Subject: Re: forking the list considered harmful (was Re: free software vs. open source)
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 10:54:55 -0800

Bruce Perens wrote:
> From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
> > it would be nice to have a less partisan tone from the GPL side of the house.
> You've can't be serious, Tim! Are you really unable to see partisanship on
> the other side? I sure can, and I've seen you in the middle of it before.

Of course there's partisanship on the other side.  But it's far more
subdued to my eye.  What I mean by that is you don't get hounded with
arguments till you get tired and go away.
> I also don't believe that Keith Bostick, Eric Allman, and Brian Behlendorf
> "wouldn't want to raise their heads for fear of getting them shot off".

OK.  "Shot off" is too strong -- although I have seen people jump in
from time to time, and then clearly just back off from argument not
because anyone has changed their mind, but because only the true
partisans have time and energy for sustained hair-splitting argument. 
The business-oriented people have better ways to spend their time.

> That goes against everything I know about them. Keith and Eric's business
> models are effectively documented on their web sites, too, if you are afraid
> that anyone is being protected from the truth by those awful GPL bandits.
> Certainly you have the means to publish Brian's observations.
Clearly, we all have lots of other calls on our time, and some people
don't find it productive to participate.  However, I ask myself why
people like this don't find it productive to participate.  And I stand
by my contention that one of the big reasons is that virtually any point
quickly degenerates from a discussion of business goals or opportunities
into whether or not said goal or opportunity is consistent with free
software orthodoxy.

This doesn't happen every time, but it happens enough to be a barrier to
entry to certain types of discussion.

Maybe some more pro-active moderation and seeding of discussion would
help.  I'd love just to see more presentations on the list of what
people are doing, and how they are using/not using free software in
their business.  For example, Bruce, you are now apparently a VC.  I
didn't realize that.  Can you tell us more about it.  What are you
looking for in your investments, how much money do you have under your
belt, and what kinds of constraints are you finding when actually
looking at companies?

Or Russ, you just said that you had a non-free product in the works. 
How and why are you making the tradeoffs between your use of free
software and non-free software?  What factors lead you to make a
decision one way or the other, and how do you evaluate whether or not
you made the right decision?

(I'd be happy to put together some thoughts on O'Reilly's non-free
software efforts, and why they are non-free, if people would be
interested to hear them.  I'd love to find a way to make them free, but
there are some obstacles that we are trying to work our way through. 
Similarly, I'd be happy to talk more about software or other projects
O'Reilly has developed that are free, why we made that decision, and
what factors we took into account.)

Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
101 Morris Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472
+1 707-829-0515, FAX +1 707-829-0104,