Subject: Re: Paul Fremantle on Open Source Business
From: simo <s@ssimo.org>
Date: Mon, 24 May 2010 10:47:58 -0400

On Mon, 2010-05-24 at 23:31 +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> simo writes:
> 
>  > The business advantages are 2 and are unique to a business that not only
>  > provides code availability but is also very good at community
>  > building. 
> 
> You mean like Aladdin Software of the 90s?  Ghostscript was a pretty
> tight community back when I needed them.  Not just Peter, but lots of
> people.  And I don't recall anybody complaining about the Aladdin
> license, except RMS; the pressure for converting the license to GPL
> came much later.

Not sure why you make this example.

> There's no question that a firm that specializes in open source can
> leverage that specialization in community building, but don't try to
> tell me that the moral high ground has nothing to do with that.  

It may or may not have a role in attracting good developers. I can't
deny it has influence. It is just not sufficient.

>  > Merely releasing (dumping) some piece of software with a Free License,
>  > does not magically create a development community. Without a community
>  > it is basically just a marketing stunt.
> 
> You're right.  How about that Eclipse community, then?  What was the
> name of the open source business that fostered that one? ;-)
> 
> I really don't think it's a good idea to underestimate what IBM, HP,
> or Oracle can do in terms of building community, if that seems like a
> good idea to them.

Did I argue big companies can't create communities ? I don't think I
have. I was just stating the advantage an Open Source business have.
IBM et all are certainly able to start Open Source businesses on their
own.

> So we're back where we started.  Open source seems like a good focus,
> but it's no better than any other focus.  And it restricts the ways
> you can generate revenue, compared to your direct competitors who have
> chosen a different focus.  The available tool to leverage that
> restriction in a lasting way seems to be the social good of open
> source, and your public commitment to it.

This is what I call building and fostering a vibrant community. As long
as the community is alive you are. The good thing about Open Source is
that what you write can survive you. Usually with proprietary software,
what you write dies with your business, so as an asset OSS should be
valued more by the buyer, as it has less risks attached. Especially if
said tool is critical for your business. And that is one of the
collateral advantages you can bring on the table when you market your
choice.

Simo.