[plug] Fwd: [SLUG] Lucky 13 for Linux

Greg Mildenhall greg at networx.net.au
Mon Apr 12 12:12:07 WST 1999

On Mon, 12 Apr 1999, Trevor Phillips wrote:
> Greg Mildenhall wrote:
> > On Sun, 11 Apr 1999, skribe wrote:
> > > It was just made possible because Linus and countless others chose to forgo
> > > their proprietary interests.
> > You make that sound like an unusual choice. Isn't sharing natural?
> It IS unusual! 
I think you'll find there is a lot more freely shared software out there
than proprietary software, but you don't tend to hear about it unless you
go looking for it. Apart from the enormous amount of mainstream free
software, there is free software throughout the academic world, the ISP
world (sharing useful scripts and tools) and many other places.

Maybe you're right and more people choose to restrict their code than
choose to share it. But I still don't think denying others access is the
natural thing to do when one owns an infinitely reproducible resource.

> Sure, I love Linux and the whole concept of Free software, but I myself 
> find it difficult to give out code to something I'm proud of.
Ummm, so you're proud of it, but you don't want anyone else to use it or
see it? You can't be too proud of it.

> It's not JUST the money; it's something YOU have created, and it's nice
> to get recognition for the work. 
How do you get recognition for your work by not letting anyone else see
it? I don't understand this at all. If you want recognition, distribute it
to anyone it might be useful to - you'll get all the recognition you want,
and a fair slab of appreciation on top of that.

> If you release the source to a free app, there's a risk that someone'll
> nick the code, modify it a bit, and call it their own. 
I think perhaps you are confusing "free" (a la speech) with "public
domain". All of the free software licenses I know of prevent any credits
from being removed from the software.

> Sure, you can hassle them legally IF you find out about it,
If it's obscure enough that you don't find out about it, then I doubt
there is any recognition there that you are missing.

> but not everyone wants to fight for their code.
I suppose it depends again on how proud you are of the code.

> Maybe I'm raving a bit, but from personal experience, it's harder to do
> free code from an Author's point of view than it is from a Consumers.
Yep. You are quite right. Anti-competitive "intellectual property" laws
have created a software market in which the supply-side assumptions of the
free market principles have broken down, allowing proprietary software
vendors to fleece and abuse consumers at their leisure.
In doing so, they can unfairly monopolise the jobs market for programmers,
preventing (until recently) programmers from making much money out of
creating free software.
Thankfully, we are now seeing increasing opportunities for paid free
software development from all quarters - Free software vendors, hardware
vendors, businesses reliant on specialised software, the government, and
perhaps most promising of all the fledgling Free Software Bazaar.

> Or maybe it's just something we have to learn how to handle. ^_^ 
Yes. It is clear the demand is there for software, so free software
programmers could be paid as much or more than restricted programmers are
now - and produce better-quality software which more people can use.

> Money is also nice for recognition. I'm not saying I agree with 
> Micro$oft's way, I think they DO overcharge,
I don't think they do overcharge. They charge what the market will bear,
like any company, but they are operating in a market that's natural
balance has been completely broken by government intervention.

> but when you put so much effort into something, it's nice to get a little 
> financial reward.
And there is no reason why that can't happen with free software.
Many people are financially rewarded for writing free software, and the
numbers are rising exponentially at the moment.

> If someone charges $100 to spend an hour fixing someone's PC, why should
> we be expected to give out our software we've slaved over for free?
I don't think we should be. On the other hand, the hardware guy takes
twice as much work to fix two computers, whereas it takes you just as long
to write the program for one person as it does to write it for a thousand.
After you've been paid for your services, it costs you nothing to let the
rest of the world use your program, and might do a lot of good for a lot
of other people - and of course they might return it in a better condition
than that in which they found it.

> I'm all for free software, but I can see why it's not always practical.
You can? Perhaps you mean in the present context where noone has bothered
to pay for it yet. I don't see any practical advantages in proprietary
software, but I'd be pleased to hear of some.

> I really do appreciate these companies who have different agreements
> based on situation, such as Free for personal use, Cheap for Education,
> and Full price for business...
Three different markets with three different demand structures.
The company is merely maximising it's profit by meeting the demand as
closely as possible in each of the three markets.
Sounds cynical, but if you think about it, you'll see it's true.


More information about the plug mailing list