The Woes of Developing Commercially for Linux

by Stephen Figgins

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Shawn Gordon's essay reveals more about Shawn Gordon than it does about creating a viable business in an open source world. Using open source tools The Kompany produces polished software like BlackAdder, an IDE for Ruby and Python, Kivio, a flowchart tool, Kapital, a personal finance manager. They also contribute back to the community many of the tools they use to make that software. I was hoping to find some insightful ideas about his experience. Instead, this is primarily Gordon's complaints.

It's difficult to feel sorry for Gordon when he complains about the abuse he receives for wanting to charge for GPL'd source code. Gordon seems surprised that RMS complains about this while admitting nothing in the GPL says he has to provide the code for free, just that it be made available. Geez! What was he thinking?

I think other commercial developers for Linux can take from this a lesson in how not to present yourself to your customers. Whining is rarely attractive. And, of course, don't use GPL and charge for source code unless your want to be a free software pariah.