[Reader-list] free software

joy at www.sarai.net joy at www.sarai.net
Fri Feb 15 23:27:54 IST 2002

Thanks Steef ofr the clarification. I was just curious about it.



Steef Heus <Steef at CwaC.nl> said:

> Joy,
> 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
> company/principal.
> 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.
> Steef
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