The Cost of Free
Furious! This describes the response of a portion of the Dutch free and open source afficionados when hearing about the idea that OpenOffice.org might get advertisements as part of the binary package. Jonathan Schwartz (Sun Microsystems), who launched the idea on his weblog (and already retracted it), was aware the idea could cause a furor. Strangely enough, the anger seemed limited to the Netherlands.
The newsfeeds archives and the ironclad memory of internet search engines reveal that the most vociferous opposition against the idea was heard in the Netherlands. The rest of the digital realm hardly paid any attention to it. Why not? Well, perhaps the rest of the world has a better understanding that free and open can and should not be confused with ‘gratis’ (i.e. free as in ‘free beer’). In the Netherlands, a country where being cheap is considered a thing of pride, ‘free beer‘ instead of ‘free speech’ seems to be more important. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, but please refrain from making ludicrous statements like: “Sun (and others) don’t understand the GPL license (the LGPL actually) and advertisements and commercialization are not allowed under the license”. Funny, because if this is true, the GNU.org organization doesn’t understand it either, considering the article Selling free software.