Defining Free Software Business

Shane M. Coughlan shane at
Mon Jun 26 09:06:51 UTC 2006

Hash: SHA256

Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:
> If you have a business that supports non-free software then users will
> go to that business to get that support.  It would be better if the
> business only supported a _way_to_move_ from non-free software to free
> software for users, and clearly saying that it does not condone of
> non-free software.

Hi Alfred

I do believe you hit a nail on the head here.  Your conception of
allowing businesses to support a _way_to_move_ to Free Software from
non-free software is very interesting.  This way a business could offer
to inherit a non-free customer and transition them to free software.
It's a very nice concept for the provision of integration services.

A couple of thoughts come to mind:
(A) How long a transition would be permitted?  A small customer might
install GNU/Linux and be happy, but a large enterprise would require
several years of dual-support as systems are phased out and training is
(B) Would partial transitions be a supported activity?  A customer might
wish to get and Mozilla tools without ditching their
Windows boxes.  Would a GBN member be able to support this?  Would the
GBN member - by supporting Free Software tools on non-free operating
systems - be doing good?
(C) How can the exact line in the sand be drawn between supporting a
_way_to_move_ to Free Software from non-free software and actually
supporting non-free software?

I think long transitions would need to be supported to allow for
enterprise adoption.  Well, that's assuming we want GBN businesses to
engage with the enterprise market.

I think partial transitions are a good idea.  If people are introduced
to the strengths of Free Software in their deployment environment I
believe they are more likely to fully adopt in the future.  Of course, I
acknowledge that this type of transition is open to abuse or

Drawing a line in the sand between transitions to Free Software and
merely providing support for non-free software is difficult.  However, I
would suggest that if there is a road-map for adoption agreed it
constitutes a fair method of indicating intended transition.


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Shane Martin Coughlan
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