Subject: Re: Thoughts on GPL
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: 25 Feb 1998 03:38:33 -0000

Jonathan S. Shapiro writes:
 > In fact, I'll go a step further.  In my opinion the reason that
 > progress has stagnated in the compiler industry is precisely *because*
 > of the fact that GCC eliminates the sustainable competative advantage
 > in that market.  It not economically justifiable to invest in
 > competing compilers, nor is it economically supportable to build a
 > marketing and sales organization to sell GCC in large numbers.

Seems to me that Cygnus is trying to do just that.  Haven't you seen
their ads in Electronics Week or EDN or whatever tome it is that drops 
into my mailbox weekly?  You're opining that they can't do it, and
they're spending money to do it.  In measurable terms they're more
confident they're right.

 > Microsoft is still able to sell because the GPL community largely
 > ignores Windows and because Microsoft has monopoly control on the
 > API's and alters them with high frequency.

"and because"?  You mean "because".

 > Meanwhile, Cygnus *has* succeeded in making the compiler industry very
 > difficult to make money in.  Meanwhile, the rate of evolution on GCC
 > has dropped in recent years.

Which gcc?  The FSF gcc or the gcc you get from Cygnus?  Cygnus has
been reluctant to fork a version, but finally they had to create egcs, 
which is evolving, dare I say, rapidly?

 > So who won?  Nobody.  The customers, in the end, have also lost due to
 > lack of competition.

Arguably.  Arguably they've won because of the money saved by not
having to buy compilers.  Arguably they've won by having a stable
compiler with known bugs.  Ever discovered a compiler bug?  It'll ruin
your whole week -- especially when you call customer support only to
find out that it's a known but unpublished bug.  Unpublished for
competitive reasons.

-russ <>
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