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Author Topic: For Perk: I've got it!  (Read 2186 times)
vsloathe
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« on: August 28, 2008, 08:13:59 AM »

We were having the FOSS discussion the other day, and I've come up with the analogy that was escaping me when you lumped musicians in with developers:

Software developers are like mathematicians, not musicians. Well, I suppose they're sort of like musicians, because whether or not musicians pay royalties to one another or not, there are always "influences" to a person's particular brand of music. A band will always give credit somewhere to the influential predecessors who have helped shape their sound, etc. On a similar vein, mathematicians build upon one another's proofs. In the same way, developers *must* be free to build upon one another's code. To think otherwise is anti-technology. That's my view, your mileage may vary.

And regarding Apple, the final word I'll say: Darwin shows that, like Microsoft, Apple is eager to take advantage of free software when it seems in their best interest to do so. From an article I read recently on the FSF's website (referring to Apple and specifically Darwin, but the article is about the iPhone) -
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They are happy to avail themselves of the freedom that free software provides when it suits them, but they don't want you to do the same.
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perkiset
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2008, 10:43:04 AM »

Software developers are like mathematicians, not musicians. Well, I suppose they're sort of like musicians, because whether or not musicians pay royalties to one another or not, there are always "influences" to a person's particular brand of music. A band will always give credit somewhere to the influential predecessors who have helped shape their sound, etc. On a similar vein, mathematicians build upon one another's proofs. In the same way, developers *must* be free to build upon one another's code. To think otherwise is anti-technology. That's my view, your mileage may vary.
IMV, you are perceiving the world of software through your own perspective of it. I think that in one/several perspectives, this is absolutely accurate and an excellent way for software to grow. However in a completely different vein, if we look simply at the difference between Apple and Linux, Apple's experience has remained reasonably stable and on a somewhat predictable development trajectory for quite a long time now. Linux has way more developers, all running amok. The difference is that art by committee is a profoundly difficult thing to do. FOSS works well particularly when software is tied to science or mathematics... but in the pure business world, there are just LOADS of places that it doesn't work.

For example - I spend 2 years developing earth shattering new piece of software for an office management task. I open source it. Days later, another company comes in, takes the code and because they've not spend their capital on development, they can spend it on marketing themselves as the best consulting firm for the package. Company A, being a bit more spent ATM, recedes and does not succeed because they blew their wad developing it and needed a second round of financing to make it work. Note that most open source things we see now (Oracle, for example) are OS after they have long since amortized the initial development cost of their wares. I have NO PROBLEM with this. They risked the capital to develop it, they should be able to at least recoup their costs if not be rewarded, before letting everyone else in on their discoveries and time spent.


And regarding Apple, the final word I'll say: Darwin shows that, like Microsoft, Apple is eager to take advantage of free software when it seems in their best interest to do so. From an article I read recently on the FSF's website (referring to Apple and specifically Darwin, but the article is about the iPhone) -
Quote
They are happy to avail themselves of the freedom that free software provides when it suits them, but they don't want you to do the same.
This is true of virtually everyone. You may well be an exception, but the VAST VAST majority of people that I run across, use FOSS to do their own thing and charge for it, not returning a single thing to the developer community or in support of the project. My personal thing, if I do not have the time to work on an open source project, is to contribute knowledge so that others may get benefit. For example - there've been many times that I've struggled through something tricky with Apache, or MySQL or even PHP and when I had the results, if I could not find information on the web for it, I've gone to places where people congregate and offer my learnings so that others may benefit.

I have my own personal example of this as well. I've now had over 3000 downloads of phpMyIDE. I've had (other than my friends already here) about 4 emails or communications about it. No one, who is not my friend, has offered to assist, recontribute or offer anything that they have learned about it. I have no baggage about this, it's why I released it - to be a tool for people that want to do similar things to me. But if people ARE updating it, or debugging it, or figuring out how to make it better, they are keeping it for themselves. And probably making money on the systems that they are updating with my software. Well good for them - I have no baggage about that either - but the sort of "We're all in this together" notion that makes you both A) one of my favorite people and B) unrealistically optimistic about the nature of the rest of the world, is not how the rest of the world operates IMO. There are pockets of people - you and I are in some of them - but the vast majority of people like FOSS because it cuts down on their cost of doing business and nothing more. Ordinary people aren't using Linux because they want to give back my friend. They're using it because it's free (or the TCO is better than a Windows box).

I wish more people were as you describe. I wish that more folks who downloaded phpMyIDE wanted to at the very least feed me back with bugs they've found so that I can make it better. Contribution (which also looks like self sacrifice) is a rare treat, and there aren't many like us.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2008, 12:06:41 PM by perkiset » Logged

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vsloathe
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2008, 11:23:55 AM »

 Grin
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