Subject: free vs proprietary software business models
From: Brian Bartholomew <>
Date: Fri, 26 Dec 1997 23:35:27 -0500

> Also, low-end tools have low enough complexity that the free
> software development model can get stuff done in a reasonable amount
> of time with its limited resources.

> Free software also seems to break down for really complex pieces of
> software, like Windows NT, MS Office or Oracle, that require dozens
> to hundreds of full time, highly paid, and highly skilled engineers
> to maintain and enhance the code base.

I disagree that free software is generally less complex than
proprietary software.  Linux kernels, Xservers, and databases are
pretty complex things.  Proprietary software tends to collect vast
hordes of full-time, highly-paid, mediocre-skilled, poorly-led
engineers that make things far more muddled and complex than they need
to be.  A Linux kernel is less complex than NT, but the greater
simplicity of Linux is due to better design.  I agree the MS Office
code probably has infinite hair in it, but that's because the APIs it
works against also have infinite hair.  If you're going to count
Windows NT as one piece of software, you should compare it to an
entire Linux distribution.  Linux does have hundreds of full-time
equivalent, highly-skilled engineers that maintain and enhance the
code base.

Another member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF)
Brian Bartholomew - - - Working Version, Cambridge, MA