OSS and the Profit Motiveby dragonchild (Archbishop)
|on Mar 03, 2006 at 11:51 UTC||Need Help??|
(This is a direct response to O'reilly some sort of perl monopoly? and (OT troll) New Section: PHP. Please read those posts for the context in which this meditation is written.)
The Free and Open-Source Software worlds (aka, F/OSS, and yes, they aren't synonymous) are and aren't certain things. Unfortunately, the distinction between those things is often blurred, for various reasons. I'm going to assume that, for most people, the reason is ignorance. Not blind unwilling ignorance, but "I haven't been exposed to the facts" ignorance. So, here's some facts.
F/OSS is NOT:
Larry (and a few others) own Perl (they have the copyright). Literally, just like I own the shirt on my back. They have chosen to give up a good portion of control normally associated with ownership over Perl, but it is not public domain. Something is public domain if there isn't a specific owner.
As for the profit motive, let's look at a great example - RedHat. RedHat makes a lot of money on Linux. (Last year, they had revenues of almost $200 million dollars.) They do so in four ways:
What's the upshot? A lot of companies (including my employer) make a lot of money off of F/OSS. I get paid to write F/OSS that furthers the needs of my employer. F/OSS isn't the enemy of profit ... it just means you have to profit on your work, not your shrinkwrap.
My criteria for good software: