Subject: Re: Back to business [was: the Be thread]
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <tim@oreilly.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 13:32:07 -0800



"Stephen J. Turnbull" wrote:
> 
> >>>>> "Craig" == Craig Brozefsky <craig@red-bean.com> writes:
> 
>     Craig> The technological and procedural advances can be made
>     Craig> without Free Software.
> 
> Bazaar development would be very difficult without free software, IMO.
> So far, even quite close approximations (Ghostscript, Mozilla) have
> failed to get bazaar-like response from developers.  Of course there
> are other reasons for each case, but AFAIK only free software has
> attracted the kind of response that created the Linux phenomenon.
> Freedom to fork seems crucial, even if never actually exercised.
> Cf. Russ's freedom to compete on the FSB side.
> 

If by "free software" you mean GPL'd software (as opposed to open source
software, which includes a broader range of licenses), this seems to me
to be overreaching.  The truth is that Linux looks like a "bazaar"
because it is an aggregative product, made up of many smaller products. 
Each of those smaller products generally has smaller teams, and I don't
see any substantially different level of involvement in any specific
piece of Linux code than in something like Mozilla. Linux has thousands
of developers because it's made up of thousands of programs.

The "bazaar" is largely independent of license, to my mind.  It is the
bazaar of developers sharing ideas and source freely over the net.  Look
at the early history of UNIX.  There was no free software license, just
the social behavior of hackers and researchers who didn't think that
there was a market for their software and so gave it away.  So much of
what we all depend on was invented by people in a galaxy long ago and
far away, who didn't have any opinion about the issues debated so hotly
in the license wars.

Or look at something contemporary:  the rise of the web.  No license,
but a bazaar to put Linux to shame, not so much in software development
but in web pages.  Or MP3 skins, or MP3 music.  The bazaar happens when
it makes more sense to give things away than to put up barriers to entry
in the form of charging for them.

This isn't to say that the Bazaar, as Eric describes it, doesn't happen
to a greater or lesser extent in some projects more than others.  But
I'll lay odds that it has a lot more to do with the complexity of the
code base or the problem space more than it does with the license, as
long as the license is functionally open. 



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