Subject: Re: the GCC steering committee
From: kragen@pobox.com (Kragen Sitaker)
Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 19:29:37 -0500 (EST)

Jonathan Shapiro writes:
> [Tom writes]
(actually, it was Ian)
> > Part of
> > leadership is integrating contributed changes.
> 
> While understand what Tom
(Ian)
> is trying to say, we are talking about different types of
> leadership. The only leadership that matters is leadership in the
> eyes of the customer. The customer deeply doesn't care who provides
> the changes. They care about results. Therefore, in the "capital is
> king" view of open source, the leadership incentives do not include
> integrating changes if one can do enough work solo to keep the
> customer focused on the idea that you are the leader.

Leadership in the eyes of customers includes integrating contributed
changes that have value to those customers.

Since the customer doesn't care who provides the features, but they do
care that the features happen (since you're not just competing with
other forks of the project, but other free and nonfree projects as
well) the "leadership incentives" include "incentives" to integrate,
approximately, any good changes that are less work to integrate than
they would have been to do yourself.

"Good" here is relative to the customers; if your customer cares a lot
about changes that make the kernel stable but not at all about changes
that make the kernel run better on MIPS and ARM chips, you'd be
foolish to spend all your time integrating other people's MIPS and ARM
changes instead of doing your own stability changes.

Credible forks may not undermine your leadership, but they will surely
provide you with competition; so it's in your best interest as an FSB
to prevent credible forks.  With free-software licenses, the best way
to do that is to keep people from wanting to fork.  (There are other
ways, such as attacking other forks in public statements or behind
closed doors, creating legal hassles for them, and trying to keep
other people from developing sufficient expertise in your software to
fork it; while most of these have been tried at one time or another,
they all have significant business downsides.)

-- 
<kragen@pobox.com>       Kragen Sitaker     <http://www.pobox.com/~kragen/>
Silence may not be golden, but at least it's quiet.  Don't speak unless you
can improve the silence.  I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.
-- ancient philosopher Syrus (?) via Adam Rifkin, <adam@cs.caltech.edu>