Subject: Re: Thoughts on GPL
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: 18 Feb 1998 20:34:55 -0000

Keith Bostic writes:
 > Even if your work isn't highjacked by someone, you aren't going
 > to even begin to recover your engineering costs by selling
 > support and/or enhancements.  I won't justify that statement
 > here, but believe me, it's absolutely correct.

Right, I'm sure that everyone agreees that that model of free software
development only works because of friction in the free market.  Then
again, a LOT of things only work because of those transaction costs.
You're describing the standard model of software development: invest a
bunch of money to bring a product to market.  It might be that some
one of us is going/able to devise a different model.

 > Finally, to sell a product you have to find or build a marketing
 > organization, a sales organization, and all the other trimmings.
 > Expecting to convince your financiers that you're going to be
 > able to survive, when you give away your only product, is not
 > a good plan.  This is shown in the current GPL market: what
 > software gets GPL'd?  Software that companies either aren't
 > selling or are giving away to promote their real product (e.g.,
 > device drivers)

I write software for a living, and I give it away.  Then again, as you 
note, packet drivers are device drivers.  And I will cheerfully allow
as how I haven't had the time to put together a full packet driver
release for five years.  Haven't had a customer who needed it.  Then
again, neither has anyone volunteered to help me with it, so it's
possible that a full release isn't necessary.  In any case, I did
packet drivers on the Cathedral model, which is not necessarily

 > I would prefer another solution: lagging the software costs the
 > free community because we don't get the latest-greatest software,
 > and it costs him because he doesn't get the support of the free
 > community for his software.

Any suggestions on what this other solution might be?

-russ <>
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