Subject: Opportunities for free software businesses
From: yci@NETCOM.COM (Yggdrasil Computing)
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 93 03:07:22 -0800

       As some of you know, my company, Yggdrasil Computing,
Incorporated, sells a free Linux/GNU/X-based unix clone for PC
compatibles on CDROM.  The alpha release of this system has been
shipping since December 8th, and the beta release should ship
tomorrow.

	With all of the discussion about what services a viable free
software business can offer and how to attract business, I'd like to
suggest a few ways in which Yggdrasil can help.

	First of all, if your business offers a service in relation to
the Yggdrasil Linux/GNU/X distribution, I will list contact
information and a brief description of the services you offer in the
manual.  While I am perfectly happy to accept vague descriptions such
as "we sell support", I would prefer to see listings that give the
reader some new ideas and give some indication of why it is in the
reader's interest to hire you.  Here are some imaginary examples:

		Freebase Inc. can write custom X windows front ends
		for your database using Tk and Tcl.  We also offer
		general consulting and support services.
		[Tcl, Tk, + drag-and-drop and hypertext support
		are on the L/G/X beta release]

		TeX Sevices Inc. can set up and support your
		documentation department to use TeX and ghostscript.
		We will	configure your PC's with a unix clone with
		facilities for editing and previewing with X windows,
		file sharing with NFS, and printing.
		[NFS is on the beta release.  X, TeX and xdvi have
		been on from the beginning.]

		Do you have a device that you want to interface to
		the Yggdrasil L/G/X operating system?  If so, call
		Babble Systems.
		
		Telecompute Inc. can set up and administer an employee
		telecommuting program which helps not only the
		environment but also productivity and morale.  We
		can preconfigure and support PC workstations running
		L/G/X in your employees' homes for SL/IP connections
		to your business via a commercial internet provider
		or through your own modem facilities.
		[There is an alpha SLIP source tree on the beta CD,
		but it currently breaks the kernel so it isn't
		integrated in.  Hopefully, it'll be in the production
		release.]

	I would like to assemble a bunch of free software businesses
that are committed to offering support for the Yggdrasil Linux/GNU/X
operating system when the first production release comes out.  I would
like to incorporate information about the support vendors into the
announcements about the production release.  I think that the first
commercial free operating system will be news enough to be picked up
by a lot of publications, so this is potentially a pretty big
opportunity to publicize your company.

	I firmly believe that a free operating system with commercial
support will allow free software businesses together to present a
credible and understandable alternative to proprietary operating
systems, which enormously boost not only the visibility but also the
credibility of free software businesses, particularly the ones
offering support for this tangible alternative to proprietary
operating systems.

	In addition to all of this free publicity, you can also buy
advertising in the Yggdarsil Linux/GNU/X manuals.  You don't need to
be a service vendor to buy advertising.  For example, you might want
to sell CDROM's that would be a logical follow-on purchase for some
people who buy the Linux/GNU/X operating system (after all 100% of
these people have access to CDROM drives and can be presumed to be
unix fans and probably free software fans too).  For now, I want to
sell only black-and-white full pages at twenty cents per copy of the
initial production run.  For example, there are 250 copies of the beta
release, so a page in the beta manual would cost $50 were it not for
the fact that the beta manuals have already been printed.

	In comparison, a four color page in Unix World is approximately
ten cents per qualified reader, but Unix World comes out monthly and
the L/G/X manual is something that comes out quarterly and is likely
to sit next the computer on which the system is running during those
three months and be browsed frequently, since it contains the ~80 page
Linix Frequently Asked Questions list.

	I am considering rolling out the production release at
UniForum (March 17-19).  Perhaps we could have some sort of
coordinated presence at the show.  For example, we could rent a "how
free software can help your business" booth, assuming that some of you
have answers to that question.  This would be an opportunity for you
talk face to face with a few of your potential customers and would
also be a boost for your credibility.  On the other hand, the key word
is "coordinated."  If you have a booth, it seems to me that you should
have something to say to people who stop at the booth and preferably
some literature too.

	I suspect that there are a lot of opportunities for free
software businesses.  On the other hand, I think that things are so
open right now that free software businesses must concern themsevles
not only with soliciting customers, but also with defining what
exactly their businesses are.  I, for one, would like to hear more
about other people's ideas and where they expect to go with their
ideas in the near future.

Adam J. Richter
Yggdrasil Computing, Incorporated