Subject: Re: gdb
From: Brian Bartholomew <bb@wv.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 13:27:22 -0500

> The per seat cost of all of these tools put together is less than 1
> month's salary for an experienced programmer.

There is a useful amount of long-term consistancy to free software.
Free software doesn't have much pressure on it to change purely to
meet fashion or product differentiation goals.  Once a programmer
becomes good with a free tool, they stay good with it - the tool
doesn't change out from underneath them.  How much lost productivity
and retraining do you pay for when your toolset and OS change
drastically every year or two?  How often do you rewrite the same code
for a new environment?

I just ported a code package I assembled in 1993 from a 68K NeXT cube
to a modern AIX cluster.  The package contains 19 Meg of source
including ghostscript-2.5.2, pbmplus10dec91, tiff-3.0, local C
programs and shell scripts, and a Makefile harness.  The port took a
couple of days and mostly involved switching from BSD makefiles to AIX
makefiles, and commenting out typedefs for unsigned longs.

How long will your proprietary tools and codebase last before you must
replace them, retrain, and reimplement your existing functionality?
How about for any proprietary tools over any 4-year window?  Keeping
up with proprietary software has the appearance of treading water in
the deep end, while some of us are walking on the bottom.


Another member of the League for Programming Freedom (LPF) www.lpf.org
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Brian Bartholomew - bb@wv.com - www.wv.com - Working Version, Cambridge, MA