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http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw a item entitled “Maybe we should charge for Linux” in an established GNU/Linux site like Linux Today, and from the managing editor no less! Well I just couldn’t let it pass without comment.

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mark's picture
Created by mark 6 years 27 weeks ago – Made popular 6 years 27 weeks ago
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aboutblank's picture

aboutblank

6 years 27 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago

3

Selling Free Software is OK

If people feel they need to part with their money in order get a better computing experience, then I see no problem with charging them whatever they will afford as long as they retain their freedom.

When people ask me how much it will cost to obtain free software, I tell them, "it depends on how much you are willing to spend. If you are willing, it can cost you thousands to obtain all the free software you require".

I will offer them a gNewSense CD + related source CD for AU$150. I also tell them the nature of all computer software, "any software system that is not custom designed to your specific requirements is going to be inadequate in some way. In other words, don't be surprised when you find something inadequate in this software system. When (not if) you find it lacking, I recommend you find an experienced helper to help you with your problem if you don't want to fix it yourself". I will then offer support at $x for each incident.

Some people balk at my prices and I remind them the nature of freedom and the nature of proprietary software, "Carefully consider my prices with the price of being subject to the subjugation of the proprietary software masters. With free software, it is you that demand what the software will and will not do; such freedom is not possible with proprietary software. With free software, you will always remain free to help yourself and cooperate with your community; such freedom is disdained by the masters of proprietary software. With this freedom comes with the responsibility for you to help yourself. Nobody is responsible for helping you if you are not already in an agreement. I am willing to hire my services to you at $x. If you can find someone else that can offer better value for your money, you will always have the freedom to do business with them. Of course, such freedom does not exist in proprietary software so I urge you to think about this: is your right to freedom worth this price?"

crimperman's picture

crimperman

6 years 27 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago

1

Charging for licences is fine.

"If people feel they need to part with their money in order get a better computing experience, then I see no problem with charging them whatever they will afford as long as they retain their freedom."

I agree - that's why distro's can and should be able to charge - but if the reason for doing that is to give some kind of "value" to free software then the reason is flawed. The GPL makes no comment on charging for licences but - as I say in the article - it doesn't sustain a business model which depends upon that process.

I note that you have also recognised that a sustainable free software supply business model has to be based around long term support and services, not licences.