Subject: Re: Returns to service professionals (was Re: New ESR paper: The Magic Cauldron)
From: Geoffrey Crawshaw <>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 13:13:50 -0400

I think this will become a bigger issue as applications move from the
desktop to the web-top. Web-top applications are the future of software
and Open Source tools are a powerful enabling factor in the creation
of web-top applications. Some mechanism to appropriately compensate the
developers of the Open Source tools that enable the web-top needs to be

Our web-top time billing service is built exclusively from Open Source
tools. We purchase support contracts and buy Open Source documentation
where possible, but I feel it is small compensation for the value we
derive from the tools. I would love to see the development of other
mechanism's (maybe micro-payments have a niche here) to fairly reflect
the value of these tools.

> > From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
> >
> > What bothers me is that because these companies don't distribute
> > software, but instead provide services, they don't think about
> > how to keep the ecosystem healthy, and how dependent they are on
> > the open source community for the platform they've built on.
> >
> > After all, Yahoo, Amazon, and even AOL (which I believe runs a
> > much-hacked version of sendmail somewhere down deep) have
> > critical parts of their infrastructure on Open Source.  Yahoo is
> > very largely open source; Amazon has told me about 70% of the
> > software they use is OS.
> >
> > So one of the challenges is to get these people to participate
> > more in the OSS community.
> >
> > Unfortunately, this doesn't just mean "give some patches back to
> > Apache or Perl", it really means "open source some of your
> > applications."  Where is the  Open Source e-commerce shopping
> > cart, or affiliates program?
> >
> > I fear that these companies consider their applications as their
> > competitive advantage.
> We approached a very large company that uses Berkeley DB for
> lots of things, asking them not for money, but just to use
> them as a reference.  Here's what they told us:
>     We certainly appreciate all the work you guys have put into your
>     Berkeley DB software, and we do indeed use it internally in quite
>     a number of areas.  I think we'd be open to talking to you about
>     how we use it in general, but only in the context of giving you
>     some product feedback and perhaps guiding your future development.
>     We are extremely tight-lipped about which technologies/software
>     we use and how we use them, due to the fact that we'd rather not
>     "enable" our competitors and give them a blueprint for building
>     successful e-commerce platforms.
> --keith

Geoff Crawshaw