The Hurd

M E Leypold @ labnet leypold at
Sat Mar 23 12:05:37 UTC 2002

Marcus Brinkmann writes:
 > On Fri, Mar 22, 2002 at 04:30:44PM +0100, Tomasz Wegrzanowski wrote:
 > > Third reason - "availability of sources" is very important issue for
 > > majority of programmers who use GNU/Linux.
 > Yes, but Real Programmers are really a minority of the users in general.

Hi all,

I think 'being a real programmer' is not the only issue, why someone
would want to have sources available. Let's take the usual case of
proprietary software: A company uses product X for a number of years,
perhaps on an (in the meantime) obsolete hardware platform. Due to
changes in legal procedures (say: tax), the software needs to be
updated now and then. After a copule of years the producers of the
software decide, it's not worth the trouble and stop supporting the
specific features and platform used by company X. As usual that is
done with say some months notice, but (due to changes in tax law) the
software will have to be updated within 1 or 2 years -- they can't
just continue working with the old version. Now X has to migrate
(forced, hurriedly) to some other system with the same features. This
costs (money, and often data, which is lost during migration).

With sources available and legally allowed to use them, X would have
been able to have a choice: migrating or start maintaining themselves
(hiring a programmer). If the license had been GPL, they could even
have formed a cooperation with other companies using the same system
thus sharing the cost of maintenance and further development.

Every time someone / some company is starting to use some software
they are investing time, money, and work to produce knowhow (how to
use that program, where to press the keys, how to fit it in their
backup system and so on). This is rather expensive and after you got
your people trained to the program, you do not want to get that
investment suddenly taken away. At least you want to decide yourself
between investing in maintenance yourself or the cost of retraining
your workers. Free source is guaranteeing that choice (that's a
managment issue, not only something for programmers). So if I have to
decide for some software solution I have to take that into account:
Proprietary Software might cost a lot in the long run.

Regards -- Markus (with 'k' :-)

More information about the Discussion mailing list