valinux goes propietary?

Giovanni Biscuolo giovanni.biscuolo at
Mon Aug 27 10:25:30 UTC 2001

Alex Hudson wrote:
> On Sun, Aug 26, 2001 at 07:37:23PM +0200, Wim De Smet wrote:
> > > Good analisys, but there is something missing, the problem is not "yeah
> > > my company is doing free software so the investors are preoccupied", the
> > > problem is that the "old economy" is trying to put the "free software
> > > economy" out of his market (this is a big problem and not only on the
> > > software).
> > Off course, it also has something to do with the fact that numerous
> > companies went out of business the past months. Investor trust is hard to
> > find, and a conservative business model is the way VA Linux is trying to
> > convince them to stick with it.
> Am I the only one not scared by this?

Actually I find it funny!

> I agree with your technical analysis,
> but there are some profound implications. I found ESR's explanation poor to
> the point of me losing what little respect I have left for his ideas, in
> that I find his arguments weaken with every thing he publishes (the idea of
> furbage I thought missed the point and begged the question; his explanation
> of VA's 'change of tactic' is little more than a tacit admission of defeat).

Avoiding freedom made his thought poor and weak sinche the beginning of
the open source definition.

> What is particularly galling is that no-one seems to be coming out saying
> how bad this is - OSDN in particular (vested interests, I know) seems to be
> becoming more and more anti-Free Software. The fact of the matter is that to
> attempt to please investors, VA are developing closed applications. Let's
> buy ESR's explanation, and call it proprietary tinsel. And let's assume it
> does very well. What do investors learn from this lesson? That closing
> software makes more money. 

I'd wait to see if this 'change of tactic' is going to let VA investors
making the money they would like. This is yet to be demonstrated.

Anyway, in the ESR tale
( the
'middle manager' that buys that 'proprietary tinsel' will be _forever_
tied to _that_ supplier, payng him for every and each 'tinsel' to the
'proprietary tinsel'. Furthermore it is likely that his 'proprietary
tinsel' doesn't well interact with 'proprietary tinsels' from other
suppliers [1].
Try to imagine what whould happen if all 'middle managers' (all the
users in general) is not that kind of ignorant about information
tecnology to realise that it is not reasonable to give away the freedom
for what they call 'proprietary tinsel', especially when there is an
alternative that gives you freedom 1 and freedom 3 (see ;-) ).
And what about - after the 'middle manager' computes the total cost of
ownership of the 'proprietary tinsel' in 10 years [2] - he realizes that
it costs _very much_ less to ask for a free software 'tinsel' to an
organization willing to sell him?
And what about if an entire category of 'middle managers' starts to ask
their company to join their investments to produce a free software
'tinsel' (that works very well with their other free software 'tinsel'
for their amazing interconnection features) that fit the category needs,
decreasing in that way with an exponential rate the total cost of
Maybe one day users will realize all that, and to sell free software
will be much more convenient than proprietary one.

The moral of the tale is that free software freedoms are convenient to
the users, while taking away that freedoms is convenient to those who
like to make money on the lack of that freedoms. It's up to the users to
understand what free software freedoms really means.

Im am also persuaded that in a free software environment thare are still
very much ways to do business.

> So the pressure to produce more closed apps will
> be applied: investors will see no line, no law of diminishing returns. They
> will keep pressing for more closure until they stop seeing the benefits, and
> probably beyond.

Just what happened around '80... an old story.

> Even animals, at a very basic level, learn by reward. VA closes app, VA gets
> a cookie as a reward. Good VA. Investors want more of the same. They want
> more cookies.

Users decides to give or not to give the money for that cookies.

> Sad, very sad.

The very problem is to increase the overall information tecnology

Hard, very hard ;-)

> Cheers,
> Alex.


[1] suppliers of 'proprietary tinsels' often tends to avoid
    with 'proprietary tinsels' from other suppliers to try to reach a
    commanding position in the market. Proprietary file formats are just 
    an example of this strategy.

[2] we should agree upon the fact that the lack of interconnection with
    rest of our information tecnology infrastructure is a cost.
    How does it costs to input two times the same data (a very common
    situation)into two non interconnected softwares for 10 years?

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