Subject: Re: [linux-biz] Is free software innovative ?
From: Frank Hecker <>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2000 13:33:14 -0500

Chris Rasch wrote:
> You seem to be looking for software that is innovative in a strictly
> technical sense, e.g. can be patented.  Yet many of the most important
> innovations in an industry are not necessarily patentable in nature.

Exactly, and I apologize for not including this quote in my previous
message, because my message was at least in part a response to it.

> To take an example outside the computer industry, Sam Walton remade
> the retailing industry by creating "superstores"--stores with high
> volume, low margin, and wide selection located in "less than prime"
> real estate. GNU/Linux reimplements a 20+ year old API.  From a
> technical sense that doesn't seem particularly innovative.   Yet
> the way in which RMS/Linus re-implemented it seems quite socially
>  innovative.

Not just socially. The licensing model for free software is innovative
from a business point of view, because it makes possible types of
businesses and dynamics of competition that could not have previously
existed under a pure proprietary licensing model. (And to give it its
due, the licensing and business model for traditional proprietary
software was innovative as well, because it made possible a software
industry that was to a large degree independent from hardware vendors.)

Frank Hecker            work:        home: