Questions about open source.

Questions about open source.

Post by David MacLella » Thu, 06 Sep 2001 15:41:21



Hello Everyone,
I have been in the software development game for the last decade. I have
been using Microsoft technologies mostly however feeling the pinch from
excessive licensing cost and the ever changing technology I have descovered
Linux and I want to persue it.

I'm not slamming linux but can anyone answer these simple questions?

1) How does a linux based company make money after giving away the source?
(Lets face it we all have to live!)

2) How does one make money as an enterprising developer if I allow my source
and binaries to be freely distributed without charge?

3) Can a novice just grab my code and do whatever the hell they want to with
it and make it unstable with poor programming techniques and pass it on?

4) Can someone take my code and make a few changes and market it as their
code without consequence?

5) How can developers globally agree on a common architecture for my
project?

6) Do all Linux developers give away their source code?

7) If others contribute to my code base but I think it's straying from my
original architecture is there any recourse?

8) Is it risky to agressively develope a new Linux based project at this
time considering Microsoft's guideline that development costs are typically
in excess of 1 million USD per application minimum (For Windows products)?

Thanks in advance.

 
 
 

Questions about open source.

Post by Richard Thripplet » Fri, 07 Sep 2001 04:59:18



>Hello Everyone,
>I have been in the software development game for the last decade. I have
>been using Microsoft technologies mostly however feeling the pinch from
>excessive licensing cost and the ever changing technology I have descovered
>Linux and I want to persue it.

>I'm not slamming linux but can anyone answer these simple questions?

        Just be warned, you might get a few hostile responses. First off,
you _don't have to open source Linux software_. This is obvious to most
people on this group, but a common myth perpetuated by certain parties.

Quote:>1) How does a linux based company make money after giving away the source?
>(Lets face it we all have to live!)

        They make money by not giving away the source (well duh!), and
instead selling the closed binaries. If you mean companies like Mandrake and
Redhat that just sell distros, they get money because people are willing to
pay for a nice convenient CD in a box even though it's stuffed with free
software. Not forgetting the support and documentation(boxed manuals) they sell.

Quote:>2) How does one make money as an enterprising developer if I allow my source
>and binaries to be freely distributed without charge?

        See above; don't open source your code if you really want to profit!
Quote:>3) Can a novice just grab my code and do whatever the hell they want to with
>it and make it unstable with poor programming techniques and pass it on?

        Yes if it's open sourced. If you fear this, don't open source it!
Quote:>4) Can someone take my code and make a few changes and market it as their
>code without consequence?
        Ditto.
>5) How can developers globally agree on a common architecture for my
>project?

        I'm not exactly sure what you mean by this question....
Quote:>6) Do all Linux developers give away their source code?

        Those developing Linux itself, yes, those who write apps for Linux,
not all, though it is much more popular on Linux (and other unices) than
other OSes.
Quote:>7) If others contribute to my code base but I think it's straying from my
>original architecture is there any recourse?

        You don't have to accept code into _your_ project if you don't like
it. However with most open source licenses someone can create a derivative
based on your work if they want.
Quote:>8) Is it risky to agressively develope a new Linux based project at this
>time considering Microsoft's guideline that development costs are typically
>in excess of 1 million USD per application minimum (For Windows products)?

        Microsoft aren't exactly the pinacle of good development practise.
Anyway, it might be risky, it might not. It really depends on the project
and potential user base. One thing to be wary about when developing
commercial software for Linux is the immense amount of competition; entirely
free open source projects are very hard to compete with on a value for money
basis, so best to develop something unique.

Richard

 
 
 

Questions about open source.

Post by Bob Tennen » Fri, 07 Sep 2001 04:08:48


 >
 > 1) How does a linux based company make money after giving away the source?
 > (Lets face it we all have to live!)

First, you don't have to "give away the source". Only if you use or link to
GPLed source *and* distribute a binary are you required to make your source
available too. But if you do make the source available (and benefit from that
in many ways), you make money by selling your expertise or other services.

 > 2) How does one make money as an enterprising developer if I allow my source
 > and binaries to be freely distributed without charge?

You might find someone who will pay you to develop a program and doesn't care
whether its source is available to others.  

 > 3) Can a novice just grab my code and do whatever the hell they want to with
 > it and make it unstable with poor programming techniques and pass it on?

In principle yes but in practice no.  What will happen is that you'll get
bug fixes and patches providing new functionality.

 > 4) Can someone take my code and make a few changes and market it as their
 > code without consequence?

If you use a BSD-style license, yes.  That's what Microsoft have done.
But if your code is GPLed, they'll have to distribute the changed source
as well.

 > 5) How can developers globally agree on a common architecture for my
 > project?

If it's *your* project, you can dictate the architecture if necessary.
In practice, there are discussions and compromises.  It's no different
from any other multi-developer project except that e-mail is used more
than face-to-face discussion.

 > 6) Do all Linux developers give away their source code?

No.

 > 7) If others contribute to my code base but I think it's straying from my
 > original architecture is there any recourse?

Just say no.

 > 8) Is it risky to agressively develope a new Linux based project at this
 > time considering Microsoft's guideline that development costs are typically
 > in excess of 1 million USD per application minimum (For Windows products)?

Depends on the type of application.  

Bob T.

 
 
 

Questions about open source.

Post by Tom Wilso » Fri, 07 Sep 2001 09:12:59



> Hello Everyone,
> I have been in the software development game for the last decade. I have
> been using Microsoft technologies mostly however feeling the pinch from
> excessive licensing cost and the ever changing technology I have
> descovered Linux and I want to persue it.

> I'm not slamming linux but can anyone answer these simple questions?

> 1) How does a linux based company make money after giving away the source?
> (Lets face it we all have to live!)

There's nothing preventing you from selling proprietary commercial
applications.  Does Oracle distribute the source for their Linux port?
Think Borland tosses the Kylix source tree to you upon purchase?

The answer to both is a resounding "Hell no!", of course.

Quote:

> 2) How does one make money as an enterprising developer if I allow my
> source and binaries to be freely distributed without charge?

You don't have to do this. VMWare, for example, does quite nicely and they
sure as hell won't let you see their source or distribute their product for
free.  (Damned shame, too. I'd love to have a peek at it)

Quote:

> 3) Can a novice just grab my code and do whatever the hell they want to
> with it and make it unstable with poor programming techniques and pass it
> on?

If you distribute source code, you certainly run that risk. I don't hear of
it happening all that much, though.

Quote:

> 4) Can someone take my code and make a few changes and market it as their
> code without consequence?

> 5) How can developers globally agree on a common architecture for my
> project?

> 6) Do all Linux developers give away their source code?

I don't as a general rule since 99.99 percent of my projects are done on
contract and under NDAs. There are some little things I'm working on for
myself that will be GPL'd (Actually, I'd prefer to just public domain them)
eventually as I think it proper to give back to the community.

Quote:

> 7) If others contribute to my code base but I think it's straying from my
> original architecture is there any recourse?

Take your ball and go home?

Quote:

> 8) Is it risky to agressively develope a new Linux based project at this
> time considering Microsoft's guideline that development costs are
> typically in excess of 1 million USD per application minimum (For Windows
> products)?

Depends on the scope of the application and your marketbase, I guess. I'd
sure as hell not jump into a costly development cycle without first
determining if there's adequate demand for it.

The 1,000,000 USD per application estimate, believe it or not, is pretty
close to truth for a largish Windows based project. The one I'm still
involved with has exceeded this amount and then some.

Quote:> Thanks in advance.

--
Tom Wilson
Registration #194021 - http://counter.li.org
Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.
 
 
 

Questions about open source.

Post by Tsu Dho Nim » Fri, 07 Sep 2001 12:12:43


I suggest you read http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/
especially The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Homesteading the
Noosphere and The Magic Cauldron.  It explains the tribal customs
and practices.

Quote:>I'm not slamming linux but can anyone answer these simple questions?

>1) How does a linux based company make money after giving away the source?
>(Lets face it we all have to live!)

CONVENIENCE!
  They sell support contracts to persons who would rather NOT
spend the time dredging up the information needed to solve the
problem.  They package stuff with installers.
  (the alternative to buying a distribution is downloading and
compiling code - kinda like the difference between buying KFC and
having to raise your own chickens, chop off their heads and
dismember them just to get some crispy fried chicken ... most of
the world likes the convenience)

CUSTOMIZATION
  changes to the source to make something work better for others
is a billable job ... there is a tremendous amount of business
software that never leaves a company.  This, by the way, need
nopt be published if the company does not distribute the modified
code aoutside their own organization.

Quote:>2) How does one make money as an enterprising developer if I allow my source
>and binaries to be freely distributed without charge?

  First, get REAL GOOD, then worry about it.  FYI. you can
develop non-open source software on a LINUX based system - just
don't use any bits of open source code in the closed source
stuff.  If you have something REALLY useful, and reasonable
priced, people will buy it.

Quote:>3) Can a novice just grab my code and do whatever the hell they want to with
>it and make it unstable with poor programming techniques and pass it on?

They could, but it probably wouldn't be very popular.  If they
wreck it and leave your name on it, they wouldn't be very popular
either ... there is a complex unwritten code of conduct about how
tohandle someone else's code.  See the above URL.

Quote:>4) Can someone take my code and make a few changes and market it as their
>code without consequence?

  NO ... if your code were open source they would have to GIVE it
away.  If you caught them selling your open source code, I think
you might be able to make them hand over the profits to a charity
or something.

Quote:>5) How can developers globally agree on a common architecture for my
>project?

  After much argument and discussion, and beer.

Quote:>6) Do all Linux developers give away their source code?

  The really good ones do.

Quote:>7) If others contribute to my code base but I think it's straying from my
>original architecture is there any recourse?

  It's considered rude to deviate from the original plan withjout
discussing it, and if you are a decent people person, and have a
good idea, it probably wouldn't happen.  If you view open source
as a way to have talented minions do your bidding, you are
probably in for a shock.

Quote:>8) Is it risky to agressively develope a new Linux based project at this
>time considering Microsoft's guideline that development costs are typically
>in excess of 1 million USD per application minimum (For Windows products)?

  Microsoft is just trying to scare people off.  They are a
bloated and inefficient bureaucracy.  also, their development
costs are a tax deduction :)
Tsu Dho Nimh

When faced with choice between changing one's mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.
John Kenneth Galbraith

 
 
 

Questions about open source.

Post by webgia » Fri, 07 Sep 2001 12:45:14


On Tue, 4 Sep 2001 23:41:21 -0700, "David MacLellan"


>Hello Everyone,
>I have been in the software development game for the last decade. I have
>been using Microsoft technologies mostly however feeling the pinch from
>excessive licensing cost and the ever changing technology I have descovered
>Linux and I want to persue it.

>I'm not slamming linux but can anyone answer these simple questions?

>1) How does a linux based company make money after giving away the source?
>(Lets face it we all have to live!)

Linux-based companies concentrate on servicing their software for
their profits, but one important distinction between giving the
software itself away for free and giving the source code away for free
is that not everyone knows how or wants to spend the time compiling
the source code into the software.  Thus Linux companies can still
make a profit selling the compiled software even though the source
code is GPLed.

Secondly, not all Linux projects have to be GPLed.  You can exercise
full proprietary rights over a Linux application, and you will still
sell software within the Linux community, provided your product is
good and works well.

Quote:>2) How does one make money as an enterprising developer if I allow my source
>and binaries to be freely distributed without charge?

And there is the distinction: while you have to distribute the source
code freely under the GPL license, you are under no requirement to
distribute the *binaries* freely.

However, as per the servicing arrangements making the profits, here's
how the open source movement has a step above M$: if you are trying to
make a profit from sales of software which is equal to your customer
support profit, then you lose money when someone copies your software
and gives it for free to someone else, since you cannot sell support
to that new customer since they are guilty of software piracy.

If you make most of your money from servicing your software and very
little of your efforts are spent trying to make a profit from selling
the software itself, every person who gets a copy of your software is
a NEW CUSTOMER to whom you can now sell customer service for
additional profits.

As mentioned above, applications for Linux can be proprietary if you
want them to be.  Just because most of the apps for Linux happen to be
GPLed doesn't mean yours has to be.

Quote:>3) Can a novice just grab my code and do whatever the hell they want to with
>it and make it unstable with poor programming techniques and pass it on?

Yes.  Can they do it under your name?  No, their name gets tacked onto
the poor quality product while your good name rests solely with the
good quality product.

And as per Linux proprietary software, if you made it proprietary, you
can take them to court under conventional copyright laws if they grab
your proprietary conventionally copyrighted code and make their own
changes.

Quote:>4) Can someone take my code and make a few changes and market it as their
>code without consequence?

Yes, but they have to indicate which portions of the source code came
from you.  The GPL is a two-way street: you have to give it out
freely, they have to indicate that **you** gave it to them.

And as per Linux proprietary software, if you made it proprietary, you
can take them to court under conventional copyright laws if they grab
your proprietary conventionally copyrighted code and make their own
changes.

Quote:>5) How can developers globally agree on a common architecture for my
>project?

They get in organizations and committees and decide on these things.
Sure, it wasn't the initial way to handle OS, but they figured out
early on that standardizing some of it was a Good Thing.

Quote:>6) Do all Linux developers give away their source code?

Depends on the Licensing.  If you business-BSD license your stuff, you
don't have to.  If you copyright your code in the conventional way,
you don't have to. GPLed means you have to give away the source code,
but you do retain the right to people leaving your name on your source
code.

Quote:>7) If others contribute to my code base but I think it's straying from my
>original architecture is there any recourse?

Sure: don't accept contributions to your code which you don't want in
your code!  Other people may develop parallel development of similar
coding projects, but you do have final control over what code you
choose to incorporate into your own projects.

The GPL requires that source code be freely given out.  It doesn't
require that you accept all source code offered to you.

Quote:>8) Is it risky to agressively develope a new Linux based project at this
>time considering Microsoft's guideline that development costs are typically
>in excess of 1 million USD per application minimum (For Windows products)?

Most of M$ programming costs come from trying to fix the bugs and
holes in the Windoze operating system.  This isn't Linux-nut
hyperbole, this is what independent M$ programmers indicate when asked
about what the majority of their coding efforts under Windoze
constitute (and what many of them say is a contributing factor to
their preference for coding under Linux over coding under Windoze).

Linux, by contrast, is already a stable Operating System, so you can
actually spend your time coding the projects and not coding around
mistakes in the Operating System.

And since you can still sell your software and are only required to
give away the source code, you can still get a profit from software
sales and from customer service.  Since you were allowed to spend more
project time on making the final product work well and had to spend
practically no time at all making it work within the Operating System,
you've probably spent less time getting the product to market than a
similar M$-based company, and your product is also much more stable
than the similar M$-based product.

 
 
 

Questions about open source.

Post by webgia » Fri, 07 Sep 2001 12:48:25





>>Hello Everyone,
>>I have been in the software development game for the last decade. I have
>>been using Microsoft technologies mostly however feeling the pinch from
>>excessive licensing cost and the ever changing technology I have descovered
>>Linux and I want to persue it.

>>I'm not slamming linux but can anyone answer these simple questions?
>    Just be warned, you might get a few hostile responses. First off,
>you _don't have to open source Linux software_. This is obvious to most
>people on this group, but a common myth perpetuated by certain parties.

>>1) How does a linux based company make money after giving away the source?
>>(Lets face it we all have to live!)
>    They make money by not giving away the source (well duh!), and
>instead selling the closed binaries. If you mean companies like Mandrake and
>Redhat that just sell distros, they get money because people are willing to
>pay for a nice convenient CD in a box even though it's stuffed with free
>software. Not forgetting the support and documentation(boxed manuals) they sell.

It is worth mentioning that both RedHat and Mandrake do a profit from
Customer Support for the distros they sell.  So the profit margins
aren't inextricably linked to forcing everyone to pay for the
software.

And as RedHat once put it, every copy of a Windoze CD is a pirated
copy whose owner won't be able to pay money to M$ for support; but
every copy of a RedHat CD is a new RedHat customer who can be charged
money for RedHat support.

 
 
 

Questions about open source.

Post by Lee Sau Da » Fri, 07 Sep 2001 13:14:29


    David> Hello Everyone, I have been in the software development
    David> game for the last decade. I have been using Microsoft
    David> technologies mostly however feeling the pinch from
    David> excessive licensing cost and the ever changing technology I
    David> have descovered Linux and I want to persue it.

You'll be  liberated from this  jail when you  turn your open  mind to
Linux and GNU.

Microsoft  "technologies"?    When  _will_  they   release  a  regular
expression library?  If you don't know what "regular expression" is, I
suggest you  , a  programmer which  I assume, learn  it.  It's  such a
useful programming  tool and concept to miss  for serious programming,
esp. for writing  parsers.  Using a regular expression  saves you from
writing *AND DEBUGGING* 1000  lines of equivalent code using Microsoft
"technologies".  Ever wondered why Perl CGI programs could be so short
yet  powerful?    Microsoft  never  developed   any  decent  scripting
languages that  even compares  with the oldest  UNIX Borne  shell (20+
years?).

    David> I'm not slamming linux but can anyone answer these simple
    David> questions?

I suggest that you read  about the Free Software philosophies from the
http://www.veryComputer.com/

    David> 1) How does a linux based company make money after giving
    David> away the source?  (Lets face it we all have to live!)

One  possibility is  through  service.  You  know,  people, even  some
system admins,  are too  stupid to just  install your  software.  They
can't even maintain it.  You  can service them by helping them install
and maintain the software, charging them money for the service.

Another possibility is software  customization.  The software that you
released with source code my be a generic one.  Some of your customers
may want some customized behaviour or specific optimizations.  You can
then fine tune  your program for these customers,  charging them money
for doing so.  (There are  non-free Apache modules, I believe, written
under  such demands.)   Whether to  release the  source code  of these
customizations and tunings  is up to you (and  your agreement with the
customer who paid for it).

    David> 2) How does one make money as an enterprising developer if
    David> I allow my source and binaries to be freely distributed
    David> without charge?

Service.  How are companies like RedHat earning money?

    David> 3) Can a novice just grab my code and do whatever the hell
    David> they want to with it and make it unstable with poor
    David> programming techniques and pass it on?

Yes, he can!  But then, this is an open world, and the code is subject
to the laws of evolution,  one of which being _natural selection_.  If
the modified versions are more  unstable than yours, then people would
naturally use YOUR version in  preference to those unstable ones.  So,
the  unstable patches would  die naturally.   Only quality  code would
pass on.  Bad programming techniques would sooner or later be replaced
by better  and cleaner techniques  and then die by  natural selection.
That's how free softwares evolve.

What's more,  the more interests on  an open, free  software, the more
developers will  be working to improve it,  accelerating the evolution
process.

If you're  still concerned,  you can add  a term in  your distribution
license that  any modifications  MUST NOT be  released under  the same
product name.  So, their unstable versions won't affect the reputation
of  your product.  Such  a term  is usually  found in  commercial open
source software.

    David> 4) Can someone take my code and make a few changes and
    David> market it as their code without consequence?

If you  released YOUR  code under  the GPL, then  no, they  can't.  By
doing so, they're violating the licence, and you have the legal rights
to sue them.

    David> 5) How can developers globally agree on a common
    David> architecture for my project?

Open a  discussion, say in  a new group  or a mailing list  and gather
opinions.  You'll need  to come to some consensus  later.  Have a look
at the various projects at http://www.veryComputer.com/

    David> 6) Do all Linux developers give away their source code?

No.  Linux developers can develop closed-source, proprietary software.

However, many  of them do  give away their  source code.  This  is not
compulsory.  It  is just for  m*reasons.  You took  something from
the Free  Software community  for free.  You  benefit from  this.  So,
when you're capable, you ought to make some contributions.

    David> 7) If others contribute to my code base but I think it's
    David> straying from my original architecture is there any
    David> recourse?

Let them split off.

This has  happened to  Emacs.  Emacs now  have two  major developments
tracks going on in parallel:  GNU Emacs and XEmacs.  The XEmacs group,
originally "Lucid  Emacs", became tired of how  traditional Emacs (now
usually know as GNU Emacs)  was implemented.  They proposed and made a
new  implementation,  with which  they  added  new  features that  was
difficult or impossible with the traditional implementation.  However,
Richard  Stallman, the  originator  of GNU  Emacs,  didn't like  these
"dirty tricks".  So,  the new features were not  incorporated into GNU
Emacs.  So, XEmacs split off.

Although they split, they are not enemies of each other.  For example,
many new  features of GNU Emacs  were actually taken  from XEmacs, and
XEmacs  also   learnt  from  GNU  Emacs.   I   consider  this  healthy
competition.  Each team is  trying to improve in different dimensions,
and then learn from each other.   These two groups also seem to try to
keep version  numbers in sync.  So,  Emacs users knows  what Emacs 19,
Emacs 20 and Emacs 21  are, although there are many subtle differences
between GNU Emacs and XEmacs.

    David> 8) Is it risky to agressively develope a new Linux based
    David> project at this time considering Microsoft's guideline that
    David> development costs are typically in excess of 1 million USD
    David> per application minimum (For Windows products)?

If you're going to start a US$1mil project, then that is really agressive.

I believe  you can  start some smaller  projects first, and  gain some
experience and familiarity with Linux before investing US$1mil.

Anyway, I  find this "minimum" suggested  by Microsoft is  too much an
exaggeration.  You  can easily develop  a simple web-mail  system, for
example, on mySQL, Apache, sendmail, etc. for a very very low cost and
within  months  (including  time  for  your  retraining  to  the  UNIX
philosophies).  

Well... US$1mil  may be  true if you  use MS technologies  entirely --
they  can charge you  for astronomical  figures even  for a  buggy and
unstable implementation  of a  "technology" which have  been available
free for  a decade as  a GNU library.   Stay with GNU and  you'll have
access to the latest technologies for minimal cost.

--

.----------------------------------------------------------------------------.

`----------------------------------------------------------------------------'

 
 
 

Questions about open source.

Post by David MacLella » Fri, 07 Sep 2001 15:27:01


Thanks guys for your helpful insight! I definately want to give this a try!
 
 
 

Questions about open source.

Post by goug.. » Sun, 09 Sep 2001 04:17:16



> Hello Everyone,
> I have been in the software development game for the last decade. I have
> been using Microsoft technologies mostly however feeling the pinch from
> excessive licensing cost and the ever changing technology I have descovered
> Linux and I want to persue it.

> I'm not slamming linux but can anyone answer these simple questions?

> 1) How does a linux based company make money after giving away the source?
> (Lets face it we all have to live!)

Support is one of many options (see some of Eric S Raymonds writings)

Quote:> 2) How does one make money as an enterprising developer if I allow my source
> and binaries to be freely distributed without charge?

It largely depends what your program *does*

Quote:

> 3) Can a novice just grab my code and do whatever the hell they want to with
> it and make it unstable with poor programming techniques and pass it on?

> 4) Can someone take my code and make a few changes and market it as their
> code without consequence?

No.

Quote:

> 5) How can developers globally agree on a common architecture for my
> project?

By communicating with each other

Quote:

> 6) Do all Linux developers give away their source code?

Many developpers write for Linux and don't give away the source

Quote:

> 7) If others contribute to my code base but I think it's straying from my
> original architecture is there any recourse?

Not really.  What will most likely happen is the project will fork.  You
can control the 'official' version, but there can be other versions

Quote:

> 8) Is it risky to agressively develope a new Linux based project at this
> time considering Microsoft's guideline that development costs are typically
> in excess of 1 million USD per application minimum (For Windows products)?

In an open source project, you will have a large pool of programmers
working for free.

Quote:

> Thanks in advance.

--
http://www.guild.bham.ac.uk/chess-club
 
 
 

1. Question on open source licensing etc.,

Can one release an app. as open source that relies on non opensource
libraries?, where
the libraries are a free download, with no restriction on redistribution,
but the library source
is not available for free. Will this fall afoul of opensource licenses such
as GPL, LGPL, and
most importantly QPL ? (QPL is important because the stuff i wrote uses QT)

thanks in advance
--Sunil

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