Subject: Re: funding indirect services (tangent)
From: kmself@ix.netcom.com
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2000 01:11:10 -0700
Mon, 21 Aug 2000 01:11:10 -0700
On Mon, Aug 21, 2000 at 01:18:43PM +0900, Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
> >>>>> "Brian" == Brian Behlendorf <brian@collab.net> writes:
> 
>     Brian> On Fri, 4 Aug 2000 Ben Tilly@trepp.com wrote:
> 
>     >> At issue here is a far more subtle question.  The question is
>     >> who gets to make the design decisions and why.  The application
>     >> of money is the usual strategy of companies.  The application
>     >> of programming effort is likewise the strategy of hackers.
>     >> Should they seriously disagree, then you get into thorny
>     >> issues.
> 
> I'm with Ben on this: money changed the path of XEmacs development.
> Whether it will have had a long-run impact remains to be seen.
> 
> I personally think this is a good thing, because it brings resources
> into the community.  However, it does change the nature of the
> community and of its decision-making process.  Many developers and
> open source users do not like that.

There's a flipside to this.  Several companies (Sun and Apple come to
mind) have expressed concerns over control over standards or other fears
of independent (or competitor-driven) forking of free software projects.

Sun appears to be coming to terms with this, at least on a piecemeal
basis, with its announcements regarding StarOffice and support for
Gnome.  Apple's license for Darwin is, IIRC, incompatible with both BSD
*and* the GPL, though I'd consider Darwin a more core technology than
either of the Sun examples.  We'll see what's done with Java and Solaris
in upcoming months.  Even RMS has been making vaguely favorable noises
about Sun though, which is impressive in itself.

> As for "subtle," I think it  is  subtle.  I know at least two active
> Linux developers who have abandoned Linux for the purer fields of *BSD
> because they don't like the impact that they perceive money to be
> having on the decisions made by people like Dave Miller and Alan Cox.
> Other people praise the Linux vendors for the great freedom they give
> Miller and Cox.  That is a subtle distinction that different observers
> will make differently.

...and how many *good* developers are being *brought* to Linux by the
participation (and financial contributions) of Sun, HP, IBM, RedHat, VA,
and others?  I suspect the balance is positive, not that we shouldn't be
on guard against undue influence.

<...>

>     Brian> If a commercial vendor "feeds" off of an open source
>     Brian> project (repackages it for inclusion in their product,
>     Brian> provides support for it, etc) then any needs they have that
>     Brian> aren't met by the project need to be provided separately;
>     Brian> either by their own fork/distribution, patches, etc.  Of
>     Brian> course it's in their interests to not have to do this, so
>     Brian> they are incented to provide those patches back to the
>     Brian> project in a form the project finds acceptable.
> 
> Why can't a commercial vendor  create  de novo a whole open source
> project, lock, stock, and barrel, by staffing it with employees?
> Isn't that more or less what mozilla.org is?  Wouldn't it be a better
> world if more of them did?

This is by and large what is being done by:

    - OpenSales
	- Helix
	- Eazel
	- Jabber
	- Sendmail
	- Plan9 / Lucent

...and, yes, Mozilla.  Projects vary.  OpenSales is evolved from an
in-house product.  Helix spun off an existing free software project, as
did Sendmail.  Eazel is a hybrid:  new project layered on an existing
one.  Jabber is AFAIK, de novo.  Mozilla started from an existing
proprietary product (and trashed the whole thing), Plan9 looks like a
last gasp for life from a dying (but elegant) project and management
which may or may not give a damn.

The situation is an interesting one, an you have to look at what the
advantages of open source are or aren't, and what the goals of an open
source project are.  It's possible for a company to foot the bill
entirely and still not play the community relationship game right -- the
strategy *should* be carefully considered.

-- 
Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>     http://www.netcom.com/~kmself
 Evangelist, Opensales, Inc.                    http://www.opensales.org
  What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?   Debian GNU/Linux rocks!
   http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/    K5: http://www.kuro5hin.org
GPG fingerprint: F932 8B25 5FDD 2528 D595 DC61 3847 889F 55F2 B9B0


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