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[News] Free Software More Sustainable Than Proprietary, Relies on Communities

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Open Source and Sustainability, Updated

,----[ Quote ]
| More so than ever, it seems that merely beating the competition today, or 
| satisfying the customer today, is just the wrong way of looking at the 
| problem. Look at the ruins of a US economy based on writing profitable but 
| questionable mortgages, or building impressive but inefficient automobiles. 
| We need to think longer-term. We need to ask the question "if I win the game 
| for the next 20 quarters (five years), will I still be alive to play the 
| 21st?". This seems to be the question that too many in Corporate America and 
| elsewhere have conveniently ignored or neglected to ask. Now millions of 
| investors and millions of taxpayers are all paying a heavy price.        


And when the company that vends the software goes bankrupt, good luck escaping
lock-in or sticking with the same unmaintainable, unpatchable software.

Rule #2: Create a community

,----[ Quote ]
| Creating the right atmosphere of productive leisure may be a challenge for 
| some projects, but it will be worth it. So spend some time to understand who 
| you’re trying to serve with your project and also who’s likely to be in a 
| position to contribute. Make it as easy as possible for them to do so.   
| As we push the envelope on what free development and commons based peer 
| production can accomplish, we will need to pay closer attention to how 
| communities are created and maintained. We will also need to adapt our 
| techniques to suit a broader audience of potential contributors.   



Open Source Software and Africa

,----[ Quote ]
| As an advocate for free, open-source software, I have run into
| Microsoft's "battles" many times, and your article ("Microsoft Battles
| Low-Cost Rival for Africa," page one, Oct. 28) made visible many of the
| issues around money-poor African nations being wooed by a large, powerful
| monopoly.
| However, your article doesn't go into the deeper value of using FOSS in
| Africa. Because FOSS supplies the source code for the software used, end
| users have the choice of using the software as it exists on the Internet or
| changing the software to meet their needs. Getting security fixes for
| software running on older systems (a natural need when you make $3 a day),
| changing the software to support your native language (not everyone speaks
| English), getting ancient peripherals to work long after the vendor lost
| interest in them (usually less than a year after the product ships), and
| developing a software economy in their own economic terms (creating high-tech
| jobs inside of their countries, instead of sending the money out of their
| countries) are all things that should be considered in the argument of free
| versus closed-source software.
| The public should ask how a company like Microsoft can continue to justify to
| their shareholders creating needed changes to their software for people who
| can't pay for those changes? The answer is that they can't justify it. In the
| future they will have to either start charging for the software on which
| people are now dependent or abandon the effort.

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