Why free software is not the antonym of commercial software: two case studies from corporate to volunteer based projects

Stefano De Paoli, Vincenzo D'Andrea, Maurizio Teli

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Abstract

Academic literature often uses the terminology “commercial software” as an antonym of Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS). In this paper we challenge this opposition. Using an approach inspired by ethnomethodology, the paper illustrates how FLOSS developers, both volunteers and corporate employees, use the term “commercial software” as a constituent part of their discourses. We look closely at FLOSS discursive practices uncovering the interactional function of the term “free software” with the aim of provoking a reflection on how such terminology is used in FLOSS academic literature. In particular, we propose examples taken from two case studies: the Geographical Information System known as GRASS and the Operating System known as OpenSolaris.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Peer Production
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes

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