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Business Logic vs. Free Software Idealism - page 5

Building Friction?

  • May 27, 2008
  • By Bruce Byfield

Over the last few years, the relation between business and free software has become clearly defined. Successful collaborations between the two have been marked by companies learning new business models and new relations to customers and competitors under the influence of free software. But what these events have in common is an apparent underlying desire to see free software adapt to business--and that's something that can't be done without free software ceasing to exist.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the purpose of business is profit. Companies like Red Hat have shown that free software can be a means to profit, although perhaps a reduced profit compared to what a proprietary company might realize with the same software.

But ultimately, free software isn't about profit. In the short term, it's about making quality the first priority. In the long term, it's about philosophy and political activism. These values cannot be compromised very far before they cease to exist.

That's why these separate stories, in which placing business imperatives ahead of free software's values, are reason for concern. Together they suggest a trend that's highly disturbing for those of us who see free software as a transformative force.

This article originally appeared on Datamation, an OnlineJupiterWeb site.

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