Subject: Re: Competition - What does it look like?
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 27 Mar 2002 14:56:07 -0800

Rene Kienzle <rkienzle@bigpond.net.au> writes:

> What I have been running up against is the issue of
> competition.

Free software projects compete for mindshare.  They do this both in
the sense of finding people to work on the project, and in the sense
of finding people to use the project.

Free software projects generally do not compete against each other in
terms of functionality, with some obvious exceptions.  After all, if
you want to build a better free widget sorter, and somebody else is
already building a free widget sorter, then you normally simply join
that project and make it better.

My view on some exceptions to this: 1) emacs vs. xemacs: the fork
started because the original project wouldn't do what the newcomers
wanted, and has continued for political reasons, and because nobody
has wanted to the hard work of merging the fork; 2) gcc vs. egcs: the
fork started because of disagreement over the maintainer, and was
healed when the maintainer was removed; 3) KDE vs. Gnome: the fork
started for licensing reasons, and has continued because of the
substantial amount of work done on both projects; 4) various browsers:
these are UI experiments, many based on the same code base from
Mozilla.

Anyhow, my point is, when free software projects compete directly
against one another on functionality, there is generally some
underlying historical reason for it.  It is not the natural state of
affairs, and I suspect it is going to be hard to study using a
statistical analysis of the form you propose.

It would be more interesting to analyze the mindshare issues: why do
some projects get it while other projects don't?

Ian