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c1rcu17
September 11th, 2008, 05:54 AM
He can't understand why someone would develop a piece of software (good or bad) and not want to make money off of it. He thinks giving away your work is insanely stupid. I, an open source advocate, find myself having a hard time explaining to him the driving force behind open source software. His frame of mind is how to make money, and he doesn't understand the community aspect of it. I was wondering if anyone knew of any books that might explain the economics and motivation behind the open source projects.

ad_267
September 11th, 2008, 05:57 AM
People do make money from it. This link explains why companies sponsor Linux kernel development: https://www.linuxfoundation.org/publications/linuxkerneldevelopment.php

mrsteveman1
September 11th, 2008, 06:58 AM
Last weeks FLOSS weekly would be a good thing to listen to in this case, very insightful.

http://twit.tv/FLOSS

SunnyRabbiera
September 11th, 2008, 07:12 AM
its not about money, its about satisfaction of a good product, a matter nobody understands anymore it seems.

lswest
September 11th, 2008, 07:16 AM
its not about money, its about satisfaction of a good product, a matter nobody understands anymore it seems.

+1 They want to contribute good software to the community, and the only reasonable way to do it is to be paid at least enough to be able to live off it (for those who only do open-source programming, those with day jobs and whatever don't usually get paid at all). However, money is NOT in the fore-front of it. They want to offer alternatives to the commercial products and give the community the ability to contribute (which is also necessary due to the lack of funding) and therefore create a self-perpetuating developer cycle.

Think of it this way: Google has thousands of employees all over the world who work for them, but they're limited by how much they can pay. Linux has (potentially) the whole world working to improve it, and it's not limited by money because that's the whole idea behind open-source: to have a community-built system and programs for themselves and for others and not for monetary gain.

At least, that's how I see it.

frup
September 11th, 2008, 07:42 AM
Hardware companies benefit by having a common resource they can use. Instead of focusing development on the software they can direct more resources to the improvement of their hardware and working with their competitors on the groundwork... no different really to any standard.

A new company benefits by having a largely ready software stack available. The license ensures they participate in the community and don't just rip off their competitors.

For a single person they get the benefit of being able to tweak and extend their software how they like. They also have the ability to fix what ever bugs might annoy them.

The idea of a single person quickly writing a whole application or system by themselves isn't exactly a reality. The small patches a lot of people write don't have much value in themselves but when combined make a very valuable offering that is free. By having it open source their contributions can be improved on by anyone, which in the long run actually makes the quality and worth of their product better. Sure they might not sell it as such (Which you are allowed to do) but support is very valuable.

If FOSS software was not economical why would companies such as nokia, novell, canonical, red hat, IBM etc. etc. etc. invested in it?

I believe I recently saw that the code in Linux is basically worth $11b in man hours or something... I won't be entirely correct.

hildebrand_us
September 11th, 2008, 07:49 AM
You could ask him to read this book about the movement: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/fsfs/rms-essays.pdf

It may help him understand what you are talking about.

sloggerkhan
September 11th, 2008, 07:54 AM
Explain to him that in a free market you compete by offering products for the lowest cost. Software service companies sell services and have the cost of software, maintainance, support, development, etc.

By getting rid of software costs and gaining the added benefit of an open platform that can be modified in house to fit their needs, the company has gained an advantage over other companies with software costs and barriers to development.

Also, ask your Dad about this scenario:
You are cell phone maker. You have a choice between licensing a phone OS for $$$, and won't have much ability to modify the OS to suite your product, or a phone OS for $0 with some small costs associated with customizing for your product. Which do you choose?

Open source software is basically a mutual guarantee through licensing agreements such as the GPL to maintain an open and competitive marketplace which will out innovate and out compete proprietary solutions that create barriers to innovation and interoperability.

The key thing your dad is not realizing is that for many types of software products and the people and companies that use them, the economic benefits of open development often outweigh by many times any revenue that could be gained by restrictive licensing.

HermanAB
September 11th, 2008, 07:56 AM
Tell your dad that it is mostly a tax evasion scam, involving donating code to a charity. Then he'll understand.

wfp
September 11th, 2008, 07:59 AM
lol ^

mcsimon
September 11th, 2008, 08:09 AM
My dad simply tried to convince me that the only reason we are able to get an operating system for free, is so we get used to using it and that they will start charging us at a later date

ad_267
September 11th, 2008, 08:15 AM
That's not really possible. Sure Canonical could charge for Ubuntu but they would still have to make the source code freely available so anyone could compile their own Ubuntu and make a new free version.

SunnyRabbiera
September 11th, 2008, 08:19 AM
My dad simply tried to convince me that the only reason we are able to get an operating system for free, is so we get used to using it and that they will start charging us at a later date

He never studied GNU philosophy then, open source is not trialware...

ad_267
September 11th, 2008, 08:34 AM
Get him to read this:
http://www.ubuntu.com/community/ubuntustory/philosophy

It's a bit shorter than the GNU books.

sloggerkhan
September 11th, 2008, 09:03 AM
My dad simply tried to convince me that the only reason we are able to get an operating system for free, is so we get used to using it and that they will start charging us at a later date

That'd be against the GPL. If he wants that to happen, tell him to switch to BSD.

cmay
September 11th, 2008, 09:38 AM
read about gift culture. for some cultures it is a way to define a mans worth as how much he can give away. the more you can give away the more you are worth.there is also some articles on hackers gift cultures but i did not read them i have my sources in the native people all around the world on subjects like this.

Sef
September 11th, 2008, 09:45 AM
GNU General Public License (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html)

Wikipedia GNU GPL (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_General_Public_License)

frup
September 11th, 2008, 10:15 AM
That's not really possible. Sure Canonical could charge for Ubuntu but they would still have to make the source code freely available so anyone could compile their own Ubuntu and make a new free version.


I understand it that the source has to be available with distribution of the binary but you aren't forced to give the source to people who don't buy the binary.

So if you sell for $1000 only the people who pay $1000 can get it, but they are then free to give it away again for free.... So if you do charge, provided your product is compelling, you are going to get at least on sale :D... The Red Hat / CentOS relationship is similar to this.

I could be wrong and expect to be corrected when I am.

Sef
September 11th, 2008, 10:29 AM
I understand it that the source has to be available with distribution of the binary but you aren't forced to give the source to people who don't buy the binary.

That is not quite correct. If you distribute the software in any form for any price, including free, then you have to release the source code. If you don't distribute the source code, i.e., keep it in house, then you don't have to release the source code.

kef_kf
September 11th, 2008, 12:00 PM
here is a good book for your dad to read:

Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution: http://oreilly.com/catalog/opensources/book/toc.html

it includes essays written by eminent open source people explaining what they are about.

joninkrakow
September 11th, 2008, 01:27 PM
He can't understand why someone would develop a piece of software (good or bad) and not want to make money off of it. He thinks giving away your work is insanely stupid. I, an open source advocate, find myself having a hard time explaining to him the driving force behind open source software. His frame of mind is how to make money, and he doesn't understand the community aspect of it. I was wondering if anyone knew of any books that might explain the economics and motivation behind the open source projects.

So far, nobody seems to have really answered your father's question. I know this isn't entirely accurate, but I would suggest telling him that the sofware is the loss-leader, like milk is in many stores in the US, or sales items. The idea is to get you into the store to buy the cheap product, and buy other things. With Linux, the idea is to give away the software, and share it freely, but for those entities that need it, offer service and such.

That said, it seems that up until now, it's not been easy to actually _make_ money off of Linux. That raises the question of how well it will scale. I know lots of people scoff at this question, but it still remains to be seen how well Linux usage will scale. My concern is not that people will no longer develop free software, but that the "true believers"--the hackers, etc. will abandon the larger distros, and migrate to more obscure, arcane ones, where novices fear to tread, and then, it will be more difficult for people to keep the free (as in cost) distros up-to-date, and thus remove the appeal of those, thus forcing Linux to stay a niche player. That is my concern. I wonder how long Canonical can afford to sink cash into Ubuntu, and not return any profit--are they? Or is it still a cash sink for them?



its not about money, its about satisfaction of a good product, a matter nobody understands anymore it seems.

It is not like these two things are mutually exclusive. And there's nothing wrong with making money off of something you love doing. Money is not evil... it's the love of money--and greed is not the same thing as profit motive.... "goodness, what do they teach children these days..." ;-)

-Jon

lakersforce
September 11th, 2008, 01:35 PM
He can't understand why someone would develop a piece of software (good or bad) and not want to make money off of it. He thinks giving away your work is insanely stupid. I, an open source advocate, find myself having a hard time explaining to him the driving force behind open source software. His frame of mind is how to make money, and he doesn't understand the community aspect of it. I was wondering if anyone knew of any books that might explain the economics and motivation behind the open source projects.

The open source bible:

The Cathedral and the Bazaar (http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/)
alternative link (http://web.archive.org/web/20080212084322/http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/)

A must read along with RMS' essays!

Casper Hansen
September 11th, 2008, 01:41 PM
People who develop Open Source do it because they like doing it. And when you love doing something the end result is always good. If they wanted to purchase money from the user it would be a matter of earning money and not the matter, that they actually do something that provides people with good alternatives.

Chessmaster
September 11th, 2008, 02:14 PM
its not about money, its about satisfaction of a good product, a matter nobody understands anymore it seems.

+1 Exactly.

People do get paid in some repsects, just not in money. They get paid via satisfaction of a job well done, being cooperative, part of a community, doing what they think is "right", producing good software...etc...etc...

Why do people play in their local social football team, join the amateur drama club, or just hang with their mate?. Not all value need be monetary value.

Unfortunately a good deal of the world seems to think that the only value is monetary value....

aysiu
September 11th, 2008, 03:21 PM
Have him read this:
How does open source make money? (http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntucat/how-does-open-source-make-money/)

Casper Hansen
September 11th, 2008, 08:50 PM
Lol just showed this thread to my dad, and he said: What do you do if these Open Source developers just hack your system?

- It seems to be a problem of understandig, that computer software CAN be SAFE just because it isn't called something with Microsoft...

zmjjmz
September 11th, 2008, 09:18 PM
"Hack your system"?
I don't think he understands how hacking really works.

aysiu
September 11th, 2008, 09:23 PM
What do you do if these Open Source developers just hack your system? Probably the same thing you do if Microsoft developers just hack your Windows system.

Unless you are a programmer who understands code and audits all the code of all the software she installs, you will never be 100% certain there isn't some built-in backdoor mechanism the developer has put in there to spy on you or compromise your system.

There's always an element of trust and faith.

Why would open source developers be any less trustworthy than proprietary developers? Because their code isn't auditable? Because they're in the backpockets of some corporation that wants to know your surfing and spending habits? Oh, wait. They're not either.

zmjjmz
September 11th, 2008, 09:25 PM
Because they're in the backpockets of some corporation that wants to know your surfing and spending habits?

Like Google?

Casper Hansen
September 11th, 2008, 09:25 PM
"Hack your system"?
I don't think he understands how hacking really works.

Of course he doesn't know anything! I just need a way to tell him: Open Source is good, Linux is good.

- I said to him: Why would they hack your system??? He thinks they gonna steel you money from your netbank LOL.

zmjjmz
September 11th, 2008, 09:25 PM
Of course he doesn't know anything! I just need a way to tell him: Open Source is good, Linux is good.

- I said to him: Why would they hack your system??? He thinks they gonna steel you money from your netbank LOL.

Tell him that MS has far more incentive to do that.

Casper Hansen
September 11th, 2008, 09:38 PM
Probably the same thing you do if Microsoft developers just hack your Windows system.

Unless you are a programmer who understands code and audits all the code of all the software she installs, you will never be 100% certain there isn't some built-in backdoor mechanism the developer has put in there to spy on you or compromise your system.

There's always an element of trust and faith.

Why would open source developers be any less trustworthy than proprietary developers? Because their code isn't auditable? Because they're in the backpockets of some corporation that wants to know your surfing and spending habits? Oh, wait. They're not either.

Exactly. And if Open Source developers did go into your backdoors, some one would warn you. Either here or some place else. The system can't be that corrupted ;-)

ad_267
September 11th, 2008, 09:39 PM
It doesn't sound like he's going to believe you no matter what you say. Just let him think what he wants for now and eventually he might come around to your way of thinking when he sees that this software works and doesn't do harm.

Casper Hansen
September 11th, 2008, 09:40 PM
Tell him that MS has far more incentive to do that.

Because people would sue their asses if they did.

aysiu
September 11th, 2008, 09:41 PM
It doesn't sound like he's going to believe you no matter what you say. Just let him think what he wants for now and eventually he might come around to your way of thinking when he sees that this software works and doesn't do harm.
I agree. Some people just won't see reason. And if they don't, it's their loss.

You can't force someone to use open source software. If they like proprietary and cost-free or proprietary and pay-for, and it makes them happy, let them use it.

Chame_Wizard
September 11th, 2008, 09:50 PM
Without opensource(Unix,BSD and Linux),(the Ineternet and other things) will be not as it is now.:guitar:

aysiu
September 11th, 2008, 10:02 PM
Without opensource(Unix,BSD and Linux),(the Ineternet and other things) will be not as it is now.:guitar:
I guess that's another way to put it.

Don't trust TiVo.
Don't trust Google.
Don't trust pretty much any website that uses Apache and MySQL.

mrsteveman1
September 11th, 2008, 10:33 PM
One thing that is commonly misunderstood about open source is that things don't have to be a face off between free and commercial interests.

I think one of the core ideas around FOSS is that you don't have to keep secrets (code) to make money, and there are substantial advantages to NOT trying to keep secrets.

The best thing you can probably do is point anyone who doesn't get it, at any of a number of VERY successful open source companies. RedHat is one, Novell is another one. Sun is moving toward open everywhere they can it seems (despite the incompatibility between CDDL and GPL, its still OSI approved etc).

Canonical seems to be an example too, a company that is putting software together and maintaining it, and making their money by selling what they know and what they can do for customers. And make no mistake, there is a LOT of money to be made by selling intellectual ability. We look at software like this and think, hey i don't need help with this i can either do it myself or ask someone. A substantial number of customers can't or won't do that, and want someone with clear answers ready to go, or they want someone on call who can fix critical bugs instantly rather than wait for a patch, or they want the people who actually wrote the code to be available to ask them questions as to the best way to modify something for a specific purpose. All sorts of things can be done to make money without having to keep code a secret, and i think a lot of us know, the cost of keeping that code secret is very high and will get higher.

airjaw
September 12th, 2008, 11:29 PM
Its not necessarilyabout economics I don't think..

not every open source contributor does it with the end goal of making money. Most just do it to contribute to the community and to the computer-using world. Some people just have a vision that does not involve money. I guess its kind of a hobby and fulfillment for them, apart from their day jobs. Most people in life work on something they enjoy without making any money off it, whether it be working out, playing sports, building cars/model airplanes, tending gardens, etc. Maybe he does not understand that people actually enjoy writing software and tend to get paid enough at their day jobs to be able not worry about making more money

Npl
September 13th, 2008, 12:13 AM
Its not necessarilyabout economics I don't think..

not every open source contributor does it with the end goal of making money. Most just do it to contribute to the community and to the computer-using world...That beeing a faint minority, just look at the kernel list and count the people NOT making cash with Linux-Servers or business related to them. Development of many key components is driven though big Distros like Suse and Fedora aswell (and many decisions regarding the kernel aim to please the paying "server-customers" and not the desktop-user). Mozilla is swimming in cash and their developers get paid well.

Sure there are some great "homebrew" OS-Apps( ScummVM, MediaPlayerClassic, Virtualdub), but those are the exception, not the rule. Nearly everything thats vital to a running desktop is done by paid developers.

fballem
September 13th, 2008, 01:34 AM
Your dad might be interested in a book called Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams.

It's not just software that has gone open source - the human genome project is an example of a lot of companies, universities, and independent scientists collaborating to solve a common problem that none of them could afford to solve by themselves.

With the exception of Apple and Microsoft, most software companies are in the business of only building 'value-added' applications - software that provides perceivable value to users.

By using a common operating platform, they can concentrate on doing their core things well. Apple and Microsoft are closed platforms. If one of the software companies needs the operating system to provide a feature to support their latest 'whiz bang' feature, it's a challenge for them to get Apple or Microsoft to make the change.

With open source, they can contribute the change that they need (or get someone else to contribute it) for little or no cost to themselves.

A common operating system will also allow the value-added applications to run on a larger variety of systems and configurations - providing a larger market for their products. Linux runs on an amazing variety of hardware and in many different roles.

An operating system, by itself, provides no value to the end user - it is only useful if an end user can run a value-added application on that operating system. If there wasn't open source, then the company would either have to hire people in-house to build an operating system or hire a company to build an operating system.

It makes sense to share the development load among thousands of developers - and if this can be done at minimal or no cost to a software company, then so much the better. The fact that there are thousands of developers helps to improve the overall quality. Since the code is open to all, the thousands of pairs of eyes can help to ensure that there are no backdoors to the system.

Hope this helps - the basic economics of open source (particularly Linux) are relatively simple.

scorp123
September 13th, 2008, 03:16 AM
He can't understand why someone would develop a piece of software (good or bad) and not want to make money off of it. I worked for Hewlett-Packard (www.hp.com) for the past seven years, 2000 - 2007. And as you may know or not, HP is one really big sponsor (time, people and money!) for a lot of things related to Linux, e.g. the porting of the Linux kernel to the Intel "Itanium" IA-64 platform was sponsored by HP (they paid people fulltime to make sure that the Linux kernel does run on IA-64!) .. Linux was AFAIK the first OS kernel to have full IA-64 support when HP started shipping IA-64 server systems. Then there is printing ... There are only very very few HP printers that will not work with Linux ... the vast majority does work 100% (see here: http://www.linuxfoundation.org/en/OpenPrinting ... What does it say right there on the front-page? "Sponsored by HP"). Again: HP is paying fulltime jobs so people will write Linux device drivers for HP printers and make sure those drivers make it into free projects such as CUPS. That's why you never ever need to download any Linux print drivers for HP printers (and why you shouldn't bother to ask those underpaid and undertrained people on the hotline about it!) because most likely your Linux distro of choice is already shipping with everything you need. List of working HP printers is here: http://openprinting.org/printer_list.cgi?make=HP

Same goes for laptops .... During my career at HP I have owned many laptops from them (Omnibook 4150, Omnibook 4150B, Omnibook 500, Omnibook 6200vt, Compaq Evo N610c, Compaq NX6200, ... my own private laptop is a HP Pavilion DV2108EA) ... Yes, unfortunately there are a few models that are not Linux compatible (mostly AMD-based ones with Broadcom WiFi chipsets) but the "Intel all the way" ones (= Intel CPU's + Intel graphics + Intel WiFi) usually should be tip top Linux compatible and should work out of the box. On my DV2108EA even the remote control and the multimedia keys work "out of the box" on Ubuntu, I just had to tweak them slightly to my taste (what used to be the "QuickPlay" button now serves as "Eject" button: I gently touch it and it will eject my CD drive; this works for the remote control too; this is waaaaay better than having to search for that stupid little eject button on the CD drive's tray!)

So if "contributing to Linux" counts as "giving stuff away for free" then HP at least during my seven years there was doing it a lot all the time.

And last time I checked HP was not bankrupt?

So why "give stuff away for free" (= contribute to Linux)??

At least in the case of HP the answer is simple: They *REALLY* want their hardware to work no matter what OS a customer chooses. (Yes, no kidding: They only really care about their hardware, they don't really care what OS is driving it ...)

Yes, they ship Vista preinstalled on most laptops. Yes, every HP printer ships with a horribly bloated Windoze driver and if you call the hotline and ask about a Linux driver they will not know about CUPS or what on Earth that "Linux thing" is you mentioned ... They might even give you silly answers such as "We only support Windows" ... Sad but true.

And still: HP always was and still is a computer hardware company. Hardware sales are driving the profits, the various software divisions (yes, HP produces professional software too! e.g. HP OpenView) are just an added extra (don't tell them :D ), but the real money machine is hardware, hardware and again hardware.

Regardless of the FUD you keep hearing about "Windows owns 90% of the desktop" and "less than 10% of the desktops are Linux" ... but fact is that *people want Linux* (especially on their servers!), Linux is *popular* (and has been so for years already!), and if there is any doubt: Already in 2000 HP declared Linux as being a "strategic target OS". It doesn't look like that policy was ever changed (the other 'strategic OS's' at HP are HP-UX and Windows).

So that's why. It's about HARDWARE. The fact that they gave away their contributions to the Linux kernel away "for free" (well, according to the GPL they actually had to :D ) is therefore irrelevant even if we apply your father's logic. Whatever time and money they had to invest to develop that code: they will earn it back thousand-fold with the sales of their hardware! (again: this is what they really care about: Selling their hardware!)

So the truth is you in fact can earn money with giving away software for free .. it's just that you don't charge for the software itself; at least in the case of HP the profits will materialise themselves via hardware sales. And if people are happy buying HP hardware because it runs tip top with Linux then HP is more than happy to make sure that it stays that way.

Giving "software away for free" + supporting Linux = Hardware sales = $$$

Prime example:

Intel "Itanium" IA-64 platform and IA-64 based servers. As I said above: HP sponsored and paid for the porting of the Linux kernel. In case anyone desires a proof of this: Install the kernel sources and look for yourself!

sudo apt-get install build-essential
cd /usr/src/linux-headers-`uname -r`
grep -r 'hp.com' * ... That last "grep" should produce tons of hits where HP engineers left their mail addresses in the Linux kernel source code, especially in the "ia64" sections.

HP still hasn't abandoned the IA-64, they are still selling those types of servers and there are still companies and industries buying those machines (despite there being other choices when it comes to 64-bit, e.g. AMD Opteron or Intel Xeon based systems).

So whatever the costs were to have Linux ported to this platform back in 2001/2002 and regardless of how much code they gave away "for free", the fact that they still can sell those expensive servers makes it worth every single line of code. And what are customers running on those server? Based on my own observations I claim: Linux! (extremely customised versions).

So here is your profit: HP can sell those expensive servers because they helped make sure that Linux runs tip top on them.

And before someone asks: Nope, if you're intent on running Windows you would not buy a IA-64 based system. There was once a version of "Windows 2003 Server" but I think it has been long abandoned; And if you're intent on running HP-UX: yes, HP-UX runs on IA-64 too ... but if you're into HP-UX you'd rather stick to HP-PARISC based systems. IA-64 systems only make sense if your intentions are to run a highly customised Linux on it, e.g. for number crunching, clustering, high-performance computing ... And in this area the IA-64 really shines.

So long story short: "giving software away for free" could make the difference between selling hardware or not selling it, and the more of your hardware runs with whatever OS the customer might throw at it the better for your sales statistics and your market share. Voila, that's where the profit is.

Actually it's not so hard to understand I guess? :)

Casper Hansen
September 13th, 2008, 05:17 PM
@ scorp123:

Nice post. I sense it's common for all "fully Intel loaded" systems - there's a big chance that it will work out of the box with Linux.

Phreaker
September 13th, 2008, 05:35 PM
Teach your dad Karl Marx

fatality_uk
September 13th, 2008, 05:47 PM
Teach your dad Karl Marx

Or you might teach your dad Milton Friedman or Adam Smith as they have as much to do with FOSS as Karl Marx!!! *sigh*

scorp123
September 13th, 2008, 05:48 PM
Teach your dad Karl Marx That's FUD and BS. Opensource, Linux and building communities around them has nothing whatsoever to do with communism and socialism. You have never lived in a socialist system it seems, or else you'd know the difference (me being from former Yugoslavia I know first-hand what "real socialism" was like).

In a socialist system the state's authorities would define what is "good" and "desirable" and what isn't and they would tell you what you have to like or what you have to dislike. No free choice whatsoever!

This here, especially Linux, is pure capitalism in a positive sense: See my example about HP above. They invested people, time and money to make sure that Linux would run on the server systems they intended to sell. Whatever it did cost them to have the Linux kernel ported over, it was an investment that paid off thousand-fold and which gave us employees very nice bonusses several times. Server sales up 20%? The server division alone made us a fat profit of 300 million dollars? We just struck a deal about commercial Linux platform support and just earned another 200 million dollars? ... => Corporate Performance Bonus for everyone!!

It can't get more capitalistic than that. Marx?? Forget it. :D

airjaw
September 13th, 2008, 06:18 PM
That beeing a faint minority, just look at the kernel list and count the people NOT making cash with Linux-Servers or business related to them. Development of many key components is driven though big Distros like Suse and Fedora aswell (and many decisions regarding the kernel aim to please the paying "server-customers" and not the desktop-user). Mozilla is swimming in cash and their developers get paid well.

Sure there are some great "homebrew" OS-Apps( ScummVM, MediaPlayerClassic, Virtualdub), but those are the exception, not the rule. Nearly everything thats vital to a running desktop is done by paid developers.

I was thinking more about regular open source programs like Mozilla firefox, pidgin, eclipse, apache, postgresql, that are all free.. do people make money off those too?

karellen
September 13th, 2008, 07:35 PM
That's FUD and BS. Opensource, Linux and building communities around them has nothing whatsoever to do with communism and socialism. You have never lived in a socialist system it seems, or else you'd know the difference (me being from former Yugoslavia I know first-hand what "real socialism" was like).

In a socialist system the state's authorities would define what is "good" and "desirable" and what isn't and they would tell you what you have to like or what you have to dislike. No free choice whatsoever!

This here, especially Linux, is pure capitalism in a positive sense: See my example about HP above. They invested people, time and money to make sure that Linux would run on the server systems they intended to sell. Whatever it did cost them to have the Linux kernel ported over, it was an investment that paid off thousand-fold and which gave us employees very nice bonusses several times. Server sales up 20%? The server division alone made us a fat profit of 300 million dollars? We just struck a deal about commercial Linux platform support and just earned another 200 million dollars? ... => Corporate Performance Bonus for everyone!!

It can't get more capitalistic than that. Marx?? Forget it. :D

I currently live in Romania, a former communist country as you probably know already, so I can definitely relate to your quoted post about how communism/socialism is misunderstood in the Western thinking (read beautified, instead of the clear disapproval it deserves). and Marx's theory is completely wrong, for numerous reasons (he was misinformed, he simplified and altered the historical processes, he wrote about capitalism and predicted its demise yet he had no idea how it actually works)

Npl
September 13th, 2008, 07:47 PM
I was thinking more about regular open source programs like Mozilla firefox, pidgin, eclipse, apache, postgresql, that are all free.. do people make money off those too?Mozilla Foundation gets 10s of millions from google each year, they got some millions infused by other companies aswell (AOL i think) - paid professionals do the work. Apache`s software is primary developed by professionals aswell. eclipse is developed/funded by IBM.

"Making money off" is a vaguee question, but the software developers on these project are your regulary capitalistic pigs working for food and money :)
How the companies get back their investment is a more complicated story, but it would be naive to think they send paid developers on OSS Project purely out of charity.

Xzallion
September 13th, 2008, 10:23 PM
Depending on the FOSS application, their ways of "making money off" vary. Mozilla gets paid through Google for advertising. They bundle the google search as the default, and thus anyone that installs firefox is that much more likely to search with google, see google adds, etc.

Applications like the linux kernel are aimed more at hardware sales. software like this allows other software to interact with the hardware, and is necessary to sell working hardware. So developers are paid to make it work to sell a product.

Then theres things like OpenOffice that are funded by large corporations as either a form of good Public Relations or to improve a bit of software that they bundle on software suites or with hardware. The goal is to sell the other software/hardware to accompany it.

Then there's hobby projects like GIMP/Blender where the developers are just building tools for things they enjoy, and luckily these pet projects got popular. once this happens their design changes from a hobby to commercial, as Blender has been used for various 3d movies and a teaching tool because of tis cost. They both also sell books/training dvd's to train individuals in using them, so the business model is to improve the tool enough to make people want to use it, and sell them the training to use it.

Open source developers make money in many different ways, if they desire so. There are those that just do it to do it, but there are many that do it for a living.

ubuntu27
September 13th, 2008, 10:44 PM
He can't understand why someone would develop a piece of software (good or bad) and not want to make money off of it. He thinks giving away your work is insanely stupid. I, an open source advocate, find myself having a hard time explaining to him the driving force behind open source software. His frame of mind is how to make money, and he doesn't understand the community aspect of it. I was wondering if anyone knew of any books that might explain the economics and motivation behind the open source projects.


I highly recommend the book "The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary" by Eric S. Raymond

You can buy at amazon.com here (http://www.amazon.com/Cathedral-Bazaar-Musings-Accidental-Revolutionary/dp/0596001088/)

You can read it online here (http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/)

I really recommend you to buy a book, so you can have read it whenever and wherever you want. Having a physical book is better than online one :)

akiratheoni
September 13th, 2008, 11:34 PM
Tell your dad that it is mostly a tax evasion scam, involving donating code to a charity. Then he'll understand.

Silly, that's Scientology ;)

Mr. Picklesworth
September 14th, 2008, 01:19 AM
The audio recording from Eric Raymond's presentation on The Cathedral and the Bazaar is also really good.
http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/
(Look for "96kbs MP3")

az
September 14th, 2008, 02:16 AM
He can't understand why someone would develop a piece of software (good or bad) and not want to make money off of it. He thinks giving away your work is insanely stupid.

1. Then, a programmer who works for Microsoft gives away his/her work every day. On the other hand, a FLOSS developer can be paid for doing their work, and at the end of the day, the code is still theirs to work with and redistribute. It's everybody else's, too.

2. But the real point I would make is that the software is not a product to be bought and sold. It's knowledge like science. Do scientists charge for their discoveries?

No, in fact they publish them so that anybody can have access to their ideas and anyone can build on them.

It's the same with software. It's like asking "How does a researcher make money if they publish their research?"

Not to mention the nightmare it would be if such ideas could actually be someone's property. Imagine if your surgeon had to pay a fee for the "rights" to perform a surgery on each patient!




I, an open source advocate, find myself having a hard time explaining to him the driving force behind open source software. His frame of mind is how to make money, and he doesn't understand the community aspect of it. I was wondering if anyone knew of any books that might explain the economics and motivation behind the open source projects.

Read this study:
http://www.flossimpact.eu/
http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/ict/policy/doc/2006-11-20-flossimpact.pdf

OffHand
September 14th, 2008, 11:45 PM
+1 Exactly.

People do get paid in some repsects, just not in money. They get paid via satisfaction of a job well done, being cooperative, part of a community, doing what they think is "right", producing good software...etc...etc...

[...]

Unfortunately a good deal of the world seems to think that the only value is monetary value....

Satisfaction and a pat on the back do not pay the bills ;)