Â A lot of the confusion around how capitalism and GPL can both be successful can only be understood when you realize that each philosophy has completely different goals (money for capitalist & good code for GPL), and each philospophy is attempting different kinds of "efficiency" (maximum wealth for capitalism & highest quailty code for GPL).
This Slashdot poster said it best:
The way I look at it is this.
The GPL mindset is designed, at the very core, with the sole end goal of making the best computer program possible. Everything else– the financial success of companies like Redhat included– is merely a means to that end, or coincidental.
The capitalist mindset is designed, at the very core, with the sole end goal of making a bunch of money. Everything else– creating a good product included– is merely a means to that end, or coincidental.
People can sit down and found an open source or a commercial software products with these not being their goals, but the open source project or the company will, in time, take on a life of their own. The project will fork, and leave the hands of the maintainer, if the maintainer does not do everything he can to promote it being the best program possible. The company meanwhile will eventually pass out of its original creator's hands, usually into the hands of a board of directors who care only about making the most money possible.
Because these different mindsets are so different, things the open source community does tend to seem completely mind-bogglingly nonsensical to the commercial community, and vice versa. Both sides would have an easier time understanding each other if it were understood on both sides that with a GPLed program, it is not the people, it is the source code, that is in control; and with a company it is not the people, it is the corporate culture, that is in control. Some groups of people do a better job of keeping a reign on their code/corporation than others, of course, but this is still what things seem to tend toward.
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