Commercial Software (was: Re: Nokia spreading FUD?)

Matthias Kirschner mk at
Tue Mar 15 10:34:31 UTC 2011

* Alex Hudson <home at> [2011-03-15 09:07:50 +0000]:

> On Tue, 2011-03-15 at 09:36 +0100, Matthias Kirschner wrote:
> > * Alex Hudson <home at> [2011-03-15 08:02:02 +0000]:
> > > I would struggle to label most free software as commercial on that
> > > basis. RHEL would be an example I suppose, but I wouldn't call Ubuntu
> > > commercial.
> > 
> > How do you argue when you explain that Ubuntu is not commercial?
> To be honest it's never come up. I've never met anyone who thought that
> it was. I don't see that the 10% or whatever polish the Ubuntu community
> add to Debian as making it amazingly different to Debian, and I
> certainly don't see Debian as commercial software.

(Still not satisfied with the answers, so I will continue to ask stupid

Cannonical is doing buisiness with Ubuntu. So why isn't Ubuntu
commercial? Same if I use Debian to implement a solution with my company
for another company (like some of
do). This solution includes software. If I sell the solution, why
wouldn't the software be commercial software?

About the 10%: If a company sells distilled water is this not a
commercial product? Because it is less than 10% what they change? 

> If you say software is commercial if at any point some group of people
> are poised to make money out of it or services surrounding it, or are
> paid to contribute to it, then basically all software is commercial,
> sure. But that seems to me just another version of the One True
> Scotsman fallacy.

Why would that be a version of the true scotman? A lot of software is
commercial software (be it non-free or Free Software). But I am sure we
can find some examples of software which was developed by people who
never got money for it. Several Free Software programs started as
non-commercial software, but than turned into commercial software.

> For me, software is commercial software if you enter into a transaction
> to obtain/use it. "Commercial" is the adjective applied to the noun
> "software", not the developers, the financiers, or anyone else.

So in your view software can only be commercial if a) you have to pay
for license fees or b) the software is bundled with hardware for which
you pay (e.g. Free Software on your mobile, your dsl router, your PC)?

Than the whole Ubuntu distribution consists of commercial software,
because my parents once bought a PC with it preinstalled. And all the
software from Debian, too because I friend of mine bought a laptop with
Debian GNU/Linux preinstalled.


Matthias Kirschner - Fellowship Coordinator, German Coordinator
Free Software Foundation Europe (
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