Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1999 15:15:39 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Bernard" == Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr> writes:

    Bernard> On Tue, Oct 26, 1999 at 12:22:46AM +0900, Stephen
    Bernard> J. Turnbull wrote:
    Ben> Additionally free software allows the distribution of those
    Ben> costs through a much wider audience than would otherwise be
    Ben> the case.

    >> That works for a while, but not after free software hits the
    >> majority of the market.  Then you need a silver bullet to get
    >> more resources.  What is it?

    Bernard> At the risk of repeating myself ... how do you explain
    Bernard> the development of mathematics ? How is it funded.

How do I explain it?  "It's too slow, only people who think it's fun
do it."  How is it funded?  "Poorly."

    Bernard> The reason you accept the development model of
    Bernard> mathematics is because it is harder to make it
    Bernard> proprietary ... and there is no other reason, because
    Bernard> there is essentially no difference.

Yup.  If I knew of a way to get more development of mathematics that
would actually work, I'd advocate it.  :-)

    >> Under the (somewhat unrealistic) assumption that free software
    >> doesn't result in development efficiencies, these methods will
    >> result in underfunding of software development unless the
    >> entire relevant user community is induced to join.

    Bernard> One has every reason to believe that proprietary
    Bernard> developement is a lot more inefficient ... reuse is
    Bernard> forbidden between competing product.

What do you think a patent pool is?  What do you think sale of
proprietary libraries is?  What do you think publication of external
protocols and APIs is?

Sure, it is nice if you can share the new code directly.  But every
proprietary program that runs on an operating system shares the kernel 
and the libc!  That's not insignificant.  And the circle of
functionality without which you cannot be a self-respecting OS
continually expands, meaning more and more code-sharing at that level.

The correct phrasing is "reuse of proprietary software is restricted," 
and it is very much an open question as to how much inefficiency that
restriction introduces compared to actual practice in free software.

    Bernard> modularization is far from marginal ... neither is
    Bernard> promoting/enforcing standards. Multi-granularity
    Bernard> competition is another. Effective debugging (and I am
    Bernard> sticking to what concerns development).

It _is_ marginal in the sense that the best-practice proprietary firms
do it too.

-- 
University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
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What are those two straight lines for?  "Free software rules."