Subject: Re: open source definition
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: 25 Apr 1998 19:44:16 -0000

Brian Bartholomew writes:
 > > sometimes, writing code is not a development cost, it's a marketing
 > > cost, and sometimes our value-added is not in the code, but
 > > elsewhere
 > I think this disqualifies your situation as an existance proof of
 > profitable free software development.  There are lots of existing
 > business models that use code as advertising - cdrom production, book
 > writing, consulting, etc.  In each case the code is an expense, not a
 > profit center.  To be an existance proof, the money has to be made
 > from the code itself.

People are wondering if traditional software production can work with
freely copyable software.  It seems to me that, as people put forth
evidence that it can, more and more restrictions are being put on what 
is meant by traditional software production.  First it was whether
VC's would invest in freed software.  Then Cygnus said "yes".  Now
people are saying that the freed software has to be sold on its own.

Makers of proprietary software add value to the code in many ways --
through cdrom production, book writing, support, advertising, sales,
and marketing.  I don't think it's reasonable to expect someone to
have to neglect those adds when producing freely copyable software.
No one thing is responsible for the profit of a software company.
Neither is it clear (to me anyway, but sometimes I'm pretty dense)
that proprietary code is the most significant thing.

John Gilmore has pointed out repeatedly that Cygnus customers really
don't care if the software is freed or proprietary.  In fact,
customers don't want the software.  They don't want the computers it
runs on either.  They just Want Their Problem Solved.  The purpose of
a business is to solve customer's problems, and get part of the
benefit to the customer in return.

-russ <>
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