Subject: Re: a model of competition between free and proprietary software
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 12:48:57 +0900

>>>>> "Kragen" == Kragen Sitaker <kragen@pobox.com> writes:

    >> What seems more plausible is developer-managers, who operate in
    >> a partnership.  But as the project expands, you need more
    >> dev-mgrs, and they start to discuss among themselves.  This is
    >> why Linux distros are "easy" to scale: you just split up the
    >> packages -- little coordination needed.

    Kragen> I'm not sure this is true.  Debian, as far as I understand
    Kragen> it without being on any of its mailing lists, has several
    Kragen> hundred people, each of whom contributes several hours per
    Kragen> week to exactly this kind of coordination.

Yup.  That's "little".

    Kragen> Actually, this is an advantage for F: P will pay the
    Kragen> developers to work on what will bring benefits to the
    Kragen> company, while F will pay the developers to work on what
    Kragen> will bring benefits to the users.

Only if the developers are the users.

    Kragen> It appears to me that more free-software projects retain
    Kragen> the same single architect for ten years or more than
    Kragen> proprietary-software projects; proprietary-software
    Kragen> architects tend to get promoted, go work for other
    Kragen> companies, and have to compromise for political reasons.

It's well-known that one good cook can be replaced by another, and
this is especially true in a user-driven environment.

    Kragen> On the flip side: quality also depends on a *good* vision,
    Kragen> which typically requires the architect to listen to other
    Kragen> people's ideas (and reject most of them, but not the best
    Kragen> ones).  This seems to happen more in free-software
    Kragen> projects.

Could be.  Darwinian pressure due to "not good enough ideas" is
stronger in proprietary, whereas the Darwinian pressure in free
software projects is "developers leave because their ideas are
rejected".  I suspect this isn't really an advantage for either side,
as F "bosses" listen more but P bosses are under more pressure to get
it right, at least in the long run.


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