Subject: So what is an FSB anyway?
From: scottm@intime.intime.COM
Date: Tue, 2 Feb 93 18:29:48 PST

>>>>> Steven D Ourada <!sourada> writes:

>  o Are the GPL's ends (freely copyable + full source availability +
>    "virus" nature) the same as those needed by a FSB?

sdo| Full source availabilty is not necessarily something a FSB would
sdo| want.  Although it could be considered a conflict of interest (in
sdo| the sense used in another question below), a FSB could make more
sdo| money on support if it could effectively demand that customers
sdo| pay them for any changes made to the software. Of course, by
sdo| distributing the source, they can benefit from the changes made
sdo| by others.

If no full source code is available, then is the software free? Given
what I've read, that's contradictory to the FSB. (I'm sure I'll get
flamed or corrected on this one.)

sdo| It probably depends on the intended market: people using a
sdo| program as a tool for other work (say a secretary using a word
sdo| processor) wouldn't care to have source, and wouldn't change it
sdo| if they could; 'hacker types' who want to customize and fix
sdo| programs they use would want source. An FSB should take this into
sdo| account when deciding whether or not to distribute source.

How does this differ from a proprietary program, such as Lotus' 1-2-3,
which is extensible via (granted) a weak marco language? There has
been quite an economy generated in the number of macro packages to
extend or enhance the usefulness of a simple spreadsheet program.

>  o A FSB that sells support has an incentive to do a poor job (not
>    fix all the bugs).  Of course, they also have an incentive to do
>    a good job.  All in all, they need to keep their customers happy,
>    but they also have to give their customers a reason to continue
>    purchasing support.  In my experience, users who have no problems
>    have no need for support either.

sdo| Besides the examples you listed in markets other than software,
sdo| I'm pretty sure that there are at least a few software companies
sdo| (I won't mention names) that do a poor job intentionally so they
sdo| can make more money off updates. If they are careful and have
sdo| good marketing, they can even make the bugginess of their
sdo| software a _positive_ virtue in the eyes of customers :-). I
sdo| would hope that FSB's would concentrate on better ways to keep
sdo| customers interested in using their support.

I presume that you're referring to the "Gates in the Sky?" :-) If
source code is distributed, what incentive do I have for getting
support except in the case where the complexity of the program is
large enough that it cannot be handled even by mere mortals (i.e.

sdo| I don't have any stats on what portion of support is bug fixing
sdo| (does someone on the list?), but I'm sure that there are ways to
sdo| make money off support without leaving bugs hanging around on
sdo| purpose.

You leave out customization as another process. Otherwise, you'd have
generic free software, which I can buy elsewhere with comparable

What other "invisible hand" motivations are there for creating free
software, other than circumventing the patent process? Obviously, in
the programmer tools niche, there is quite a demand for GNU tools,
because they range on so many different platforms. However, once you
escape outside that arena, it's quite a different story.

sdo|                      Later,
sdo|                     Steven Ourada
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