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Open Source wants to ruin my life

March 18, 2008

One of the side effects of Open Source is that it effectively pushes the cost of software down to zero. You can argue that I can charge whatever I want for the software I license as open source, but that argument doesn't work very well. For as long as my licensees have the right to distribute my product free of charge, an informed market is not going to want to pay to get it. Open Source seems to be very good at preserving the rights of users, but not any good at preserving the rights of authors.

I can cheat, as many companies do these days, scaring people with words such as warranty, indemnification and support. I can also repackage my product as a subscription, which seems to work for some companies. But that just wouldn't feel right. It's essentially doing the same thing as before, just calling it something else. Furthermore, doing business this way creates an incentive to make the software just good enough to attract the user base, but not really solid to enable them to use it without my help. Other companies prefer to leave the critical piece out of the open source package for the same reason.

While I can do all these other things—I do not want to. It is just not the life I want to lead. You see, I believe in one's right to make a living by doing what they love. I love writing software and I am good at it—it's only natural to expect to be able to write (and sell) software for a living.

But Open Source wouldn't let me have none of that. I am condemned to a life of compromise instead.