[long] Legal traps in open source

Steve Jenkin sjenkin at pcug.org.au
Fri Nov 1 18:18:01 EST 2002


Thanks for your thoughtful input!

Yes - I agree with you on all points.
- software & physical construction _are_ completely different
- it takes very little 'capital' to create open source vs huge capital to create a
  [and as much time as you have for both]
- and the development & test/review models for commercial devel & opensrc wildly
  [and I sometimes wonder how _anything_ good ever comes out of 'closed'

So we agree :-)

Another phrasing for what I meant that might clarify my intent:
It is _very_ surprising to 'standard' economic models that anything produced 'for
free', by unpaid workers on their own time & small budgets and without any/all the
'well proven' software marketing & development technologies can produce anything
remotely competitive to that produced by the $10Bn pa behemoths.

For people locked into the big-business 'factory mode' of thinking, _nothing_
'decent' could be made for less than $5M [~50 man years].  And what you've so well
pointed out is all the reasons that opensrc not only breaks that 'rule', but
produces BETTER products on most measures. [And _clearly_ better 'value for money'

Within 'traditional' thinking, opensrc shouldn't be able to come anywhere near
expensively developed 'commercial' code.
The fact that it does [for lots of good reasons you've given] shows their models
are wrong.

Hope my explanation is clear & thanks for taking me up on this,

Alex Satrapa wrote:
> On Fri, 2002-11-01 at 04:49, Steve Jenkin wrote:
> > This is _exactly_ the same as a bunch of us building a Formula 1 race car in our
> > spare time and it being competitive with Ferrari.  If Windows & other commercial
> > apps are NOT the best that the vendors can produce, what is going on?
> I disagree with that statement - building software is nothing at all
> like building any kind of tangible product in terms of financial input,
> for one thing.
> Someone working from home only needs the capital investment of a 486PC
> and a dialup account - and lots of free time.
> someone trying to compete with Ferrari in the Formula 1 needs to have a
> huge capital investment in machining, forming, and testing equipment.
> Another huge difference between the commercial and open source models is
> that in a commercial system, you usually cage the development team up
> and put pressure on them - they don't get to interact with other
> developers, so you only have the same 50-100 pairs of eyes watching the
> software.
> In open source development, you have many more sets of eyes watching,
> and most open source developers will be talking to other developers who
> aren't even part of that project - the "Best Current Practice" in open
> source development keeps getting improved because people pick up
> neat/cool/effective ideas from others.
> Alex
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Steve Jenkin, Unix Sys Admin
PO Box 48, Kippax, ACT 2615
0412 786 915

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