Subject: Economics of software distribution
From: nick@NSIS.CL.NEC.CO.JP (Gavin Thomas Nicol)
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 93 08:29:29 JST

>> in their home, if only they were coordinated. Wouldn't it be great if
>> everyone helped each other rather than reinventing the wheel?
>It would. But people have "good" reasons not to give away the sources:
>  - I don't want several versions floating around, becaus people are going to
>    hack them up and I will be blamed.
>  - I use a lot of neat tricks and I want to keep them for myself.

  I understand these. I've been tempted by them myself....

>A friend of mine, who gives away free binaries but not sources, answered the
>Don't forget that there are as many free binaries as shareware
> programs, if not more. It is not that people don't feel like giving
>away their work, but they don't like giving away sources.

  Yep. I'll tell you where such things (and shareware) fail. I have an
  MSDOS machine, but it isn't an IBM compatible. *A lot* of software
  directly manipulates the hardware, so it can be used without *binary
  level groveling and patches*. This problem also shows up in supposedly
  "generic" MSDOS programs that have been compiled with something like a
  Borland product which uses direct video writes by default, and these
  supposedly clever programmers didn't figure out that they need to turn
  such behaviour off if they want to make it really generic.

  Another thing is that most programmers really don't think about any
  language other than english. Without source, who can fix a piece of
  software so that it handles Japanese? Perhaps we need compilers to
  leave "a little at the end" for binary patches?

  A lot of freeware/shareware is useless to me unless I get source.