OSI enforcement?

Donovan Hawkins hawkins at cephira.com
Wed Jan 9 04:34:40 UTC 2008

On Tue, 8 Jan 2008, John Cowan wrote:

> Many organizations do in fact sell GPLed software, starting with the FSF
> itself and going on to Red Hat and others.

As a matter of marketing perhaps, but effectively they sell a label and 
tech support. Anyone who wants GPL'd software can get it (minus any logos 
and trademarked names) from someone willing to give them a copy, so there 
is no reason to pay more than a small amount if all you want is the code.

Fortunately for companies like Red Hat, people are willing to pay for the 
comfort of having a profit-making company standing behind a product. Many 
of my coworkers (none of whom think much of open source software, sadly) 
make the point that customers, especially businesses, want to be able to 
pick up the phone and yell at someone when things go wrong. There's also 
the "no one ever got fired for buying IBM" factor...they need scapegoats, 
and no one wants to explain to their boss that a multi-million dollar deal 
is slave to a kid halfway around the world who can't fix the bug in his 
open source program because he has final exams this week. It's not that 
the proprietary vendor will fix it any faster, but business types feel 
less helpless when they can dangle a check in front of someone.

Donovan Hawkins, PhD                 "The study of physics will always be
Software Engineer                     safer than biology, for while the
hawkins at cephira.com                   hazards of physics drop off as 1/r^2,
http://www.cephira.com                biological ones grow exponentially."

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