Sunday, August 17, 2008

 

Thoughts on Richard Stallman and Free Software

I wonder why Richard Stallman and the GNU folks never talk about the economics of software development. Maybe, they need some sage wisdom from some enterprise architects...



There is lots of software which serves the general interest without serving any one person or company sufficiently that they would signle handedly pay upfront for its development. Patronage simply is anti-innovation and relying on this model is a bad idea. Can we acknowledge that patrons are rarely forward thinking? Can we also acknowledge that complex, well-designed software is likely to result from patronage.

How ethical is free software? If you deliberately seek to destroy thousands of folks way of earning money, then ethics demands that you at least try to find an alternative for them. Richard, the answer isn't to immediately give up all your worldly possessions and beg for grants as this model worked for you but otherwise doesn't scale.

For the record, there are some models close to patronage such as how OWASP develops its software, but you might have noticed that there is a preference for licenses other than your personal favorite. More importantly Richard, you have forced lots of enterprises to waste money that could have been used to forward the cause of open source software but instead you made them give it to lawyers. Does this feel good?




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