Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Business and open source: Oil and water?

I found this Bruce Byfield article deeply intriguing...and sad at the same time. Intriguing because I think Byfield uncovers a nerve in the open-source business community, and sad for the very same reason.

While I believe Byfield is wrong to suppose that money trumps ideals in all cases--many of us actually set up our licensing to curb our worst intentions while still allowing us to serve financial interests--he is absolutely right that the tension between code freedom and cash freedom will sometimes, and perhaps often, favor the latter. Here is an excerpt that makes reference to FOSS, or free and open-source software:

...(T)he fact that business is friendly to FOSS does not mean that it has adopted its values. The free software camp's concern with philosophical and political freedom has almost certainly not been adopted by most FOSS-friendly companies, while the open source camp's emphasis on increased software quality is probably shared by middle-management at best. Business--gasp!--is interested in FOSS to improve the bottom line, and often no other reason.

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