Subject: Re: Cost of support (article in NY Times)
From: tiemann@CYGNUS.COM
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 93 09:45:39 -0700

On Sun, 10 Oct 93 19:00:11 -0700, tiemann@CYGNUS.COM wrote:
>     They had a column by Peter Lewis in the business section of the
>     Sunday NY Times called
> 
>     Free Technical Support: An endangered Species of Service.
> 
>     I think I'm going to write them a letter detailing that 
>     the only true form of support is source code, whereby you
>     have choice (instead of hope).
>
> I think this is silly.

    I think you misunderstand him.  But then again, if you do, then it's
    likely that the NYT readers also would.  A better phrasing is
    probably in order.

    [...unrelated bits...]

    		If source is available, you have the choice of
    fixing it yourself or paying someone else to fix it.  If you're
    lucky, there exists a support company that's experienced with the
    code. But if you're using proprietary software, all you have is hope
    that the owner of the source will find your bug significant and
    worthy of fixing.

No!  This does not properly distinguish the relevant values of the
respective solutions.  What you are saying is that luck has something
to do with the free software solution and that hope is all you have
with a proprietary solution.  Both of these alternatives seem
sufficiently ridiculous--as business solutions--that I would not take
this analysis seriously.

The real value of free software is that a free software business can
act as a channeling force for cooperative development, something the
proprietary model does not allow.

The free software business premise is that a free software business
can make more efficient use of technical resources than a proprietary
software business, thereby delivering superior solutions at a reduced
cost.  When somebody independently takes on the support of free
software, it means that the free software business promoting that
software has *failed*, not succeeded, much the same way that when
somebody pirates proprietary software, it means that the publisher has
failed to provide value for money.  The goal of the free software
business is to better coordinate the seats that use it, not merely to
fill them.

Michael