Contracts In The Free Software / Open Source Market

Posted 6 Nov 2000 at 20:23 UTC by nymia Share This

I've been thinking about getting into the Free Software / Open Source market for a while now and here are some of my ideas...

I've been thinking about how contractors like me could get into the free software and open source market. One of the things I'm trying to figure out is how to get contracts. One probable way to do that is to seed the market with all kinds of applications, all made of free software/open source (FS/OP) ingredients. Like what I'm doing now, make tools and applications, give them for free and hope that in the future, contracts would be become available. But, the major work in order to get the market to use them is to make applications better than leading applications. Like build better tools/apps than <insert your favorite manufacturer here> has been building. That way, the market can be swayed not by the word 'free' but the word 'better.' Like: better compiler made by developers using FS/OP tools.

To me, the word 'free' when applied to the free market system means something that there is a string attached to the end of it. Or something like: "it can't be right, where's the fine print?" I don't know, maybe it's just only me, but, I think the proper word should be 'better' because it's much easier to grasp and understand. Also, the word 'free' when taken in the context of capitalism, means a material having free (zero) acquisition cost. Wait, before you start saying what 'free' in free software is, I know what 'free' means in the free software sense. What I'm trying to present here is to relate the word 'free' with better tools/apps and contracts. We've discussed this once with my friends at the former company and from what I gathered, there has to be a way where FS/OP developers get the idea that producing 'better' mean contracts in the future.

There's also one aspect in FS/OP that I'd like to put more emphasis on and that is usability of applications. While I do believe that FS/OP applications have reliability and availibility in the bag now. It looks like the next logical step would be focusing more on usability in order to create an image that FS/OP applications are highly reliable, available and usable. With ultimate goal of generating and earning contracts.

Thanks for reading.

... and likability, posted 7 Nov 2000 at 01:23 UTC by sej » (Master)

Reliability and usability are important, but they have to like your software based on first impressions as well, which can be rather superficial :-).

But seriously, I found that the only contracts I can land as a free software developer are those where the business people involved truly understand the freedoms they are getting when the source is delivered. Where they really bought into the argument that access to the source with no strings attached gave them a free market for future programming labor.

Since these customers are developing proprietary products, an unrestricted free software license was a must (i.e. BSD/MIT). But I can imagine selling the use of GPL Version 2 software using the same logic to an online application services provider. I'm not sure this will be true with GPL V3 (but should remain true with the LGPL) since it looks like Stallman is going to leverage the performance portion of copyright law.

FS vs OSS, posted 8 Nov 2000 at 11:28 UTC by Denny » (Journeyer)

As far as I can figure, you are reiterating the reasons for the existence of the Open Source Initiative - sell free software on the basis of its technical superiority.

Personally I think this is a perfectly good approach. Some in the free software camp disagree with it, thinking that you should always sell free software on the grounds of its intellectual freedom. Richard Stallman in particular seems quite unhappy with the way people frequenty mention free software and open source software in the same context.


If you haven't already done so, you might want to read the articles in the philosophy section of the GNU site and also the techie's case, business case and customer case on the OSI site.

Good luck...

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