Does anyone know if there's conversations ongoing in the free software community around *why* software isn't free?

Like stallman is all "closed source is bad ethics m'kay", but makes it seem like a choice which is where a lot of people seem to be. Ignoring how market competition makes closed source not only appealing, but an actual advantage to competition.

Like yeah you can make your shit open source and it's still possible to make a profit. But you can make way more if you monopolize platforms/code.


So that's obvious enough, seems simple. But if you're starting from a place where you ignore the market itself as the problem then you're also ignoring the way production of code is coordinated by that same mechanism.

It means most people, if they want to live and make code are forced to write code that can direct the purpose of, because it has to be written with profitability in mind. Otherwise they wouldn't get paid to write it.

Sure that doesn't preclude open source yet, companies contribute...


But often times that's less painful for companies where coordination is actually beneficial.

i.e: Linux dominates server software because it's not the actual code running the server where companies get their profits, it's the data collected and tech support. So it doesn't matter if the code is closed, because it doesn't provide much benefit, and infact the development you get from it being an open source project outweigh the need for gaurd secrets.

But that's just for infrastructure. It's like roads.


So then that leaves actual user software in a different boat, because the very function of the software is the useful thing. If that was given away for free capitalists don't benefit.

There's a bunch of software that gets written which is important to keep closed for "competitive advantage" or whatever.

This is where free software is often the least polished, because capitalists don't benefit in the same openness, but users do which is why people often share tools they've already written. Or volutneer


That was kind of long and ramble-y, but my point is that a lot of the software that gets written then is written by people who make money off of coding for a living. People who will be subject to those work conditions through market forces.

That means in order to fight back against those pressures, it takes a concious coordination of *developers* to counter act it, because while the code may be open or not, they do not get to direct it's purpose if they work for a company employing them.


So that means we can't just ignore the market and the impact it has on how the development of code is done.

Some very lucky developers due to the nature of programming, with it's potentially low barrier to entry in terms of capital/resources, can get away with starting their own unique project and supporting that through communities and volunteers.

But the ever expansive wealth that companies capture outpaces this vastly because it's so goddamn productive and they have a need for growth.


So they can absorb much more resources which will be able to outperform tiny teams of independent devs on lots of projects that most people will probably end up using because the vast amount of command over code that a company has is huge.

@nergalur I can't help think that this would be better as all one article, instead of split up into lots of small ones.


@cabalamat It was a stream of thought. I'll see if I can cohere it into an article though, it helped me straighten out some ideas I was having though and some of the feedback was actually helpful in points to address.

Good call though, I'll share if I do write something up!

· · Web · 0 · 0 · 1
Sign in to participate in the conversation
Mastodon for Tech Folks

This Mastodon instance is for people interested in technology. Discussions aren't limited to technology, because tech folks shouldn't be limited to technology either!