Bonum Certa Men Certa

Investor/Community Conflict of Interests: Like Mozilla, (Un)Like Novell

Hovsepian smilesAs yesterday's digest concludes, Novell investors might be pleased, but it's all at the expense of those whom Novell hurt knowingly. To investors, it is sometimes a dog-eat-dog world. It's predatory and it's personal goal-driven.

When Mr. Hovsepian shook the hand of Mr. Ballmer and signed a patent agreement for his GNU/Linux products (still in doubt), maybe he thought about his investors, but perhaps some personal payola as well. It remains to be seen what exactly Novell will receive at the end, So far, Microsoft has been the benefactor in this deal and it uses its proxy Novell as a tool in so many fronts. Therein lies the difference between Mozilla and Novell.

Mozilla can be blamed for community abandonment, but by no means betrayal. Mozilla cannot be be labeled a weapon against Free software or a foe in a cloak of 'interoperability', either. Let it be emphasised that Mozilla intends to be a part of Software Freedom Day (next week). Its only conflict is situated in the fact that it must raise profit. From its clarification days ago:

Before someone flames me, for-profit corporations are, by definition, run for profit and to enrich the value of the corporation for the share holders.

This must be one among the reasons (if not the only one) why Mozilla disowned Thunderbird. Remember that Novell put an end to its "Exchange killer" shortly after its deal with Microsoft, so it was not just a matter of profit, but also a matter of risk to its rival/partner's profit. The deal with Microsoft was a nasty one and this is just one among so many reasons and also a reasonable proof.

You can read more about balancing corporate and community interests in this recent essay. It uses the Mozilla example.

Perhaps it’s inevitable that community-driven development, maintenance, and support will reduce markets for proprietary software up and down all of the stacks. Perhaps the most successful projects will have the strong support of businesses.

Do you want to rely on their goodwill to allow you to use, study, and redistribute software as you see fit? Are you willing to take the risk that they will encourage a healthy commons which allows you to use your data as you see fit?

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