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ZDNet: Free Software

Jul 14, 2001, 16:00 (49 Talkback[s])

This column argues that Free Software has uniquely contentious support issues to deal with:

"It is true to say, as Stallman does, that "Non-free software pollutes society's most important resource, the spirit of cooperation and goodwill towards other people." It does. I don't doubt it for a moment that if you have given two days worth of effort helping someone, for no fee, you would be indignant to discover that he is using your hard work to earn a thousand-pound support fee in his own commercial operation.

But that mutual support provided by the free software people isn't the slightest good to me when I'm running a business selling airline tickets, and the booking system crashes. It may be completely true that the newsgroups will come up with a problem fix within a day.

But it may also be true that nobody has the time, or that the people who have the time are busy earning a living, and have higher priorities. Or it may even be that the programmer who can solve your problem didn't like something you said to him in the support newsgroup. Whatever the excuse, you have no claim on anybody to get it fixed."

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