Interview with Jon 'maddog' Hall

Recently Jon Hall, from Linux International, gave a virtual lecture for the FTA students. The video presentation is available to anyone. We also want to share some interesting answers that Jon provided us in an exclusive interview for the Free Technology Academy:

Why do you support the term "Free Software" instead of "Open Source" (that is generally more used by companies and business)?

I was one of the people invited to the infamous meeting of Tim O'Reilly where the term "Open Source" was coined. I was actually in the bathroom when that happened, but I participated in the debate about how the term "Free Software" was being mis-interpreted to mean "Gratis Software" and I agreed with the group that something needed to be done.

Over the years, however, I have come to agree with Richard Stallman that the term should be "Free Software", and that we should just keep stressing the "Freedom" aspect of it, rather than give in and call it "Open Source".

When you have a child that uses a word incorrectly, you do not just ignore it...you correct the child so they use the word the right way. That is what we should have done with the term "Free Software".

Of course it would have been a lot easier if Richard had named it "Freedom Software" instead...

Do you believe that IT professionals specialized in Free Software technologies are more valuable on the market and get better wages?

Yes, because they can bring greater value to the customer in a shorter period of time in two ways:

Just as there are huge numbers of closed-source, proprietary products out in the marketplace to help people solve problems, there are now hundreds of thousands of FOSS products and "projects" that are available for download. FOSS professionals know that they can change the various packages of software to better meet the customer"s needs, to have these packages integrate together in a way that may be impossible for closed-source products to integrate.

FOSS professionals know how to leverage the works of others, by pulling down these packages and integrating them into a solution. This typically can be done at a lower price and with greater end value than with closed source.

Is the IT market increasingly adopting free technologies? Do you think that free technologies will dominate the market in the following years?

Yes, and yes. Particularly in these troubled economic times. People are trying to "do more with less".

In the long run, however, FOSS will be even more dominant. The next four billion computers will be going to people who may not speak the 40 major languages of the world, or may do business in a way that is different than the United States or Western Europe. Companies like Microsoft will not be able to meet their needs, and will be able to meet even less needs and still be profitable.

FOSS is the path of diversity, and we live in a diverse world.

Which are the mayor threats to FS markets development?

Three of the four types of cloud computing are threats. Some people may initially be sidetracked by the low costs of cloud computing due to economy of scale. Sooner or late they will realize that forms of "Software as a Service" are just as "closed" as any proprietary vendor.

I do think that "Platform as a Service" is fine, as long as you get to choose and control your platform, and that platform is FOSS, and of course "Infrastructure as a Service", where you provide your own infrastructure definition.

These still require that you develop your own "software stack" in some way, and that will be a cost versus just letting someone else do it for you. But that is a price you pay for control and self-determination. The benefit of using PaaS and IaaS is that you can develop your solution on your own small, local machine, then outload it to the cloud when you need greater horsepower.

It is a bit like voting. It takes you time and effort to do it right, but at least you exercised some type of control.