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Tuesday, March 28th, 2006, 3:37 am

GPL is the Future

Inkscape example

QUITE recently, Xara Xtreme which is a popular (vector) drawing program, moved from being pricey proprietary software to the GPL. Xara may have been the victim or sufferer of bigger packages and vendors (e.g. CorelDraw, Photoshop). My guess is that, much like Netscape, they had the choice of either letting the code of that product accumulate mold or earn a large(er) audience — a large user base — to which they can then offer paid support and self-tailored extensions. Netscape achieved something similar by putting the code out there. Today we are seeing the impact of Firefox, which enjoys generous streams of revenue as well. Xara Xtreme will directly challenge Inkscape, a screenshot of which can be seen above.

In the near future, more and more companies will be facing a crossroad wherein they can either fall to oblivion or receive exposure by throwing themselves at the Open Source community. It would enough to have just a few ‘residual’ companies that fell victims to giants like Adobe, or Microsoft, or whoever. Sooner or later they can be ‘resurrected’ owing to the GPL, once they release the code and get absorbed by a crowd of Open Source advocates that contributes back. When the user base of Open Source platforms such GNU/Linux expands, this will become more financially viable and there will be an increasing incentive to go down that route.

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