Subject: Re: contra-ESR and the principle of infinite exploitation
From: Adam Di Carlo <>
Date: 30 Dec 1998 11:44:00 -0500

[Just back from vacation]

"Ian" == Ian Lance Taylor <> writes:
>>    However, I think ESR's analysis is fundamentally flawed, and
>> moreover, is predicated on an economic principle which is not
>> sustainable: something for nothing.  This applies mostly to the
>> "Loss Leader" category from ESR's
>> <URL:>.

> Getting something for nothing is characteristic of all pyramid
> schemes.

Interesting -- it's true.  I hadn't thought of that.

>>    [ Notably missing from those business models, BTW, is the
>> integrator model.  Our company, onShore, Inc., is such a model -- we
>> integrate free software whenever it makes sense and provides a
>> better solution.  And of course we're active participants in the
>> community. ]

> My read of is that onShore uses a consulting model.
> ESR is really addressing companies which write their own code.

We do both. We write code and re-use (sometimes GPL'd) code.

>  So the question for onShore is: what happens with code that you
> write yourselves, rather than code written by others that you reuse?

Well, in certain situations, we are required to GPL code.  In certain
situations, our contract with our clients give them ownership.  In
other cases, we GPL it on our own; in most cases the code is not
packaged nor really packagable and it retains a standard copyright by

I think the profit model of our system is pretty much directly
proportional to our man-hours, so we aren't going to see M$-style
profits in our company.

>>    The flaws in his arguemnts also indicates, to me, that he doesn't
>> seem to understand the fundmental motives of the free software
>> community.  That motive is to participate and increase a community
>> of sharing.

> There is no one motive, though I agree that that is a significant
> one.  ESR's ``Homesteading the Noosphere'' paper
> describes another
> motive.

> (While I think the homesteading paper has some interesting and valid
> points, I think it overgeneralizes drastically.  I think I've made
> some reasonably significant open source contributions in my day, and
> I homesteaded UUCP software pretty well several years ago, but I
> don't think my goals were ever prestige or peer repute.  For me,
> those are not goals, but rather tools which may be used to simplify
> further work, in that in certain specific areas people listen
> seriously to what I have to say.)

Yes, very good point.  The main reason the homesteading argument bugs
me is that it is based on a rabid individualistic point of view, which
in a lot of ways is quite contrary to the free software movement

.....Adam Di<URL:>