Subject: Re: Open Source shareware?
From: Rich Morin <rdm@cfcl.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 13:18:49 -0700

sjt>True, but what I'm referring to is the refreshing contrast between
sjt>your "this is something Mac users have paid for" approach, and the "I
sjt>don't understand why money doesn't rain into my lap; isn't it obvious
sjt>that that would be good for everybody?" approach we've seen an
sjt>extended example of recently.

I actually have quite a bit of sympathy for that position; I'd love to be
supported so that I could simply work on my research interests.  I even
think it would be a good investment for the community.  I don't see this
happening, however, so I'm trying to develop a workable business model.

sjt>Yes, and I'm afraid that what they're going to wake up to is the fact
sjt>that most of the Free Software world takes it for granted that great
sjt>software is available gratis on your favorite archive/mirror.  You may
sjt>not have as long a "window" on the MacOS/X market as you'd like!

The free software that is out there is not "great" by Mac standards.  Mac
users want GUI-based operation and a substantial degree of polish.  Even
is a free app has an X11-based UI, most Mac users would have to be really
motivated to use it and would complain loudly about its inconsistent use
of command keys, etc.  In short, there are a lot of raw materials on the
servers, but not too many finished products (in Mac terms).

sjt>I don't think wikis ... are it---needs to be more focused.

I would like to see some wiki- or crit-like aspects in our help facilities.
When I'm reading a man page, I should be able to make a note immediately
and have it stored for others to see.  Going a bit further, I'd like to
add the same sorts of support to an OS browser (eg, the FreeBSD Browser).

On a wild tangent, Horst Ritter's IBIS structure of issues, positions,
and arguments is badly underutilized.  There really should be a wiki-like
implementation of this interesting tool for structured dialog.

sjt>But this addresses one gap between proprietary software and OSS, not
sjt>the question of "how do you prevent a better packager from coming
sjt>along and eating _your_ lunch?"  Someone who grabs your source package
sjt>and improves it is going to be (a fortiori) plug-compatible with your
sjt>config/doc/faq database.  So do you take that proprietary?

Well, my server is free to honor or ignore requested, so I can enforce any
desired policy.  If someone comes along with a client they like better and
want to use the server, more power to them (as long as they subscribe :-).
By the same token, my client might use other folks' servers for things my
server can't handle.

sjt>I think you have to strongly consider it, although the users have a
sjt>strong claim to "hey, that's _our_ data you're selling there, buddy
sjt>boy!"  OTOH, that doesn't seem to bother users of BitKeeper under BKL.

I don't see that happening.  When an author researches a program to write
a book on it, you don't hear people complaining.  The question is whether
value is being added and contributors are being recognized.

sc>It's all very well for people to complain that there's no free
sc>documentation for project X, but if they cared that much about it,
sc>nobody's stopping them from solving it.

And, indeed, RMS has done a great deal in this direction.

sm>Would I put OS X on my server?  Not on your life.  It doesn't do
sm>that better than Linux for my needs on a server.

Could be, but I seem to have less trouble with new FreeBSD releases than
my Linux-using friends do.  And, not seeing any momentum in the FreeBSD
community towards developing a system for painless upgrades (ala OSX), I
am seriously considering moving cfcl to it at some point.  I guess I'm
saying that I'm pragmatic, but have different needs, priorities, etc.

-r
-- 
email: rdm@cfcl.com; phone: +1 650-873-7841
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