Free Software

Chris “Long Tail” Anderson On Open Source

Open source and the Long Tail: An interview with Chris Anderson

The shift of software from the desktop to the Web will really be the making of open-source software. The Long Tail side of software will almost certainly be Web-based because the Web lowers the barriers to adoption of software. There will always be some software best delivered as packaged bits. But the big problem with packaged software–or one big problem–is the risk associated with installation. It just might not work. The Web removes that problem.

How Expensive Does Commercial Software Need To Get Before We Consider Open Source?

Open source software of the free as in free beer and free as in free speech variety has matured to the point that there are now strong contenders in nearly every category, though that doesn’t make them easy choices. It’s often revealing when people criticize OSS as being free as in free kittens, which is […] » about 900 words

Copyleft: Defending Intellectual Property

Anybody who thinks Free Software is anti-copyright or disrespectful of intellectual property should take a look at Mark Jaquith’s post, What a GPL’d Movable Type means. Let’s be clear, Anil Dash takes issue with Jaquith’s interpretation, but the point is Jaquith’s offense at what appears to be Six Apart’s grabbiness for any code somebody might contribute.

Freedom 0 was one thing, the willingness of a person to pour his or her sweat into something, then watch somebody else (or even risk watching somebody else) profit from it is another.

Closed Formats Are Bad For Libraries, Stop OOXML Now

Microsoft just won’t quit. Now they’re trying to make OOXML an ISO standard. Please help stop this. Here’s how I explained it in Open Source Software for Libraries: The state of Massachusetts in 2005 announced new IT standards that required its 80,000 employees and 173 agencies to adopt open file formats. The decision didn’t specify […] » about 300 words

Building Libraries With Free Software

Sarah Houghton-Jan‘s review of my LTR on open source software for libraries reminded me I wanted to blog this related piece I’d written for American Libraries. Tim Spalding cocks his head a bit as he says it to emphasize the point: “LibraryThing.com is social software.” However we categorize it, Spalding’s baby has become a darling […] » about 700 words

Open Source Software and Libraries; LTR 43.3, Finally

The most selfish thing about submitting a manuscript late is asking “When is it going to be out?” So I’ve been waiting quietly, rather than trouble Judi Lauber, who did an excellent job editing and managing the publication. Ryan and Jessamyn each contributed a chapter, and I owe additional thank yous to the full chorus […] » about 400 words

OSS Saves Marketing Costs, Protects Business

VA Linux founder Larry Augustin on OSS

In Augustin’s view open source development became a necessity in the 1990s when the cost of marketing a program came to exceed the cost of creating it. “My favorite is Salesforce.com. In 1995 they spent under $10 million in R&D and over $100 million in sales and marketing. That doesn’t work.”

“Open source enables people to reach all those customers. It’s a distribution model. The people who create great software can now reach the rest of the world.”

Businesses get the most protection from the GPL, he insisted. “They get protection from competition.” The license’s insistence on reciprocity means no one can take the code you wrote, tweak it, then compete with you.