Bruce Perens is a leader in the Free Software and Open Source (FOSS) community. He is creator of the Open Source Definition, the manifesto of the Open Source movement in Software. He’s founder or co-founder of the Open Source Initiative, The Linux Standard Base, Software in the Public Interest, and No-Code International. Perens released his first Free Software program, Electric Fence, in 1987. He is creator of Busybox, which has spawned its own development community and is part of most commercial devices using embedded Linux. [taken from the FOSS Means Business website]
Q: Why how does FOSS work?
A: People will volunteer to fix code and/or write documentation for the community because it benefits those individuals too. They don’t have to keep re-applying their private patches of code or keep updating their private documentation if that work is made public so others can collaborate.
[There is such a thing called a LAMP stack - this is the combination of Linux, Apache, Mysql and PHP. This is the stack of technologies most commonly used for webservers / website development. There are subtle variations of this that also use the LAMP acronym.]
Amazon uses LAMP. Amazon are happy to work on improving LAMP technologies and are contributing those improvements back to the core projects – they simply will not do this with their own differentiating technologies such as “Recommentation software”. This is a good example of how FOSS can benefit a company’s strategies.
Merrill Lynch, Citibank and similar banking institutions are members of Sourcelabs (and are using Linux). They develop software that their competitors also need and so share the cost of this development.
IBM dropped their AIX version of the unix operating system in favour of Linux because it makes economic sense – enabling people tomake more money and lowering the cost to do so.
In the retail software development paradigm companies have to locate their customers. this is costly: 84% goes to advertising, packaging, locating customers and producing throw-away documentation. Also retailers such as CompUSA charge for shelfspace to manufacturers.
Such margins and costs obviously do not exist in the world of FOSS.
In the FOSS development paradigm you [can] pay developers to customise software to your company’s needs (usually 50% cost for development, 50% overheads).
Software has to do something useful – poeple will use it and write new features for it – submitting their changes to the code back to the project.
Business Method Patents/Software Patents
There are no disclosure benefits for society regarding software patents. It takes a 21 year wait for the Public Domain clause in patents to come into effect. After this length of time the software innovation is irrelevant.
Software patents are supposed to help the advancement of software development, but doesn’t – there are no proven exampled of it doing so.
Software patents can kill FOSS projects as Courts are too expensive, except for large multinational companies.
How to be more active regarding the software patents issue:
- If you can write well do so. Get your ideas published.
- Get in touch with technical and opinion editors at local magazines and papers etc (just don’t ask to be paid).
- Just communicate [coherently] – contact your MEPs and other representatives to ensure they are aware of the ramifications of software patents
- Grass-roots action is required.
FOSS – how to convince: