Subject: Re: A few thoughts.
From: "Jesus M. Gonzalez-Barahona" <jesusg@cs.cornell.edu>
Date: Thu, 13 Aug 1998 16:25:07 +0000 (/etc/localtime)


	Ohhhh! I always forget that "free" in English has two quite
different meanings. Since in Spanish we don't have that problem, I
usually use "free" too much. I'll use "libre" and "gratis" in next
paragraphs.

	My point was that Mosaic was gratis and therefore widely
available. I don't remeber its license (only recentely I've been aware 
of how important a license is), but anyway you had the source code and 
you could look at it. I'm not sure if it was completely libre software
or not, anyway. However, the people doing Mosaic (which I think at that 
time was really innovative) didn't try to hide its code, or at least
didn't try it too much. And despite of that (or perhaps because of
that) Mosaic was a true success. Probably if it were truly libre
software, it had been even better, and Netscape (or Explorer) hadn't
be a real competition for it at all. We have a similar story with CERN 
NCSA and Apache, I guess.

	What I think is that libre software *has* a competitive
advantage (which Bob Young has already stressed in other message), due 
to competition among developers. But it has *in addition* the great
advantage of being (in general) affordable for the users, which makes
it an easy choice for them. And that's why (in my opinion) many
companies are right now giving away gratis software to make its
product the majoritary choice of the users. With libre software, you
don't have to do anything special, the software tnes to be quite cheap 
(if not gratis), since usually developers don't make they money from
selling copies anyway.

	I wonder how Microsoft and others are going to cope with libre 
competition in acouple of years if they each time have to give away
more and more gratis products, to become leaders in the market, since
they *do* get earnings from selling copies...

	Well, maybe this last lines are a bit off-topic...

		Jesus.

PS: Unfortunately ( :-( ), I'm old enough to remember those times
when all you had was e-mail, telnet and ftp... And even when Internet
first came to Spain. And of course when Mosaic was "competing" with
gopher...

Kragen writes:
 > On Thu, 13 Aug 1998 jgb@gsyc.inf.uc3m.es wrote:
 > > More recently, you have Mosaic (and Netscape and Explorer),
 > > which either were free software, or derivatives of free software, and
 > > in any case were given for free (at least in many cases).
 > 
 > Now, I know you probably came to the Internet after Mosaic did, so this
 > mistake is forgivable.
 > 
 > The truth is that Mosaic was never libre software, just gratis
 > software; Explorer includes code from Mosaic; Netscape does not.
 > 
 > Lynx is libre software, and always has been, but Lynx users have been a
 > tiny minority of Web users since early 1993.
 > 
 > > Were they
 > > not free, the Webification probably hadn't succeed at the speed it is
 > > doing. At least for this kind of applications, innovation and free
 > > software were hand by hand.
 > 
 > This is more a matter of giving away loss-leaders to grow a market than
 > an example of libre software spurring innovation.
 > 
 > (Which is not to say I don't think libre software spurs innovation.)
 > 
 > Kragen
 > 
 > 

-- 
Jesus M. Gonzalez Barahona             | Grupo de Sistemas y Comunicaciones
tel +3491 624 9458, fax +3491 624 9430 | Departamento de Informatica
jgb@gsyc.inf.uc3m.es, jgb@computer.org | Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
http://www.gsyc.inf.uc3m.es/~jgb       | c/ Butarque, 15, 28911 Leganes, Spain