Lee Iverson wrote:
> And where does this claim come from? When has an open-source release
> "killed an industry"?
The difficulty with proving the proposition is the invisibility of the
effect. Once, there were 20 different unix competitors. (That was not
a good thing, mind you. The lack of standards was apalling.) Now, there
is Linux and Solaris. Will others ever exist? It's hard to tell. It's
*extremely* hard to identify how much work is not going on in a given
area, due to the lack of ability to derive compensation from it.
> A much better example is of an open source release "creating" an
> industry cf. the Web. The Web exists today because Tim Berners-Lee
> and the team at NCSA were committed to 1) simple, open standards, 2)
> open source software, and 3) a *free* front end. An strong argument
> can be made that these were the things that differentiated the 90's
> WWW success from the failures of all previous hypertext efforts.
That is a great example. It shows how great things can happen. But to
whom does the browser industry now belong? To the only company that
was actually making a profit at the time (and that from doing other
How many browser competitors are there? How many tree-oriented browsers,
XML-oriented browsers? How many of them are staffed to deliver a stable,
professional-grade product, vs. a nice weekend hack that will never
become much more than that?
> There are definitely successful open source companies (Cygnus was one
> and Codesourcery is another) that have very simple business models.
> They develop and maintain open source software that other companies
> depend on. The companies paying for the work get the advantage of
> having a stable, centralized code base that they can direct the
> development of with their dollars. Moreover, because other companies
> are also paying to continue development, there is an economy of scale.
> With Apache, it is slightly different, in that the vast majority of
> development (as I understand it) gets done in-house by various
> companies who then feed the changes back into the open source code
> base. As Brian Behlendorf argues, everybody wins with this model.
> Most bugs get fixed quickly and fed back into the baseline code.
> There is a substantial incentive to not branch, since so much work is
> being done by others that you wouldn't be able to take advantage of if
> you were to branch or hold a large codebase private.
> There *are* successful business models out there. Interestingly, they
> are service-oriented and programmer-intensive. Seems just fine by me.
Yes. The Cygnus example in particular points to the one case where
open source *can* work. When you are selling a support to a company,
who can easily justify the expense because it is making money, then
the model can work. As I argued, it is consumer-grade products which
really seem to fail with this model.
I guess the lesson I would learn for the bootstrap project is to give
client software away to promote the market, and charge good money to
support the server side of the business!
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