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Here we List out different questions asked to us by college going students, and possible and given answers.

Is Free Software securer than proprietary software?

As to how is Free Software more secure than proprietary software even though the source code of Free Software is available for everyone to edit whereas the source code for proprietary software is not available?

Imagine two huge buildings. One wants to rent one for an office. Both are in a place where earthquakes and terrorist acts are common. For one, he is given a complete building plan, clearly marking all the exits and entrances and the complete wiring etc of the building showing all maintenance passageways, ducts etc. For the other, he is told that no plans are available or can be shown because terrorists might get access to them - but since the details of the building are top secret, no terrorist can misuse the details. Regarding wiring and things, they say, we cannot give you the details, but give us the ends of the wires and we will connect them for you - same for exhaust pipes etc etc. Which building will he choose?<ref>Kenneth Gonsalves' explanation in ILUG Chennai</ref>

Say the encryption algorithms all of them are open , but the keys are the ones private. But still they are good at keeping the transaction secure.

Similarly , There are two different concepts , data and code. Security in most sense is how safe the data can be , and that needs intelligent code , more the number of participants and more trial and error and more possible commits and development , better the code.Open source achieves just that :) And explain to him his data will still be confidential and its not 'open data' :) <ref>Antano Solar's explanation in ILUG Chennai</ref>

A discussion on ilug Chennai

How can I make money using FOSS ?

So assuming I develop a cutting edge software which has numerous monetary scope, how do I earn money or make it profitable while keeping it FOSS.?

Possible answers (one or mix of more, depending on type of audience):

There are many business models around Free Software (we are more interested in Free Software part of FOSS, whereas OSS part of FOSS has different motivations than us) and before we even start I think there is another thing I want to point out about how you look at software development. Almost all non-trivial software is built using other software, at least a programming language compiler or interpreter and when you talk about free Software, you also get to use a lot of existing Free Software tools and libraries, so usually it is never your effort alone that gets you a useful software. Also, a lot of Free Software is built by a lot of people collaborating and not a single person, many of those who build Free Software are passionate about it and not necessarily motivated by money. Some may be doing other jobs, some software, some teaching, or even we have a practicing medical doctor who contribute to Free Software in our own group.

Now with that aspect clarified, let's see how some people earn a living from Free Software, I think the oldest model used to be selling CDs when the internet was not very cheap. Then there was providing technical support and training for free Software, this is still a viable model. Companies like Red Hat, Canonical, Novell, JBoss[1] do this. With the profit they make from providing support and training, they also employ people to develop it further Then there is consulting and customization of free Software. There is also crowdfunding where users directly fund the developers or developers use platforms like Patreon and Liberapay where they receive donations from users.

There are also models like dual licensing and open core, where people are charged for combining a software with proprietary software or pay for extra features. Though, people don't generally like open core model.

Being a Free Software developer doesn't mean you can't charge a customer for our efforts. If there is a demand and if you are building a software to fill it, you can ask money for development. The proprietary business model is based on squeezing maximum profit from a product. I must say, if the focus is on profit, the Free Software model won't be able to provide as much as the proprietary model but that doesn't mean we won't get enough for our needs. There is always a moral/social contract element involved (intentional or non-intentional) in Free Software development.

What kind of an economic model does an entrepreneur look at when he starts out with Free Software?

RMS from an interview to The Hindu.

“I want to ask you why that question is worth asking. First there are many people who don't have to make money. Importantly even if a person has to make a living, he doesn't have to make a living from everything he does. Lots of people develop Free Software in their free time and there are people who have to make a living, and they do make a living. To jump from, this person is not rich and therefore has to work, to, this person can't write Free Software because he is not paid to write it, is an error. There are over a million contributors to Free Software, a substantial fraction is getting paid and a majority are volunteers. I suspect the reason people bring up this question of economics as a secondary detail is because they are laboring under the misconception that the Free Software community is impossible, unless the developers are getting paid.”

Does Free Software affect survival of a company and creates unemployment?

Every company exists in doing different software. Their survival depends on the profit they make when they sell it, but when Free Software replaces it, it affects the survival of the company and creates unemployment?

I would argue that today the product offering is not just the software but also the support and assurances the company making the software can provide its clients. Corporate value stability and support. Most corporate don't mind spending money on software if they can get better support and stability. In fact most Free Software companies make money by providing paid customer support and additional features their clients (which are usually other companies) might need.

A software that you release under free/libre license does not make it unsalable. It's a misconception. A software that you develop can be easily customized and deployed by your company since you have the expertise yourself. If it is a Free Software program, the sale factor will depend on marketing it, expertise and customization for the client's use case you can claim. If it is a Free Software service you host and sell the access to easily use it and customization. In both cases, there is the option to charge to customize an existing Free Software or your own software to your client's workflow. If you look at the jobs in software field, a huge majority are for creating custom software or private software, i.e. there is only one maker for that software, and they pay for the development fully. This will not be affected by Free Software at all.

Free software cannot replace all software jobs. Now coming to a small percentage of software jobs replaced by Free Software. It actually opens up more opportunities for local employment as more people can now offer support and customization. So it is good for local economy. The opportunities increase to all under Free Software, unless you consider a monopoly which constricts growth of others by accumulating resources and access locking it down as the only growth path. If you look at the Janayugom migration to Free Software, earlier they were paying only Adobe, now a local company provided migration services (some of them are in this group). So it was also new jobs. Janayugom newspaper switched to 100% Free Software for publishing from Adobe PageMaker to Scribus. If Free Software was not an option, these companies would be charging much higher price for all their products.

If two companies A and B make the same kind of software and if A's product becomes successful and because of that the B goes bankrupt can you blame A for that? People make money from Free Software so it really doesn't create unemployment.

Does Free Software guarantee a job?

Anyone can study then contribute to our society without any financial benefit through Free Software concept. At the same time I have a doubt if it can is it assure a job? "

Do you think every lawyer gets paid the same fees? Even though every lawyer studies the same law. No.

Also, why do people go to a lawyer if they can study the law themselves and argue their own cases in court? Because people do not have the time to learn every trade out there and shouldn't have to either. So instead they depend on other people who are professionals and fairly compensate them for their skill, time and effort.

Indeed, Free Software support works like that even though everyone can learn it, people still pay for expertise as people say time is money, so you can probably invest time to solve problems or pay someone who knows it well, around 13000 for RHEL workstation and people pay for it many people don't mind paying that much money to Red Hat (similarly for SUSE or Canonical) so it is not always chosen because it is free of cost.

At the same you can get free of cost with CentOS if you don't want any support. People still pay of RHEL when CentOS is free of cost and it is functionality identical. They take RHEL source code and rebuild it without Red Hat's name and trademarks.

How do I start contributing to FOSS?

Start using FOSS, Share/Blog what you found out (it works out of the box, you needed to tweak something to get it working...), Help others in mailing list, forums..., Write documentation, Request for features, Submit bugs, Try fixing some bugs ar adding new features... Here is a detailed guide.

Why contribute to Free Software?

While Free Software enables other small and big bossiness, proprietary software make it's users dependent on the company producing the software. If you need support for an Apple product you need to go to Apple. Companies like Apple makes sure that nobody else can help their users with their services or products but them. They license their software in a way that trying to reverse engineer their software is a federal crime. Such companies are more interested in building walls so that their customers stay inside with them, dependent on them.

How do I organize a FOSS event in my campus?

Here is a detailed HOWTO, which will guide you through the steps involved in organizing a FOSS event in your campus.

How do I form a local FOSS User Group?

We have prepared a set of guidelines which you can follow here

Why do we need to use glade when we can use Visual Studio ?

Don't you like to have an edge over others ? Microsoft is going to use what glade has been successfully using[2] for long in its upcoming Windows vista[3] -- XML based interface for GUI which will be interpreted by a rendering engine. So while choosing glade you are ahead of those who chose Microsoft technologies like Visual Studio.


(More questions and answers to be added)

References