JotSpot announces free service for Open Source projects
JotSpot just announced free service for open source projects. Good for them. And this is somewhat more significant that just free software licenses: they're actually volunteering to pay all the secondary costs: hosting, bandwidth, admin, &c. It's much like the original SourceForge, in that respect. Of course, they don't offer a non-hosted version of their software, so this was pretty much the only way they could do it.
Steven Noels, one of the developers of Daisy, a true open source CMS, is pretty hacked off about this. He argues that JotSpot's actions are blatant marketing moves and that the open source community is being taken advantage of.
Now, of course these are marketing moves. The more projects which use their products, the more developers who see them, and the more likely those developers are to pay for a license when they’re back at their day jobs working on closed-source projects with larger budgets. But we shouldn’t think less of these companies for it. They are still providing a service of value. It’s good for the company (they get exposure) and it’s good for the open-source community (they get a great tool for free).
You might argue that free, closed-source tools are bad for the open source community. For example, JIRA is a far better bug tracker than any open source alternative that I have found. However, because Atlassian is giving JIRA away for free, many open source developers will lose their motivation for improving the open source tools to the point where they can compete.
On the other hand, if JIRA weren’t free, then you’d have open source developers, of whom there are always too few, working to reinvent the wheel rather than pushing on to solve more interesting problems — or at least to build replacement applications for software that we can’t otherwise get for free.
I suppose it depends on your priorities: would you rather have all software free-as-in-speech, or would you rather use good, closed-source tools where you can in order to get on with your development?