GPLv3 discussion draft 3 is out

Bernhard Reiter reiter at
Thu Mar 29 09:53:37 UTC 2007


On Thursday 29 March 2007 00:13, Guido Serra wrote:
> today i was discussing with an other professionist i'm working with,
> we do not want make big money, but just find a way to live working
> on freesoftware based solutions
> we are not redhat, we are not ubuntu, we are not in the united states
> where you can ask big money for embedded linux solutions or custom
> enterprise installations

observations show that there are companies outside of the USA
that manage to earn money from Free Software.
So how do they do it? This is not so easy to answer, there have
been a couple of studies and speeches trying to address this.

Also it is estimated that 40% of all stable Free Software product
are already developed by payed professionals.

> we where thinking of... ok... let's develop that... no, a competitor
> can copy it,
> it has more commercial power than you and you lost months of work...

This is a general problem with all small business startups,
not just software.

> ok, let's do services... no, you cannot ask so much money for each
> day of work
> ... so making services is not "scalable"

They scale a bit if you have superiour knowledge, experience, practice
and a track record. Also services are less vulnerable to general economy
effects as you are generating value close to the customer.
This is not bad as a business in general.

> freesoftware makes sense only if i make the hardware and i give the
> software for free?

No, my company Intevation charges for it.

> how can i maintain myself? how can i make a company on freesoftware
> without violating GPL

There is no silver bullet to fund a business, you have to be do something
solid in several aspects. Just being a good software person is not enough.
Again it is good to know that there are numerous individuals and companies
being able to maintain themselfs.

> i do not want to force you to change GPL, but think that there are
> people out here that are not university students or professors that
> get payed anyway at the end of the month...

Looking at some estimations, it seems that this is not relevant,
as GNU GPL is the most used Free Software license and there
are many other people maintaining themself with Free Software.
(For those that can read German, my article as the references:

[Lakhani et al. 2002] 
Karim Lakhani, Bob Wolf, Jeff Bates and Chris DiBona Hacker Survey v0.73, 
24.6.2002, Boston Consulting Group

and [Reiter 2001b] 
Bernhard Reiter License Distribution (Post to discussion (at) 

> if i develop a livecd, should i give away my toolchain? packages
> source code is not enough?

A toolchain can be part of the source code.
With a live-CD you will like have used many components done by others,
so why not have them profit from your work based on their work?

> gpl3 is going to enforce this problem?

I do not think it will,
but the circumstances are not clear enough to me to definately answer this.


FSFE -- Coordinator Germany                                   (
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