Review: Making Software, Edited by Andy Oram and Greg Wilson

It's an old joke among programmers that questions of the efficacy of programming languages, abstraction models, management models, or other fundamental ideas of software engineering are simply "religious wars" -- i.e. conflicts impossible to resolve, because they are based on faith and superstition rather than any kind of objective evidence. And yet, a lot of important decisions are based on these ideas. So it's refreshing to see a book that attempts to apply real scientific rigor to the questions of programming and software engineering, and that's what "Making Software" gives us.

Artists should be paid, Part 2: What's "fair"?

Having established the motivations for fair payment on a "commercial free culture project" in the previous column, I'm still left with the question of what exactly "fair" means. The problem is that there's more than one way to determine fair shares on a project like this. The organization is necessarily loose, and so there's no really clear and unambiguous way to determine fairness. Nevertheless, some plan has to be chosen, and in a way that is at least defensible.

Pay Per Patch: A Free Software Market Model

Free software can be viewed as sort of a public good — everyone can benefit from it. Instead of paying for complete applications, buyers may wish to only pay for specific program elements they want, which the software lacks. Therein lies an opportunity to make money on free software, instead of around it.

Free software in real business


There are many "theoretical" talks about how free software can be used commercially, that it can greatly stimulate business activity and so on. There are very few real life examples of that. And most of them, as I can see, firstly had just common classical proprietary model of software development and only later some of them either freed their products or at least opened. As I can understand, only after fear of competition had gone they tried to made timid steps to open-source (as nearly none of them really understand difference between open-source and free software

Free software philosophy in business

When we enter the world of “free and open source software”, most of us will choose one or the other philosophy. This choice is usually made easy by the people that guide us when we enter this world. We are at a point where the philosophies behind free software, which have been heralded by Richard M. Stallman and others, are threatened; as more people make the jump away from proprietary operating systems, less of them know about these philosophies. Fewer people will weigh the decision for themselves.

What is the difference?

Interview with Rob Fraser

This article provides a real world perspective into why businesses move to and stick with free software. In this interview, Rob Fraser, from the premiere New Zealand open solutions company Egressive Limited (, shares insights into why free software can benefit any business. The interview briefly covers: VPNs, spam filtration and risk mitigation, among other topics.

Selling our own dogfood

Free software advocates, including myself, like to pontificate about how free software is a good business model. We like to hold up companies like Red Hat and show them off like a bright cliff-top lighthouse that shows the way to profitable free software. And, in passing, we like to name-drop companies such as IBM, HP, Oracle and Sun, rabbiting on about how they are all benefiting from a free software model. However, each of those four companies have closed products that are cash cows, the only truly 100% (ish?) free software oriented company being Red Hat. How much of a broad successful business model is free software in fact? Does it really work in real life? Ask no further, for I am about to put to the test that which myself and others have been advocating for years...

Small businesses are ripe for free software

Once upon a time, in a career far, far away, I worked for a very small business. I was tasked with upgrading the OLD PC’s. The budget was so miniscule that literally every penny counted. In the effort to get the best bang for the buck, I stumbled across these programs called free software. “Whoo-hoo, they’re free” I thought. Little knowing how that introduction to free software applications would change my life, I quickly ordered the PC’s without MS Office, downloaded instead and saved a few hundred dollars per system.

Fast forward to the future. With much more free software under my belt, I am even more convinced small businesses are a ripe field for free software applications.

Why I want to see a UFO

In the summer of 1947, President Harry S. Truman ordered formed asecret organization of military personnel, scientists, and members ofgovernment. A reaction to the Roswell UFO crash in July of that year,Majestic 12 (or Majic 12) was given the task of investigating andcovering up other UFO activity in the ensuing years. Since then, theyhave operated as a black-ops group within the government, one of manyUS government organizations that are secretly funded each budgetcycle.

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