Subject: Re: Exploring the limits of free software
From: "D. V. Henkel-Wallace" <gumby@zembu.com>
Date: Tue, 25 May 1999 23:00:05 -0700

At 14:20 26-05-99 +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> >>>>> "g" == D V Henkel-Wallace <gumby@zembu.com> writes:
>
>     g> EGCS, Apache and Linux currently avoid this problem through
>     g> luck, design, and good maintainers, but I wonder if sXc will be
>     g> able to do the same.  With money involved, there'll be a
>     g> temptation for some to say "I paid for this to put it in" or
>     g> "they are not putting this in because of financial issues."
>
>But other people who paid for timely delivery will say "you want it,
>pay for the time overrun" in the first case or "you want it, pay for
>it or code it yourself" in the latter.  Ie, it will come down to the
>same kind of political tug-of-war we know and love already; the
>weights on the participants will be proportional to financial strength
>rather than programming prowess or status as original author or
>official maintainer.  Don't like that?  Don't use sXc, that's all.  Or
>write contracts with explicit provisions about who decides (voting and
>non-voting shares, eg).

That wasn't the point I was referring to:

I put up an rfp on sXc: I need someone to add VBscript support to gdb.  I 
find someone to do it.
I get the work I paid for.

The gdb maintainers later reject it, perhaps because it's poorly written 
(likely) or perhaps (as I suspect because the hypothetical me is paranoid) 
for ideological reasons.  So it stops working in the next release and I get 
pissed off.

I can't complain to the guy I paid to write it: he wouldn't sign a contract 
dependent on the gdb maintainers who aren't party to the contract (or else 
I'd have to pay them too, leading to a far greater can of worms).

I don't see how the weight in this case can be proportional to the 
financial involvement, unless I have enough money to not care about 
compatiblity with the net (an approach some companies do in fact take).

>(except that Linux is a
>single project that has reached the "scale-well-or-implode" stage---I
>suspect it has passed the test).

You mean it's passed the "turnbull test?"  Perhaps you should change your 
name to "Alan Turnbull"....!