A very interesting and always ongoing debate is trying to identify a clear definition of what is a ‘Free Software Business’.’ While we have a very clear definition of what is ‘free software’ (or the other-not-so-good-term open source) we seem not to have the same precision on business practices.’ For me the question revolves around a concept that some companies have recently started to care about: ethics.’ Free Software is about ethics first and technical excellence then.’ Therefore I think FSB should be about ethics first and business model secondarily.
Matt Asay in an article on InfoWorld says:
I’d define an open source company as one that has distribution, modification, and evolution of (open access) source code core to its business model and to its financial success.
And Simon Phipps answers on his blog:
I would define an open source business as a company that’s business model fundamentally depends on open source software and is positively engaged in the “virtuous cycle” of the community from which that software is derived.
I think that both have good points in their reasoning (read the ir short articles as they are worth the time).’ But I think they both miss the point.
My definition of a Free Software Business would more be along the lines of:
A company that daily accepts its social responsibility towards reaching freedom in the digital age, respecting the ideals contained in the GNU Manifesto.
I am not sure this is the best definition possible, but I am more inclined to define the basic principles of ‘what is the mission of the company’ more than searching ‘how the company deals with software’.
But then the question that needs an answer is: What company would fall into the FSB category if we start from ethics?