[svlug] SW Licensing

Paul Cubbage oldestgeek at gmail.com
Wed Jan 20 15:51:51 PST 2010


What makes your Mac female?
"Andrew Wilcox (Sent from my Mac)
I kneel before her, beneath this frozen sky..."

Agree that a FOSS support business model is tough to make work.  One problem
is that companies that use FOSS have programmers who tell you they can take
care of support problems.  My experience is that they don't do all that well
at it because it's not part of their job description/goals.

There may be opportunities in niche markets where the budgets are good and
the cost high.  I've looked into a supput model for mapping software.  When
your business is dependent on old mdoel software empires like Autodesk,
ESRI, MapInfo, et al then you get to pay a high price for clumsy stuff that
is fat and slow but you have little choice.  There is FOSS  stuff that
outdates much of it and the customers can be clearly identified (government,
research, surveyors, contractors, utilities etc) meaning you can find them
through lists, professional organizations, D&B, etc.

Some problems:
- the engineers you need are all trying to write the 30,001th app for the
iPhone or the 10th for the Pre (LOL)
- investors want to see a whole bunch of IP

Anyway, I think the problems are the same for any FOSS support model other
than those coming from a major FOSS provider e.g. Red Hat et al.

Paul Cubbage

On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 6:56 PM, Andrew Wilcox <andrew.r.wilcox at gmail.com>wrote:

> On 18 Jan 2010, at 21:40, Chris Miller wrote:
> > Now for a moment consider Scott.  He's just a programmer, not a lawyer.
>  Imagine for a moment that he knows that licensing is somehow important, but
> doesn't want to be bothered with it because he'd rather go work on
> spring-physics in the next version.  So, knowing that the GPL is "popular,"
> he puts the preamble to the GPL in all the source files and thereby makes it
> a GPL project.
> >
> > Whoa, that's my biggest fear!
> Mine too.  This is why I advocate learning about licenses and what they
> mean.
> > Overall I think it's Really Important that there are ways to
> commercialize software.  Personally, I'd love to code all day long for open
> source, but there's this pesky thing called money that I have to earn.  I
> think there's a kind of symbiosis that goes on between open and closed
> source software ecosystems.  Just like me: I write closed-source software
> for my employer.  When I'm off the clock, I like to write FOSS stuff.
> I work at a company that embraces open-source and we have indeed
> contributed patches back to FreeBSD and nss_ldap.  But do you think we
> could've used it in our proprietary systems if it was GPL?  I doubt it.
>  This is just one case where a BSD-style license enables corporate
> contribution that would otherwise be non-existant.  It's healthy for the
> entire software ecosystem.
> > I like writing software.  I don't want to have to change careers.
> I know network engineering, but I would much rather be a software
> programmer for a living.  I love all aspects of dev from helping with
> requirements elicitation to maintenance programming and I have for a great
> many years.
> > Are there alternate models?  To me licensing and software business models
> are almost inextricably intertwined, as one serves the other.
> Not necessarily; your business model is tied to your licensing, but
> licensing isn't tied to any particular business model.  You can "try" to
> make money selling, for example, support for GPL software.  In the Real
> World(TM) though, it just doesn't work well.
> > I honestly question that all the many GPL bits of software were made GPL
> by actual understanding of the license, and not because "RMS and LT use it,
> so it must be cool!"
> My sentiments exactly.  Too many young developers are growing up looking up
> to Linus Torvalds like some kind of god or something.  I bet those whipper
> snappers haven't even heard of the real _programmers_ like ken, dmr, Knuth,
> or Kernighan.  The state of software development bothers me to be fully
> honest.  User requirements and unit testing are falling by the wayside in
> the name "rapid application development".
> But that's just my old-fart rant on the subject.
> --
> Andrew Wilcox (Sent from my Mac)
> I kneel before her, beneath this frozen sky...
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> svlug mailing list
> svlug at lists.svlug.org
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