Re: Rewarding who write free software (was Re: Gnome Web Browser)

On Thu, 23 Apr 1998, Redaelli Paolo wrote:

> Il 21-Apr-98, robert havoc pennington ha scritto:
> >On Mon, 20 Apr 1998, Martin Baulig wrote:
> >> There may be some problem with mozilla - or with its license - AFAIK it's
> >> not compatible with the GPL - and GNOME is a desktop environment that
> >consists
> >> entirely of *free* software - here, we should interpret *free* software the
> >way 
> >> the FSF does (ie distributed under the GPL).
> >This is not what the FSF means by free. They mean the Debian or Open
> >Source guidelines, just as most others do. GPL is only a means to
> >freeness.
> >> When you think we can use Mozilla within GNOME - why should we then
> >> make GNOME? There's already KDE - it's also 'free' software as Mozilla is
> >> 'free' software - but this 'free' here is not what the FSF tells us.
> >Mozilla is free in the FSF sense, and RMS has said so. Qt is not - it
> >fails multiple aspects of the Debian/Open Source guidelines. See 
> > KDE is itself free, but it depends on Qt, so is not
> >usable in an all-free environment.
> Hi guys!
> These discussions come well timed to me.
> I've been thinkung about free software for some month, since I herad Rms's
> speech at Ipisa (november 97 Milan).
> I've been wondering about some matters, which I write here....
> Well, Rms and all the other mythical hacker were paid by
> universities/government/institutions for their hacking, or in other ways they
> were paid to do some work which result is free software. 
> But now? Now if you do not count some good university that finance some
> project regarding free software, there's no one who paid the hackers for their
> work. And I underline "pay the WORK".
There are different categories for sure, but:
-) some are paid to do their work.
-) some do it in their own time.
-) some do it, because they need the tools for somethings that are not
-) some live from the support.

> Because I do strongly want that software should be free, but I found unlawful
Nope. Nobody forces the people to release their software under GPL.
> that the work necessary to produce such wonderfuls programs is not paid. 
> I'm born in Padania (formerly known as North Italy) and here we stress so much
> the slogan "everyone should be able to live of his work".
The point is, that for most people doing GPLed software, the software is
not work (or at least not only work). That's an important difference: When
I'm doing ``mere'' work (be it at university, be it at work), than I just
do my work. Free developers usually are much more involved with their

> And writing free software is a great work, requiring big skills, heavy
> thoughts and many many hours of dedication. How can we keep software free and
> let people to earn some money for theis heavy work?
> I think that a modified version of the Gpl (or other free software licence)
> can help us.
Nope. GPL was crafted the way it is, so it protect against this :)
> I think that we can finance free software and the people who dedicate
> themselves to creating free software with son duties in the Licence. 
This wouldn't really work. Free software is usually a cooperative work.
-) With existing software, like the Linux kernel this doesn't work:
   All coauthors of Linus would have to agree to LICENSE change.
-) With new software, it would probably still a problem: How do you
   distribute the money, and how do you decide who get's how much?
   Additionally, each participient would have to sign over his copyright
   to the software.
> Because Freedom implies some duties.
Right. I consider the duty to be contribute back.
> The duty I wa thinking about was the duty to finance the development of free
> software.
But there is noone who you can finance as one person. Free software is a
distributed system.
> This means: are you using this free software? Are you a
> commercial/governmetnt/university institution, or otherwise you get from this
> free software some benefits that can be priced? Well you have to support the
> DEVELOPMENT of this free software by paying some fee to the institution that
> coordinates and develop it (for example with Gnome people should pay Red hat,
Why should they pay RedHat? Actually, what RedHat does is to give back to
the Free Software community.

That's one nice point about free software:
-) I get what I want, and what's lacking I may write freely :)
   (Actually, it's quite satisfing to write something GPL/LGPLed :) )
-) Companies are allowed to make money from free software :)
-) These companies usually have a competive edge over propierty software
   companies: And all more or less contribute back to the free software
   *) Submitting bug fixes to the maintainer eases their burden.
   *) Some are even sponsoring active major undertakings, like RedHat with
      GNOME. This they probably are able to afford, because instead of
      developing a whole OS from scratch they ``just'' have to coordinate
      and package free software, and add small improvements.
      And this OTOH will help their competive standing:
      RedHat probably will greatly profit from being able to target the
        desktop market.
      (Actually, it's not only RedHat, Caldera seems to have a really nice
       framework for configuration COAS or so named when I remember right.
       It's prealpha, but it seems to make much sense. Would be cool if
       RH could try to work with this too, than we would have at least
       two Linux distro's with compatible system administration
> which in turn should pay some shares to everyone who contribute to the
> project).
That's not really possible. Too many people are involved. And how do you
judge who should get how much? line count? (get real, sometimes a bright
idea from a mere user may be more worth than the whole implementation :) )

> What do you think about it?
> Is there something similar to this idea?
Yes, someone wanted to assemble a team for writing an Java Desktop/Office.
I haven't followed this, as I'm not really interested in
-) Java
-) nonsafe ``free'' software. (Only GPL plus the bazaar modell gives me
  the security: Because of the many contributors switching the license is
  probably impossible. :) >
> P.s.: I know that this mail can be considered OT, but I think that thinking
> about a way to finance free software (and Gnome anyway) can boost greatly its
> development, because people get a strong motivation to develop (8-)
Nope. Getting programmers who aren't paid is probably a bad idea.
(Ok, there are exceptions, take the RH lab guys, they are probably not
 only for the money in this.)
Money is actually a weaker motivation than the motivation to be better
that most hardcore programmers feel :)
> P.P.S.: can someone tell me Rms's email or some newsgroup where to discuss
> with Rms these matters?
I wouldn't discuss this with him. Not that I like his stance on many
things, but in this I'm 100% in line with him.


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