Subject: Re: Would people pay to choose what gets developed next?
From: Brian Behlendorf <>
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001 13:11:39 -0800 (PST)

> At 2:49 PM -0500 2/26/01, DJ Delorie wrote:
> >Is it feasible to hold back the direction of technical progress?
> >Would people pay to choose what gets developed next?  I'm not talking
> >about contract engineering, but of basic research and development.

This is more about contract engineering, granted: our experience with
sourceXchange (which has been pretty much shuttered, our current focus @CN
is on hosted development tools) has been that if companies see a
particular open source tool as so fundamental to their operations that
they're willing to spend money on improving it, they want the accumulated
knowlege that comes from that process to remain "in-house", instead of
losing it by paying an outsider to perform said task for them.  This isn't
an ironclad rule, but the exceptions are too few to build a business upon.
Whether this is also true for a company or non-profit that "owns" the
development roadmap, I'm not sure; I do know we're making bank by
extending our free tools to meet specific customer requirements, but
within the context of long-term hosting.

> BTW, there was an issue with this sort of "directed development" a few
> years ago.  As I recall, RMS was concerned that Cygnus would concentrate
> on things that its customers wanted, to the possible detriment of the
> needs of the rest of the user community.  I think that Cygnus sailed
> through that moral quagmire pretty cleanly, but others might not.

I don't see any moral quagmire - developers & their communities are free
to scratch their own itches only, and are under no obligation to scratch
someone else's.