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March 26, 2008 - by grassonthefield
Joyent recently became a patron of the Free Software Foundation joining the likes of Google, IBM, Sun, Nokia, HP, EMC. Joyent believes that in the coming cloud computing world the long-term value of software, as a fungible asset, goes to zero (quickly). Joyent provides value by providing working infrastructure for our software. And that’s what we charge for, when we charge.
Understanding where Joyent provides value led us to open source (as in free software) a number of Joyent projects last year (Connector, Slingshot, Ruby Dtrace probes). These projects can be accessed here. We also run Textsnippets a small, but growing developer community for solving code problems through sharing free software.
It’s interesting to me that Web 2.0 has been built, almost exclusively, on a foundation of free software. The foundation is free, many times the service offered is free, but rarely is the code for the service itself free. That’s a new wine/old wineskins approach that won’t last long. Why? It is inefficient. And bad for business. Your software can easily be copied (view source) and cloned. Wordpress.com is free software. Even the multi-blog version is free software. That’s not where Automattic makes money. Not on software. The money is in the service.
Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to contribute to Google Calendar and make it better? Or, from another angle, does someone having the code to Google Calendar make them a threat to Google’s ability to sell advertising? Or Google Apps? No. The value Google brings is in the cloud computer service (more properly, the software-as-a-service computer). All cloud software should be free. Users should be able to contribute (and borrow). This is how your software has influence. You want developer eyeballs.
We’re proud, at Joyent, to be supporting the Free Software Foundation. We’ve created t-shirts to celebrate the occasion. This is the design on the front.
Very inside baseball. We have a limited number for sale. Please contact Kristie [at] joyent [dot] com. Proceeds will go towards taking staff at the FSF out for drinks next time someone from Joyent is in Boston. As in free beer.