Subject: Re: FSB Marketing
From: kragen@pobox.com (Kragen Sitaker)
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000 00:05:07 -0500 (EST)

I wrote:
> Stephen Turnbull writes:
> > OK, well, if you can do it, I guess it can be done.  But I didn't mean
> > "honest to the public", I meant honest to myself.  I couldn't advocate
> > FS (which definitely costs me as a developer money), simultaneously
> > with policies whose only benefit I was aware of was to make me money,
> 
> FS costs you as a developer money in the same way that lower taxes cost
> the government money.

So far, two reasonably intelligent people have emailed me in private
with startlingly rabid responses to this message.  Neither one
understood what I meant, so it must not have been very clear.  I'll
clarify, with apologies to those readers who need no further
clarification.

Lower taxes, all else being equal, means less tax revenue.

But all else isn't equal.  In fact, lower taxes tend to encourage more
productive activity, because productive activity is cheaper and thus
more profitable.  So sometimes, lower taxes can increase revenue.  (Not
always.  Sometimes.)

Making your software free means less revenue, all else being equal.
But it isn't.

I think that if Red Hat had started selling a proprietary OS otherwise
equivalent to Linux in 1994, they would be dead and forgotten by now.
Case in point.  Indeed, if Red Hat had taken Linux and added
proprietary stuff to it, as the better-funded Caldera did, they would
still be dead and forgotten.

So I think it's perfectly consistent to advocate FS purely to make
money.  As far as I can tell, that's why Apple, IBM, and SGI are doing
it.

(IMHO, the moral aspect of free software is more important, but I
wasn't talking about it here.)

-- 
<kragen@pobox.com>       Kragen Sitaker     <http://www.pobox.com/~kragen/>
The Internet stock bubble didn't burst on 1999-11-08.  Hurrah!
<URL:http://www.pobox.com/~kragen/bubble.html>
The power didn't go out on 2000-01-01 either.  :)