Subject: Re: gdb
From: kragen@pobox.com (Kragen)
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 10:05:42 -0500 (EST)

On Thu, 18 Dec 1997, Bernard Lang wrote:
> >     No.  For large outfits, the overhead of one person becoming the
> >     expert on the location, care and feeding of free software which
> > 
> > This is true only in a short-term analysis.  If, in the long term, the
> > free software delivers real value, the organization becomes hostage to
> > the single person (who may decide to cash in their options and start an
> 
>   Could you elaborate. I am of course talking about freeed (aka libre)
> software, (or even GPL/FPL, if you insist). Then how can one become
> hostage. Of course you cannot expect your every wishes to be satisfied
> by someone who does not get paid. But you are still freeer than with
> leash-ware (the price being irrelevant in this issue).
>   Or did I miss something ?

Well, it takes time -- as L. P. Deutsch has been pointing out -- to figure
out how to download, install, and make usable poorly-packaged software.
Trying to figure out what ``static Motif'' is, fighting with LessTif bugs,
trying to locate a GUI frontend to gdb in the first place, all takes time,
and perhaps (in a company) money would be better spent buying
well-packaged software than paying someone to cope with poorly-packaged
software.

You pointed out that only one person need do this in a large outfit, and
the benefits can then accrue to the whole organization.

Mr. Tiemann's point is that this poses a risk to the company: that one
person can get up and leave, leaving the company unable to (say) upgrade
ddd, or fix bugs in it.

There are other options, of course; I'm setting up CVS at my company, and
am doing extensive-enough documentation that, hopefully, my company will
not be stranded if I leave.  Also, I'm trying to keep my colleagues
apprised of what I've learned, so if I leave, they'll know what I've done.
It takes much less time to read an email that says:

 ddd is the front-end for gdb you want; it needs Motif, but works with
 LessTif 0.72 and greater, except that 0.something and greater currently
 have bugs in them that make ddd not work; patches for these bugs are
 available at <this URL>; ddd source is available at <this URL>; a binary
 of ddd for <system x> with statically-linked Motif libraries, which don't
 require a run-time license, is available at <this URL>; a binary of ddd
 for <system y> with dynamically-linked Motif libraries, which we have
 installed on our <system y>, is available at <this URL>. 

than it evidently does to find all this out for oneself by searching the
net.

Kragen