Subject: Re: freedom and human kindness (was Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software)
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Fri, 5 Nov 1999 01:24:26 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "rn" == Russell Nelson <> writes:

    rn> Stephen J. Turnbull writes:

    >> the opportunities created by free software are a proper subset
    >> of those created by proprietary software, in a "physical"
    >> sense.  All of those opportunities are available to firms
    >> dealing in proprietary software;

    rn> Right, but there are market segments (e.g. operating systems)
    rn> where the existing vendors have such a lock on the market,
    rn> that the most reliable way to enter the market is using free
    rn> software.  Hence Linux, and oh, I can't remember the name of
    rn> Cygnus's free embedded OS right now.

Granted.  My main point is that any open source technique is available 
to proprietary firms; if it really unlocks more value in a way that
can be captured in the revenue stream, a sufficiently smart
proprietary firm should be able to find a way to take advantage of it, 
too.  Watch'er backs, guys.

And I don't think eCos (IIRC, Cygnus's embedded OS) fits your model;
in embedded, reliability, customizability, and size all matter enough
that going open source/copyleft for those reasons might actually make
sense for the market leader even if basically proprietary in
orientation, at least in some market segments.  You can probably get
pretty close to the closed source price; you're still basically a
monopolist from the point of view of many of the potential clients,
who really don't want to write an OS themselves, or even customize a
free one.  And unlike your potential free software competitors, you
can still write a proprietary variant if a client is willing to pay
for the privilege, and release it free only after a period of time.

(This isn't really original; it is my interpretation of what somebody
from Cygnus, possibly DJ, posted earlier in a discussion of eCos,
except for the comment about monopoly.  ;-)

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."