OSS divisions

September 17, 2017

There are two reasons I think its good for everyone to have a good division between “personal” and “corporate” use for open-source software (OSS).

If you, the OSS maintainer, are compensated, everyone benefits. While your time spent coding your OSS is valuable, I think the frictionless delivery of new features and bug fixes is something that shouldn’t go away. Since I’m not actively supporting you financially to work on this, I can only hope that someone does so I can benefit. Thus, I encourage you to find a model that supports you, because that will also support all of us personal users!

I trust more in your OSS code if it has some sort of drawback for personal users. If you offered the exact same features for corporate and personal use, I would believe this too good to be true. Things that seem too good to be true are often nefarious in hidden ways (for example, Facebook lets you post photos and add friends for free, but they can collect and sell your data). If you are transparent about what is different for personal users then it makes me happy to have a drawback so I can be assured that something sketchy isn’t happening to monetize this in another way.

Unfortunately most people think they are entitled to OSS new features, bug fixes, general support. There are the vampires who believe that they can take your lifeforce from you for nothing. Then there are the zombies who believe that your mind is not your own, and that whatever is produced should be free and open-source.

But unfortunately for them, you don’t owe anything to anyone excepting your business clients. Your business is your business, and whatever you happen to let spill over in the open-source community should only be seen as a benefit, never a negative, to the universe of open-source code.

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Written on 17 September 2017. Categories: coding, thoughts.

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