[NH LoCo] I'm writing an opinion piece for the Concord Monitor -- care to weigh in?
Jon 'maddog' Hall
maddog at li.org
Thu Feb 25 04:16:39 GMT 2010
>Man. If FOSS is so great, how come *we* don't have all of that money
>to do all of those things?
Very simple. Proprietary software is written for investors by
non-users. FOSS, for the most part, is written by the customers for
FOSS is written by the people that have "the itch that needs
scratching", the community.
Sometimes it is written by people who are providing a service (Red Hat,
Novell, etc.) but just look at any service business....its "Exit Value"
is typically 1.5 times revenue, versus a "Product Company" being 5 times
revenue (or more).
FOSS, by its very nature, limits profitability. People can not rely on
making a product one time, and milking that investment hundreds or
thousands or (in the case of Microsoft) millions of times. You are paid
for your work, and are then expected to hand it back to the thousands
who contributed before you. "We stand on the shoulders of giants who
Who loses in a true FOSS environment? The investors. They don't get to
invest one dollar and make a million. It is more like investing a
dollar and making a hundred.....ergo Wall Street hates us. And Wall
Street has lots of connections on "K" street in Washington, D.C.
Another set of losers? Patent Trolls. And not just the ones that buy
patents without having a single thought in their minds, but the people
that patent "obvious things" and hope that no one notices "prior art"
until they have bludgeoned unsuspecting users for everything they have.
Who else loses? IP Lawyers, because with proprietary code the first
thing you need is a lawyer to negotiate the contract with the IP
provider. With FOSS all you have to do to start a new business is pull
down the code, and agree to certain principals when you use the code.
No lawyers. No Trolls. No high-powered business negotiators.
Gee, look who is on the staff of the International Intellectual Property
Who wins in a true FOSS environment? The customer, who does not have to
pay again and again for the code. Society in general, who finds that
they can change the code to meet their needs, lowering costs, being more
They take that money they save and they do things like feeding their
kids, paying their mortgage, buying their spouse something nice. It is
hard for them to figure out they should be donating their money to
protect their freedom. After all, that is what the government is
supposed to be doing, right?
Instead we have a "Supreme Court" that has just given the same rights to
a corporation that a living, breathing, bleeding person has.
So true FOSS companies that are profitable making FOSS are not
"Microsoft profitable", because if they were, others would fork their
products and compete with them.
But WAIT, America! What is really happening here? Does FOSS really
hurt our economy, or just distribute it differently? Does it mean that
the small country of New Hampshire does not have to export as much of
its money to the country of Redmond-Washington?
Does having the source code for our software mean that we can actually
fix the problems that are keeping us from moving forward? Does it mean
that we can at last close the functionality gap between what we need and
what we get, saving at least five BILLION dollars a day as a world
The problem, you see, is that five BILLION dollars a day is spent five
dollars at a time. If it was not, if it was concentrated and paid to
someone (like a company), we could do the same things as the BSA and the
I hope I have partially answered your question. There is actually a lot
more to this, but I am tired tonight.
But remember two things:
o FOSS favors the common person
o According to the book "Collapse", by Jack Diamond, in the collapse of
economy the first people eaten were the chiefs and the priests.
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