I said it on Groklaw and I'll say it here:
Don't try to exchange the Microsoft business model with a FOSS business model, that's impossible.
Instead, try to realize the truth.
There is no FOSS business model.
Given that so many of you are apparently Windows users, I felt that perhaps a metaphor from pop culture might be of use.
If it still sounds geeky and weird, it's difficult to put it any clearer than: we aren't in business at all. Business can benefit from what we do, subject to respect for our boundaries - that's what GPL-compatible licenses are for. It's the freedom to share that we wish to protect. Whether you can make money from that freedom is for you to decide, but even if you couldn't, that's still peripheral to what FOSS is.
When Linus said
"I just can't see myself in the position of the nemesis, since I just don't care enough. To be a nemesis, you have to actively try to destroy something, don't you? Really, I'm not out to destroy Microsoft. That will just be a completely unintentional side effect."
he was responding to attempts to get him into the game they think everyone is playing. They would love you to think that FOSS in general or Linux or Apache in particular, are really playing a sneaky variant of this same "game". We aren't playing. Really. We are indifferent. That's what really bothers them. We don't need them.
There are many reasons to be a FOSS advocate, but I'll give you two that mean something to me personally:
- There is something seriously wrong when you need a Linux bootdisk to fix XP problems. There isn't even a standard XP bootdisk. That the most vulnerable OS in the "market" is also the least-recoverable is ridiculous, that should have died with DOS (which was actually more recoverable). I'm not trying to be techy here, I'm thinking of the friend who got a laptop that he was locked out of, or of another who tried to patch MS Exchange only to be forced to reinstall.
- I wrote a Mayan date program. Not just because I'm interested in what the program deals with, but because noone was offering a really usable program that wasn't a) deliberately crippled for profit or b) not much use at all. In the process, people from all over the world have helped make mdate far better than I could ever do by myself. Is that not a better outcome? Apply this to something you think is far more useful to you - can you see the benefit now?
I hope that you got something from that, and appreciate the spirit in which it was given. FOSS offers the hope that the boring important stuff is done right, the interesting fun stuff won't break so much, and that everyone benefits from this.