Subject: Re: open source definition
From: "Jonathan S. Shapiro" <>
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 11:42:14 -0400

> This is a very artificial distinction, IMHO....
> Again why the distinction?  Why can't the author be the publisher, 
> the packager, the marketer or distributor?

They certainly *can* be, if the have the necessary skills.  The
artificial distinction, however, is entirely *yours*.  Why is it that
somehow these other skills should be recognized as worthy of
compensation while building and maintaing the software is not?

You may argue that building and maintaining the software is considered
payable under GPL, but I'm talking about building new systems, not
enhancing old ones.  My concern is being able to get new projects

> > This is a red herring, because you are talking about a different
> > product.  You guys don't sell software.  You sell packaging and
> > integration.
> Again, why the distinction?  Money is money.

The distinction is that what you actually sell isn't Open Source, it's
boxes and books.  RedHat makes money by side-stepping the socialist
provisions of GPL.

> > but kindly be honest enough to admit that your scheme only
> > works because you have thousands of unpaid laborers.
> ... most of (but definitely not all) the primary contributors I can
> think of earn some or all of their living off of the work that the
> Red Hat Linux OS benefits from.

I stand corrected; my claim was in adequately worded.  I shall happily 

Kindly be honest enough to admit that your company is only profitable
because it gets a free ride from many other companies.  You may hold
that this is equitable given the development model.  I probably

> The real attraction to the free software model to us and our 
> customers is not a distaste for the proprietary model.  It is simply 
> that it works better.

This is the best support for my point I have seen yet.  The *reason*
it works better, in my opinion, is source availability and
supportability, not the fact that it is free.

I recognize that this is an unsupported hypothesis.  I think it's
worth doing the experiment to find out if I'm right.