Subject: Re: FW: Why would I pay for Ximian software?
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 03 Jan 2002 00:01:05 -0800

"Perry E. Metzger" <> writes:

> We would expect that since proprietary software is much more expensive
> to buy and use than open source software, that it would lose market
> share if it had the same level of functionality. In an environment
> where proprietary and non-proprietary software compete under similar
> levels of functionality, we would expect that with time the
> non-proprietary software would win. In fact, I think this is (rather
> rapidly by many standards) happening. The fact is that at this point,
> GCC has destroyed most of the market for C compilers on non-Windows
> platforms, ISS is a second to Apache, and Linux based servers are
> probably the single biggest threat to Microsoft's dominance of the
> server market. Since there isn't yet a reasonable OSS desktop for
> ordinary users (I'm going to get flamed to death for that one but I'm
> not interested in debating it) it is not surprising that we don't yet
> see market penetration there, but I would expect that a truly friendly
> OSS desktop (with a really good set of personal productivity apps)
> would win very easily.

But there already is a reasonable gratis desktop for ordinary users:
Windows.  I own a copy of Windows which I never explicitly paid for;
it simply came with my computer.  Similarly, there is a reasonable OSS
browser, but Microsoft is growing market share with its proprietary

I would agree with a statement rather different from yours: in an
environment where gratis and non-gratis software compete under similar
levels of functionality, we would expect that with time the non-gratis
software would win.

(Of course it's true that Windows and IE are not really gratis, since
Microsoft has increased the price of my computer.  But as a consumer I
don't see the price differential, and in fact the price does not go up
by a significant percentage.)

> In a similar vein, it is often said that we need government in order
> to deal with situations in which there are externalities and market
> failure, such as the market for defense. A systematic understanding of
> ways to avoid needing government to deal with such externalities might
> well radically reshape human liberty for the better.

First turn the problem of defense into a problem of law enforcement by
either having many very small countries/city-states or incorporating
everybody into a single worldwide nation.  Then have a market in law
enforcement services in which people can choose the vendor and
protection level they wish.

I mean, if you don't want government, you have to eliminate nations.
They are just too large or too small to be workable.