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Open source is _not_ evil

"With very few exceptions, making an open-source project effectively eliminates the possibility of you getting paid."

come on people, you are supposed to be a well educated bunch.

I have a colleague who is creating a computer system for a local library, they decided to open source the work.
He is being paid by the hour to create a system that the local library can use.
Some other libraries (libraries actually in other countries) have spotted it and decided it can help them as well, and have also begun using it, and in at least 1 case, have also hired a fulltime developer to work on it.

This is a win/win/win/win situation, _everyone_ comes out ahead.
The developer is being paid by the hour (yay!), the local library is going to end up with a system that they do _not_ have to pay all the maintenance costs for (yay!), and that they are not reliant on the specific developer to maintain, (yay!) and _other_ libraries will be able to take advantage of the work done.

Is it _really_ so difficult to see the upside in situations like this?  being threatened by open source is one thing, but deliberately ignoring the real opportunities and spreading ignorant FUD like above is just...well...kind of sad and pathetic, like a lost lil girl sobbing because the world is a scary place....

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Yes - it most definitely is difficult to see the up-side of open source.  It's not even that it's open source, it's that it's free software. 

They've commoditized (sp?) alot of software - making our services WORTH LESS (not 'worthless') than if there were no free/open-source alternatives.  Stop thinking in terms of 'benefiting society' because honestly, we don't give a sh*t who benefits from it, if it helps puts us out of work.

Sorry to rant, but what do you think would happen if all of a sudden local area hospitals just started giving away free physical examinations to everyone.  All of the local doctors' offices would go out of business.  Granted it's not a perfect example - but it gets my point across.

GiorgioG
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Or more to the point, imagine that music, books, movies, magazines, and all other intellectual property was given away for free. Free software is a pretty stupid idea overall. I don't understand where this socialist attitude emerged from in America.

Could someone please explain to me what the *point* is off giving away source code for free to people? What kind of person spends months working on something and then gives that thing away? It makes no sense.

John Rosenberg
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Thanks for the better example John...It's late and I'm tired ;-)

GiorgioG
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

wow, yo uare a _lot_ more optimistic than myself.

<g> The chances of any company, library, organisation or club actually being happy with what they have in the way of software and _not_ wanting changes or tweaks that only a programmer can do for them is pretty small.

I have 2 types of work, the first is new projects (love new projects), the second is legacy work, supporting earlier projects (tweaking code, adding features etc etc) or work done by other developers.

Over time the second half of that has become far bigger than the first simply because every project that we 'complete' needs more work over time as the clients needs change.

Honestly, I could just about stop accepting new projects and survive on the legacy stuff for years without ill effects for a long time. <g> , except maybe a suicide or two from the programmers.

In a world where software is commoditized and _all_ software anyone could ever want already exists in open source form in readable/adaptable code we _still_ have work as far as I can see.
...and lets be honest, its going to take a heck of a long time for open source software to eat into the business application market, they are only just beginning to get a decent desktop.

"what do you think would happen if all of a sudden local area hospitals just started giving away free physical examinations to everyone"
umm...fewer poor kids would suffer from easily curable health complaints?  ...<g> Im struggling to see a downside with this particular example, maybe you should find another...

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"Could someone please explain to me what the *point* is off giving away source code for free to people?"

there _is_ a distinction between free software and open source software.

Its perfectly possible for instance, for me to release software that requires everyone to pay me $xxx if they actually want to run the compiled binary.

..or another example is the WASTE text engine on the mac, its compiled binary is free to use for everyone, but if you actually want to play with the code itself you have to pay a fee, then you get a copy of the source and can do what you want to it (excepting distributing it of course).

But really, if you have _already_ been paid by your client for developing the code, whats the point in charging anyone else for its use?  surely expecting $ above and beyond that required to pay for the development time is mere greed?


"What kind of person spends months working on something and then gives that thing away? It makes no sense."

beats me, I never have. 

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"umm...fewer poor kids would suffer from easily curable health complaints?  ...<g> Im struggling to see a downside with this particular example, maybe you should find another... "

The whole point is, the doctors whose practices would close as a result - would not give a shit about that...and that's the position developers are in.

Really? - you don't think that open source is eating into business apps?  Funny how our client is using Tomcat instead of Weblogic or Websphere.  I hope they know what they're getting into - they won't be able to go back and cry to a vendor when it stops working...

GiorgioG
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"But really, if you have _already_ been paid by your client for developing the code, whats the point in charging anyone else for its use?  surely expecting $ above and beyond that required to pay for the development time is mere greed?"

You're right - Microsoft should have given away Office after sellings its first copy.  Same goes with Oracle, et al.

GiorgioG
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"You're right - Microsoft should have given away Office after sellings its first copy.  Same goes with Oracle, et al."

??? thats bizarre, why should they have done that?


..Im pretty sure thats not what I said...

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"surely expecting $ above and beyond that required to pay for the development time is mere greed?"

No it's mere capitalism.  Every single thing you buy, every service you subscribe to is worth less than you paid for it, or nobody would be providing it for you because their primary motive is profit.

GiorgioG
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

FullName, you're the intellectual giant who thought the guy in the other thread should keep doing work as part of his "employment application."

You also think getting paid by the hour is a big deal.

FullName, some of us can developer software that works really well. People love this software and want it.

.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

FullName, if you have a house, how much did you pay for it? I will pay you that and we'll be square. OK? Even better, I won't even pay you at all.

.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Open Source is here to stay
Free software is here to stay
Paid for services and software neither will go away

It has nothing to to with political ideologies only with economics. If you expect your customer to pay you for something that he can also get for free (OSS) somewhere else, it is not OSS that is to blame. It is you who needs to re-evaluate your business model.

Let's introduce yet another metaphore:
You can drink water from a river
You can drink water from the tap in the kitchen
You can drink Pellegrini mineral water

Sometimes water from a polluted river will kill you in minutes
Sometimes water from a crystal clear mountain river is the best thing you ever tasted
Sometimes bottled mineral water is excessive luxury
Sometimes bottled mineral water is your only way to survive

If your job is in danger because of OSS than that is your problem, you will have to adept.

Just for the record:
I do not like OSS in particular
I like Darwin

Geert-Jan Thomas
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"FullName, some of us can developer software that works really well. People love this software and want it."

cool, so sell it to them.

If its that good and it works that well, you should be able to compete with open source software pretty easily.

A good example of this is fogbugz, there are a number of open source alternatives and yet as far as I can tell joel is making a perfectly good living from selling it.
Ditto with his other products.

Thats my point, it _is_ possible to coexist, it _is_ possible to make a profit desptire the existance of open source software and if you cannot do so then you have no one but yourself to blame.

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"FullName, if you have a house, how much did you pay for it? I will pay you that and we'll be square. OK?

LOL, actually that would be fine by me, in the current downturn property around here has lost its value :)

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

> "With very few exceptions, making an open-source
> project effectively eliminates the possibility of you
> getting paid."

> I have a colleague who is creating a computer
> system for a local library, they decided to open
> source the work.
> He is being paid by the hour to create a system
> that the local library can use.

I'm not saying that he isn't getting paid, but, IF he does his job well, other programmers will NOT get paid for writing the library system.

Also, look at most open-source projects. Don't tell me that, in these systems, most of the developers are getting paid.

Most work on them as a hobby. I'm fine with that, but it eliminates the possibility of other developers getting paid to do the same things.

Because once a source code is open source, it never dies, an accumulation effect happens, and the areas where a programmer can get paid will shrink dramatically.

Yes, one can get paid to customize a system, but this is just a crumb - I want the whole bread, not just a crumb.


> This is a win/win/win/win situation, _everyone_
> comes out ahead.

This is a win/win situation for the developer, the library, and the people reusing the work.

It is a losing situation for most other developers.

Now, one open source package is not going to have a lot of effect, but because software is cummulative, it will end up having a lot of effects in this direction.


> Is it _really_ so difficult to see the upside in
> situations like this?  being threatened by open
> source is one thing, but deliberately ignoring the
> real opportunities and spreading ignorant FUD like
> above is just...

Most real opportinuties in open source is for the people and companies USING open-source, and not for programmers.

John K.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003


> They've commoditized (sp?) alot of software
> - making our services WORTH LESS (not
> 'worthless') than if there were no free/open-source
> alternatives.  Stop thinking in terms of 'benefiting
> society' because honestly, we don't give a sh*t who
> benefits from it, if it helps puts us out of work.

Yes, that is the problem.

Some people are probably rich, or are students sustained by their parents (in Europe, university is free), and have a lot of time in there hands.

These guys write free software, which takes away another programmer's possibility of getting paid.

I consider them irresponsable.

Doctors, lawyers, etc. actively protect their professions.

The open source programmers actively destroy it.

Too bad - it was a nice field to be in.

However, no matter how nice, I can't stay in it if they take away the possibility of getting paid for my work.

I need food, you know...


> Or more to the point, imagine that music, books,
> movies, magazines, and all other intellectual
> property was given away for free. Free software
> is a pretty stupid idea overall. I don't understand
> where this socialist attitude emerged from in
> America.

Because America is rich. If people were desperate for getting money in order to buy the things they absolutely need, then they wouldn't write open source, but seek employment for hire.

Perhaps if I was rich, or just a student fully sustained by my parents, I would be tempted to write open-source, too.


> Could someone please explain to me what the
> *point* is ff giving away source code for free to
> people? What kind of person spends months
> working on something and then gives that thing
> away? It makes no sense.

I think the answer is simple: A hobbist who doesn't need the money.

I still don't understand why they don't make the software inexpensive shareware, for example.


> Really? - you don't think that open source is
> eating into business apps? 

Even if it isn't now, it will eat into business apps, too.

Eventually, an equilibrium will be reached - programmer's salaries will probably go down, and so is the number of people wanting to study CS.

Then, there will be less people writing open-source.

Instead of working on full projects, many programmers will work on short projects like "let's take that open source software and modify it".

John K.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Smart people can be very stupid some times. I mean, look at the dot-com boom.

To think that "yes, we write open-source, but the maintainance work it will generate will keep all of us employed" is an example of such stupidity.

It will happen in the short term, but in the long run, be serious, and think about it once again... it's not going to happen!

John K.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

<quote>
Instead of working on full projects, many programmers will work on short projects like "let's take that open source software and modify it".
</quote>

Hey, instead of using WinForms, we should all write our own windowing apis.

And instead of providing Windows consulting, I should write my own operating system and provide consulting on that.

By your rationale, my salary would be huge!

Rhys Keepence
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

hi John,

"I'm not saying that he isn't getting paid, but, IF he does his job well, other programmers will NOT get paid for writing the library system."

??? its called reusable code.  Its a Good Thing (tm).  <g> or do you insist on rewriting every bit of code for each project you do to maximise your income?

"Also, look at most open-source projects. Don't tell me that, in these systems, most of the developers are getting paid."

I really have no idea, I dont know a lot about them.  I know mozilla/netscape is largely around because of the huge investment by AOL in the code, mysql is primarily developed and released by the original developers and they are _definitely_ making a profit from it.
but thats about the extent of my knowledge, personally i suspect that the role of money in the open source community is underplayed for political reasons and has often been the driving force behind the end polishing.  for eg, I believe its money that will provide the impetus required for linux to finally become a desktop os.


"Because once a source code is open source, it never dies, an accumulation effect happens, and the areas where a programmer can get paid will shrink dramatically."

yesish and noish, in theory I agree with you, but in real life it hasn't (yet) happened that way.
In most markets Ive seen both oss and commercial software are finding a place.
How many people do you know who use opera as their default browser?


"Yes, one can get paid to customize a system, but this is just a crumb - I want the whole bread, not just a crumb."

:) cant help you there. 
<g> but if its any consolation, according to studies if you haven't made your mark in a big way by the time you have turned 30-35 you prolly never will.
So chances are you've missed your opportunities already :)


"This is a win/win situation for the developer, the library, and the people reusing the work."

and all those developers who are hired to improve and extend the system for other libraries, and upgrade the system when the library system changes, and rewrite it for the new library computers that have incompatible operating systems, and, and..
programming work is never finished, I still get new feature requests and maintenance work on the first product I ever wrote and distributed to clients.

"Most real opportinuties in open source is for the people and companies USING open-source, and not for programmers."

I cant agree, there are too many counter examples for this to be believable.

right now, out in the real world, there are programmers making money from writing and supporting opensource (mysql), from distributing free software and getting money from ads (eudora, kazaa), from distributing free binaries and charging for the source (WASTE text engine), from charging for use of the distributed source (PowerPlant), from distributing shareware programs and games, from delivering payfor products (fogbugz etc), the list of payment models goes on and on.
_all_ of them are competing with each other and all of them are competing with oss, and enough of them are succeeding to make me very sure that the failures are failing as much because of the people driving them as because of the competition.


"Most real opportinuties in open source is for the people and companies USING open-source, and not for programmers."

etch.  thats only true if one assumes that there is a limit to the software requirements of a particular company.


Bottom line?  if _you_ have an idea for a killer app, create it and distribute it then you can still make a killing.

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

> So chances are you've missed your opportunities
> already :)

This is rather offensive.

Just because I don't buy the current open-source dogma doesn't mean I'm a loser.

On the contrary - I am a lot better off than most programmers my age. I have a company and a successful product.

John K.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Hi John,

"Just because I don't buy the current open-source dogma doesn't mean I'm a loser."

I in no way intended to imply that.

<g> If that is what I said then I implicated myself as well, seeing as Im in a very similar position as yourself....own business, not a millionaire...

My point was simply that most programmers are _not_ going to make the huge fortune from creating and releasing a killer app.  Most of us are going to pretty much plod along, working every day and earning a living.
..a process which I actually rather enjoy, and a process which OSS will not stop..

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

<quote>
To think that "yes, we write open-source, but the maintainance work it will generate will keep all of us employed" is an example of such stupidity.
</quote>

If we use a open source project, and make modifications, we charge that back to the client. We also contribute the changes, if they are relivant.

We like the fact that we can get some functionality for free, hell, we could even charge the client for the time it would take to write, if we wanted to be unethical.

Software was always open source, once upon a time. Software today is many times more powerful than it was 10 years ago. This is not becuase the programmers are sitting down for longer to write it, its because of libraries abstracting away complex logic. Whether these come for free in the operating system, are open source, or are third party, doesn't really matter. I don't see what all the fuss is about.

Rhys Keepence
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Paul Rosenberg asks: "What kind of person spends months working on something and then gives that thing away?"

Somebody who does it for fun. Linus Thorvalds started Linux because he wanted to. He had no business plan. He had no intention to compete with Microsoft, Sun and SCO. He gave it away because he wanted to share his hobby with others.

It is the same story with Samba, Snort etc.

kmo
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"Stop thinking in terms of 'benefiting society' because honestly, we don't give a sh*t who benefits from it, if it helps puts us out of work."

Strikes me that you're arguing against your own argument there. By your standards, people don't give a shit about whether *you* have work or not, but you're bitching about them not caring...

Anyway. I don't see that intellectual property being in the public domain hurt the auto industry much. They didn't all have to reinvent the wheel or the internal combustion engine.

OC
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Open source is a hippie love fest.  No economic model is perfect, but Captitalism is by FAR the best ever used on this planet.  Open source is socailism - it doesn't fit.

The guy writing the library app could have sold it to the other libraries rather than giving it away.  Then (gasp) he could have charged maintenance going forward and that would have led to (gasp) ongoing income.  The horror!  Food on his table.

MIke
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Have you seen how many libraries you get with Windows? For about $100? Are they taking money from you because you'd have to charge much more for even a tiny part.

Free software is not socialism, it's just the market setting the price. The price happens to be zero.

OC
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Some food for thought -

http://www.microsoft.com/mind/0599/flux/flux0599.asp

Let the discussions continue :)

The One You Loved (TOYL)
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"Open source is a hippie love fest. "

maybe, but if so its a hippie love fest that microsoft, ibm and many, many countries are all taking _very_ seriously.

"Captitalism is by FAR the best ever used on this planet.  Open source is socailism - it doesn't fit."

LOL, "become a communist...use open source software.."

remember, open source does _not_ necessarily mean free software.
I use wxWindows (www.wxwindows.org) to write commercial applications which I (or my clients) then sell for a profit, wxWindows is open source.  How is it _not_ contributing to a capitalist society?


"The guy writing the library app could have sold it to the other libraries rather than giving it away."
he can still do that, even if his library is released under an open source license.

  Then (gasp) he could have charged maintenance going forward and that would have led to (gasp) ongoing income.

he can do this under open source, surely?  if not, why not?  whats stopping him?

" The horror!  Food on his table."
mmm...food....

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Well, one can bitch an moan about OSS or one can adapt. There will never be a law that prevents people from giving stuff away.
This is actually capatalism at work. You have no right to expect there to be a market to fit your particular products.
Adapt and overcome.

I got 3 pretty good jobs comming up, using PHP and MySQL.

Eric DeBois
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"I got 3 pretty good jobs comming up, using PHP and MySQL."

<g> but think of the extra money youd have made if you had been able to write the php language _and_ the mysql database as a part of the job...

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

""The guy writing the library app could have sold it to the other libraries rather than giving it away."
he can still do that, even if his library is released under an open source license."

Sure he can, but the market would rather pay zero dollars and zero cents.  Yes he can, but if he can't charge anything what's the point?

I see the future of open source of being one of second class apps - especially on the desktop, where it is chosen when one cannot afford the first class (commercial product).  Open source will be like black cookies instead of Oreo's.

Mike
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"Sure he can, but the market would rather pay zero dollars and zero cents.  Yes he can, but if he can't charge anything what's the point?"

well, thats rather the point isn't it.  If his library has _nothing_ to offer over and above that of any competitor, and the competitor is cheaper, then its hardly surprising that the market will go with the competitor.

OTOH if his library does have something to offer, better support perhaps, a tighter and better designed api, some particularly pretty widgets etc etc then in my experience a decent % of the market will go with his library over and above the open source version.

certainly I would :)  I use osx over linux and windows, despite the higher cost, because (IMO only, lets not turn this into a operating system war as well :)  I believe that the extra money is well spent.

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"but think of the extra money youd have made if you had been able to write the php language _and_ the mysql database as a part of the job.."

Apples and oranges. He was probably selected for his skills to use them, not to create them.
Writing Oracle would have made him the same bunch of money, maybe more.

You should be talking to the author's of MySql to convince them they should be adopting Oracle's business model. Whether they chose not to for the right reasons remains to be seen, but cannot be argued by us without sufficient information.

Open Source will definitely change the landscape if it persists, much like the introduction of cultivation did to the landscape of agriculture.

Practical Geezer
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

>> "FullName, if you have a house, how much did you pay for it? I will pay you that and we'll be square. OK?

> LOL, actually that would be fine by me, in the current downturn property around here has lost its value :)

There you go - the perfect analogy to open source. I hope you sell before you lose everything.

.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I'll reiterate my point: Linux is free, Windows is about 100 dollars or whatever. I can afford either, but I chose Windows because I know it and prefer it.

Would any of you fair-weather capitalists be bitching if Linux was half the price of Windows? Or a tenth? What does the fraction have to be for 'competitive' to become 'communist'?

OC
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"There you go - the perfect analogy to open source. I hope you sell before you lose everything."

:)  thats an interesting approach to life.

Im actually going to hang on to the property for the long term. its a home, not a short term investment.

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I think what people are saying here, FullName, is that they reject the popular claims of open source, and particularly its attempts to enlist their work for free.

Open source is essentially driven by users of software, not programmers. To date, programmers have not been vocal about their views on this. Now they are. What I think we will see happening is that programmers with some skill or product in need will become much more assertive in demanding proper compensation for it.

Let OSS do what it wants. Users can't program.

.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Hmm, mr dot doesn't understand supply and demand...

OC
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

OC doesn't understand software development. Open source actually provides only a small part of what companies need.

.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"I think what people are saying here, FullName, is that they reject the popular claims of open source, and particularly its attempts to enlist their work for free."

_some_ people are definitely saying that.

fair enough to :)  I have absolutely no intention of working for free myself, on OSS or any other project. 


"Open source is essentially driven by users of software, not programmers."

thats a genuinely bizarre statement, I cannot think of a single OSS project that was driven by users..._all_ of them were started by and worked on by programmers.
The single biggest complaint by users on OSS to date is that it is generally written by programmers for programemrs and is therefore pretty much unusable for the average user.
Companies like redhat and ibm for instance are spending an awfully large amount on the linux desktop trying to make it halfway decent.


"Let OSS do what it wants. Users can't program."
:)  I have no idea what you are saying....users dont have to do that, programmers do it for them..in exchange for money...which can be used to purchase goods and services...
Ill happily add any feature requested by any user to any OSS project so long as they pay me :)

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I would say the nature of this thread itself illustrates that open source actually IS evil.

It seems the whole point of this was so FullName could slam programmers; to delight in it even.

.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

well..Im off to bed.  12:30 am here and my communist ass has done enough work for one day.
16*hourly rate=nearly enough for this months mortgage payment.  <g> all I have to do is convince my communist client to cough up some money.

how about a new topic:

16 hour days, why do we do them?
or
killer applications, why haven't I written one yet?
or
invoicing clients, how can I avoid wasting my time on that but still persuade them to pay me?


night all.

FullNameRequired
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Wow, it doesn't take much to start a religious war around here.

Unfortunately, all 39 replies totally missed the point. The original poster gave an example where the coder was contracted to produce something for the Library. He is getting paid for his services.

It is the Library's choice whether to make the program free or not and since the Library is a public institution which is funded for the most part by your tax dollars, the intellectual property rights reside with the community at large.

i.e., Everything a public institution produces is supposed to be in the public domain. That is it's raison d'etre. In this case, one could make a very good case in protesting if it had been made for sale.

old_timer
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Come on people: Open Source is not free (not in the beer sense and not in the Newspeak sense). If anything, I believe it truly is more expensive in any way.
So in that sense, not less but more money is going to go the way of the IT industry.
What does change is that it is shifting the balance away even more from a "software house" model towards a "consultancy" model.
Is that bad? Well, it depends.

If you are a consultancy shop owner, definetly not. Your market is growing so this means overall more business, and the added benefit of generating more potential cross-sales for your companion products. If you are an employee of such a business, things are not going to change tremendously. You work x hours a week and get paid a salary for that. Depending on the relative position change of your firm in the market, you might gain or loose job security points and salary bonus points.

If you are a budding software entrepreneur that hopes to strike it rich by writing some good code and sell a million copies, life sucks. You have all these new competitors that are undercutting you pricewise on "first contact". You'll have to indicate that you offer a better long term value, but that is a difficult story that requires "intelligent "customers, and that is far, far less than 100% of your potential clients. Again, as an employee of a software house things do not change dramatically. You get paid a salary and might gain or loose job security and salary bon depending on the relative wins and losses of your company.

So, end score?
If your an employee, overall financialy not much change, but if you are a pure software entrepreneur the market is loosing its most important multiplier opportunities and you will not like it. It will not be great times for innovative stuff if the OSS model wins. You better migrate to a different field.
For software employees what might change is the nature of your work. If you like inventing and working on great new ideas and products, bad luck. Their is going to be fewer of these left in an OSS world as the entrepreneurs leave the field, so if you value this high and their is a reasonable proportion of you out there, you will definetly have to take a pay cut to work on the fewer things out their. If you're a "code is code" type of person who doesn't mind wether you are working on the cradle of the future of humankind or the next client/server business process implementation, you have nothing to worry about.

(little time, long rant, sorry)

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

> This is a win/win/win/win situation, _everyone_ comes
> out ahead.  The developer is being paid by the hour
> (yay!), the local library is going to end up with a system
> that they do _not_ have to pay all the maintenance costs
> for (yay!), and that they are not reliant on the specific
> developer to maintain, (yay!) and _other_ libraries will be
> able to take advantage of the work done.

hmm...  So where does the library get its money from to pay the developer?

If its a public library, then its gets its cash from the tax payers.  How many tax payers do you think enjoy throwing their money away for free to other countries?  This isn't a charity!

If its a private library (Academia or corporate), then it gets their money from the institution (partly government, partly students, et al.).  Maybe its me, but I don't feel like paying $4000 per semester only to have some of that money be supporting some other libraries in other university's that I'm not even at and can't benefit from.

So all these people that 'pay' someone to develop free software are going to get what back from their investment?
No seriously.  A bit of fame maybe?  A pat on the back?  Another trip to MR./MRS Taxpayer or other financial supporter for more money to keep their now starving programmer?

hmm.  I bet their thinking, "Only if we could have *sold* that piece of software, to get some money (maybe not a lot, but enough) to reinvest into our programmer (heck maybe get TWO!) and continue our efforts and maintenance of this wonderful and very useful software app.".  (WOW!  What a concept!)

So how about you pay me to write you a nice little application.  I'll eat well while I'm working on it, and then when we're done, you can do whatever you want with it, while I give away the source code to your compeitor.  Because all of a sudden, *everyone* becomes your competitor.

Oh but I forgot.  You're not looking at the world like its a business and what effects your creating upon it.  You just want everyone to be free and accepting and so, so, soooo, giving.  Because heck, money grows on trees, food is everywhere, and its a nice 27 degrees Celsius all over the earth (365 days a year).


The programming profession is real, and while its a strange beast with little to no regulation and even less protection as certain areas become a commodity; it still qualifies as a very serious association.  Go ahead and write your free software, but no that you are merely undermining your own career.  Say I need a web server application.  I get your resume and it claims that you wrote some free web server app. called Apache.  I download it, try it out, and it serves my purpose.  Why the hell would I hire your ass and pay good money for something that's already done!  And *YOU* did it!  Hell I even have the source code to it, so I can modify it myself (or give it to some other *cheap* labour programmer that won't cost nearly as much as you).

I'm sorry, explain to me again how you win?

sedwo
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Going back to the original example

Let's say the Library system cost $5000 to develop (to feed the developer while he codes it)

If it's a closed source app, and say the developerplans to sell 50 copies, he can sell it for $100 each

If it's an free app once done, the initial user (library) needs to pay the full $5000, but subsequent users can get it for free.

It seems to me in this scenario, the initial user is getting a worse deal than a closed source model. What's more the initial user may think - what if I wait a bit - somebody else will pay the $5000 - and then I'll get it for free. Of course nobody may ever pay the $5000 or it may be a long wait.

Seems to me that open source has potential in some cases to impede progress

S. Tanna
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

It's not a win/win situation but an OK/win situation. Getting paid by the hour is OK. It's not exactly winning.

Frederik Slijkerman
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

> Paul Rosenberg asks: "What kind of
> person spends months working on
> something and then gives that thing
> away?"

> Somebody who does it for fun. Linus
> Thorvalds started Linux because he
> wanted to. He had no business plan.
> He had no intention to compete with
> Microsoft, Sun and SCO. He gave it
> away because he wanted to share
> his hobby with others.

Yes, and Thorvalds also didn't have to earn his bread in that period - he got money from his parents, probably.

If he had to earn his bread, he wouldn't have had the idea of writing free software - he would have tried to earn money with it.

All is fine and dandy, but there are people who don't have the luxury of Thorvalds, and we are hurt by the actions of people who do what Thorvalds did.

John K.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I think the developers on this board get what the others don't - that there just is no panacea.

I wonder if we're heading into another dot.com era based on distortions created by open source. Business people download some app or bunch of source for free, then query why it's going to cost $10,000 or $20,000 to have some programmer write the application they need.

So there will be some period when money will be going just to the bottom-of-the-barrel types who don't mind low pay. The resulting applications will obviously be bad.

Beyond that, I'm not sure how or if the market will correct.

.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Some thoughts -

How is this example different from Fullname's colleague simply working for hire, giving the ownership to the library?  As far as I see, they're distributing the code, meaning that the colleague might be hired later by another library as maintainer -- because he naturally has the most knowledge of the codebase.

It is frequently argued that X will kill the IT industry.  X has equalled Indians/Russians/East Europeans, surplus of labor from the dotcon boom, piracy, Microsoft's free bundling/monopoly, and so forth.  What will finally be the death?  When, finally?

Free software lowers the "activation energy" to start new projects.  If buying all your tools costs lots of cash, fewer new projects get off the ground.

Some companies are based on free software:  JBoss, Sleepycat, Zope.  They should be asked how well they're doing.

S. Tanna's argument that the "first buyer" bears high costs is interesting.  But the library would have done so anyway -- this is not shrinkwrap, they hired a contractor.  And they'll benefit from other peoples' investments by going the free software route.

Greg
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Down with street buskers because people won't pay for real entertainment anymore!!

Down with University-sponsored research, it puts corporate scientists out of work!!

The very basis of the American patent system (which has given the U.S. their huge technology advantage in the last 150 years), is based on a public display of the underlying technology, so that others can build from it.

The whole bloody Internet runs on open source code.

Outlaw hobby programming! It's evil!

shabob
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Some companies are also destroyed by free software. This is speculation on my part, but let describe what has happened at my company in the last 2 years. When I came aboard, the software product we were developing was built on IONA's Orbix CORBA product. I believe it was $25k for a site license. IONA was trading at $75/share.  Our major customer discovered an OSS alternative to Oribx, known as ACE-TAO. They forced us to adopt it as our CORBA ORB since it was $0 vs. $25k for Orbix. ACE-TAO is managed and extended by a cadre of grad students and a professor interested in writing a CORBA compliant ORB. Fast forward to now. Our product has been adopted by a number other customers (mostly government) who also have taken advantage of the free ORB. I estimate a dozen site licenses a year have been lost to the ACE-TAO ORB. So, $25k x 12 site licenses x 2 years = $600000. Enough to keep 3 top-notch developers employed here in Boston. IONA's current stock price: $2.23.

goober
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I have written and released both open source software _and_ commercial software and yet I came from a working class background and have a child to support. I understand the value of a dollar very well. I am sorry if you don't understand OSS but it's my perogative on how to release my apps. Write your own apps then set the rules.

I get pretty goddamed peeved at parties on _both_ sides telling me who and what I am, snugly pigeon holing me into their definition, and how I _should_ be instead.

Ian Stallings
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

So, er, they were undercut by the competition? How very uncapitalist! If you like, I will play them a sad, sad song, on the world's smallest violin. No charge.

Talking about this on a web board won't solve anything. So perhaps you should work on making your programs better. Possibly even make them obviously superior to their open-source equivalents.

But overally, I agree with Greg. Open source will do not do any of the terrible things it is suggested it will do. But you don't have to listen to me! I suggest you write to your government and get them to make it illegal. That's the kind of thing they are here for.

Tom
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Stallings/Tom - nobody (I think) is telling you what to do. You do whatever you think is right. I thought the whole purpose of a discussion board was to discuss the merits of different opinions, in this case of open source for users/programmers/the-world.

>>> S. Tanna's argument that the "first buyer" bears high costs is interesting.  But the library would have done so anyway -- this is not shrinkwrap, they hired a contractor.  And they'll benefit from other peoples' investments by going the free software route

It's not so clear cut in the general case. When people hire a contractor for a line of business app, they (if they have any sense) would be asking themselves (1) do I really need to spend the money, (2) if I wait for a while, will I need to spend the money. 

What open source can do, is introduce a new decision driver, against implementing a project now - i.e. if I wait, I might get it for free.  That's my point.


The harder and more complex the app, the more extreme the effect:

What if the app was harder, and cost $5,000,000 to develop. And say was suitable for 1000 libraries

Open source = initial user must pay $5,000,000. others get it free

Closed source = each user pays $5000

In this kind of situation, paying to be the initial user for free software, is a huge risk (you spent $5,000,000 instead of waiting for somebody else to pay and getting it free). Managers get fired for less than this.

S. Tanna
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

How can you compete when the competitor's product the sells at ZERO? What features could you add to outweigh that? Some free software advocates here as saying don't sell the product, sell the service. Well, there is a company that provides support for using ACE-TAO. We've never had to use them for anything, and neither have our customers as far as I know. 

goober
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Ask Microsoft how to compete against free stuff.

They sell VC++ for £££; gcc is free, as are IDEs for it.
They sell Windows for £££; Linux is free.
They sell Office for £££; Star Office is free.

Ask JP software how to compete against free stuff.

They sell 4NT for £££; you get a DOS promt for free _with your PC_.

Likewise for Opera...

Of course you can compete. Your program just has to be better and/or come with benefits, tangible or otherwise, that make it worth the money.

Or maybe you can't compete, in which case you shouldn't; I don't know what else to say about this. Sometimes you just can't beat them.

Tom
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Well who'd have thought it - capitalism has been bought to its knees by a few hobby-programming hippies. So much for *that* idea. Shall we give communism another go?

OC
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I definitely agree there's a tragedy of the commons ("prisoner's dilemma") problem when selling free software.  This could mean a few things:

- This is an economic problem solvable by some sort of peer pressure or software buyer's union that distributes the costs and risks over a lot of people.  The /iterated/ prisoner's dilemma problem isn't always terrible.
http://www.brunel.ac.uk/depts/AI/alife/ga-axelr.htm

- It can't be solved in certain (maybe many) cases, which is where closed-source will generally win.

- First Buyers often have a burning need for the software that justifies the high cost -- releasing it as free software could be a strategic move to spread around future maintenace costs and risks.

Greg
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Just to clarify my stance a little - I don't think every piece of software should be free. And the "selling your services" method for making money off of open source contradicts the design of the application. If it's harder to use then your price goes up. This leads to over complicated apps that are not user friendly.

But I do think there is an alternative that some companies are beginning to explore - including the source code under a commercial license. That way the end user gets the code if the want to add functionality or if the source company goes kaput. Although I think the legal implications of these licenses need to be explored more to make sure both parties are protected, it has great potential IMO.

Ian Stallings
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Joel On Software forums: the anti-Slashdot!

Justin Johnson
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

> Joel On Software forums: the anti-Slashdot!

Not quite yet, nobody has started a thread to support SCO's claims against Linux. Maybe that's next :-)

S. Tanna
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

It has been shown in some (maybe not representative) studies that a majority of OSS programmers are still students or employed by a university, or that they are employed by a company whose products do not collide with the OSS project. What does this imply?

(1) Their work is paid by taxes. Which basically means that instead of one company having to finance the whole development, the costs are being shared between tax-payers.

(2) Their work is being financed by a company. Considering the example of Linus Torvalds/Transmeta, OSS development is backed up by investors.

(3) Their work is being initially backed by a company which then gives it away for free. In the case of Eclipse, IBM's aim is to proliferate JAVA as a language and platform, and to get a mark in enterprise development.

Point (3) is ok, as it can be considered a legit way of competition. Point (1) and (2) means that in the end, one party is financing development of software which might benefit society, while this money is not provided by a single corporation, but either the government, or a group of investors/shareholders. Development risk is divided up. Which is ok.

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Why would you pay for FullName’s house? He already paid it. Just take it. Is for free now.

19th floor
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

This thread has certainly made for interesting reading.  I would like to suggest a thought that has been mentioned implicitly a couple of times, but not explicitly.  Ready? :) 

As a software developer in America, I enjoy a really high salary relative to much of the rest of the world.  Developers in Asia/India/Eastern Europe (et al) are willing to work for much less than I would like to.

Open Source may also lower the demand for my services (or it may not), but either way, price competition has arrived.  As I see it, attempts to squash Open Source or prevent "cheap" international labor stem from the same ideology that caused the American car makers in the 70's to try to protect their industry by disallowing foreign competition.  In my opinion, that didn't work so well, and I think we are indulging in that mind-set here.

"Fair" or not, I believe the only thing that will preserve my salary and or ability to compete is continuing (I hope I'm doing so now) to provide a service/product which differentiates me enough from the competition, be it Open Source, asian, etc to justify my price.

Timothy Flechtner
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"Tragedy of the commons" is not the same as "prisoner's dilemma".  Tragedy of the commons is when there's a finite public resource that is over-used - like overfishing or acid rain.

Open source is in a sense the opposite... like a success of the commons.  Like when you go to a potluck dinner.  Everyone brings something and everyone benefits.  Or as another metaphor - consider acadamic research... findings are published for all to see and this in turn drives more research, etc.

I don't think a buyer's union would work, for the same reason there isn't a furniture buyer's union.

anony125
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

You assume that every OSS project (a) does deliver a product in the end, and (b) does produce something which represents a benefit for at least one person or organization.

Just take a look at those projects listed at sourceforge.net. Actually, most projects (who eventually get some funding, too) never deliver, and only a fraction is noticed or even used in production environments.

So it's not like a potluck dinner. In a potluck dinner, the amount of pieces in the pot equals the amount of participants, and you don't expect to draw a piece of a rotten leaf, whereas you noticed all participants put only Rolex watches in the pot.

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Another viewpoint: me working on opensource (which FWIW I do in my non-student, adult, married spare time) gives me a leg up in the competition for jobs. People who want to hire me can browse many thousands of lines of code and see how well I communicate to my teammates and review my responses to the users of my software on mailing lists and online forums and see how I communicate with customers. And all this during their decision-making process so they can use that information to create a better interview (or not create an interview at all) rather than me trying to explain it and jam it through the filter of typical dubious interviewee claims...

Chris Winters
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

19th floor: "Why would you pay for FullName’s house? He already paid it. Just take it. Is for free now. "

Don't be a dick. You can't just Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V a house...

OC
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

> Open source is in a sense the opposite... like
> a success of the commons.

I'm sorry, but this is pure BS.

Lots of programmers work at open-source programs, and who gets to really reap a large profit? IBM, Red Hat, etc.

In what way is that the "success of the commons"?


> (1) Their work is paid by taxes. Which basically
> means that instead of one company having to
> finance the whole development, the costs are
> being shared between tax-payers.

This is very bad. Why?

Because instead of letting the market decide which products earn money and which products vanish, you put that power in a few university professors' hands.

Is this good, or even ok? I don't think so.


> Another viewpoint: me working on opensource
> (which FWIW I do in my non-student, adult,
> married spare time) gives me a leg up in the
> competition for jobs.

I can understand that, but why make the code open-source?

I would rather have a license where:

- anybody has the right to download and examine the source code, but not derive new works from it

- if somebody wants to take the source code and use it inside his or her company, that someone must pay me $ 50

- if somebody wants to use just the binary, that someone must also pay me $ 50

I would call this "Responsability towards programming as a profession" license.

John K.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

You see, the difference between my license described above, and the GPL, is that my license protects other programmers and, to a certain extent, does not lower the  prices of software.

Doctors and lawyers actively protect their professions, with very good results, both for them, and to a lesser extent, for society.

Open source programmers actively destroy their profession.

So, I'm starting to think that doctors, lawyers and business folks are much smarter than the programmers.

I don't mean "pure logic smart" but "life smart" - by protecting their own profession, and not actively destroying it, doctors, lawyers and business people prove to have a lot more "life skills" than programmers.

John K.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

If they are not allowed to derive new works from it, what's the point of having them examine your source code? To see if you've incorporated satanic verses when read from bottom to top?

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Open source is as I understand it developed and improved by people who are looking for solutions to their OWN needs.  They are themselves both developers and users.  The developer needs this piece of software, writes it and then enourages others to provide useful feedback and to improve on it - himself benefitting with a better application than he could have made alone.

Linus Torvalds, according to himself in the book "Just for fun", says he felt uncomfortable asking for money because he had built the original Linux on free software such as the GCC, and was benefitting from a long tradition of open and free software.

As he released version 0.01 to the world, he wanted feedback, bug reports to be able to improve in it.  When getting this kind of help, he felt it's unfair to charge.  It's like asking someone to help AND to pay you. 

If he had charged for it, he wouldn't have gotten the same kind of cooperation because nobody would have felt like contributing without getting paid in return.

Did the Finnish government pay for his developing Linux?  In a sense, maybe, but they also got what they paid for: Linus got his education.  Linux was the topic for his papers along much of the time and students are pretty free to choose what they want for the subject - independent work is a form of training in the eyes of the university.


Linus got what he wanted - his own operating system.  But he couldn't have written all of it by himself.  So he got others to help him for free and they could use it too.  Is that so hard to understand? 

Even to a corporation it might make sense to develop open-source:  Say I'm a developer and my employer needs to have a certain kind of application (say a message board) which doesn't exist or is too costly to buy.  Why would they object to my collaboration with others in return for them being able to use it as well? Or if the whole world was able to use it? As long as our business is making widgets and we just need to use the message board for our operations people to keep in touch, it should be OK with them.  They'll save on the hours that I spend on the message board so that I have more time to write and maintian the widget production monitoring software.

Best,

Mattias

Mattias Thorslund
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Let's not forget Linus has been employed by a company called TransMeta for some years. Of course he did not work there for free.

So, please, stop spreading those jesus-like images ("felt unfair to charge someone"). When it comes to paying the bills, even Linus had to work at a company = sell his soul to a corporation.

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Hmm, first we say not letting the market decide what technology gets backing is a bad thing.

Then we have a nice idea for a "Responsability towards programming as a profession" license.

But in the marketplace someone would come along and undercut you and your dumb license in a moment, as has already happened.

So, you seem to be saying that the free market should apply to everyone except you.

Hmm.

OC
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Quick note for anony:  Tragedy of the commons is a subset of the prisoner's dilemma; look the two phrases up on google, since I don't want to bore everyone with the explanation.

Greg
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"There will never be a law that prevents people from giving stuff away."

Anti-dumping laws are one counterexample.

You also can't give away free beer and cigarettes to minors. Or free heroin to anyone. Or free refined uranium. These things are dangerous. Free software that has not been certified error free by a government testing lab is also a potentially dangerous porudct that should not be distributed -- many free downloads set up stealth servers for the purpose of hosting later DoS attacks -- this is a serious threat to national security.

If someone wants to give away free software, they are only going to do so if it benefits them in some way. One way is to be a carrier for various sorts of exploits. Unless the software has been thoroughly examined by experts and declared safe, it should not be permitted to be distributed. This is no different that the requirement that tires and meat be inspected by federal agencies -- for the protection of the consumer.

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Johnny:

<quote>Let's not forget Linus has been employed by a company called TransMeta for some years. Of course he did not work there for free.

So, please, stop spreading those jesus-like images ("felt unfair to charge someone"). When it comes to paying the bills, even Linus had to work at a company = sell his soul to a corporation.</quote>


NOW he has to pay his bills.  At the time, he was a student and later a researcher at Helsinki University.  Linux was not his living until just recently, now working for a foundation after leaving Transmeta (I'll stop right there cause I'd have to read up to be more specific).

What do you mean Jesus-like?? He acted out of his own egoistic self-interest (paraphrasing his words, same book) in encouraging others to help him.  OK, I could have cut out the "felt unfair" part because you cynics like yourself wouldn't ever believe it.  Regardless, he wanted something he couldn't have without cooperation.

So, I didn't address the possibility of making a LIVING on open source software.  I addressed being able to get something through cooperation.

It is quite possible to release software as open-source and make your licence stipulate that anyone using it has to pay for it.  As others have mentioned, free and open-source are two different things that aren't always combined nor are mutually exclusive.


FullName described in the original post to this thread how he makes a living on free open-source software.  I'm not making a living on writing open-source but I'm USING it - soon to make a living out of it that way. 

As such, I feel a moral obligation to also contribute to open-source development by buying licenses to MySQL and others and providing feedback and code myself - where it makes sense to me..

Now that last paragraph won't make sense to you, I know. 

Mattias Thorslund
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Dennis:

<quote>If someone wants to give away free software, they are only going to do so if it benefits them in some way. One way is to be a carrier for various sorts of exploits. Unless the software has been thoroughly examined by experts and declared safe, it should not be permitted to be distributed. This is no different that the requirement that tires and meat be inspected by federal agencies -- for the protection of the consumer.</quote>

Not disagreeing with you that there are risks to using _unknown_ software, free or not.  Most software licenses, free or not, contain disclaimers freeing the provider from lots of bad consequences that may happen by using it. 

When you use open-source you have the chance to examine the code yourself.  Or, if you are unable to, you can let others do just that.  When you subscribe to RedHat and get their packages of open-source software, you are certain that someone has evaluated and tested it, and that it doesn't contain malicious code. 

I disagree that software should not be permitted to be distributed without some "expert inspection" however, because of the overhead and rigumarole it implies, which would stifle development.  It's "users beware".  Of course, if you want to have some kind of voluntary "certification", that's another story.

Mattias Thorslund
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

OSS zealots can prattle all they like.

The types of programmers who actually create good software for companies are increasingly going to draw a line in the ground, just as lawyers refuse to work for free.

There are different points of view. Big deal. 

.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Notice the attitude here from OSS zealots too. Quite explicitly anti-programmer.


Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Oh, I forgot. Linus will build it for them.  Or IBM, for free, except for the $40 million small change they needed in Munich. LOL.


Tuesday, July 29, 2003

> If they are not allowed to derive new works from
> it, what's the point of having them examine your
> source code? To see if you've incorporated satanic
> verses when read from bottom to top?

They can look at the code and decide whether they want to buy the right of deriving new works from it, or not.

If we want to keep programming as a reasonably decent profession, the right to derive new works from software should NOT be obtained for free.


> Hmm, first we say not letting the market decide what
> technology gets backing is a bad thing.

Yes, that is correct.


> Then we have a nice idea for a "Responsability
> towards programming as a profession" license.

> But in the marketplace someone would come
> along and undercut you and your dumb license
> in a moment, as has already happened.

This is also correct. The open - source programmers are undercuting me, my license, and probably my products.

That is all fine and ok with me. It is pure capitalism.

What is NOT ok with me, however, is that the people don't understand that, by writing open source, they lower the demand for software.

By lowering the demand for software, in the long term, they are hurting themselves.

Later in life, they will want to work as a programmer, and earn a reasonable ammount of money doing so.

If the demand for software is low, then there will be less programmer jobs, and the programmer jobs will have low pay.

This is very simple economics, and really easy to understand.

Of course, any one individual's open source code output doesn't matter much, but lots of individuals donating their time to open source will OBVIOUSLY lower the need for paid developers.


To summarise the paragraphs above:

I don't mind if an individual writes a free applications and undercuts me. This is the free market.

However, the individuals writing open-source must realize  that by writing open source, they lower the need for paid developers and in doing so, they may hurt themselves and other programmers in the long run.


Many people belive that by writing open source, they will be famous and will have very good jobs. This really happens for only a dozen of high-profile open source developers.

If open-source becomes more successful than it is now, it will create a programmers job market which is very similar with the rock stars job market: a handful of individuals make the big bucks, while most of them barely scrap by.

John K.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

mr. dot:

"OSS zealots can prattle all they like."

- It's the topic of the thread, dude.  If you don't like the prattle you don't have to read it.



"The types of programmers who actually create good software for companies are increasingly going to draw a line in the ground, just as lawyers refuse to work for free.

There are different points of view. Big deal. "

- I'm not working for free, neither is FullName. 

Incidentally, lots of lawyers DO work for free all the time. It's called "pro bono" and many put aside a certain percentage of their time for this.  I'm not saying that the motivation for this is always altruistic: Taking a high profile case for free means exposure and builds your reputation and that can mean more business in the longer run.  And lawyers don't give each others flack for working for free by saying that it ruins the business for others.



"Notice the attitude here from OSS zealots too. Quite explicitly anti-programmer."

- Who do you mean? You mean the people who are saying we should share our source code so that we don't have to invent the wheel over and over again?  How is that going to evolve technology?  I think a for-programmer attitude is to enable them to use the best resources available: code, tools, etc - free or not...  And, I am a programmer too.

Mattias Thorslund
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

> And lawyers don't give each others flack for
> working for free by saying that it ruins the
> business for others.

Yes, because law practice does not have an accumulation effect.

If lawyer A works on a case for free, this will not prevent lawyer B for working on a very similar case, but for money.

Programming under open-source licenses has a strong accumulation effect.


> we should share our source code so that we
> don't have to invent the wheel over and over
> again?  How is that going to evolve technology?

Making programming a low paid profession is certainly NOT going to evolve technology.

John K.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

John:

"What is NOT ok with me, however, is that the people don't understand that, by writing open source, they lower the demand for software."

- I think this is nonsense, mostly (and I think you mean FREE software). 

Assuming that's what you mean, free software won't lower the total demand for software, even described as the total amount of dollars that the market is willing to pay for software.  You and I and everyone else who makes a living from software can rest assured of that.

A successful free software product will lower the demand for a similar pay-for product, but only if the free product is better or as good as the commercial one.  It will however increase the total number of users who never wanted to pay the price for the commercial product and if the pay-for one is genuinely better, many will later upgrade to get the added features of the commercial product. 

Did you pay for your browser BTW?  Do you think WWW would have been as popular unless the first browser (Mosaic) hadn't been provided for free.  I think it would never have taken off at all. 

Do you think MORE programmers would have been working on browser development if users had to pay for them? IE, Netscape and Opera are all available free to the user - the providers have other models for generating revenue.  If there was a charge, the market would have been a lot smaller.

On OSS, however, most of the really good free, open-source software (above examples are mostly non-OSS) that I know of is geared towards the software developers themselves.  Programmers helping programmers by sharing, thereby increasing everyone's productivity.  I'd rather use someone else's work, if it's good than invent that same thing over.

Mattias Thorslund
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

"Yes, because law practice does not have an accumulation effect.

If lawyer A works on a case for free, this will not prevent lawyer B for working on a very similar case, but for money.

Programming under open-source licenses has a strong accumulation effect."

-- That's the beauty of it.  You're thinking it's a zero-sum game, that whatever OSS provides will diminish your opprtunities.  But that's not the case more than any closed-source competitor would. 

You think closed-source competitors are fair because that's "fair competition".  But while many OSS licenses allow you to do is to leverage all that has been accomplished by others, add your improvements and sell it if you like (as you suggested before).  Those that don't - tough luck, you'll just have to be better :-)




> we should share our source code so that we
> don't have to invent the wheel over and over
> again?  How is that going to evolve technology?

"Making programming a low paid profession is certainly NOT going to evolve technology. "

It won't.  It allows you to add features to more generalized open-source solutions, and thus invreases the speed of evolution of the software industry.  I think software under the OSS model will go much more towards customization of general-purpose packages.  I  think the needs for software are increasingly diversifying and expanding.  We'll all be using OSS tools to provide specific solutions to the needs of specific customers.

I think hobbyists won't outcompete professionals ever.  Or when they do, it was well deserved.  The best open-source stuff is for programmers by programmers.  You'll see that the amount of people who work for free to help someone else but themselves is limited.  OSS is about helping others AND yourself.



BTW,
Someone mentioned IBM's WebSphere above, that Apache ruins the business for IBM.  Websphere is a commercial version of Apache - IBM added their own bells and whistles.

Those who use Apache are largely those who wouldn't pay for a commercial product and are willing to do the installation and customization themselves.  WebSphere users OTOH pay for having a more shrink-wrapped product backed by a large company, which gives them a sense of confidence.

The two simply have different markets.

Mattias Thorslund
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Mattias, you are quite obviously a naive young student. Lawyers do not work for free, in the general course of things.

If a firm does the occasional case for free, it's about 1 percent of their work and easily paid for by the healthy fees they charge for their other work. So called "free" cases are often to generate other business or build up contacts in government regulatory authorities. Quite different from open source.


Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Leveraging what's been accomplished by others is great for less capable people. Nothing wrong with this but it has side effects in that there's a lower level of expertise applied to the project.


Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The lawyer 'open source' closest equivalent is probably Nolo Press and related sources of self-help.

mb
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

John K, hope you're not using any of the BSD codebase to post your messages. Surely open source has helped create a whole industry in that sense? One which certainly hasn't kept me out of work.

OC
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

John, do you really have any idea what people actually do in the software industry is really like (or the music industry for that matter)? I doubt I'm ever going to develop an OS kernel, no more than I'll sing on stage with Elvis...

Quote: "If open-source becomes more successful than it is now, it will create a programmers job market which is very similar with the rock stars job market: a handful of individuals make the big bucks, while most of them barely scrap by."

I think the latter. It's like you're saying there are only a dozen jobs in the music industry in total. There's lots of other jobs than 'Rock Star' just as there are more jobs here than 'Bill Gates' or 'Linus'. And despite the doom-and-gloom whining, the music industry is still making stacks of money for a hell of a lot of people.

Would you argue they should have kept the 4/4 meter and the 1/4/5 chord progression out of the public domain to protect the jobs of Rock Stars?

OC
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The arguments above assume that the need for software is very elastic: no matter how much you feed it, it will always grow, and grow, and grow.

This is the kind of wishful thinking that happened in the dot-com years.

The demand for software is probably NOT as elastic as you think.


Take Office, for example. This is a need that has been filled almost completely by MS Office.

There are many people who don't buy a new version of Office because the current version already does more than enough for them.

In the coming years, we shall see more and more of these people.


So, ask yourself this: is the demand for software really that elastic, or, after passing a certain level of progress in open source apps, the demand will simply be completely satisfied?

John K.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Mr/Ms. Blank:
"Mattias, you are quite obviously a naive young student. Lawyers do not work for free, in the general course of things.

If a firm does the occasional case for free, it's about 1 percent of their work and easily paid for by the healthy fees they charge for their other work. So called "free" cases are often to generate other business or build up contacts in government regulatory authorities. Quite different from open source."

-- #1: I'm not a naive young student...  I have made my living on building web applications, growing from programmer to developer to designer over four years.  At my previous employer I was building these apps in ASP, VB and MS SQL Server, but now I'm with a startup.  We are trying to get by on revenue from one or two clients alone (and avoid investors to the extent possible) while building our new app.

We can't afford the thousands of dollars we'd have to shell out on M$ licenses for each server (per PROCESSOR for SQL Server!!!), without going into the capital market looking for an investor who won't take over the whole business and boot us, the founders, once the business is making money. 

So, I started looking at OSS like PHP and MySQL which have very reasonable licenses, and though I was concerned about giving up functionality, performance or security at first, the more I learn, the more comfortable about it I have become.  PHP and MySQL are both very high quality.

So, case in point: OSS *ENABLES* programmers to put food on their table while maintaining their freedom.


-- #2: I don't see how the lawyer analogy doesn't hold true, still. Maybe you have some preconcieved idyllic notions about what OSS and what free software really is. 

I mentioned before that lawyers might take on cases for free precisely to grow their business - and not necessarily out of the goodness of their hearts. The same holds true for many commercial, Free non-OSS products like probably the browser you are using right now.  Both M$ and Netscape are growing their businesses in other areas by giving out free browsers. 

As for OSS, I see no contradiction in terms here either. Borland gives away for free a stripped-down Kylix as OSS, besides their full-feature versions, which you have to pay for.  They probably aren't doing that out of the goodness of their hearts but with the intention of growing their own business.

Mattias Thorslund
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

John:

Software products mature over time, and it has nothing or very little to do with OSS.  As for Office, Microsoft has pretty much put in all the features that people really need for such a package, and keep grasping at stuff like "smart tags" and other flops.  You are right, people seem to have stopped upgrading their Office as often as they did before because it already does what they need.  The demand is constant, you say.

I'm maintaining that the demand for software will continue to grow into ever new AREAS...  New kinds of applications that we have yet to know that we need or want.  In 1990, did you know you'd ever need a browser?  Computing for common people was all about word processing, then.  THAT market has now matured.

We will also see a lot of our apps move from the desktop platform to PDAs and G3 mobile phones - lots more programming needed here.  Much or most of this will probably be web-based WAP apps.

I don't think we are seeing the end of it, although after dot-con bust it will go a little slower - yes.  But besides new forms of personal software apps and portable platforms, there is still an immense amount of work to do in the corporate buiness sector. 

You wouldn't believe it, but a lot of businesses have lots of processes that are still run entirely on paper - allowing zero overview.  Even if they have an ERM, each business is a little different, requiring us to tweak their SAP or PeopleSoft systems to fit their business processes. 

And their information systems are still not talking to each other.  Integration work is a major sector that will probably never go away, cause it's custom for each customer.  If you want to stay in the Microsoft camp - look into BizTalk server.

This is what I mean when I say we'll probably never run out of work.  Or, more precisely, customers who are willing to pay for us to do this work.

Mattias Thorslund
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

RE: goober

If a couple of grad students and a professor successfully implemented a CORBA ORB that could compete with a $25K Orbix, then Orbix was *over-priced*.

So let's call goober's company goober.com.  Lets say goober.com's product costs $25K as well.  Previous to the existance of ACE-TAO (the free ORB), goober.com can only sell to customers with $50K to spend.  The customer spends $50K and goober.com gets only $25K. 

ACE-TAO comes out and reduces ORBs to a commodity.  Bad news for Orbix and IONA, but good news for **everybody else**.  A whole new category of customer is now available.  goober.com can now sell more products at $25K and keep all the profit for themselves.  Companies including government departments who would never have bought the product at $50K can now afford it (or can buy 2 instead of 1).

Orbix was overpriced.  They were selling a buzzword technology to a bunch of big-spenders who didn't know any better.  It's a great place to be... until competition wises up to it.  A product can be commoditized by any competition.  Free software is not special.

Richard Ponton
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

While some say that Open Source (as a bazaar) produces higher quality code than a close source process, the fact is that few open source applications are actually usable and posses some sort of vision, like Linux and Apache. The fact is that few open source developers are willing to comply to an orderly development process for free. Open Source is developed by people that want to make something cool and personal, with highly specialized features but they lack vision. Take for example Mozilla. I do not know if they have those bookmarks working by now, but as 1.3, bookmark management was not pretty. This is a simple thing to do, code a straightforward bookmark manager, but it didn’t get done. My point is that the only way (with very few exceptions) that an Open Source project will be consistent, motored by a vision and successful is that if this project is well funded and follows a well defined development process, like most closed source projects. Many private companies fund Open Source projects with multiple motivations, even they fund the very organizations behind some Open Source projects. 

Pablo
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

"If a couple of grad students and a professor successfully implemented a CORBA ORB that could compete with a $25K Orbix, then Orbix was *over-priced*."

If that professor and a couple of grad students used 2 million $ in taxpayers money to produce this thing, how does that make Orbix overpriced?

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, July 31, 2003

"If that professor and a couple of grad students used 2 million $ in taxpayers money to produce this thing, how does that make Orbix overpriced?"

did they use that much $?

if so, I wonder what their hourly wage was.

that would equate to $666666 each, so if I assume their average hourly wage was $40, that works out to...16666 hours, or 694 days of work, assuming they all worked 24 hours a day all day every day for nearly 2 years thats all it would have taken them to do it :)

personally I suspect it didn't cost that much...

FullNameRequired
Thursday, July 31, 2003

2 million $ buys you a team of around 5 people for 5 years in Euro Academia. You should not look at wages, but at costs.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, August 01, 2003

did they use that much $?

..or was that a random guess?

FullNameRequired
Saturday, August 02, 2003

A very, very conservative guess.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, August 04, 2003

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