Subject: Re: Free Software in Embedded Systems (was Re: Studies)
From: "Brian J. Fox" <>
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 1997 21:11:45 -0700

   Date: Tue, 16 Sep 1997 16:23:40 -0700
   From: Chris Maeda <>

   >--> Chris Maeda <>
   >> software.  Free software only seems to work in niches 
   >> that are too small to support proprietary vendors. Once 
   >> a market gets big enough, the superior economics 
   >> (cheaper for users, more profits for vendors) of the 
   >> proprietary model always win.
   >  Could you elaborate your argument. What makes the proprietary model
   >economically better.

   If I write free software, I don't see how I could ever
   secure investment capital for software development unless
   it was part of some larger strategy, such as using free
   software as an enabler for embedded hardware.

Well, that's one strategy.  Or, you could build a business supporting
and maintaining free software, and you might get real investors in
that way, if your business was good enough.  Or, you could use free
software to gain market share, and sell a "pro" version of your
product.  Some investors find this completely reasonable.

   Engineering is a huge expense and the free software community has
   yet to come up with a solution for building large software systems
   in an economically rational way in a reasonable amount of time.

The free software community actually has such a mechanism.  First, an
individual writes a program which they feel solves a particular
problem space.  Then, multitudes of contributors donate code,
feedback, and feature ideas, and the product gets better rapidly.
Because a single individual is generally responsible for the official
product, it is the productivity of that individual on which the frequency
of new releases relies -- for many programmers this provides a more
rapid development cycle than 50 Dilbert-like meetings.

   Time is the key thing here.  Free software can eventually
   do what proprietary stuff does, you just have to wait a
   few more years.

Your statement, while true, is only half of the truth.  The other half
is: Proprietary software will eventually do what free software does,
but you *have to wait* a few more years.

     Brian J. Fox                               
	"Is anybody crying out there?  Anyone at all?"
		Buckaroo Bonzai at the nightclub