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Why can't we separate Free from OpenSource?

I just noticed that whenever I find some Open Source or Open Source-related product, I assume it to be free. I'm sure its so common, it happens with everyone.

So, why can't the Open Source community separate this "implicit" free from their products? Plus, the confusing definition of free by GNU creates even more confusion. :)

Green Pajamas
Monday, June 21, 2004

Because OpenSource almost always is Free in monetary terms as well as liberty terms.  The gpl almost gurantees there is no market willing to pay money.

infidel
Monday, June 21, 2004

That's why they started calling it "open" instead of "free"

Tom H
Monday, June 21, 2004

Because once you have the source, the product should just as well be free.

Why should anyone pay anything if all they have to do is run the build script included in the source?

Yes, people should pay attention to the licensing and they should also not download copyrighted songs for free.

Redhat doesn't realy sell linux for the most part. They are realy selling support for it. But at the end of the day you can download binaries from them for free(minus your intenet access fees).

anon-182
Monday, June 21, 2004

Green, the open source community does not WANT to separate "free" from "open," except in naming, and the goal of that is to avoid making it obvious to the people who create the work, that is, the software developers.

One day developers might wake up, but it won't be for a while.

Ask your self why there is no open-source law (as in free law services, not published law) or open source accounting etc etc.


Monday, June 21, 2004

what's the definition of 'free' in the original post, anyway? gratis or libre?

mb
Monday, June 21, 2004


"Ask your self why there is no open-source law (as in free law services, not published law) or open source accounting etc etc."

Good example.

The text and interpretations of the laws are open to everyone for free (or sometimes copying costs).  Therefore, if you want to defend yourself in court, you can do all the research and do it.  Alternatively, you can pay someone who has the expertise to do this service for you.

Open Source software works the same.  If you want to get the source and use it, no problem, but you're pretty much on your own and/or counting on the kindness of others.  Alternatively, you can pay someone who has the expertise to do this service for you.

It's identical.

And you *DO* have free/discount law services.

It's called "pro-bono" and there are many intelligent, distinguished lawyers who do this.  My mother-in-law happens to do this in her spare time.

KC
Monday, June 21, 2004

Open Source will be an excellent fit in the New World Order of Socialism. All property, including intellectual property, belongs to the community (correct dirty word is the "State") and all citizens are slaves working as dictated by the State.

Mr. Galt
Monday, June 21, 2004

Nazi.

hoser
Monday, June 21, 2004

"It's called "pro-bono" and there are many intelligent, distinguished lawyers who do this.  My mother-in-law happens to do this in her spare time."

Yes, but pro-bono work is typically done for disadvantaged people who otherwise couldn't afford legal help. To compare Open Source with pro-bono legal work is a bad analogy.

You won't find lawyers willing to work for free when the client has plenty of money. But you'll find plenty of software developers who fail to grasps market realities and give their time away to people who would otherwise pay for it.

Sarcough
Monday, June 21, 2004

KC, aren't you a clever little boy, pointing out the law is written down for everyone to see and thus the same as open source.

The law is an agreement that society makes with itself. That's why it's open.

Software is technology created by clever people. It doesn't need to be revealed to competitors at all. You don't need to see the source code to Maya to use it. You don't need the source code to Word.

So the law and software are different, OK.

As to pro-bono, as someone said above, that's a tiny part of the work of most firms, it's paid for by charging well for other work, and the law firms are rewarded with respect for doing it. Contrast that with the expectations attached to open source development.

I'm me
Monday, June 21, 2004

as repeated ad nauseum, sometimes it's best to contribute to open source because it helps you. particulalry if it's a complement to your core business.

mb
Monday, June 21, 2004

MySQL is one of the most popular Open Source programs around, but read this article:

http://www.wired.com/news/infostructure/0,1377,62369,00.html

"Currently, the company has about 4,000 paying customers, who brought in more than $10 million in sales in 2003"

Not bad for "free"

Tom H
Monday, June 21, 2004

Open Source is a big threat to the minor for-profit developer because it squeezes the market. Say we have two companies, A and B. Neither are competitors and neither operates in the same business segment but in the running of the businesses, certain non-core applications are required. If A and B share the resources of their programmers to build an application that both need, who has lost? Especially when it isn't only A and B involved?

The only losers are the small time bandits formerly known as indepent software developers. Okay, not really, but let's just get the flames going, okay?

Anonypus
Monday, June 21, 2004

$10 million is really that much compared to what a company like Oracle pulls in.  It isn't there isn't ANY money in Open Source, it is that there isn't A LOT of money in Open Source.  The is the biggest problem for Microsoft.  There might me enough money for companies like mySQL, but there certainly isn't enough money in it for them.

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

"The text and interpretations of the laws are open to everyone for free (or sometimes copying costs).  Therefore, if you want to defend yourself in court, you can do all the research and do it.  Alternatively, you can pay someone who has the expertise to do this service for you.

Open Source software works the same.  If you want to get the source and use it, no problem, but you're pretty much on your own and/or counting on the kindness of others.  Alternatively, you can pay someone who has the expertise to do this service for you.
"

Your analogy is incorrect.
The Legal system <> Open Source Applications software
The legal system =The Operating System.
Legal documents, contracts, wills, etc. = Software applications.


The law is like the operating system. It tells you what rules everyone must operate under.  You aren't free to CHANGE the legal system, but it's interface (and details) are public. I'd argue this is analagous to Windows. The API is fairly public, but you can't change the O/S.

Software applications are more like LEGAL DOCUMENTS. They operate under the legal O/S to achieve some end.

Legal documents aren't, generally, free. Contracts, wills, etc aren't free.

Mr. Analogy
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

MySQL is still not profitable though. It's burning VC cash.


Tuesday, June 22, 2004


And most of you will notice that *most* Open Source developers pay for their services and/or develop other (closed source) applications at the same time.

I develop a specific set of applications at work.  I got the position in part because of my contributions to similar projects in the Open Source community.

Since I've taken this position, I have backed off my code/design contributions on the similar OSS projects to prevent potential conflicts of interest.  I still contribute in other projects and I have brought some of those projects in the door and customized them for internal usage.

There is nothing requiring us to redistribute the source for these apps.  We have competitors who have contacted us (and me specifically) to talk about licensing and/or usage.  We have no desire to, so therefore, we do not.

KC
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

"Open Source will be an excellent fit in the New World Order of Socialism. All property, including intellectual property, belongs to the community (correct dirty word is the "State") and all citizens are slaves working as dictated by the State."

Who is John Galt?

Only if it's forced.

If someone *wants* to give their works away, they must be allowed to.  If someone doesn't want to, then they must be allowed to.

At work, we've used many OSS projects, customized them for our purposes and then deployed them internally.  Being the good employee that I am, I have worked hard to keep the customizations *completely* seperate from the other code.

Therefore, there is nothing requiring us to give up our code even when/if we do distribute it.

KC
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

KC is right.

Noone is forced, or should be forced to give their software away for free. Similarly, no one should be prevented from sharing what is theirs in any way they see fit.

These coders that complain about the unfair competition from free software are the Moochers. Dog Eat Dog Law and all that.

Take them out back and do a #6 on them I say!

Tapiwa
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

This article by Tim O'Reily touches on a lot of the issues raised in this thread and Joel's recent posts.

http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/opensource/paradigmshift_0504.html

Ken McKinney
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

This is a more complicated issue than it appears.

What if Wal-Mart began giving away Pepsi. Would that be "legal"? Nope.

Yet IBM is allowed to give away software.  RedHat gives away software. Wal-Mart gives away Pepsi. Ooops ... I guess you can only give away that which is not altered by it's duplication or ... Wal-Mart gives away books ... oh heck, that won't work.

Why is it that some companies are allowed to give away software and some aren't. Why are some companies not allowed to give away anything? Well, hold on, I think Radio Shack used to give away flashlights when I was a kid. Perhaps intent counts.  You can give away something in small quantity that does not appear to hurt any other business entity. Maybe.

I personally question the legality and even the morality of a company like IBM or RedHat giving away software.

If I were rich could I open a bakery and bake bread and give it away to people with the restriction that they could not resell it but they could cover their costs to distribute it to a wider market? Personally that sounds fine to me ... I'm a hard core randian but I don't think the current laws would allow for that.

me
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

If I owned a company that sells reporting software, should I be concerned that Microsoft has started giving away Reporting Services?

Is it okay for a monopoly to use cash from one product line to undercut competitors in another?

And yet it seems the Microsofties are the ones who complain the most about open source giving away a product.

Anony COward
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

" You aren't free to CHANGE the legal system, but it's interface (and details) are public..."

Mr. Analogy, I submit that you are incorrect because you ARE free to change the legal system.  This is a government for the people, BY the people.  WE write the laws in that we elect the officials who vote on which Bills become law.

There are even people who are paid by big companies to change the law (lobbyists).

You also get the source code of each Bill, and if you can prove them illogical in court then the law is rendered useless (that which cannot be enforced...is not a law)

You can also write your own Bill, get backing for it, and submit it to Congress.  How is this different from writing a program, advertising it, and getting people to use it?

I think that the OSS/Law analogy works well.

Wayne
Tuesday, June 22, 2004

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