Subject: Re: street performer protocol
From: Crispin Cowan <crispin@wirex.com>
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 23:01:41 +0000

"Stephen J. Turnbull" wrote:

> Sorry, I should be more clear.  I don't consider a Linux distribution
> a product of software development.  The product is (nearly) all
> packaging.

But this too defies empirical data.  Many (if not most) Linux distributions
do some kind of software development so that they can have some kind of
value-add to differentiate themselves.  Some add proprietary code (Corel Word
Perfect) while others add GPL'd code (Red Hat's RPM and GNOME).

This is the open source re-use effect at work:  because each of these 100
companies does *not* have to re-invent the wheel, they each are free to work
on some special feature that is not currently addressed by the community.


> Amazon.com knows nothing about publishing.  Linux distributors need to
> know more than that about development, of course, but their core
> skills are (IMO) closer to Amazon's than to Sun's.  Only a few will
> survive as pure free software businesses.

I don't believe that many companies will qualify as a pure free software
business by your terminology.  AbiWord is a notable exception, but it's not
clear that they will succeed.  It is much clearer that a hybrid model (part
packaging, part development, all free software) can succeed.


>     Crispin> Or a strategy focussed on packaging, distribution, and
>     Crispin> service.
>
> Explicitly abandoning development, I see.  That's not what we want!
> We want people making _big wins_[1] for _creating_ and _developing_
> products and contributing their source code to the community.

That's what a hybrid model would seem to deliver.

> Eg, AbiWord.  I hear nothing about AbiWord on any of my LUG MLs; but
> lots about Star Office and Word Perfect, both proprietary software
> AFAIK, although distributed in free-beer forms as I understand it.
> Can AbiWord really compete?

AbiWord will have a better chance of competing if/when it is non-Alpha code.
If it is already in Beta, then:

  1. My apologies for not paying attention.
  2. It's a marketing problem if AbiWord has gone into beta and it's a big
     secret :-)

Crispin
-----
Crispin Cowan, CTO, WireX Communications, Inc.    http://wirex.com
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