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What is it with Open Source and Business?

A whitepaper over on the Register piqued my interest, and then lost it, but then I ran across the Linux Days in Geneva which also has a business slant, and that reminded me again.

For the Linux Days there’s a few talks that do interest me: Michel Rocard, but that’s because it’s Free Software and legal issues and patents and things. It almost makes me wonder why he’s not a member of the Freedom Task Force, which is the FSFE’s legal group — I hang out there acting like a techie and talking to lawyers so that KDE people don’t have to (and, if you’re going to Akademy, bring an FLA). There’s something neat about long term document storage (given the NLUUG conference programme, it wouldn’t have been entirely out of place there either) in ODF; there’s thin clients and OpenSocial.

But the rest of the programme just falls a little flat. While the education track looks interesting enough, other tracks are a little depressing in their “Open Source! low cost! reliability!”-ness. Gosh, we need a word for that: neglecting the essential Freedoms that Free Software gives you and focusing on the cost side of things.

Anyway, I’m not writing to criticise one specific conference; to each his own. It’s more the confluence with that Register article on desktop Linux. There’s no mention at all in that article of any specific desktop technologies; it’s a sort of Herb & Jamaal of the desktop. And then it moves on into TCO again. That’s not really the point of Free Software, is it.

[[ There is one interesting bit in the Reg article about target audiences and where transitions to Free Software operating systems on the desktop are most (or least) comfortable. Straightforward office use and basic educational desktops would be good targets for a migration; there's no surprise that specialized workers trained to specific applications have a harder time making a switch -- but that's any switch, not something special to the Free Software desktop. ]]

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