Subject: Re: Free Software vs. Open Source
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: 14 Feb 2002 13:37:36 +0900

>>>>> "Tim" == Tim O'Reilly <> writes:

    >> On Wed, Feb 13, 2002 at 11:23:31AM -0500, Russell Nelson wrote:

    >>> Businesses, to be as successful as they can, must not adopt
    >>> any morality.

    Tim> Wow, do I disagree with this.  In my experience, a strong
    Tim> moral code is a key part of an enduring corporation.  See
    Tim> Collins' book Built to Last.

    Tim> "Moral" is a strong word, of course.  It might be better to
    Tim> say "a strong belief system."

To me "morality" implies not merely the right, but the imperative, to
attempt to judge, and intervene in, others' behavior.  "Morality" is
about right and wrong, which are absolutes.

Nor is "strong belief system" strong enough.  I would use "ethics"
here.  Although the primary definition in my dictionary is synonymous
with morality, the second definition refers to "accepted standards of
[professional] conduct."

    Tim> Companies that believe only in the bottom line are rarely (if
    Tim> ever) great companies.

I'm sadly wondering if this does not also apply to the Free Software
Movement.  Its "bottom line" is not expressed in financial terms, but
it is equally incapable of compromising with any other goals than its
own: guaranteeing "the absolute right of any programmer to use any
code ever distributed by anybody anywhere as he/she sees fit".

Not even if that goal is to increase the body of code which is now and
in the foreseeable future "available to all programmers to use as they
see fit in perpetuity."

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
              Don't ask how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.