Subject: Re: Tim's paradigm shift
From: "La Monte H.P. Yarroll" <>
Date: Wed, 07 Jul 2004 10:20:14 -0400

Matt Asay wrote:


>So, while I gushed on and on about open distribution, Larry posed a
>troubling question:  "If that's such a big deal, how is it any better
>than simply giving the product away for free (no cost) over the
>Internet?"  I didn't know, and still don't. ...
>If anyone has thoughts, I'd love to hear them.  ...
I offer one datapoint--my personal perspective.

Prevents lock-In

As Jamie Lokier pointed out, the fact that other users CAN look at
the source is valuable to those who don't. I've been involved in too
many incidents of being a customer suffering from vendor lock-in.
I'd like to tie this back to Tim's core points, but I'm really

I use hundreds of packages, but have only modified a tiny fraction of
them. As a buyer for a business, I know that we COULD hire someone
to work on any piece of FLOSS we use to build our core business. This
is not true for gratis software. It's like buying insurance.

My other reasons are more specific to my particular profession:

Builds personal software history

As a professional developer, I want to work on FLOSS because it will
give me access to my own work for years to come. Over 90% of what
I've written in my career is now completely dead code--the companies
I wrote it for have either gone out of business or moved on to other
products. And not even I am permitted to use that code.

I find I do my best work on software that I actually use myself. It
just makes sense to use pieces that I'm guaranteed access to in the

Warm & Fuzzy

Working on FLOSS makes me feel very good about what I do for a living.
Using FLOSS makes me feel good about the tools I use. I don't think
this warm fuzzy feeling is restricted to developers. I suspect it is
a common enough phenomenon to be a significant econmic force.

I like Yonas Jongkind's analogy with organic food...

  Anyone who quotes me in their sig is an idiot. -- Rusty Russell's sig