The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Monday, March 01, 2004

Rethinking Free Software 

Having gone through the free/open source rocks stage myself... I find this open letter on the Consequences of Writing Free Software very interesting. It was in response to a conversation this gentleman had with a young developer (yes, younger than me) at a software conference.

However, I start to wonder where your benefit is. You are – out of principle – not making any money out of this, because it is open-source and you and your buddies insist that it must be absolutely free. So you are putting all of that time and energy into this project for what? Fame? To found a career? Come on.

If someone installs your work from disc 3 of some Linux distro, they couldn’t care less who you are. The whole fame thing you are telling me only works amongst geeks. The good looking, intelligent girl over there at the bar that you’d really like to talk to doesn’t care much whether you are famous amongst a group of geeks and neither does she even remotely fathom why you’d be famous for that stuff in the first place. I mean – get real here.
The whole thing about “free software” is a lie. It’s a dream created and made popular by people who have a keen interest in having cheap software so that they can drive down their own cost and profit more or by people who can easily demand it, because they make their money out of speaking at conferences or write books about how nice it is to have free software.
And I sure understand the whole altruistic aspect of this and the idea of helping people to have better lives through free software. There’s a saying that goes: “If you are 20 and you aren’t a communist you have no heart.”, but it continues “if you are 30 and you still are a communist, you lack rationality”.

This of course interests me because I have written plugins for Winamp3 which I put out for free to benefit that particular community... and I'm now working on a skinning program for Winamp Moder Skins, which I plan on selling for money (gasp). My problem comes from the fact that the Winamp community is very into free software rocks... and if you make us pay you are evil. Of course the vast majority of those community members are still in college... and can't afford anything. Wait til they have a real life to support.


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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