Subject: on "tax" (Re: improving project maintainership)
From: Tom Lord <>
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2002 13:18:11 -0800 (PST)


       Whoa.  "Tax" is a very strong word there. By the enclosure in "" I 
       take it to mean that you don't mean a real tax.  Did you really mean
       something closer to "ethical obligation"?

No.  I mean something closer to the "facilities costs" that
universities take off the top of research grants.

It is, however, "ethically consonant".  For reasons already stated,
the "tax" has a return and so it is a rational way to spend money from
a profit-making perspective.  From an engineering ethics perspective,
it also makes good sense.

	There's no business case for doing it

What is emerging is a pattern in which a lot of development happens
simultaneously at, for example, GNU, HP-or-HP/C, IBM, RH, Sun, and
among the volunteers-at-large.  That development is mediated through
"the public project": the 90s-and-later answer to the industry
consortiums of the 80s.  In effect, 5 big engineering organizations
plus a handful of tiny ones are joined into a single
meta-organization, where that meta-organization is, in effect,
supporting 5 different simultaneous releases while trying to keep
development coherent.  Failure modes of this arrangement include the
fragmenting of the meta-organization or its domination to the
detriment of the long term health of the code.  I've proposed (in
broad terms) a solution to those failure modes.


	In some cases, this already does happen; VA Linux, for
	instance, picked up a lot of good guys and paid them to
	maintain their projects full-time.

Which would seem to undermine your assertion that there is no business
case for it.  Please also note the various project foundations,
standards foundations, and project hosting funded by various FSBs and