Subject: Re: Successful FSBs
From: "David Kaufman" <david@gigawatt.com>
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2002 16:05:30 -0400

Rich Morin <rdm@cfcl.com> wrote:
> What is the essential difference between Tim's publishing a Linux book
> that includes a Linux CD and RedHat publishing a Linux CD distribution
> that includes a Linux book?

to the consumer of the software?  there is precious little difference.
and to any business, that which differentiates it's products in the mind
of the customer is all that really matters, in terms of it's success...
(remember the thread is entitled "Successful FSB's")

> If we get too picky with our definitions, we may find that the only
> businesses that make real money off Free Software aren't actually
> FSBs!

i agree.  we should broaden this definition, and the discussion,
especially when you step back and consider the reality that the vast
majority of "Free Software"'s consumers, the users, are still attracted
to, and remain "customers" of, free software because of it's
free-as-in-beer aspect.  while they may appreciate the fact that the
security tends to be better, the bug-fixes and releases more frequent,
or just the basic quality higher, they pragmatically also weigh all
these factors against the cost of the software to determine it's value,
which determines whether or not they will use it.  in some cases the
value of apache is higher than IIS only when they purchase it from
covalent with customized tools and support.  in other cases (from the
all-important end-user's point of view) the value of PHP is really only
higher than ASP because their ISP offers PHP/FreeBSD for less than ASP
on Win2K.  That's market reality which is the only reality a business
must consider (to be $ucce$$ful).

i think we may be getting a bit too hung up on purity.  many end users,
the consumers of free software, and even much of "the public" can
appreciate the difference and understand the value trade-off between
"purely free" actually free software and "apparently free" or
less-than-free (as in freedom) software.  but we're not debating the
definition of free software, we're debating the definition of a free
software business, and that is a necessarily much broader concept.

-dave