Free Software and Innovation

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Free software has a negative effect on software innovation

For example, everyone uses Eclipse and the developers of non-free IDEs are not developing their products further to a level that sells.

Position statements

Have two (or more) learners write position statements supporting and opposing the motion.

  • For: ...
  • Against: ...

Then open the discussion (below and under the Discussion tab).


  • Some older versions of prominent non-free IDEs are more usable than the latest versions and still slightly better than the best free IDEs. However, the difference is insufficient, so developers don't buy them and the companies aren't making enough money to support innovation. This would not be a problem if there were no free/gratis IDEs available.
  • ...


  • There is more innovation on open platforms
    • e.g. plugins for Eclipse, Mozilla, LibreOffice, Firefox, etc. that are free for community enhancement.
    • collaboration across distros
      • e.g. Linux Mint on Ubuntu on Debian, etc.
  • The following have a negative effect on software innovation:
    • Certain tactics used by certain monopolies
    • Software patents (restrict innovation to those with 'arsenals' of software patents)
    • ...
  • Your competitors can also buy good software tools. What differentiates you is your ability to service customers by understanding their requirements and writing high quality code. The development tools themselves are not differentiating but all developers may benefit by improving the tools and common frameworks (etc.).


See also: the Discussion tab above.

  • Consistency: ensure we are talking about the same things. The following terms may need clarification:
    • Free software: free as in freedom (libre software) - the source code is available and we are free to use, copy, learn with, adapt, and share the software (modified or not).
    • Closed-source software: the source code is not available. Sometimes a gratis edition is available. Free software purists avoid the adjective "closed" in this context as it lumps free/libre software with open source software (distinguished by their foundations in ethics and pragmatics respectively).
    • Freeware: gratis software without the source code, usually with an evaluation period. Free software purists avoid the term "Freeware"
    • Nonfree software: another name for proprietary software
  • If you can't beat them, join them.
    • The companies producing non-free IDEs which have failed to compete with the peer-produced free/libre alternatives should either step up their development efforts or change their business models - e.g. release their IDEs under a free license and focus on offering superior software development services.
  • Similar debate ideas:
    • Open Standards and innovation
    • Software patents and innovation
    • ...