Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-project (103 mails)

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Re: [opensuse-project] Can we support for-profit organizations to make money? (Was: Ubuntu One Music Store)
  • From: Basil Chupin <blchupin@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2010 23:12:01 +1100
  • Message-id: <4B83C611.3030001@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
On 23/02/10 21:56, Henne Vogelsang wrote:
Hi Jeff,

On 02/20/2010 03:12 AM, Jeff Mitchell wrote:


I'm Jeff Mitchell, one of the Amarok authors. Nice to meet all of you.

Likewise :)


Canonical however is a for-profit company. Other distributions
shipping this plugin means that you're helping Canonical make their
money for them, and I haven't heard of any method of Canonical
sharing profit with other distributions.

Why is this a problem? It isn't, necessarily -- but I do worry about the
implications of for-profit distributions or projects or companies
getting in a habit of pushing code upstream -- or on other distributions
-- with the sole purpose of earning money (as opposed to earning money
by improving FOSS and creating a more salable product). It seems like a
fairly slippery slope. I'm not sure that Canonical will try to get this
in Rhythmbox trunk, but I'm interested in knowing how openSUSE would
respond in this case, if openSUSE might voluntarily ship this plugin,
and the thoughts of the openSUSE community in general.

Since quite some time we follow a simple approach here and mostly ask
two rather practical questions: "Is this legal?" and "Whats in it for
our userbase?". If the answer to the first one is "yes" we decide based
on the answer to the second one. For instance we provide in our non-oss
repository some commercial applications that clearly bring advantages
for our users. But we don't provide binary only drivers because they
clearly violate the kernels license. These are the decisions we make.

Now what you ask is a morale question: "Can we support for-profit
organizations to make a buck?" The answer from us so far, although
implicit through our actions explained above, is "Yes we can.".

But this is the first time this question has come up explicitly and i
completely understand why you ask it. I think we're at a point in the
evolution of the free and open source software world were these
questions of morale come up more often because, frankly, money comes
into play. And as we all know money tends to bring chaos into the life
of society.

I welcome this discussion, and think its a necessary one, but i would
like to discuss it uncoupled from this example.

I am not really sure that you can uncouple from this or any other example.

So what is our answer to:

Can we support for-profit organizations to make money?


This question which you just posed was implied, but not spelt out as
such, in my response to a post by Zhang Weiwu in opensuse a couple of
days ago in the thread, "what networking file system to use for our home
office?".

What you are asking above is really an answer to be answered by the
Novell management, surely.

Novell provides commercial SUSE package for which it charges, as I
understand it, support fees.

On the other hand, we also have openSUSE which is (now) provided free
because its users are acting as guinea-pigs to test what will be
released as a SUSE package.

Nevertheless, both openSUSE and SUSE, and whatever goes into them, are
OSS - which means that they can be used/installed/altered by anyone
(with some conditions) - but they may be FREELY copied and distributed.

My question posed to Zhang Weiwu in opensuse was not directly
questioning the commercial purpose for his use of a linux distro but was
actually asking why someone who claims not to be an IT person fooling
around with trying to install a network in a commercial environment (and
he had already asked someone for advice on the subject) - but the way I
expressed myself was possibly too subtle.

*But *I did also have at the back of mind the question of why should
someone doing commercial work ask for help when SUSE has help support -
which comes with paying for the SUSE package.

However, this fleeting thought of mine was really not of any consequence
- except to ask myself what Novell's management is all about - because
there are many people who regularly - daily even - ask questions and
comment about problems with openSUSE while they also state they are
using openSUSE to install it on the computers of their "clients" as part
of their professional services - ie, "making a buck".

From the perspective of the question asked above re Canonical's
Rhythmbox, the software is FOSS, released under the GNU license
therefore would not be a need to consider any special "conditions" for
its use in any other distribution outside Canonical.

Even considering that there could be some "moral" aspect attached to
this question is unthinkable because this would imply that FOSS software
is subject to 'deals' between distros for share of - profits was
mentioned above - "benefits" of a financial nature which is not what
FOSS and GNU are all about. You want to make money from it put a patent
on it and do not release it under a GNU license.

*Ask *for a contribution from a user if s/he likes the software - why not?

BC


--
She was only a whisky maker but I loved her still.

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