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Re: Mostly free software...

On Tue, 30 Mar 1999, David Welton wrote:
>> But that isn't causing anyone harm.  Many of RMS's writings explain
>> why this is so.  In short: the people getting freebies weren't going
>> to pay _you_ anyway.  In fact, they might never have used any kind
>> of similar product if it hadn't been free.
>Good, if I am a company (which is the point of view that you are
>writing from, right?), it would be *good* if my competitors dont' use
>as high a quality software as I do.
>> That means you're helping yourself, by getting useful software,
>> helping a developer, by paying him, and helping another company, by
>> providing useful software.
>Umm, I don't *want* to help my competitors.  Maybe, if it's not a core
>product, it won't be that important, but, if I spend a lot of money
>and time paying someone to develop really nice code, from scratch,
>that is central to my business, I'll be damned if I'll hand it over to
>the competition for free.

If you are working for a large company and developing a critical business
system (eg developing a financial information system for a bank) then there is
no benefit to giving it away as the only people who can use it are your
If you work for the same bank and develop something that is smaller and not
critical to the business in the same way (eg a set of useful C++ classes for
TCP/IP programming) then the vast majority of the people who can benefit will
not be your competitors.  So getting bug fixes is likely and will provide a
If you are working for a small software development or consultancy company and
developing some software for internal use that is not saleable (such as test
tools used for testing server software you sell) then there's no benefit to
keeping the source secret and a suitable marketting speil in the documentation
may get some sales of the server software.
If you make money mainly from support and consultancy then you are probably
better off giving away all source you write unless you have signed it over to
your clients.  Marketting alone makes that worth-while.

Russell Coker

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