juridical Question on software and GPL

Jeroen Dekkers jeroen at dekkers.cx
Sun Mar 28 09:21:39 UTC 2004

On Sat, Mar 27, 2004 at 11:16:41PM -0000, Niall Douglas wrote:
> On 27 Mar 2004 at 21:28, Jeroen Dekkers wrote:
> > > the reason why red hat is so successfull is that they don't pay for
> > > the capital on base of which they earn money: software. you can say
> > > they exploit the free software programmers. so they get software for
> > > free out of which they can win surplus value. but this is based on a
> > > very small idealistic community of free software programmers who
> > 
> > This is totally bullshit.
> > 
> > Red Hat is not exploiting te community.  Red Hat is one of the biggest
> > contributers to the projects forming the core of GNU/Linux operating
> > system, that is to linux, glibc, gcc, binutils and more.  Other than
> > that, every piece of software Red Hat has created is released under a
> > Free Software license as far as I know.
> He was using "exploit" in the economic sense eg; exploiting 
> resources. I don't think anyone here would disagree that RedHat are 
> one of the best resellers of free software - they owe their 
> preeminent position to maintaining good relations with the leading 
> free software projects.

That's because their people work on those projects.

> However, economically they are only financially viable because their 
> software development cost is tiny precisely because they get it for 
> free. RedHat's business model can never be particularly profitable - 
> it's based almost entirely on companies buying peace of mind rather 
> than anything tangible (consulting services and support can be found 
> elsewhere and cheaper). And if IBM committed all the way to Linux, it 
> could put RedHat out of business within a year - however they are 
> clearly playing it safe for now, keeping fingers in pies and 
> maintaining a launch pad for retaking the PC OS market from Microsoft 
> if the chance ever arises. I personally think Microsoft leave RedHat 
> alone because they can point to Linux as evidence that they are not a 
> monopoly and thus avoid anti-trust attention (just like they did with 
> Apple) - however, they too could crush RedHat in months if they 
> chose.

Red Hat is big enough to not just get crushed in months.  It's just
FUD what you are talking.

> In the business world, this whole free software thing is still very 
> puzzling to most executives. They have difficulty seeing how it can 
> make money. However, if it ever became obviously useful for 
> leveraging sales of something which did make a lot of money, expect 
> the whole free software scene to change radically & fast - and 
> probably in a way abhorrent to most within it.

The change is already happening.

Jeroen Dekkers
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