aired publicly, and many times (although not always) a higher level of understanding, or a new thinking will emerge.

    We need to keep these discussions going, because as the world moves into the cloud, those same principles of openness that were developed for software code will have to somehow be applied on APIs and on data too.

    Marten

  • Seems to me that I remember a slashdot article [slashdot.org] last week complaining about how Intuitive Surgical had patents on their DaVinci robots, and that said patents were a block to developing an open source competitor. That article didn't exactly get ignored, nor did people say "so what?"

  • He confuses 'profit' with 'getting paid'. He doesn't seem to grok the difference between an equal exchange of value and a disproportionate one. The latter leads to concentration of wealth, and concentration of wealth leads to monopolies, control of governments by those profitable entities, and wide class disparities.

    Ultimately profit leads to revolutions. Simply "getting paid" does not. Can we break the ugly cycle, please?

    • by tqk (413719)

      He confuses 'profit' with 'getting paid'. ... Ultimately profit leads to revolutions. Simply "getting paid" does not. Can we break the ugly cycle, please?

      Ridiculous. Two guys banging their heads on tech in a garage eventually came up with something that they could sell. The proceeds of that financed their coming up with something better, and so on, and so on, until we wound up with Apple.

      What Apple does with its profits and power is another thing, but profit's not inherently evil.

  • GNU (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hackus (159037) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:43PM (#39332751) Homepage

    FSF GNU, it is clear. Charging for software is completely A OK as long as the person gets the freedom to change the software without restrictions. There are some, but they do not conflict with the basic tenant.

    Unlike the Paytards I would call them, that believe in licensing software only, no where does the GNU or FSF manifesto declare paying for software is bad.

    I am surprised how many MBA people I talk to can't get it. No wonder these people can't handle regular calc and have to take "business" math.

    GNU Linux is bought and _sold_ everywhere.

    Also, given that a lot of FSF / GNU people have jobs at major corps such as RedHat, I am not sure where the documentation is to support the claim Free Software people insist on non payment of all software.

    Thank God too, as I make my entire living building GNU systems and would starve if that was the case.

    Stallman has never said that, and the Paytards always bring that up and make the guy out as some sort of commie from the Stalinist days or even Red China.

    -Hack

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Teckla (630646)

      Unlike the Paytards I would call them,

      Very mature.

      that believe in licensing software only, no where does the GNU or FSF manifesto declare paying for software is bad.

      With source in hand, anyone could make your software available for free. That makes it really hard to make a reasonable amount of money selling software.

      So, while you might be technically right, you're being intellectually dishonest.

      • by bug1 (96678)

        With source in hand, anyone could make your software available for free. That makes it really hard to make a reasonable amount of money selling software.

        This whole capitalism thing we are part of is bassed around the concept of compeition.

        So when you claim that having to compete makes it hard for you to make a 'reasonable amount of money' you are demonstrating an inflated self worth.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        It is not hard to get money for supported software though. People and companies will pay for stuff that they can install easily and has a number for someone to call when it breaks. There are companies that have a business model of taking open source tools and adding a small value add plus support. Sure you could build the stuff yourself but that takes time and effort and money.

        Ie, let's say you want an ARM or PPC or PIC or AVR compiler and build suite, and you've got 3 software employees: do you pay them

        • It is not hard to get money for supported software though. People and companies will pay for stuff that they can install easily and has a number for someone to call when it breaks.

          No they won't. That model was broken even back in the shareware days. People are cheap.

  • by petsounds (593538) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:08PM (#39333073)

    What I don't like is when open source project teams suddenly decide to make the project closed-source and for-profit. System notification tool Growl on OS X is one example. Sure, a project's community can fork the project, but entropy tends to have her way. I don't think you should get into open source and then suddenly feel bitter about the time you put into it and want to make money off of it. That's like volunteering your time at a homeless shelter and then going back later and asking to be paid for the time you spent there. It's just a dick move. If you want to do something for-profit, make that upfront to the community.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by motokochan (1118229)

      Growl is still open source, you can find it over at https://code.google.com/p/growl/ [google.com] and build the source code using the instructions at http://growl.info/documentation/developer/growl-source-install.php [growl.info]. The source tracks the official releases from the developers and is still BSD licensed.

      If you don't want to build from source, they do offer a pre-built binary for free, or maybe you can convince a developer friend to build it for you.

      Either way, there is no bait-and-switch. The source has always been f

      • by petsounds (593538)

        Thanks for the clarification. It's been a while since the announcement and I had some details confused. As I can't update to 1.3 since they locked out Snow Leopard support for everything but the framework, I had confused the two issues. Regardless of the inaccuracies of my example, I still stand behind my basic argument.

        • by Arker (91948)
          Wait a minute, the software is actually still free but you stand by your statement? How does that make any sense?
          • by petsounds (593538)

            I stand behind my statement, not the particular example I used to illustrate the statement.

      • by Mabhatter (126906)

        This is an excellent example. They had the opportunity to put the app on th App Store and while they were at it stop begging for donations... I'm surprised that Mozilla hasn't done something similar, not out of spite, bit simply to secure ongoing funding rather than begging for scraps.

        I'll leave it to the next poster to comment about a walled garden app store plays with free software.

    • by Twinbee (767046)
      Isn't it 'better' that it was once open source than never at all, even if they don't announce it prior?
    • That's like volunteering your time at a homeless shelter and then going back later and asking to be paid for the time you spent there.

      To make your simile correct, it would be "it's like volunteering for a homeless shelter and then announcing that from now on you will only work as a paid employee." You may or may not get that job.

      But the bigger problem here is community - open source projects are more than just code. I volunteer my time for projects that I expect to be around for a while. What you're desc

  • Sometimes charging for a good/service will cause the user to assign it a higher utility value. This happens all the time with luxury goods like jewelry and perfume. It can also apply to software. If something is open source, it can be difficult to get users to see that it is worthwhile. This happened in the early days of Linux. Given the success of the open source movement, this is not as much of a problem as it used to be.

    I think that users are accepting of open source solutions in areas where there is a

  • Is it wrong to make a profit writing software? No. Why? Because there's nothing wrong with accepting money from people who want to pay you.

    Is it wrong to believe you're entitled to profit for writing software? Yes. Why? Because software is like fire: no matter how much effort it takes to create it, only one person needs to put in that effort to create it and, after that, anyone can get it for no effort. If you want to ensure you get paid, take payment upfront; don't demand it afterward.

  • People dont always object to others making money from the sweat and toil they donate to the cause. Its fine to make money from a project if your not underming its values and your pulling your own weight. But if your draining resources from the project, undermining its values, and contributing nothing, all for personal gain then expect to be hated.

    Free software is driven by a desire to help people, Open Source is about helping corporations as well. So there are different attitudes from each camp to wether a

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