Subject: Re: Paying for development on a services model?
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 14:45:25 +0900

>>>>> "Michael" == Michael Tiemann <tiemann@redhat.com> writes:

    Michael> Actually, I believe it was opened:
    Michael> http://sources.redhat.com/sourcenav/20000720-announce.html

But not by _Cygnus_.  That matters unless you are willing to assert
that the business models are similar before and after January 2000.

    Michael> If we decide to acquire them (for time-to-market or any
    Michael> other reason /except/ to have specifically a proprietary
    Michael> revenue stream), and then open them up over time (to get
    Michael> rid of ugliness, ensure that we achieve some level of
    Michael> first-mover advantage, etc),

Any revenue due to current proprietary protection resulting in first
mover advantage is proprietary revenue.  I don't think drawing
Scholastic distinctions here is useful; all of those reasons are
grey-area.

    Michael> are we still a legitimate FSB, or not?

If your primary purpose is to increase the amount of OSS in the world,
and you choose to finance that with a revenue stream from proprietary
software, you are a legit FSB as far as _I_ am concerned.  But for PR
purposes (your "primary purpose" is something between your and your
deity), you might want to avoid that perception if possible  ;-).

I've always advocated defining "FSB" as an activity that any firm can
participate in, rather than a state of grace that is achieved by a
whole corporate entity.  (See new .sig.)  Sure, it's useful to
distinguish degrees of FSBness.  Microsoft ain't.  Red Hat, most
definitely.  Aladdin or Sleepycat---uh, what's the context?---but
mostly yes.  IBM, not, but a gold star for effort.  And so on.  But
the primary definition should be "a business activity which is a
mission-relevant effort to produce free software."

All IMO, of course.  But you see how it frees Red Hat to act in the
best long-run interest of free software, however _you_ define it.  And
it allows us to class good citizens like Sleepycat and Aladdin as
full-fledged FSBs (albeit "impure").  One doesn't have to; rms surely
would not---he focuses on purity in all things.  But those of us with
different beliefs about "long-run interest" can do so.

    Michael> Put another way, if the grand plan of any proprietary SW
    Michael> acquisition is to expand the universe of open source with
    Michael> a fully open source solution, what is the status of the
    Michael> code while it's still in the womb?

The code's status is defined by the public licenses (if any), as always.

I think that as a practical matter an FSB will want to open most
proprietary codebases as quickly as possible.  For the usual reasons:
hacker goodwill, creating an open standard that is associated with the
company's brand, and so on.  In fact, that's how I would define an
FSB:

  a business whose core competence requires promoting free software.

-- 
University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences       Tel/fax: +81 (298) 53-5091
	  Don't ask how you can "do" free software business;
	  ask what your business can "do for" free software.