juridical Question on software and GPL

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope2 at nedprod.com
Mon Mar 29 02:31:58 UTC 2004

Hash: SHA1

On 28 Mar 2004 at 18:33, edA-qa mort-ora-y wrote:

> > 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 
> But is peace of mind not the only thing companies are also purchasing
> from Microsoft.  Certainly nobody can say what Microsoft is offering
> is any more tangible?

No, Microsoft offer something you can't get elsewhere legally - 
that's the difference - and businesses are very wary of crossing the 
law at that level. I agree that as a Linux solution can now fufill 
90% of business requirements this is no longer true in the general 
sense of things, but it'll take some time for the business community 
to catch on - they will eventually.

> I believe you don't mean for your argument to go that way, but it is
> interesting how somehow it has come full circle in my view to see
> little difference between the offering of Red Hat and the offering of
> Microsoft -- save for that should Red Hat go bankrupt, the business
> has not lost everything, as they have an eay migration to another
> GNU/Linux distribution.

To fully explore your argument, consider that GNU clone of Windows 
which aims to be binary compatible with WinNT (I forget its name). 
It's pretty advanced and can run most NT4 apps now. Imagine if it 
were up to the level of Win2k and some company was founded to provide 
peace of mind to companies thinking of migrating to it?

I think that people would in this situation choose the Windows clone 
over moving to Linux. There's something comfortable about familiarity 
and people will pay to keep it. That's what economists call "lock 

> As for business not seeing how this free software can make money, for
> many business that is of little interest.  If it makes the software
> cheaper for them, then so be it, it is not in the purchases immediate
> cares whether his supplier goes bankrupt or not -- particularily when
> a supplier is easily replaceable.

I was more referring to the impetus for investing capital. How much 
do you think IBM really wants to invest in free software? You can see 
a noticeable difference between say how the Eclipse IDE is funded and 
how IBM's Linux division is funded - in the latter, few new features 
are funded.

I think IBM's support of Linux, just like most development company's 
support of Linux, is merely a cheap way to generate extra hardware 
sales. And maintain a strategic counterbalance to Microsoft.


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