Subject: Re: Can open source cost money?
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 17:43:33 +0200

Craig Burley wrote:
> And the Big Question for the free-software community these days is,
> is it precisely *because* Linux is GPL'ed and thus there is really
> only "one" Linux (with many variants, apparently), that led to Linux
> basically overtaking FreeBSD in the customer-acceptance arena?  Is
> the fact that worthwhile improvements to Linux almost *always* find
> their way back into free-Linux (usually without requiring an expensive
> re-engineering effort), while the same kinds of improvements to the
> BSD OS source base often *don't* find their way back into free-FreeBSD,
> one of the Big Reasons for why Forbes (among others) talk about Linux
> and not FreeBSD, and Linux gains market share (or is it seats, I forget)
> while no other OS but a MS one does so?

I don't have religion on this subject, but "channeling" what I've
heard from FreeBSD advocates, the real reason was that development
was suppressed for several years because of the AT&T lawsuit; once
that cloud was lifted, they argue that they've shown roughly the
same growth curve as Linux.

I don't know if that's true, but it's certainly credible.  It 
also makes the point that there are many possible reasons for
any particular success or failure; that's why historians still
argue about things that happened hundreds of years ago.

It's a good argument, though.  It would certainly be a good idea
to catalog case where the particulars of
licensing did or did not seem to play a significant
role in the success or failure of an open source

I can certainly see a lot of VERY successful products under
each type of license.

Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.  
101 Morris Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472   
707-829-0515 ext 266, Fax 707-829-0104,