Subject: Re: Do We Need a New Evangelist
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 1 Apr 1999 11:10:06 -0500

   Date: 1 Apr 1999 13:42:53 -0000
   From: Russell Nelson <>

   Bob Weiner writes:
    > Since the very essence of Open Source is that the technology should be free
    > (libre) for anyone to apply to their specific needs (if others' freedoms are
    > not harmed), then arguing that an organization that markets OSS and therefore

    > seeks to spread its use more broadly is somehow unfairly exploiting others'
    > work is simply a non sequitor.

   Everybody who works with libre software should go read Eric Raymond's
   _Homesteading the Noosphere_ paper.

   If he's right (and I'm not going to argue that he is; read it for
   yourself), then people write libre software expecting to be paid in
   reputation.  So, free software is more of a misnomer than people
   think, AND it is quite possible to unfairly exploit libre software by
   denying the authors the proper credit.

I don't think he is right, or, rather, I think he focuses on one
particular motivation, but by doing so misses many others.  What he
describes as a contradiction between stated philosophy and action I
personally see as no contradiction at all.

Of course I do agree that it is wrong to deny proper credit to the
authors of software.  To do otherwise is to implicitly claim other's
work as your own, or, in other words, plagiarism.

But I, at least, do not think that Red Hat is exploiting me by
shipping my UUCP package, even though they changed its name in the RPM
and in their installation manual from my eponymous choices of
names--``Taylor UUCP'' or ``GNU/Taylor UUCP''--to simply ``GNU UUCP.''
I noticed, obviously, but my feelings are more along of the lines of
``ah well, guess I won't bother showing this manual to Mom'' rather
than, say, ``those Red Hat bastards are stealing my reputation.''  The
important thing is that they are shipping it, and thus greatly
expanding the number of people who might benefit from my work.
Moreover, there have, of course, been many contributors to the UUCP
code over the years, and yet I have never heard what would have been a
very fair complaint that their work was being hidden under my name.

(As it happens, I think the fact that finds it more
meaningful to list large vendors rather than widely used free software
packages leads me right back to my vague ramblings over the last
couple of days about the differences between free software and open
source software.)

I'm not sure if any of this addresses Ben Laurie's original point.

   It also predicts that the most successful free software authors will
   have, in addition to their programming skills, an ability to market
   themselves to get the credit they seek.  My conclusion, then, is that
   a marketing organization can get more free software by explicitly
   "paying" for its free software through increasing the author's

I think there are many highly successful free software authors with no
marketing skills whatsoever.  I was fortunate enough to work with
several at Cygnus.  Of course, I suppose it depends upon what
``successful'' means in this context; if you define it to mean
``become well known through your work,'' then I agree that marketing,
or any rate self-promotional, skills are required.  However, if you
define it as something along the lines of ``producing code that people
use'' then matters are quite different.

I certainly do agree that in order to make money at free software, you
must have solid marketing skills, or you must ally yourself with
others who do, such as by going to work for one of the larger FSBs.