Subject: Re: Successful FSBs
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2002 14:59:44 +0900

>>>>> "eric" == eric hamilton <> writes:

    Tim> But if I can, say, just go to cpan and get the module I need
    Tim> without writing any code, I've just accomplished a huge
    Tim> amount of re-use.

    >> I think you're overestimating how much you've accomplished.
    >> But be that as it may....

    eric> I am hesitant to use proprietary libraries though, because

How about Aladdin Ghostscript or RealSSH or Windows Qt or libdbN, N =
most recent?[1]  You can't just "take" them if you're going to sell the
result, but you can just take the source and fix it, then buy the
commercial license.[2]

    eric> if there's something I don't like about them, I can't just
    eric> fix it myself and contribute it back to the maintainer --

Good for you.  But let me tell you a story.

I've recently gotten a bunch of bug reports about XEmacs from Jamie
Zawinski, in a couple particular about the event loop.  There is only
one person in the world who might know more about the XEmacs event
loop than Jamie, and that person has no visible net presence, doesn't
answer mail, etc.  Guess what?  Jamie hasn't contributed a fix, and I
don't expect him to do so.  Nor do I think there's any reason why he
should.  He retired from XEmacs maintenance 8 years ago, maybe more.

Jamie doesn't even have a copy of the XEmacs sources, it seems---he
uses Red Hat's RPM.

Man, if _jwz_ doesn't build his own, let alone contribute bug fixes to
software he designed and built from the ground up[3], how are you
going to convince a busy programmer that he should do as _you_ do?

    eric> I have to re-write that particular functionality,
    eric> and nobody else gets to share the improvement.

And if you took this as an opportunity to start a new open-source

    eric> Then there are those of us who wouldn't use proprietary
    eric> libraries even if we were tempted, simply because they are
    eric> proprietary

Sure.  Do you swear by _Code Complete_?  I think you fall into the
"pre-convinced" class, no?  Don't you realize that _I do, too_?

The point is that we have good reasons, good enough for us, for using
open source.  Others have (as far as they are concerned) better
reasons for _not_ using it.  If we're going to convince them, we need
to address _their_ problems, not project _our_ problems on to them.

[1]  If I'm misunderstanding the relevant licenses, please correct me.

[2]  I doubt Tim has any more problem with this than I do, but it is
not OSD open source, nor free software.

[3]  The event loop contains no code from GNU Emacs.  RMS's rejection
of Lucid's attempt to contribute their event loop is the main
"technical" reason for the great Lucid fork.

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.