What good has the GPL brought to this world?
Well for starters it lets me choose how and where I will spend my company's money. It allows me to hire a hacker to do code changes I want done without restricting myself to the NDA contracts of the company I purchased the software from. It allows me to fix software quickly, without relying on a large disinterested third party.
What has the GPL changed?
Well, for starters, it has turned the idea of "software package == black box" on its ear. It's turned the idea that software is something to be purchas--er.. licensed and not understood nor changed and instead encourages change and collaboration. Sure, I can buy a source license but then that restricts me to the terms of the license -- usually some form of NDA or non-compete agreement -- which sometimes doesn't affect me, and sometimes does.
Did the GPL ever send money for eduction to Africa? Did the GPL ever contribute computers for children who couldn't afford them? Did the GPL create half a million jobs throughout the world?
No, but neither has non-GPL'd software. Actually this whole point is a non-sequitur -- software does not donate money nor computers; sofware does not employ.
Capitalist development, like practised by microsoft has done all thse things.
Microsoft could have released their software under GPL and still accomplished this. The GPL doesn't prevent you from developing for money. IIRC most of Microsoft's money comes from support contracts with huge companies, something that the GPL wouldn't hinder, aside from creating a huge market of support contactors... Maybe software (licensing) can create millions of jobs worldwide after all!
But linux is free!
GPL != free. That's the whole source of the free as in libre and free as in beer confusion.
In the developing world, software is pirated.
So why would Microsoft bother giving away Windows licenses then? They know they won't get the money one way or another, and the BSA hasn't infested the land yet so it's just a PR job. Way to go.
They want working software that does not need specially trained people to use, and if you give them free software that they don't know how to use, it is like giving a TV to a man living where there are no TV stations.
You really make me laugh, hopfrog. You don't believe that Windows doesn't require training? I wonder why millions of dollars and thousands of hours are spent on Windows and Office lessons in North America every year. I suppose that moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas are calling their friends and relatives asking how "to fix that computer thing" because they've run out of other things to talk about. I wonder what all those "Learn Windows in 21 Days" and "Excel for Dummies" books are doing, flying off the shelf like they are. I forgot that Windows was so intuitave and user-friendly that these types of support services are unnecessary. Silly me.
Let's get back to the heart of the discussion, shall we? The GPL does not prevent you from making money on software. The GPL requires you to do more than just spit out a binary and sell it over and over; the GPL requires you to become a VAR of sorts and sell services. Not much different than a baker or mechanic, really. Let's face it: you don't buy a Ford because you like the car. You buy it because you like the car and you know that there is a huge service group behind the name willing to help you. You buy it because of the reputation of the company and any past personal dealings with them. Why is this so different in the software world?
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