Subject: Re: Reasons why being proprietary hurts you more than it helps
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 5 May 1999 17:39:51 -0000

   Date: 5 May 1999 15:22:16 -0000
   From: Russell Nelson <>

A few comments.  Mostly it looks good to me.

   You're in business to make money.  You engage in activities that
   advance you towards that goal, and refrain from activities that
   don't.  Therefore, the only sensible reason for holding information
   (drivers, and hardware documentation) proprietary is to protect your
   business from activities which would reduce its profit.

There are other counterarguments you may want to address, perhaps more
appropriate to smaller shops.

* Providing hardware documentation has a cost which should not be
  completely ignored.  You must actually put the information
  somewhere.  You will receive questions about it, which you must
  answer or ignore.  You have to update the documentation as the
  product changes.

* Providing driver source code may reveal the shoddiness of your
  internal software engineering.  You may get patches, but they will
  be useless if you don't have the expertise to handle them.

* There are people out there who are willing to live on tiny margins
  by producing cheap knockoffs of hardware.  For those people, even
  the small costs of reverse engineering can be a barrier to entry.
  The patches that you get for your drivers, and the information you
  provide for using your hardware, help your knockoff competitors as
  much as it does you.

   There is no track record which associates proprietary documentation
   and drivers with greater success in the marketplace.  3Com gives away
   information on how to program their network adapters.  So does SMC.
   So does Intel.

Mentioning some smaller companies here might help.