[Reader-list] free software

Steef Heus Steef at CwaC.nl
Thu Feb 14 04:42:03 IST 2002


Crucial to give a reaction is what you mean by 'free':
'Free' as in access to the source code:

> Is it possible to produce
> any free software in manager worker situation?

Why not? However, it is depending on the company rules and the contract the
worker has with that company. If a company wants to produce free software it
is free to do so. And it can instruct/contract its workers accordingly.
But an individual worker/contractor will not be allowed to decide on this.
So the worker will not be allowed to distribute the source of the software
of his employee. Even if he has developed that software himself. He just has
to follow the company rules/instructions.
Don't forget: the choice wheter or not software is 'free' is a very
strategic and crucial decission for a company.

> Is it possible to force some
> one to produce a free software?
anyone has (more or less) the freedom of choice for whom he/she wants to
work. As employee or as contractor. There is always a choice. But once you
have made that choice you also have chosen for the rules/strategy of the
And don't forget: in most employee/contrators agreements with companies it
is explicitly stated that the things you do/create/develop under that
contract are automatically the property of that company.
I know several people who have a patent on their name, but the patent itself
is owned (and thus commercially used) by the company they work(ed)for. Some
lucky ones gat a huge bonus or a very modest royalty. Others had to do it
with 'the honor' of having a patent on their name.

> Is it possible to have director technician
> type of crdit in free software?
I think that has been done already

> Can a free software be produced to fulfill
> professional ambition of a company?
Depending on what you define as professional ambition. Bottom line:
margin/profit must be made in order to at least cover the company expenses
(workers are part of that!). But if the companies business model is not
based on protecting a proprietary solution (with updates, new releases,
support, etc: all at profitable fees) I don't see any problem at all. Look
at the Linux distributions: these companies hardly charge the software they
distribute, but base their business on the support they give.

> Does free software means only availability of code or it means freedom?
well, the availability of the code basically gives you the freedom to make
changes in the source. So, that's a sort of freedom. Great for individuals
or groups.
But for every professional ICT manager that possibilty is a nightmare. That
is the main reason many companies wont use free software. Or limited the use
of it to 'simple' applications (webservers). For critical applications they
still prefer the proprietary stuff: you 'know' what you buy (inluding the
bugs), your staff can't play around too much with it, liability of the
software is clear, support is given (often at premium prices), so 'you ar
not alone'. You have someone to fall back on. or to sew.

As a company you can only run critical applications on free software once
you have secured that no one will have the possibility to make changes to
the source without permission. That means strict procedures, documentation,
decission structure, etc. So, in that situation free software will NOT give
freedom or a very limited and controlled one at the most.

I have seen and audited many large organisations. And I can tell I have
never seen one that was so well organised and disciplined to be ready to
work with free software for critical applications.


More information about the reader-list mailing list