Open source as a business model

English version of the original interview "Open Source als Geschäftsmodell" : Mr. Engelhardt, Open Source Software plays a substantial role in today's ICT world. Small projects like Mozilla Firefox have grown into big software industry players. And companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google are increasingly building on open source projects. Is this kind of commercialization consistent with the original open source idea?Why not? The idea behind open source is that an "open" form of development leads to better software. This does not -- and never has – implied that open source must be non-commercial. In fact, the term "open source software" (OSS) was deliberately invented to emphasize this commercial aspect. Originally this kind of software was called "free software." But this terminology forced people to explain that “free” meant “openness” or “liberty” instead of “free of charge” or “not-for-profit.” Or as the Free Software Foundation puts it: “think of 'free' as in 'free speech', not as in free beer.” (www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html) The term "open source software" was invented to sound less ambiguous and more business-friendly. But even the "Free Software Definition" was always clear that “'Free software' does not mean 'noncommercial'. A free program must be available for commercial use, commercial development, and commercial distribution (...) free commercial software is very important." So the basic idea behind open source software (or free software) never had anything to do with whether a product was commercial or non-commercial. Instead, the focus is on the idea that the principle of openness leads to better software than the closed-source/ proprietary approach. Just as Eric Raymond who claimed in his famous essay "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," that open source is just a more efficient way of developing software ...Zum vollständigen Artikel


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