Commercial software with a free past

    Many OpenSource proponents of commercial projects based on open source software negatively. In their eyes, a company that, having slightly modified free software, closes it and sells it, it parasitizes in the open source software community for its own profit. Another part of the Linux-community has nothing against such activity, but at the same time prefers to use completely open and free solutions.
    What is the point of view closer to the truth? And who really needs such proprietary free software?
    First, I will review existing commercial Russian projects based on open source software. The list is probably not exhaustive, but contains a number of illustrative examples of OpenSource commercialization. Linux XP


    TrustVers is positioning its Fedora-based system as universal, secure and as easy to learn for a Windows user. The distribution is fully commercial and does not have free versions. In addition to products, technical support and training is offered.
    By harsh statements regarding the ideology of OpenSource, the developers incurred the wrath of the Linux community. Microsoft's imitation, distribution distribution conditions, default root work, etc. were criticized.

    WINE @ Etersoft
    The product is based on the free Wine project and is designed to run Windows-based applications on Linux. Improvements made over several years in the St. Petersburg company Etersoft make it possible to work in Linux with the programs necessary for the activities of Russian organizations: 1C: Enterprise, Consultant, Guarantor, KOMPAS-3D and others. The most significant improvements relate to the support of security keys, device drivers and the provision of collaboration with resources.
    WINE @ Etersoft has both free and commercial versions. For users of the commercial version, technical support and free updates are available.
    Part of the Linux community criticizes Etersoft for not providing the most important functionality in the free version. Some also believe that while working to ensure Windows application compatibility through Wine, the company slows down the development of Linux versions of programs. On the other hand, developers make a significant contribution to the development of Wine by regularly sending their patches to the mainstream.

    LinuxWizard Starting
    in 2007, the St. Petersburg company LinuxWizard develops server solutions and specialized workstations based on CentOS, there are no free versions.
    The main advantages of LW products are automatic installation and customization. Developers guarantee not only that their software will work “out of the box”, but also that its licensed cleanliness will not cause doubts during verification. At the seminar of the company where I was, it was said that the entire set of programs in the distribution kit was patented, and all responsibility for the legality of using LW software was assumed.
    In addition, LinuxWizard separately notes as the advantage of its solutions operational technical support for products for customers.
    Is commercialization of a free distribution justifiable in this case? For some Linuxsoids, this is in doubt. At the same time, easy installation and configuration can be an advantage from the point of view of people far from IT.
    Since LinuxWizard is a young and growing company, time will tell how its activities will be useful for ordinary users and the open source software community.

    Asterisk PC application is a very popular basis for creating both free and commercial solutions with additional functionality.
    Welltime IP ATC is a Russian product with multifunctional modular settings designed to manage the company's telecommunications network. This is the case when a project based on an open source software application has grown into an independent product, in which it is not so easy to find out the predecessor.
    It is believed that Asterisk is a good basis for creating an IP-telephony system, but significant improvements are required in order to obtain a product that meets the requirements for the availability of the necessary tools and ensuring stability. Therefore, such commercial developments are generally welcomed by the IT community.

    From the side of the development company.
    Any commercial company, no matter what beautiful words were written in her mission, sets as its main goal profit. And this is normal.
    Many companies earn money by promoting free software (moreover, they are developers of not only commercial products, but also completely free distributions and programs, as well as implementers and training centers). If you talk only about your product, few people will be interested. It is necessary to promote open source software in general.
    Many commercial companies are ready to “help with business” and offer their patches for free projects.
    At the same time, the development itself opens the way for many companies to switch to Linux. Many obstacles are removed: compatibility problems with Windows applications (in the case of WINE @ Etersoft), difficulties in implementation, the need to confirm software licensing (in the case of LinuxWizard), etc.
    Therefore, the activities of such companies are far from worthless for the open source community.

    On the part of the user
    We were taught that the offer does not appear out of nowhere, but is based on demand. So who in Russia can demand commercial free software?
    Suppose a company wants to legalize and abandon pirated Windows, but there is no money for a Microsoft license. Everything in general is not against Linux, but full-scale implementation is undesirable - it is difficult, long and it is not known what will happen. Then why not pay the conditional amount for the distribution (incomparably less than the one that Microsoft asks for) so that everything is guaranteed to work and your head does not hurt?
    This business model is still unusual for Russian users. The main reason for switching to Linux for the company is that you don’t have to pay for licenses. And if a free solution is not free at all, that’s not it.
    At the same time, consumer-user psychology plays in favor of developers of commercial solutions based on open source software. Since I pay the company, she is responsible for her product. For the fact that I can immediately work with him, and not finish the month. For the fact that technical support will answer when I need it, and not when the developer has time for me. For the fact that I use the software legally, and in which case - all the responsibility on the company that sold the product to me. Unfortunately, developers cannot always provide such ideal conditions for their customers. But the fact that the product is commercial imposes a number of obligations on the manufacturer and, as a rule, gives a guarantee that the client will not be left alone with his problems.

    It is the high level of customer support that RedHat allows you to implement solutions in large companies with complex IT infrastructure. And the distribution fee in this case is considered absolutely justified. Using RedHat as an example, we can see that in the West, a business model based on free software made commercial is not something wild and contrary to the idea of ​​OpenSource. And the Linux community is pretty: RedHat is developing free Fedor.
    Another illustrative non-Russian example is the commercial StarOffice, the development of which allows us to constantly support the development of OpenOffice.
    I would like to believe that someday Russian developers will achieve the same level of quality of created solutions and services. And they will find a balance between making a profit and contributing to the overall open source business.

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