Subject: Re: open source definition
From: Michael Tiemann <>
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 1998 10:46:54 -0700

    Investors are willing to accept some threshold of distracting
    activity.  They are actively delighted to see sensible marketing
    strategies.  Don't confuse yourself into thinking they invested in the
    free stuff; they invested *in spite of* the free stuff.

Once upon a time, there were companies that sold computer hardware the
way that Grumman sold jet engines.  The people who bought them paid a
lot of money, then they paid even more money to "program" these
machines.  Over time, these computer hardware companies added more and
more "software" to their machines, which not only made them easier for
their customers to use, but it also made it easier to show how "useful"
these machines could be, thereby expanding their market opportunities in
two dimensions at once.  Still, there were (as there always will be) a
few staunch curmudgeons who thought that this "software" was really just
a distraction from the real business of making computers.

I don't think you can separate free software from a software business
plan and call it a "distraction" any more intelligently then you can say
that software in general is a "distraction" for hardware companies.  The
fact that hardware companies often don't have the first clue about
software in no way refutes my point: software is a necessary component
of the computer analogy, and the companies that treat it as a
"distraction" invariably do worse than those who actually try to make it
good.  Similarly, software companies that can intelligently couple their
plans to the free software community will find much better world-wide
acceptance than those who treat these internet freaks as "distractions".