Subject: Re: Open Source shareware?
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 19:47:44 +0900

>>>>> "Rich" == Rich Morin <rdm@cfcl.com> writes:

    Rich> But I agree with RMS that an O'Reilly book on the topic
    Rich> might well reduces the chances of a free book even
    Rich> further...

I think that the only way to get good free book(s) written is to have
a maintainer with a will as strong as Richard's.  But that doesn't
address the textbook/training market at all.

    Rich> Actually, I try to use my best judgement, then convince the
    Rich> customer that I have something s/he'll find useful.  I don't
    Rich> always succeed, but trying to follow the market rather than
    Rich> lead it is stultifying (and boring :-).

True, but what I'm referring to is the refreshing contrast between
your "this is something Mac users have paid for" approach, and the "I
don't understand why money doesn't rain into my lap; isn't it obvious
that that would be good for everybody?" approach we've seen an
extended example of recently.

    Rich> Also, when it comes to things like libre software, my take
    Rich> is that Mac users are about to get a really loud wake-up
    Rich> call as Open Source apps start dropping into their
    Rich> lap(top)s.

Yes, and I'm afraid that what they're going to wake up to is the fact
that most of the Free Software world takes it for granted that great
software is available gratis on your favorite archive/mirror.  You may
not have as long a "window" on the MacOS/X market as you'd like!

    Rich> I do think, however, that better infrastructure might elicit
    Rich> more help from the user community.  Why, for example, should
    Rich> I have to run a separate program just to send in a comment
    Rich> on a man page?  But I digress....

Well, I don't think it's entirely a digression.  My Giant Global
GoogleFAQ example is intended to get at exactly that point---OSS
developers need to find ways to leverage their users to improve these
"config database" and "FAQ database" aspects.  I don't think wikis, as
useful as they are, are it---needs to be more focused.

But this addresses one gap between proprietary software and OSS, not
the question of "how do you prevent a better packager from coming
along and eating _your_ lunch?"  Someone who grabs your source package
and improves it is going to be (a fortiori) plug-compatible with your
config/doc/faq database.  So do you take that proprietary?

I think you have to strongly consider it, although the users have a
strong claim to "hey, that's _our_ data you're selling there, buddy
boy!"  OTOH, that doesn't seem to bother users of BitKeeper under BKL.


-- 
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
 My nostalgia for Icon makes me forget about any of the bad things.  I don't
have much nostalgia for Perl, so its faults I remember.  Scott Gilbert c.l.py