Subject: Re: Successful FSBs
From: "Benjamin J. Tilly " <>
Date: Tue, 01 Oct 2002 16:40:54 +0500

"Tim O'Reilly" <> wrote:
> On 9/30/02 12:20 AM, "Stephen J. Turnbull" <> wrote:
> > I have a problem with that argument.  It basically amounts to "for
> > lack of a name, these companies are totally missing the fundamental
> > dynamics of their businesses."  I find that unlikely.
> Not for lack of a name, for lack of sustained argument that they should give
> back because their businesses depend on the continued success of free
> software.  Consider google.  I know for a fact that they are now on
> Microsoft's "competitor list".  If they were using Microsoft software, don't
> you think that the squeeze would already be on?  Recognizing that your
> survival is tied up with the survival of the ecosystem around the software
> you use should make these types of companies very concerned about the
> further success of free software.  Yet I tend to find myself the only free
> software/open source advocate regularly making that point.

What do you think that Google should be doing?  Should
they do some publicity stories so that other people who
need big server farms use Linux, making Google not
having to play flycatcher?  Should they test Linux?
Should they give clear bug reports?

I thought they did all of these things.

What else do we want them to do?  I would love it if
they open sourced their search technology, but frankly I
understand why they don't.  I wish that they would
reserve some space on their front page for links to
organizations that help them (a couple of Linux links, a
reference to chillingeffects, etc).  But I also
understand that their strong commitment to not
cluttering that page is one of the best things about
them.  (But they have less excuse for not cluttering

Incidentally I find the competitor list news interesting,
and it would be good to see that kind of thing mentioned
more often publically.  (Though many people might be
inclined to falsely dismiss it as paranoia.)

  These guys just
> aren't on the radar of most FS people -- because they aren't doing the
> software distribution thing.  Getting folks to recognize that distribution
> is no longer an adequate trigger for the license is only step one -- there
> needs to be a change of mindset among most free software advocates, so that
> they cast a wider net, and think more about who their friends and allies
> ought to be, rather than deciding who isn't pure enough to be at the party.

They are on my radar.  I just don't think they should be
asked to do more without a clear idea what they are
going to be asked for and why.  The worst possible
result is that they get the impression that whatever they
do they will be accused of not doing enough.  Better then
to just hide and hope you aren't noticed...

> It's the exclusionary, boundary-driven definitions that bother me.  We need
> a definition driven by a gravitational core, recognizing that the field gets
> attenuated the farther someone is from that core, but owning its influence
> all the way out to the stars.
If it works like gravity, then it falls off as distance
squared and soon is invisible.  Even if it dominates
your motion, keeping you in orbit, in daily life what
you might notice is the tidal pull which falls off as
distance cubed.

The influence is owned but quickly becomes seen as
background noise.
> > 
> > As far as I can tell, your argument is equivalent to saying that all
> > businesses involved in software to date have completely missed the
> > boat, and fail to recognize the benefits of supporting free software.
> Not at all.  Many companies don't depend on free software, and instead gain
> advantage from proprietary software.  My point is that those whose
> businesses *depend* on using and "performing" free software should be seen
> as free software businesses, and engaged with as such.

There is justice in that comment.  The question is how
to engage, and what to suggest.  The OSI is one answer
that I think has worked out fairly well...

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