Subject: Re: Value returned from free(d) software
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: 3 Dec 1997 18:19:24 -0000

L. Peter Deutsch writes:
 > The reason I think this is interesting is that to some extent, libre
 > software falls outside traditional economic analysis, and I think the above
 > indicates part of the reason it does so, namely that for developers, the
 > desire to maximize profit (value received minus value spent) doesn't apply
 > to the use-value of the software.

Nahhhh.  You can't solely count the value in financial terms.  Nobody
forces people to write freed software; therefore they MUST feel a
benefit to writing the software.  Perhaps it's just warm fuzzies, but
people do a lot of different things to get warm fuzzies.  Perhaps it's
an expectation that other people will also free their software.
Perhaps it's payback for other freed software, e.g. (large telecom
company) let me free the qmail pop3 bulletin software out of a
recognition that they got a big free ride from the rest of qmail being
(partially) libre.  Perhaps it's something needed by a customer who
doesn't care if it's freely copyable or not?

 > This leads to another interesting
 > question:
 > 	How do you feel about the financial compensation that you've
 > 	gotten back from your activity of developing libre software?

It's been very lucrative for me.  I've made an above-industry income
every year but the first year.

 > Someone posted here a couple of days ago (approximately): "The free software
 > model has failed as an economic model, since it can't pay the rent."  I
 > wonder how representative this is.

I think that *some* freed software can pay very well.  In particular,
software that is OEM'ed by proprietary software or hardware
manufacturers, e.g. Crynwr packet drivers, Aladdin Ghostscript, and
Cygnus Solutions GNU system.

-russ <>  | Freedom is the
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