Subject: Re: OT-ness and a new list? (Was: Opportunity lost?...)
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
Date: Wed, 16 May 2001 13:53:44 -0700

Adam Theo wrote:

> during the discussion on open source licensing, it was recommended to
> me to read "the magic cauldron" by eric raymond. i did so, and came to
> believe in the promise of "patronage" as a viable, main source of
> income for a large percentage of developers. i have become a believer,
> in a sense, of the potential of the patronage system as he describes
> in his essay, although feel it is just in it's beginnings, and not
> reached it's full potential as the financial support model for
> developers it can become.

To me, Eric's key business model point has always been that more
software is built for use than for sale.  All of the most successful
businesses in the open source realm are *users* of open source.  The
entire ISP industry is based on selling access to services (email, web,
domain name services) that are based on open source.  Not to mention
businesses like Yahoo! that build their higher level services on an open
software platform.

I find myself completely baffled by the failure of the hardcore open
source community (or really the free software community, which focuses
so much on Linux) to acknowledge and own its real business successes,
while endlessly focusing on the markets (the windows desktop) where open
source not only has a steep uphill climb but also a less compelling
business model.  We continually play into Microsoft's hands by treating
their business model as the given.  All the while, they have been
working to come up with a proprietary alternative to the internet
technologies that *have* been the basis of open source business models
so they can knock them out.

It's a complete reversal of what should have happened.  Now, once again,
the open source community is playing catch up (at least in public
perception, because as usual there are lots of interesting, powerful,
grassroots projects doing real work in this area), because Microsoft has
articulated a vision of the future we were in fact building towards,
while we were busy reinforcing the view that they were the ones to beat.

Open source has long moved beyond Windows in the markets and businesses
it's created.  We just don't acknowledge our own impact.

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