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Free Software vs Economic Distress

Thanks to the weekly ZaReason newsletter, I found two articles pointing out how free software can help in times of economic distress.

For Linux Journal, Glyn Moody writes “Openness is the Solution to the (Double) Subprime Crisis.” He draws parallels between subprime mortgages and subprime software, and their effects on the market.

“Patents are the last refuge of proprietary software companies, which are increasingly unable to compete on a level playing field with free software. Only by introducing artificial barriers in the form of nominal patents on mathematical algorithms – software – can they hope to hobble the otherwise superior open source offerings.

“They are superior because they create real value – they have to, otherwise people will not use the code. Proprietary software, by virtue of the lock-in it imposes on users, can exact a kind of software rent through mandatory upgrades, whether or not there is any value in it for the customer (just think of the Vista fiasco).”

For DaniWeb, Ron Miller writes “What Does the Economic Crisis Mean for the Tech Sector?

“You would think that current economic climate would bode well for open source products. When your budget is lean, free begins to look pretty good. Cloud vendors and the growing virtualization market should do well too. With less money available, it makes a lot of sense to let the vendor deal with infrastructure and to reduce investments in your own data center.”

Nevertheless, there has not yet been evidence of companies moving more quickly in this direction due to economic circumstances. For individuals, students and small businesses, however, it may be a different story.

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