Subject: Re: (Was Car Repair) Debian GNU/Linux project's model a good startingpoint for free software business models.
From: "R. Brock Lynn" <brock@cyberdude.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 03:12:33 -0500

Brian Behlendorf wrote:
> I'm not sure if this fits, but I hear a countervailing force that says,
> sometimes it's just time for old (OS's/API's/applications) to be retired
> and die.  I think we're just plain lucky that no one's submitted a port of
> Apache to MS-DOS to us, or we'd have to have a big long debate about
> whether that platform was worth supporting or not.  =)  Again, I'm not
> sure if this would fall into your definition of "planned obsolescence".

No, that'd be a design issue... or something like that... Planned obsolescence
would be more like putting out a poor quality software system knowingly and then
down the road people would want the bugs fixed, you'd then ask more money for
the fixes... of course this is all proprietary business model based. I think
Free Software systems tend to reduce planned obsolescence, and general cr@p like
that, thank god. :) But there is another form of it, that doesn't involve poor
code so much as it does always changing the standard, or the status quo, so that
as the trend changes, people must continually "keep up" with the newest code, or
standard, to be in vogue, or just to have their stuff continue to *work*... but
then free software keeps this "fad" of business style in check... it keeps
things standard, as more standards lead to confusion, and make coding harder
than if there were only a few well defined solid standards. It's hard to keep
concocting new standards all the time that are solid, well thought out, and time
tested...

Fads come and go... free software seems to weather them all pretty well, and
keep plugging ahead...

Also, not only do we need to keep focus on changing the software production
industry to one fueled by getting bucks to the free software coders, but also
need to bring Open Spec. Hardware to the foreground... you can't write software
for hardware that you have no specs on ... unless you are a very good reverse
engineerer... And also Openly Developed Standards are very important. If
companies and individuals have singular control of standards (like Java and ICQ)
that are then implemented with free software then, when the standards owners
change the standard the free implementation is obsoleted... not by choice
though... but still...

Example: Take the ICQ standard... and Licq a free implementation. If AOL decided
it didn't like Licq anymore and made it's own GNU/Linux port it could change the
rules and kick Licq out the door... so it's best to grab the standard and make
an open one and get it out the door and spread it far and wide as opposed to
implementing free software incarnations of non-free standards...

We have to keep these sorts of things in mind when gravitating the software
production business models to more "open" ones...

[Now I have to harp on my idea of Free Software Insurance again... I'm terrible!
=]

The crowning achievement of free software will be the day when the doors of the
first "free software insurance company" opens it's doors... *gasp*

Take your code and have it analyzed and have risk factors generated for various
types of "inconveniences" that could possibly occur in the future... like for
example, needless reboot/crash... or what not...

Brian, great talk at your BoF at usenix. I was impressed. Too bad I hadn't
thought of that type of business model before. It's quite marvelous. No need for
physically being located near your co-workers... the Linux Kernel (and many many
others) have proven this point again and again... Telecommuting is the wave of
the future!

I like the idea of having a pool of software "demanders" and a pool of software
"suppliers" meeting and converging in a manner where supply is allowed to meet
demand, and payment of some form is exchanged to the coders, for their labor.

Just let the suppliers meet the demand as they see fit in an appropriate manner
that will then ultimately (hopefully) satisfy the original demand. Perhaps the
demand is singular, and vertical, or aggregate and shared among many users. But
ultimately software is demanded by users, and supplied by coders / programers /
whatever they call themselves these days. :) So perhaps something like your
sourceXchange will "cut out the middleman" so to speak... software is not
designed by marketing types... and free software development (where the coders
actually get paid for their work! *gasp*!) will hopefully put the power (and
good monetary compensation for time spent on hacking up good stuff) back in the
hands of the best architects of software, the coders, not marketing or business
people who don't understand software!

But no, [back to original question] not having an apache for DOS is not planned
obsolescence, it's a design issue... reduction of complexity by not supporting a
very "minimal" (in terms of demand) port. Besides who in their right mind would
run apache on a dos system, where some kind of weird external tcp/ip stack would
have to be grafted on it... :D

And I don't consider software to ever wear out... perhaps the standards change
and new software has to be concocted to meet the specifications of new
standards, but considering that if the old standards (software and hardware) are
still theoretically in effect, then software never wears out... unless you
consider bit rust... (but I'm not going there. :)

--Brock

---------------------  PGP key ID: FED76A3D <brock@cyberdude.com> 4 / 5 / 1999

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