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Re: [seul-edu] SEUL Licensing

At 09:27 PM 8/30/00 -0700, Bill Ries-Knight wrote:
>Methinks it is time to review what is on the deck at opensource.org

Not sure why, but I'll oblige. In terms of the concerns I've been raising,
the relevant part of the argument is on the page 


where they discuss the issue of earning a living in open source. They do so

They ask and answer 3 questions:

1. "How can I make a living doing open-source software?

"There are companies making money programming open-source software right
now. Red Hat, Cygnus, and Caldera are three of the best known. There are

They have a peculiar definition of "making money". Red Hat and Caldera were
still running big losses last time I checked, as was Cygnus for many years
before RH acquired it. Now the *losses* don't prove Open Source is a
failure; but neither is the performance of any of these companies *yet*
evidence of Open Source's financial success. If there really are others, the
writers should name them -- the ones they do name are not impressive.

2. "If open-source wins out, will programmers starve?"

The response is a long, theoretical argument about use value versus market
value versus something they call "monopoly value". It's simply speculation
about the future, the kind of untested guesswork I was complaining about

They also offer up Red Hat here once more:

"Open-source software has no market value

"We know this isn't true. Probably the purest demonstration today is Red
Hat, which has built a flourishing business selling software you can
download for free from Red Hat's own web site! Red Hat's sales are doubling
every year."

And its losses trebling. This is "flourishing"? Again, no evidence, yet, of
anything other than the willingness of the IPO market to take risks.

3. "Can corporations earn good returns on selling open-source?"

"... We believe there are serveral different business models under which
selling software would still be viable in an open-source world - and both
have exemplars today." This follows a link to
http://www.opensource.org/for-suits.html, which contains this list of "Four
Ways To Win":

        "1.Support Sellers (Otherwise known as ``Give Away the Recipe, Open
A Restaurant''.) In this model, you (effectively) give away the software
product, but sell distribution, branding, and after-sale service. This is
what (for example) Red Hat and Cygnus are doing." Not profitably, though.

        "2.Loss Leader  In this model, you give away open-source as a
loss-leader and market positioner for closed software. This is what Netscape
is doing." Not profitably either, as I recall, prior to its acquisition
(when *was* this thing written? does anybody maintain it?). Let's be honest
- the sort-of Open Source Netscape "strategy" was a desparation move after
Microsoft beat them on their very conventional,
sell-it-one-copy-at-a-time-in-shrink-wrap model.

        "3.Widget Frosting  In this model, a hardware company (for which
software is a necessary adjunct but strictly a cost rather than profit
center) goes open-source in order to get better drivers and interface tools
cheaper. Silicon Graphics, for example, supports and ships Samba." SGI,
which last year lost $4.52 per share. It's like shooting ducks in a pond. 

        "4.Accessorizing  Selling accessories -- books, compatible hardware,
complete systems with open-source software pre-installed. It's easy to
trivialize this (open-source T-shirts, coffee mugs, Linux penguin dolls) but
at least the books and hardware underly some clear successes: O'Reilly
Associates, SSC, and VA Research are among them." O'Reilly maybe (I don't
think it is public, but it is an ordinary, quite sensible book publishing
business, likely to be profitable), and ORA does provide some support for
Open Source projects. SSC is the publisher of Linux Journal and also not
public (I believe), but what Open Source programming does SSC actually
support? VA Research (long ago renamed VA Linux) isn't profitable yet, and
does support Open Source work quite a bit, both financially and with access
to resources like Sourceforge.

Bottom line: if you liked the bridge, I've got some lovely Florida real
estate for you. This article does a nice job of presenting the theoretical
case for why Open Source *may* in the future be a foundation for profitable
businesses, but not evidence that it has *succeeded* in today's marketplace. 

Of more immediate concern for us -- please look for yourself at these ideas
and suggest, if you can, how any of them can be used to motivate programmers
to create the software needed by schools. I can't.


------------------------------------"Never tell me the odds!"---
Ray Olszewski                                        -- Han Solo
Palo Alto, CA           	 	         ray@comarre.com