[ubuntu-uk] Free vs non-free drivers etc

alan c aeclist at candt.waitrose.com
Fri Nov 17 11:39:23 GMT 2006


Tony Arnold wrote:
> Alan,
> 
> On Thu, 16 Nov 2006 21:20:53 +0000, alan c wrote:
> 
>> Tony Arnold wrote:
> 
>>> Are you confusing free as in beer with free as in freedom? FOSS does
>>> not have to be free as in beer!
>> 
>> No I am not, for myself anyway. I purchased a retail box of suse 9.1 for
>> example a while ago.
>> 
>> And there is the oracle move against Red Hat, not to mention novell
>> apparently going a step too far with its MS patents deal. (I am winding
>> down my use of suse already).
>> 
>> If you can see a clear business model that would provide say, a small
>> software business, success, if it only used open source (say GPL) I
>> would be interested to know the thoughts.
> 
> I'm no business person, but I've always assumed money could be made
> through offering services around open source products. But may the
> economics just don't work. Maybe it requires a company of a certain size
> for it to work. How does Canonical make its money?

afaik canonical is not currently making a profit, it plans to at some 
date in future though. The Foundation (Ubuntu family) was set up by 
grace of MS (mark shuttleworth....) (10M$?) The canonical plan I think 
is as you say, support, and I think that is quite realistic. However, 
if I imagine a world where not a single software programmer has a paid 
job, it is hard to see quite how some of the less interesting tasks 
will get sorted. I think I heard that open office benefited 
significantly from sun and ibm throwing money at it. It is now a 
worthy program.

I guess one of the motives ibm and sun had was to deplete the revenue 
stream heading to m$ - a lot is made from office sales. In a world 
*without* m$ (unlikely I think) ibm and sun would have a different 
(business) motivational landscape.

The software and related business ecosystem is dynamic. Without a 
greedy ripoff, and poor quality, environment, the free software 
movement may not have had as much energy. Microsoft could probably 
afford to give away windows free, and still survive in half of its 
market share. I think a recent academic research suggested something 
similar.
-- 
alan cocks
Linux registered user #360648



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