Richard Stallman's new article: Overcoming Social Inertia

Marcus Rejås marcus at
Fri Nov 9 13:20:35 UTC 2007

On 11/09 09:03, Alessandro Rubini wrote:
> My experience is with a data-acquisition application in my university.
> They asked me to write it because the commercial[1] ones were too costly.
> Over time, they asked me to add a lot of features, as they were seeing
> how to improve its usefulness while using it. It quickly became more
> expensive than the alternatives, for them.  Sure the second
> computer they set up did cost nothing (application-wise) but since
> each specimen requires a very expensive camera and a microscope, they
> won't make many copies anyways.

Well you cannot really take advantage of all benefits if you are the
only user (I don't know in your case). But what if the piece of
software you wrote where used by anyone with such equipment? Then I'm
sure there would be several addons, data analysis tools and stuff from
the other users.

> [1] commercial like "paid per-copy".
> I begin to have problems with "proprietary", as everyone in the
> industrial world uses "proprietary" to mean "the one we build
> ourselves and which we can change as we please without any lock-in
> from vendors".  So it's often difficult, in those contexts, to pass
> the idea of lack of freedom using "proprietary" as the defining word.

I have problems with the word proprietary as well. Many people don't
know what it means and to others, like you said, it does not mean the
same thing as when we use it as the opposite of Free Software.

However I really discourage the use of "commercial" in this meaning. It
is very confusing. I tend to use "Non Free Software" instead, when I
suspect proprietary to be misinterpreted. 



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