This story/article is about source code and software. This is not your standard story where it starts out smoothly and has an ending. I jump right into the subject abruptly.
What can one do, to get Oreo Cookies?
But what about if they are paying them hourly, to maintain the source code? Well, then one might ask.. "what's the difference between paying someone for source code and paying them for maintaining the source code?". Most people don't need or want to see the source code, and just want something working. Your toothbrush works for you without knowing all the scientific details about it. Your apple and breakfast fills you up without you having to go through all the molecular, atomic, and ionic equations in the morning. Most businesses and people don't see source code. Most people don't care about source code.
Only this small percentage of us programmers want to see the source code - but the majority of the world aren't programmers - the majority of the world are grocery store managers, oil company managers, furniture movers, truck drivers, etc. It is very hard to step out of a programmer point of view and step into the majority of the world point of view. As a programmer/linux user you may think that everyone cares about source code -but the reality is we are a minority who sees source code as priority, when in fact food is our priority, not source code.
One personal fear to consider, would be if you got paid to consult about software (your payment was based on closed source knowledge. You kept the knowledge to yourself, and only offered it when people paid you). If someone else opened up an open source consulting group, you would be doomed. If the open source consulting group offered "free consulting, as in beer and speech" you would have to start charging money for source code, rather than the consulting. See how it relays from one spot to the other?
That's why lots of people pay for CPANEL web hosting control panels on Linux systems. This action, purchasing a CPANEL support contract or CPANEL software, is exactly the same or very similar to paying for Microsoft Windows. Yet you don't hear many (any?) Linux programmers complaining about CPANEL being an evil empire. Anyone else can compete with CPanel and build a free control panel, but no one has created something useful. Anyone can compete with microsoft and sell a better Windows desktop. But no one really has. What's the difference between Cpanel and Windows? Not much.. Cpanel locks you in sort of, since everyone is used to Cpanel just like how everyone is used to Windows. No one really locks you in and tells you that you must buy Windows or Cpanel.. that is your choice. But there is some lock in simply because people are used to Windows and Cpanel, and being used to software creates lock-in. Cpanel is a MONTHLY fee that you are chained to, whereas Windows is a one time purchase every 3-5 years. What's worse?
If you sold hardware commercially, and then all of a sudden someone else opened up an open source hardware group, you would be doomed. Then one would have to start selling source code, to compensate for the other freedom being lost. In the end, it's about the pot of money and the bottom line. It's not about free speech. It's about what compensates. It's about free beer and compensation.It doesn't matter about whether you're selling source code or whether you are selling hardware - it's still about what you can do to bring a pot of money home so you can buy your oreo cookies.
Always refresh your memory with the Oreo cookie story, if you start siding with "open source" or "Linux" in a debate.
I don't eat Oreo cookies, myself. Do you see the symbolism? Just because I don't care about Oreo cookies, doesn't mean I shouldn't write a story about Oreo cookies. The majority of the world eats Oreo cookies. The majority of the world cares less about source code.