NOTE: Please do not treat this thread as Windows vs. Linux OR Gates vs. Stallman thread. This thread is about SOFTWARE IDEOLOGIES and not about SOFTWARES. I want opinions on this to find out whether I am right or wrong in what I think. I have just finished a book titled Free Software, A Perspective (given to me by GNUrag, thank you containing writings of Richard Stallman. I must say I am impressed by the man, but must also add that I am not entirely convinced about the concept of free (as in freedom) software. It is an ideallistic approach. Very noble. Good for the society and the users, but doesn't seem good for the programmer. I have been a programmer as well as a user. So can think from both the perspectives. From a user's perspective, I will say I love GNU/Linux because I don't have to spend for it and still get something thats fantastic and better than the alternatives. I can get it from someone who is willing to give it to me. Thanks to Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman. But from the programmer's perspective it sounds financially unviable. By programmer, I mean a person who does coding for earning his livelihood and does not code only because of his love for development. Fulfilling my passion for development doesn't give me my food, clothing and other necessities. I don't mind contributing to free software in my part time. But can't take it up as full time. The financial status of Bill Gates and Richard Stallman will amply demonstrate what I am trying to say. Both are geniuses in their own way. But look at the vast difference in their monetary strengths. Most people (that includes me) are selfish. I can't think about the benefit to the society at my cost. I am not as noble as Stallman/Linus. I will first think about how I will feed myself and my family. I will think what will give me maximum monetary gain out of my efforts. I would not like to give away my code and allow people to freely copy and then wait for someone to sponsor me because they like what I do. I don't want to wait for gratuitious donations!! Here are a few things I feel like quoting from the book. There may be many more things worth quoting, but can't quote too much. Agreed sir that society needs freedom. But what about the programmer? What about his needs? He needs money to survive and enjoy. Why should he remain dependant on someone's mercy and donations? Once the source code is revealed and people are allowed to copy it without restrictions, how many people will pay him for it? Support and service are just a small part of revenue. For companies with small scale operations, survival on support and service is extremely difficult. Its quite clear here that money flow, the working capital is not too great and admittedly it is necessary. You are dependant on the either a programmer's socialistic ideas or a donor's willingness to donate. Financially, not a very ideal situation. Programmer is demanding payment for his efforts. He need not beg for donations. A software company has to sell T-shirts to earn!! It has to rely on donations!!! Is it what programmer's want? Does this mean that 85% activity towards non-free software is an acceptable norm and it is necessary for survival? If a day comes when a programmer cannot claim copyright on the software he has created and has to make it free (as in freedom), how many programmers will still put in 100%? Even as of now, out of all the contributors to the free software, how many are actually doing it full time? If programmers see low revenues, won't they lose motivation? Will that not reduce the pace of R & D? Will that be beneficial to society? Admittedly, these are idealistic principles. Can't expect everyone to be as selfless and noble as Stallman. Let's put all other arguments aside. Just concentrate on the economic fallout from a programmer's point of view. Does he earn his livelihood or enough returns on his efforts if he decides give a free (as in freedom) software? Free software theory sounds more like communist ideas - everything for the society and nothing (or hardly anything) for your own benefit. Proprietory software sounds more like capitalism. Communism sounds great, but at how many places in the world has it survived? Those who want to earn prefer capitalism, those who have to spend prefer communalism. As a software user, I would love to use free software because I can even get it without spending. But as a full time commercial programmer, I wouldn't like to give away my source code for free. Opening out source for mass reviewing (and holding back copyright) still seems somewhat acceptable, but always releasing it under GNU GPL seems unviable. I can't remain dependant on donations in spite of putting in so much efforts. I can give a part of my time towards free software, but not entire time. I will have to resort to proprietory software for survival. Even still as of now there are companies like SuSE, Red Hat, Mandrake, etc. who are financially doing good on free software, but is everything they dish out truly free? PS : My gut feeling says Linus wouldn't have released the kernel under GNU GPL if he would have felt that he is sitting on something big. He needed people to try it out, he needed contributions and thats why had to open it up. He wasn't that confident. As regards Stallman, he would have released everything irrespective of its financial gain. He seems too selfless.