Subject: Re: Take this analogy and fix it (car repair? _not_)
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: 4 Jun 1999 13:08:54 -0000

Stephen J. Turnbull writes:
 >     rn> Okay, look at car repair.
 > I don't think this is a correct analogy.  I haven't liked it for a
 > while....  Freedom of software isn't about me buying some tools and
 > posting "Tune-ups: $25" on my lawn.  Software doesn't wear out, it
 > doesn't go out of tune, and it doesn't break in the present tense; any
 > analogy that requires that those characteristics are violated is
 > suspect.

No, but it needs to be worked on by a person with special skills and
training.  The item is one which most people have no interest in
becoming an expert in, and they rely on it to "just work" when they
hit the starter switch.

 > In fact it arrives broken---you just don't discover it for a while.
 > So if repair really matters, you're accusing vendors of deliberately
 > delivering broken software.  Regularly.  So they can make money on
 > service.  I just don't see it.  Does Microsoft really make money on
 > service contracts?

No.  They make money on new versions.  There are what, three versions
of "Windows 95" (sic), with varying degrees of bug fixedness.  You can
see that they don't try to make money on service contracts because
they give away their service packs.

 > I would think they make a lot more money on turning out
 > "Microsoft-certified" tekneeshuns than they do on service.  And in
 > fact they seem to be quite happy setting up lots of competition in the
 > repair business.

Huh?  And do these Microsoft-certified technicians actually get access 
to the source code?  Heck no, all they get to do is wax-n-shine the
finish and vacuum out the interior.

 > Seems to me it's more like the case of the electrician nailing the
 > wall on instead of using Velcro, making it relatively a lot cheaper to
 > hire him back two years later when you decide to string twisted pair
 > for your home network.
 > So where are the mass demonstrations for velcro wall fasteners?

Your analogy sucks because it's not that hard to pull nails from a
wall, and velcro isn't as strong.  It would require that Open Source
be inferior in some way.

Plus, you can't underestimate the power of ignorance.  Why don't
working people agitate against the minimum wage?  Because they don't
know that it hurts them, yet any economist will tell you it does.  Why
don't people insist that all software come with source code?  Because
they don't know it's possible for j. randoms to fix problems, yet any
programmer will tell you it is.

-russ nelson <>
Crynwr supports Open Source(tm) Software| PGPok | Good parenting creates
521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315 268 1925 voice | an adult, not a perfect
Potsdam, NY 13676-3213  | +1 315 268 9201 FAX   | child.