GPLv3 discussion draft 3 is out

Ciaran O'Riordan ciaran at
Thu Mar 29 09:44:48 UTC 2007

Hi Guido,

Guido Serra <guido.serra at> writes:
> why should i invest into creating a toolchain improving freesoftware?

Red Hat invests in the GNU toolchain because it improves their related
software.  i.e. by improving GNU classpath, they were able to use all of the
java-based features of 2.0.

AdaCore initially contributed to the GNU toolchain because they were
contracted to do so by some government body (IIRC it was the USA army, maybe
my memory is wrong).  After that funding ran out, they continued the same
work.  Their new business model includes consultancy and training.

Other examples of business models are:

MySQL AB, who distribute their database under the GPL and also sell non-free
licences.  So if someone wants to distribute modified versions of their
software without contributing the modifications back to the community, then
they have to pay MySQL (and this funds the improvement of the free version
of the database).  TrollTech is another company with a similar business

Digium is a company that provides support and hardware for Asterix
telephony/PBX systems.

G10 Code and Intevation are two other free software companies whose business
model you could look at.

In the 1980s, Richard Stallman made money by offering to post copies of his
software to people, for a fee.  This services was worth paying for in the
1980s because network connections were rare and slow.  Many GNU+Linux
distributions used this business model in the 1990s, but today it is almost
extinct because high-speed Internet connections are common.

Stallman's other source of income in the late 1980s (and early 90s, I think)
was to give classes on GCC and Emacs.

Another very common free software business model is based on system
integration - helping customers to install networks and various software
packages and making everything work together.  These companies help free
software because they often find bugs and will either submit a bug report or
a bugfix.  Some of these companies even add new features and contribute
those back to the free software project.

Choosing the right business model for you depends on your skills, and your

But GPLv3 won't substantially change the options available to you.  GPLv3
will prevent some current activities of Tivo and Novell, but for everyone
else, it will help their business because everyone can contribute knowing
that everyone else will be playing fair.

CiarĂ¡n O'Riordan __________________ \ _________ \  GPLv3 and other work supported by \   Fellowship:

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