Open Source question

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by morgue, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. morgue

    morgue New Member

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    I have a question about open source, and free software.

    First of all, I know it is profitable, for example:
    http://blogs.computerworld.com/14798/open_source_profits_proprietary_fails?source=rss_blogs

    I also understand it's usually, if not always, better than proprietary software for the user, which I entirely love.

    I have some thoughts about a particular case scenario that I would like to debate :)

    Say I develop X applicacion, or module, and release it for free, with the source code, and my only income is the support I provide to it... Then some company, with endless resources, takes it, modifies it, and re-releases it, with whatever changes they make to it, then market the product as much as they can, and they get all the 'tech support' customers (which was my only income) to the point where I have no way to compete with them.

    Even though they have to release the source code as well, because that is what the license states, does it really matter? I do not think the average user will go through the documentation or look for the alternative, to find me, and even if they do, I probably won't have prices that compete with those of the company that took my product.

    In this case, besides personal gratification, and knowing that I'm actually helping the world become a better place because I'm going open source...

    What's in it to -me-? I can't pay the bills with gratification...

    Is there a license that allows me to do open source, but blocks the users from re-releasing the stuff? That would kind of contradict this, but, otherwise, I kind of see a hole here, on which any big company can easily decide to screw you over, unless I'm missing something :)

    Please don't start the typical -Microsoft- thread, because I'm no fanboy, and actually want to learn about the subject, not start a troll thread :)
     
  2. Fase

    Fase Your Face, In A Pickle Jar.

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    You could release the software for free, but keep the source. Then sell support, accept donations, have ads on your website/in the software, group the software with some sponsored programs, or a combination of the above.

    Most (I believe) Linux distributions are not open source with their code. The Linux kernel (the base foundation of all Linux OSes) is open source that people build off of.

    There's different levels of the open source. The Free Software Foundation (FSF: http://www.fsf.org/) is a little over the top where they won't let you accept donations, sell manuals, or sell support. You must be 100% free (free as in freedom of speech, not free beer) with them.

    You can read the license:
    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.txt
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_General_Public_License

    You can however release your software as open source and have a different license for the source code. The program will be free and open for anyone to download and distribute for free, but the source code has a license that only allows modification for personal/non-profit use. This allows only you to make a profit from your source code.

    I'm not 100% sure on all this so don't quote me on it ;)
     
  3. morgue

    morgue New Member

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    Who is to say they won't sell services, or the packaging, or the CD on which they burn the software, they won't charge for the "software"...

    I need to read the entire licenses, but those things are laws, and lawyers seem to play with them so easily that I really see no point of trying to understand them.

    Either way, on such scenario, on which I'm pretty much screwed, why would I even consider open source if there's such a big hole in there -unless there's no hole and there's something I'm missing which hasn't been pointed out yet-

    Thanks for your input :)
     
  4. Joe_Cool

    Joe_Cool Never trust a woman or a government. Moderator

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    You contradicted yourself here. 100% free as in freedom of speech includes the freedom to charge for support. The GPL does not limit donations, selling manuals, selling support, etc. It only stipulates that anybody is free to copy, distribute, change, or sell your code as long as they also adhere to GPL restrictions, which include making the GPLed source code freely available.

    The way you described it, it's required to be free as in free beer, not as in freedom of speech. And you're incorrect.
     
  5. CodeX

    CodeX Guest

    You also don't have to follow one of the established licenses... It's kind of like religion, everyone thinks they are stuck with choosing between the handful of organized religions, or having none at all... when in reality the best choice is to decide on your own.

    If it is your intellectual property you can control it's terms of use and licensing in any way you choose, but if you want it to hold any legal weight you should have it written or at least checked out by an attorney.
     
  6. Fase

    Fase Your Face, In A Pickle Jar.

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    http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/index_html#GPLCompatibleLicenses
    http://www.gnu.org/s/libc/manual/html_node/Free-Manuals.html
     
  7. Joe_Cool

    Joe_Cool Never trust a woman or a government. Moderator

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