Richard Stallman's new article: Overcoming Social Inertia

Alex Hudson home at
Fri Nov 9 13:43:11 UTC 2007

Hi Matthias,

On Thu, 2007-11-08 at 13:50 +0100, Matthias Kirschner wrote:
> * Alex Hudson <home at> [2007-11-08 11:50:54 +0000]:
> > I also don't believe that free software is always cheaper; I can point
> > to many examples where it is more expensive. 
> I would be interested in these examples, and the time period of the
> measurement.

Well, I can think of a number of projects where the business I work for
has put forward a solution and it has been more expensive than the
proprietary alternative. That's for a number of reasons, but in general
the licensing cost of the software is only a small part of the overall
cost, and the other costs involved may not be equivalent.

A good example of that is support for free software server applications.
I know of one organisation that looked very hard to find a business that
could offer them the support contract they needed to implement Samba:
they simply couldn't find it, at any reasonable price. Such support is
readily available for Windows, and it's cheap.

In terms of periods of measurement, I know what you mean, but often it's
not possible to look beyond the period of a project for savings. Obvious
examples (like 2/3-year MS Office subscriptions) are pretty obviously
costly, but more usually it's not possible to use potential savings. So,
for example, cost of transition at the end of the project is usable
(because you pretty much have to do that), but cross-training people
onto a different platform isn't (because you can't guarantee the future
use of a platform) - so saying "spend more today for savings tomorrow"
doesn't really work, as it's prejudging what is needed tomorrow.



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