Subject: Can open source cost money?
From: Rich Morin <>
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 08:12:30 -0700

At 02:22 -0700 8/25/98, Ben Laurie wrote:
>I'm quite happy with the idea that open source software can cost money -
>after all, it already does, look at Linux/FreeBSD/... - the important
>point is my ability to review, fix, contribute, modify, not the price

There is a slippery slope hiding here.  Although it is possible to pay
for distributions of Linux/FreeBSD/..., it is not necessary to pay in
order to use them.  (That is, versions are available over the Internet,
from friends, etc.)

In contrast, UNIX (TM) source code is available only under license.  I
remember hearing folks from universities and research laboratories tell
me to "just look at the source code" when I asked questions.  When told
that my license from Sun did not allow this, they generally sniffed and
moved on in search of more elevated society.

The easy availability of source code for BSD-Lite and GNU software lets
riff-raff like me into the game, greatly expanding the playing field.
It also "caps" the profits made by distributors, keeping the prices to
a fraction of (say) UNIX licensing costs.  In short, although freedom
from cost is not the only issue surrounding Open Source software, it
_is_ an important issue.


Rich Morin, Canta Forda Computer Laboratory | Prime Time Freeware - quality
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