Subject: Re: So what is an FSB anyway?
From: "Russell Nelson" <nelson@crynwr.com>
Date: Wed, 03 Feb 1993 00:08:03 EST

On Tue, 02 Feb 93 15:00:38 CST, "Steven D Ourada" <sourada@IASTATE.EDU> wrote:
> 
> >  o Are the GPL's ends (freely copyable + full source availability +
> >    "virus" nature) the same as those needed by a FSB?
> 
> Full source availabilty is not necessarily something a FSB would want.
> Although it could be considered a conflict of interest (in the sense
> used in another question below), a FSB could make more money on support if
> it could effectively demand that customers pay them for any changes
> made to the software. Of course, by distributing the source, they can benefit
> from the changes made by others.

The problem with not distributing source is that if the author gets
bored, or goes out of business, or dies, or is simply unwilling to
make a change, the user is hosed.  Also, typically, free software
comes with no warranty.  If the user wishes a warranty, they must
purchase it from the author.

It sounds like this software is only partially free; you have the
freedom to copy the software but not to change it.

> It probably depends on the intended market: people using a program
> as a tool for other work (say a secretary using a word processor) wouldn't
> care to have source, and wouldn't change it if they could; 'hacker types'
> who want to customize and fix programs they use would want source. An
> FSB should take this into account when deciding whether or not to distribute
> source.

It's the end-users who contract with the programmers to make the
changes they want.  Right now, end-users are not accustomed to
thinking that they could have the features they want in a program
simply by paying to have them developed.  They are used to sighing
when they run across an annoying bug, and cursing when they run
across a fatal bug.

I think we have an education issue here; we need to let users know
that they want the source not so they can change it themselves, but
so that they can get bugs fixed that are interfering with their work.

And we should not assume that end-users are not programmers; I have a
number of programs that I simply want to work.  I am an end-user for
those programs.  The text editor I am using right now, for example, I
wrote myself.  It works the way I want it to.  Even though I wrote it
in the first place, I have zero desire to hack at it.  I am now an
end-user for my own program!

-- 
-russ <nelson@crynwr.com> What canst *thou* say?
Crynwr Software           Crynwr Software sells packet driver support.
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