Subject: Re: free software and lean manufacturing
From: ghost@ALADDIN.COM (L. Peter Deutsch)
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 93 11:24:55 PDT

> Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1993 11:33:31 -0600
> From: Brian Marick <marick@HAL.CS.UIUC.EDU>
> Message-Id: <199303091733.AA25790@hal.cs.uiuc.edu>
> To: fsb@asylum.sf.ca.us
> Subject: free software and lean manufacturing
> 
> Here's an argument for free software that I haven't heard before, at
> least not in this form.  The claim is that free software has inherent
> pressures toward quality that non-free executable-only software does
> not. The argument is by analogy with lean manufacturing.
> 
> The analogy to software?  Anyone who's worked on commercial software
> under schedule pressure knows that a lot of sloppiness happens.  This
> sloppiness is hidden from the customer - it's in the source, or in the
> configuration management procedures, or wherever.  The pressure to
> improve it is weak, because the cost of sloppiness is long term.  If
> the source code is part of the deliverable, the short-term risk of
> sloppiness is higher. (An important customer shouts, "What IS this
> cruft?" and flings it back at you.)

I think this is more of an argument for source-code-available software
than for free software.  Even if Ghostscript were a completely commercial
product (which I have no intention of it ever being), I would never dream
of licensing it without source code, precisely because I want customers to
know that it not only works well but is well built.  As it happens, two
corporate customers for the commercial version have said that they chose
Ghostscript over competing (totally commercial) products because the
source code was so easy to work with; I attribute this at least partly to
the relentless suggestions for improvement that have poured in from the
Internet over the years as a result of free availability of the source
code to knowledgeable and motivated users.  In that respect, the existence
of the free code did make a difference.

L. Peter Deutsch :: Aladdin Enterprises :: P.O. box 60264, Palo Alto, CA 94306
ghost@aladdin.com, ...decwrl!aladdin!ghost ; voice 415-322-0103 ; fax 322-1734
	    "Implementation is the sincerest form of flattery."