Subject Re: [IBDI] GPL
Author David K. Trudgett
On Tuesday 2002-02-19 at 05:10:29 -0500, Ann W. Harrison wrote:

> At 10:26 AM 2/15/2002 +1100, David K. Trudgett wrote:
> > First, you are using the word
> >"free" to mean "free of charge". That is not what this subject is
> >about. Anyone is free to charge as much as they like for GPL'd
> >software. It's just that they're unlikely to make much money doing so
> >(Red Hat's doing all right selling their official "boxed sets", though,
> >I notice -- so it's not impossible).
> There's a volume issue.

Yes, that's obviously the case. No one said it was easy, in fact I
said just the opposite. I also said that it's not impossible to make
money that way, which is quite undeniably true. That doesn't mean that
Red Hat, or anyone else, can start out by selling "boxed sets",

> >Second, you assume that "selling" software is the only way to make
> >money from it. This is indeed not the case. Value added services have
> >a big future ahead. Even IBM understands this: they intend to make a
> >lot of money out of the GPL'd Linux.
> If independent developers base their business plans on the practices
> of IBM,

The subject is not limited to "independent developers" (which, I
assume, is a nice way to say "one man bands" -- or is that "one person
bands" these days?? ;-) )

Furthermore, nowhere was it suggested that anyone (not even IBM)
should base their business plan on what IBM does, or thinks they're
going to do.

> there won't be any small developers around.

Nor was there any suggestion that small developers (or anyone else)
could make a great living by spending all their time writing software
and then giving it away. One would have to be a little touched in the
head to suggest anything of the sort.

On the other hand, it is not impossible to make money and give away
all your software. Richard Stallman does it, for instance. (And no,
I'm not saying that anyone could or should do what RS does! He is just
an easy example to illustrate that something is indeed possible.)

Don't forget that not everyone wants to be mega-rich (meaning that not
everyone wants to do what it takes, and make the sacrifices that are
necessary, in order to get rich).

> Basically, you can't make a dime on services until you've got a
> market for your product and a reputation.

That's not strictly true. Zope, for example, is a good example of an
open source, now GPL'd, product that makes money for a commercial
consulting organisation. They used the Open Source paradigm to improve
their product, which is the basis of their consultancy business. They
certainly made money long before they had a "market" and a
"reputation" as you put it. [ref:

Whether the Zope Corporation ever was or ever will be mega/filthy rich
is not the point.

> Documentation is also a
> very hard way to make money. Without documentation, nobody is going
> to use your product, so you need to give away documentation to build
> market & reputation.

Yes, it's very hard, but once again, not impossible. The O'Reilly
Camel Book (Programming Perl) makes a lot of money, for instance.

> >Third, you assume that third parties distributing your software at no
> >cost to you is a bad thing. A moment's contemplation should show that,
> >on the contrary, it could be a huge advantage.
> Sure. It could make you the next new thing - if you don't starve
> while the world is beating a path to your door. (You'd think that
> something as large as the world would be faster at beating paths ...
> the realization that it's not is one of the many many disappointments
> of a career in the mousetrap business.)

:-) Wanna better mouse trap?

> >As a matter of interest, why do you want people to use IB or FB? I'm
> >not being clever, it's a serious, straight-forward question.
> I want people to use Firebird because I believe that software built
> on Firebird will be better than software built on other databases and
> because better software makes my life better. Take Quicken (please).
> There's someone on this list who could build a better, faster, more
> useful small company accounting package using Firebird as its data
> manager. Maybe that person would spend 18 months living off savings
> and credit cards just for the glory if the package had to be released
> under GPL. Maybe. For me, glory is even better when combined with
> the chance of making a filthy amount of money. I also like working

How much is a "filthy" amount? I wasn't aware that money got dirtier
the more you have of it... :-)

> for entrepreneurial, self-funded, product-oriented small companies
> and want to seem Firebird help them succeed.
> Stepping off the soap-box now,

You've earned your rest.

Bye for now.

David Trudgett