Linux and Philosophy

Bryan Sant bryan.sant at gmail.com
Mon Jul 18 12:39:37 MDT 2005


On 7/16/05, Levi Pearson <levi at cold.org> wrote:
> The idea that the only real value in software is the support that
> goes along with it is not exactly on very solid ground.  Just like
> any other tool, software has value corresponding to the utility that
> it offers to those willing to pay for it.  Complex tools do require
> some support, in which case there is a second source of value, but
> claiming that it's the only source of value is ridiculous.
> 
> Comparisons with bargain/clearance bins are not particularly valid.
> A company with a software product that people are willing to pay lots
> of money for is not likely to go out of business, unless they make
> some poor business decisions or something.  At that point, someone
> else is likely to buy the IP, and it'll stay out of the bargain bin.
> Most of the software in the bargain bin was not worth much to begin
> with; support for it is irrelevant.
> 
>          --Levi

Agreed.  OSS if often criticized for being rough around the edges. 
There is no need for polish when you expect to support the product
directly and plan on being paid handsomely for it.  Rather there is,
to some extent, incentive for you to *not* make your OSS product too
easy if you plan on charging for support.

Nonetheless, overall I think the most useful and user-friendly OSS
products rise to the top.  But I'm not convinced that a support-based
revenue model would work well for all software.  Apple or even
Microsoft are good examples of a bad example.  Apple's software
requires far less support than equivalent OSS products because it
"works out of the box" and is generally more user friendly.  If they
made their money off of support, then I'm sure we'd see the
ease-of-use aspect of their software go out the window in future
releases.

There are many ways to make money though.  Apple *could* actually open
source their software and make profit off of hardware sales.  MS on
the other hand doesn't really have a hardware option.  They could do
what Apple is planning on doing and have their software run only on an
x86 system with a super-special BIOS with DRM technology...  You could
make your software free (libre) while ensuring that it's not free
(gratis).

-Bryan



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