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Re: Re: free software

Hi Prashant,

Yes, there are cogent business reasons for keeping your intellectual
property private to your organisation.  All of us who program in the
free software arena have to make hard decisions from time to time
about whether to release software we write as free software or to keep
it proprietary and enhance our business.  On the other hand, many of
us also see keeping software proprietary as a short-term benefit, not
likely to be profitable in the long term for many reasons...

- Change of Paradigm.  The IT economy is moving very rapidly from the
Product to the Service paradigm.  Companies like IBM, SGI, HP and MS
who were relying on selling products for their bottom-line are now
realising that the larger share of the pie is in consulting and system
integration, not in selling software and/or hardware.  So if selling
software isn't such a big deal anymore, you may as well make your
software free and open and reap in the benefits of being a player in
that field.

There are numerous examples of companies opening up formerly
proprietary software, including XFS and Failsafe from SGI, Open Office
from Sun, Netscape (Mozilla) from Netscape, Motif, etc.

- Competition.  Free software is giving its proprietary rivals a run
for their money.  Just as it wasn't reasonable until yesterday to make
an office suite since Microsoft had the market sewn up with OfficeXX,
it isn't reasonable to try to market a server OS today since Linux has
done the same for that market.  Sun and HP have announced plans to
drop further development on CDE (their windowing desktop environment)
and support Gnome, the GPL'd desktop environment instead.  The sheer
quality and ``value for money'' of free software make entry into the
niches where it exists impossible, and those niche islands are joining
up and becoming large continents.

- Linux.  Linux has captured a huge share of the server market and a
fair share of the desktop market.  In fact, Linux sells more server
``licences'' than all other Unixen put together, is second only to
Windows NT, and rapidly catching up.  Making your software available
freely on Linux is one way to get brownie points in the Linux
community and getting your software and your name widely accepted.

- Benefits from Corporates.  These brownie points mentioned above are
encashable -- to take an example, say I install SGI's Failsafe
clustering software (which is free).  If I need commercial support
and/or maintenance for Failsafe, who do you think is the first
organisation I'd approach?  You guessed right, SGI!  In the long term,
SGI could earn much more revenue out of consulting for Failsafe than
it could ever have made selling it.

Releasing your software under the GPL gives you that much of an edge
over competitors when the service factor comes into play.

- Community goodwill.  If you release your software under an
appropriate license, you earn a heck of a lot of goodwill from the
free software community.  These people are then willing to work with
you to solve /your/ problems and make your offerings stronger, rather
than your competitors'.

- Quality.  Is has been convincingly argued that the open source model
of software development leads to software which is more robust, more
stable, more free from bugs and more secure than any other model.
That in itself is enough reason to adopt the open model of software

- Karma.  When you finally Powerdown your System and get called Up
There, you will be able to make a convincing argument about having
increased the amount of wealth in this ``vale of tears'' and may even
(on that basis) get entry into the Linux Salon instead of having to
spend eternity watching Blue Screens Of Death ;-)

As far as earning a salary is concerned, I don't have any complaints
though I've been giving away software for free ever since I left SGI
and started consulting.  Insh'allah I'm not starving yet, and nor will
anyone else who decides to take that route.


-- Raju

>>>>> "Prashant" == Prashant Verma <prashantverma@xxxxxxxxx> writes:

    Prashant> First of all, 'Hi' from a new member. I just joined a
    Prashant> day ago, and would love to join the occasional
    Prashant> meeting. I myself am a linux newbie, and not at all an
    Prashant> experimenter (so far) but I am learning fast :-)
    Prashant> Regarding the current thread, here are some of my
    Prashant> opinions (I support the Selfishness Theory):

    Prashant> i)Knowledge does not diminish(on sharing), but the
    Prashant> amount of money that a business can make from any
    Prashant> knowledge is limited. Why invite unnecessary
    Prashant> competition?  ii)A business establishment invests money
    Prashant> in research.  If they don't get anything out of it, the
    Prashant> investors would be quite disappointed(and stop investing
    Prashant> in that business).  iii)If there's no money at the end
    Prashant> of the tunnel (after the hard work/research is done),
    Prashant> what is the motivation for working. (Noble motives are
    Prashant> quite rare and impractical I believe).  iv)Supporting
    Prashant> Open Software means exposing your business secrets to
    Prashant> the scrutiny of everyone including your competitors.
    Prashant> v)As a result of (iii) above, sharing the knowledge that
    Prashant> you acquired after investing in it for free is actually
    Prashant> detrimental to society at large, because it will lead to
    Prashant> a situation where not enough people/businesses find it
    Prashant> worth their while to invest in research.

    Prashant> Well, actually the day I can figure out how I would earn
    Prashant> my salary despite not being able to sell my software, I
    Prashant> will become an ardent supporter of open software :-)
    Prashant> -Prashant

    Prashant> --- Pankaj Kaushal <pankaj@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

    >> [snip]
Raju Mathur          raju@xxxxxxxxxxxxx           http://kandalaya.org/