Thursday, January 06, 2005

Perhaps it is time to sell the last of my Microsoft stock

I saw an interview with Bill Gates linked from Slashdot. Yes, Gates really does compare Free Software with Communism. I suppose that some non-thinkers might swallow this bullshit. As someone pointed out on Slashdot, Free Software and Open Source software is more akin to a community bake sale at a church: people cooperating for local benefit. Gate's argument (as the same poster said on Slashdot) is like: protect the property rights of restaurants by banning church bake sales -- a great way to argue the point and refute Gates' lame argument.

I differ slightly with people like Richard Stallman at the FSF because I think that commercial, Open Source (BSD, Apache, etc. licenses), and Free Software (GPL licensed) all have a place in the IT ecosphere. Still, Stallman makes more sense to me than Gates. I need sales from my commercial software products to augment my consulting income but I am always trying to find ways to also justify Free Software projects when they make sense. I also base so much of my consulting business on Free or Open Source projects like Linux, Tomcat, Apache, etc. that I am naturally prejudiced in favor of supporting free infrastructure software.

I usually do not blame people for "voting with their wallet": owners of non-US based corporations win big with Bush by reducing their tax bills; Bill Gates sees his business slightly eroding because of projects like Linux and Open Office.org so he attacks these projects any way that he can, etc. Can't blame them. However, for small companies, consultants, etc. there are enormous benefits to using high quality free infrastructure software. Reducing overall costs for customers means getting more work in the long run: the less people have to pay for both hardware and software infrastructure, they can afford more custom software projects or simply pocket the savings.

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