Home > Open Source > Open Source Smack-Down at forbes.com Open Source Smack-Down at forbes.com Submitted by Anonymous 2005-06-17 Open Source 87 Comments Marc Fleury is shocked–shocked!–that IBM would use the same tactics to attack him that he’s been using to attack IBM. “Frankly, it leaves us scratching our heads,” he says. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 87 Comments 2005-06-17 1:01 am daniel lyons. 2005-06-17 1:20 am >daniel lyons pffft david pastern 2005-06-17 1:22 am “The pitch to customers is this: You get the software for free and service and support at a bargain rate. And it all comes from IBM, a name you can trust.” Errr… Kind of hard to beat that deal. 2005-06-17 1:24 am time to wake up to realities people. 2005-06-17 1:24 am I meant specifically about GPL. If the source is BSD, a company can add value to the exisiting source and sell it. With GPL, no matter how much value you add, someone will get it and screw you over. The perfect example is Microsoft, they now sell because of their quality and compatibility. OSX is another example where someone is actually making good use of OSS. Tell me one company which is making big money from GPL. IBM is putting their weight in it because they want to sell their hardware. They simply want to commoditize software in the same way Microsoft commoditized hardware. The side effect of GPL is shyt like CentOS et al. I hate to see projects like CentOS and WhiteBox Linux which are doing so much harm to RedHat. It is a shame really that no one in GPL world seems to see someone else earning money. tsk tsk…. Linux has become the hoe which everyone is trying to pi*p. 2005-06-17 1:25 am How many companies has MS crushed under its weight? This has nothing to do with open/closed source. 2005-06-17 1:34 am MS killed some companies because it was big. There would not be so many big monopolies to kill other companies beside legal system also *can* kick in. With GPL, even smaller companies can do harm to others. Cent OS is perfect example. WTF Redhat is making money…from GPL how the hell can they…ok lets screw them…make a distro which has everything that they have and remove their logo and stuff…wow perfect CHEAPSTAKE MENTALITY. GPL mentality is like a bunch of rats in a box, if one tries to come up…don’t worry others will pull him down. 2005-06-17 1:35 am Howdy all The perfect example is Microsoft, they now sell because of their quality and compatibility. Are you serious? You must live with your head burried under the sand or only use Microsoft products, once you add something that conforms to “standards” but is not M$ you can expect little issues to pop up. Although they have announced that they will be working harder to achieve interoperability in the future as it stands now your statement is somewhat false and misleading. 2005-06-17 1:36 am I think that this reporter forgets that FOSS is about choice. If someone pays for JBOSS support then it is becuase they made the choice based on their needs and requirments for the application. It’s not always about money as this reporter seems to think. Just my 2 cents worth 🙂 2005-06-17 1:42 am I read it. It was amusing. basically, you can’t be mad at IBM for this, nor open source. It’s just what happens when you try to create a OSS take of websphere, and ibm catches wind of it. Probably didn’t matter, cept, you got to bragging how much more you were making vs IBM for their product. They had to get in on the OSS there, but, they didn’t want to oss websphere itself, so they bought gluecode and OSS’d that. 2005-06-17 1:45 am I’m growing tired of people not understanding enterprise and being arrogant enough to think that everyone is stupider than them. When an enterprise evaluates a solution, they actually evaluate it quite throughly, surprisingly enough, this is the general case! *gasp* The point is when an enterprise looks at cent-os and checks out their offerings, their lawyers and IT guys go over it with a fine toothed comb. They make sure there are things like local service centres, track record and numerous other things and chances are they know the service capabilities quite well — people lose their jobs over screwing up on these sort of decisions, trust me, they’re well considered. They’re not going to cheap out and go Cent-OS over Redhat, in fact, this further solidifies Redhat’s position of not being some lame knockoff operation with poor support capabilities. Yes, some will go for this, but that’s not a lost sale, since they likely couldn’t afford Redhat’s or MS’ or IBM’s enterprise offerings in the first place, since, they’re a small enterprise to start off with. The only time where supposedly superior products loses out to others in perceived poor judgment call is say when it comes to Windows and in particular desktop machines. Then again, there are merits to windows that people don’t recognize, namely familiarity! 2005-06-17 1:47 am If you were paying attention over the last couple years you would have noticed RedHat’s main business has become enterprise support and training. Centos, Whitebox, and the like aren’t even on the radar for that market. 2005-06-17 1:47 am I agree there is sometimes anti-money-making sentiment amongst Free software supporters that I consider misplaced. I’m not convinced by the idea of CentOS and Whitebox making a big hole in RedHat’s profits, though. The people who want to save the cost of buying the distro (and associated support) would surely have just used another distro instead – there were already plenty to choose from. Also, surely the problem here (from the PoV of competition benefiting the products involved) is that a large company appears to be trying to squash a competitor by using a loss-leader, rather than better products and services? It’s not a case of small companies hurting each other. 2005-06-17 1:49 am I wonder if Forbes, the great big money magazine, is scared. 2005-06-17 1:50 am Fleury has, however. He claims IBM is trying to put his privately held company out of business. lol, it’s okay when small guy(free jboss) does it to the big guy($$$ websphere), not the other way around? if only 3%-5% is buying support, probably means your service has no value to most of customers or you are poor at sales. It actually remind me my old part time job of selling PCs with low margin + fat extended warranties…… 2005-06-17 2:00 am “These companies were built on the notion that they could make knockoffs of programs sold by giants like Microsoft and Oracle and charge only a dime where the big guys charge a dollar. That’s a pretty flimsy idea to begin with. But it looks even dimmer when others come along who are willing to sell for a penny.” This is an over-generalization trying to make FUD about OSS. Cheapness is NOT the point of many OSS projects – and certainly not the point GPL which is focused on freedom not price. It is not a flimsy idea to make money off of services – that is the inevitable direction of software. As software becomes easier to create it will naturally become cheaper (unless it gets completely taken over by Intellectual Property laws) – OSS is just ahead of the curve. Take a machine with clean install of C++ and another machine with a clean install of .NET SDK. How much faster is it to create a web server on C# – for me about 10x or better. The API’s are being built in (Java and .NET especially) and they are being made simple. If you look at the amount of sample code out there on the net (samples that have nothing to do with OSS) you can solve many programming problems easily because someone else has done it and is sharing. The world we face is one where software development is more and more about gluing components and more about modeling than about algorithms – how often do you really find you need code advanced comp sci ideas? Do your code your own link lists or hash tables? Do you write your own sort routines? I hope (generally) you don’t – most modern API’s out there already do a fine job of handling data structures and memory allocation and all the other things that used to take days of development and testing. IBM knows the trend – and they know that in the end it will all be hardware, someday – 10 years, 20 years, 50 years – operating systems and software will no longer be sellable, except perhaps some very special cases. The consuming masses and most business needs will be free – even if OSS never existed. IBM may be a little ahead of the curve, but Linux sort of forced the issue and I suppose it was not a horrible idea to embrace it vs MS. I do think we have a good 5 to 15 years of selling software ahead before the market really drops out. I hope my business succeeds before then 2005-06-17 2:01 am Different licenses for different situations: The GPL is good for things that should, arguably, be forced open (e.g. OS kernel). The LGPL is great for general use libraries that many people would just write on their own. So instead of many feature-poor, less stable libraries that have a similar purpose, we get a few feature rich, more stable libraries. It can be used to prevent some money-hungry entities that would take the work of others, add a little bit more functionality, and then sell it without contributing their changes to the codebase. BSD-style licenses are the only truly Free options. I can’t really come up with a good argument to use one of these licenses. I’m sure something about competition and free markets (which are great motivators) could be cooked up, but… From the sort of OSS I use and contribute to (application support libraries) I see the LGPL as a great thing. I can write commercial apps using the code, but I also am forced to release any improvement I make to the original codebase. OSS wins and commercial software companies win. 2005-06-17 2:03 am I love how at the end he basically says you’re going to burned if you use open source because all the companies are going to go under. Guess what, open source is only being used by these private companies because it had already proven itself without them. If they disappear, that doesn’t mean the projects will die. Plus, J2EE apps are container independant. You should be able to take your ear that runs on jboss, change an xml file, and deploy it to IBM, SUN app server, bea’s crap, etc. I don’t normally call things FUD, but this guy is just one of those “boo hoo, i can’t sell software anymore cause people will write a better version of it for free.” wankers. 2005-06-17 2:03 am PS – I’ve used JBoss for 3 years and find it to be quite usuable and reasonable quality. I respect what Fleury has done – he should, however, realize that the OSS world generally doesn’t like whiners. My advice – keep selling services and they will come. 2005-06-17 2:07 am here is the thing… any corporation that is even considering redhat or novell or any other major linux distro will never in a million years settle for some off brand linux take off because… it would defeat the purpose of running linux (saving money), they would have to hire a full time IT guy just to support it… whereas….. if they use Redhat, or Novell, they get the support with the product and at a much lower cost then employing even 1 or more full time IT staffers spacifically to maintain the linux system. the only people that use whitebox or centos are very very small businesses that cannot afford and thus would not buy redhat anyway, nonprofits (maybe), and people who run webservers out of their homes (who would also not buy redhat) 2005-06-17 2:19 am “With GPL, no matter how much value you add, someone will get it and screw you over.” the only people that think this way is the type of people that would do something like that! —————— oh and yea centOS is just KILLING redhat along with whitebox and the others, i mean my rhat stock was around 7 bucks in 2003 and now it is around 13, KILLING THEM OWWWEEEEE 2005-06-17 2:23 am well if hte business decides to use it, tough for them, its called a business risk. no sympathy for the devill, you buy the ticket, you take the ride 2005-06-17 2:25 am GO 2005-06-17 2:32 am It is not a flimsy idea to make money off of services – that is the inevitable direction of software. As software becomes easier to create it will naturally become cheaper Along with being easier to create, it will also become easier to use (which means less need for services), unless the software market is taken over by the OSS crowd, who will have to intentionally make their software hard to install/use because charging a fortune for support is the only way their going to make any money, since they’re giving away the code for free. “With GPL, no matter how much value you add, someone will get it and screw you over.” the only people that think this way is the type of people that would do something like that! What exactly is wrong with doing something like that? If you’re going to be stupid enough to give me the code while at the same time insulting me for using proprietary software (which many OSS zealots do), I’d do it just to put your sorry ass out of business, and then give all of my profits to Microsoft – not because I like Microsoft, but just to spite you. 2005-06-17 2:34 am This is more of a software becoming services issue than an open source issue. The Business of software is becomming less about software and more about services. If a customer is faced with a choice between IBM and JBoss, they are going to look at the package of software and services. The Software might as well be free since the price of services (even at bargain prices) is really expensive. I seriously doubt customer’s are hurt by open source. For Instance if JBoss became no more than another company that has products based off of the same open source projects could support the custoemr. The Problem that JBoss is finding is that larger software venders can play the same open source hand that the small venture capital venders are. Lucky for everyone, Microsoft is stubburn and may never pick up on this. 2005-06-17 2:48 am What exactly is wrong with doing something like that? Dude, if i need to explain that then you need to go back to the M$ forums and worship. But this is EXACTLY what the GPL protects me from… you are going to take WHAT? Whatever you take and do I can take and do also… So it insures that the best man for the job survives not just the best marketing or the current fad… I know my product better than you do, who do you think is int he best position to offer support, services, customizations and so forth…. 2005-06-17 2:57 am “Lucky for everyone, Microsoft is stubburn and may never pick up on this.” I have wondered about this myself. I wonder why they dont go ahead and do something. Maybe even a linux and offer support and services and customized software on top of it. Heck, offer a linux and port MSoffice over to it and so forth. I mean the linux part is already done, tweak it a bit and add some M$ stuff and see what happens…. I wonder if they are about to do SOMETHING. I KNOW eugenia is bound to know if something is going on but she wont spill the beans!!! They got the gentoo guy, and bought a couple linux/unix focused businesses and a few years ago they hired some big head honcho types… just dont know tho… 2005-06-17 3:03 am Isn’t this how MS killed Netscape, except that open source wasn’t involved? 2005-06-17 3:09 am I’ve never ever paid of any Linux distro. I’ve paid for Windows and Mac software and for my music so I’m no thief. I just thank all you open source developers for giving me all the free software so that I can make money off your backs. Keep it coming and don’t you guys ever think of moving to a paid job – I need you to give me free software so that I can spend my money at strip bars and casinos in Vegas. 2005-06-17 3:09 am the open source business model is not intended to produce powerful, wealthy, massively profitable software companies. Exactly right. In fact, the whole idea is that software has become a commodity. The days of insane profitability are over. It’s the same thing with the PC hardware business, no one is really making all that much money doing it. HP makes three times as much selling printers and other digital imaging hardware than it does PCs. IBM had to sell it’s PC business because it hurt them more than it helped them. That’s business for you. In the end it will all work out. At the end of the day there will always be people willing to pay for support and the people who can do it the most efficiently will be the winners and that is how the free market works. 2005-06-17 3:15 am you are taking sample code and putting it into your product? wow you are irresponsible. 2005-06-17 3:17 am Along with being easier to create, it will also become easier to use (which means less need for services), unless the software market is taken over by the OSS crowd, who will have to intentionally make their software hard to install/use because charging a fortune for support is the only way their going to make any money, since they’re giving away the code for free. I don’t think you know anything about software development. Programs become more and more complex, not less. There are more features and more code, which also means more bugs. There will ALWAYS be a need for support unless everyone becomes a software programmer and then no one will need support and no one will care either. If you think OSS software is hard to install or hard to use then I doubt you’ve even touched one piece of OSS. Is OpenOffice hard to use? Is firefox? Even an entire RedHat installation gives you less problems than installing Windows. 2005-06-17 3:23 am GPL mentality is like a bunch of rats in a box, if one tries to come up…don’t worry others will pull him down. That is capitalism, by design. Your rat in the box analogy is actually an excellent description of the ideal capitalistic market. Capitalism has done great things for the Western world. If, by your own description, the GPL is making the computer market more capitalistic than it used to be, well, that’s a great thing indeed! Computer companies have rested far too long on their monopolistic and oligopolistic practices. 2005-06-17 3:39 am I don’t think you know anything about software development. Programs become more and more complex, not less. There are more features and more code, which also means more bugs. There will ALWAYS be a need for support unless everyone becomes a software programmer and then no one will need support and no one will care either. I disagree. Being into computers myself since around 1993, I’d say software (and I mean computers in general) has gotten a helluva lot easier to use over the years. This is especially true for Linux, which has made huge gains in usability since the first time I tried Slackware back in ’96. As for support, it’s true that software in the future will contain more bugs, but that’s the advantage of paying for software – the bug fix versions are usually free upgrades. If a vendor refuses to fix bugs in their software for free, I don’t use it unless I absolutely have to. I personally think we should be moving away from the support model – I’d rather have software that needs less support, not more. Of course, this would never work for OSS developers trying to make money, who need their software to be needlessly hard to use in order to milk the consumer for support charges, so I’m sure they would not a agree with me. I’ve got 40+ apps installed and I paid a lot of money for some of them. Never once have I ever had to pay for support, nor have I needed to. Of course, as apps get increasinly more complex, people are going to need more training in order to exploit all the features. But training != support, and many companies who specialize in training would probably be better at it than the the company who developed the software. Maybe the one guy is right and the days of huge profits in software are over. Afterall, it’s pretty much free to distribute, so shouldn’t it be free? In the future when we are able to replicate food like we can software, are we going to let people starve just because they can’t pay for it, even though we could reproduce as much as we wanted for nothing? [i]If you think OSS software is hard to install or hard to use then I doubt you’ve even touched one piece of OSS. Is OpenOffice hard to use? Is firefox? Even an entire RedHat installation gives you less problems than installing Windows.</> OpenOffice – Ok in the usability department, but a pain in the ass in other areas, which I won’t go into here because it’s off-topic. Firefox – Don’t get me started. Great browser, but I don’t know how many times upgrading it has broken either my extensions or the browser itself. (Last time it happened was v1.02). It’s probably the best OSS desktop app ever created, but even it has its rough edges. Redhat – I haven’t tried it since Fedora Core 2. When the entire OS crashed with a ‘usb.c’ error when I plugged in my portable mp3 player and rebooted, that was about all I needed to see. 2005-06-17 3:43 am People making good free code, omg. It’s going to happen sooner or later, and stoping it would be supressing individual’s liberty to create and use code. 2005-06-17 3:46 am And I bet Google has 100,000 copies of Redhat running supporting their Gmail systems. Fact is that you don’t understand enterprises. Linux makes its way into two different area’s in the enterprise. 1) Departmental Servers – CentOS or almost any Linux distro is a perfect fit for this. 2) Mission Critical Servers – This is where RedHat is trying to target, but there are much better operating systems here than RedHat (read Solaris, Windows, AIX, etc.) 2005-06-17 4:01 am So if all software is free, and the only services are training and support, and players like IBM, HP, etc are experts in the entire free software stack and they can compete based on attrition and pure volume. What is everyone going to do that doesn’t work for one of these large companies? This is good for consumers, but this is good for independent developers how? And who is going to maintain the Open Source software once everything is free and no one is interested in paying for anything anymore? Will software just sit in stasis for years at a time or progress at a snails pace? Or do you think an army of free altruistic developers will code whilst working for these large multi-national corporations? Just a hypothetical …. What incentive will these large corporations have in continuing development if it is good enough and no matter what modifications they make it gives them NO competitive edge? 2005-06-17 4:30 am I’m starting to think that a lot of you cannot see outside of the domain of what you use software for, or cannot see outside of whichever end-game scenario you like/dislike most regarding software. A huge mountain of software isn’t open source. Probably the majority of software ‘projects’ by a few orders of magnitude are proprietary. And they cover a wide variety of domains. The entire world isn’t IBM or its customers or the web farm at the company you work for. IBM wants to marginalize software and maximize its service business, but it’s not competing with Propellerhead Software, Autodesk, SoftImage, EA, Maplesoft, your boss writing some useless piece of crap in Excel, or even the hordes of drooling VB programmers responsible for churning out software for the hordes of little companies. There are a lot of software domains that require a lot of investment that have nothing to do with IBM, or Redhat, or basically any other open source services businesses. There’s also a much, much larger collection of projects that are too specialized and trivial for them to care about, either. So why do you expect this to evaporate? What trend has lead you to expect open source implementations backed by ‘services’ companies to swallow up everything? It certainly isn’t panning out. It’s way more likely that development for proprietary software would be exported to cheaper labor markets than it is that Blender is going to supplant Maya. And for trivial things it’s easier to have employees that can do actual business functions and understand simple programming, than it is to call up IBM and have them write some trivial specialized software. Yeah, a lot of you probably have entirely superfluous jobs that will be supplanted by more efficient services companies, foreign developers, and people with other skills that can also do basic programming tasks. That doesn’t change that probably most of your at-work software probably isn’t being distributed by SourceForge and customized by IBM for your competitors. 2005-06-17 4:42 am IBM has consistently made service it’s number one priority. In the 70’s and 80’s it commoditized it’s hardware and software by practically giving away it’s platforms to educational institutions in return for SUPPORT contracts. The students learned to use those products and brought that to the corporate world. IBM is now the number one computer services company in the world. IBM is simply doing what they’ve done for many years with a different twist. Now they will not only give you the software for free, but it’s source code as well which can be audited by anyone without extra charge showing they are on the up and up. That’s the only difference in what IBM is doing now and then. They sell you the initial package for X, then make all their money off of their support contracts. Expensive, but they are well worth the price and enterprises know it. That’s what JBoss fears the most: IBM’s untouchable reputation for complete support. 2005-06-17 5:22 am While open sourcing the software, something IBM does pretty well. That’s where the startups are going to make their money. 2005-06-17 6:07 am How would the programmers at a place like spidweb.com (Spiderweb software, makers of the awesome Exile Trilogy roleplaying gamers) supposed to fund development in a world where everything is open source via GPL? 2005-06-17 6:23 am Tell me one company which is making big money from GPL. You can GPL your code and still make money off of it, as you can dual-license it. If someone wants to modify it and redistribute it under a proprietary license (i.e. the typical EULA), then you license it to them for money. The best of both worlds, except for those who just want to make money with other people’s work without compensating them. 2005-06-17 6:29 am So it insures that the best man for the job survives not just the best marketing or the current fad… I know my product better than you do, who do you think is int he best position to offer support, services, customizations and so forth…. Exactly plus it makes it harder for some to get extremely rich out of sheer luck.And f.ck up for all of us for decades with their monopolistic practises that is solely focussed on money and not necessarily better software. 2005-06-17 6:33 am What incentive will these large corporations have in continuing development if it is good enough and no matter what modifications they make it gives them NO competitive edge? They don’t have to redistribute modifications if they don’t redistribute the software. Presumably the “large corporations” you’re talking about are not ISVs, but rather businesses who use the OSS to produce goods or deliver services. Of course OSS is a threat for those who sell software as a proprietary, marketed product. But guess what? The economy has no obligation to sustain an industry if its business model becomes obsolete! 2005-06-17 7:39 am They claim only 3 to 5% of companies buy suport to the maintainer. Ok, first of all, It is not like the other 95% are not paying anyone for what they get. They pay their engineers and techies. So money move from economists+marketing departments+sales man+administration+few bugs to the guy at the tecnical department to all money tho the techie. Second GPL means you shall share the source, but noplace it says you must do it for free. Someday, someone will discover they can charge to download the last GPLed source tree even when they release for free the last three monthes modification. Say, for example, mysql releases for free version 5beta but you must register with 30 bugs to access the very last version and the CVS. Yes, you can copy your version in another website and maintain it there by yourself. But I don’t feel people will. Finally, mysql guys don’t get that much money for their open sourced code, but would they ever get a penny with a closed version? No. All closed versions are owned by the big players. There is no field there for newcomers. 2005-06-17 8:47 am How would the programmers at a place like spidweb.com (Spiderweb software, makers of the awesome Exile Trilogy roleplaying gamers) supposed to fund development in a world where everything is open source via GPL? You won’t want to sell (or buy) game binary. No fun playing with that binary. You have to sell artwork, music, other data files. Compiled binary included. Sources are there, but you have to get other stuff to have them actually work. 2005-06-17 9:13 am If the software has value to others and that the maker is trying to make a living out of it, it should be chargeable. Free distribution is a form of adverstising, just that it rarely results in any revenue. Open source makes can make business sense but you have to do it the way crossover, or cedega does it. If you are going to get it from them, then you will have to pay them something. And then there is support. Otherwise, open source is about sharing the development effort of something comoditised, or it is a fun project. Companies will make mistakes, that’s nothing new. And were was Forbes when the internet bubble peacked ? Were they being wise ? Anyway, the tone just confirms it’s not a serious economics magazine. 2005-06-17 9:16 am They don’t have to redistribute modifications if they don’t redistribute the software. Presumably the “large corporations” you’re talking about are not ISVs, but rather businesses who use the OSS to produce goods or deliver services. Of course OSS is a threat for those who sell software as a proprietary, marketed product. But guess what? The economy has no obligation to sustain an industry if its business model becomes obsolete! NO, I don’t mean large corporation’s internal development, I mean ISVs. As I see it if everything is GPL (which is probably impossible) then the license makes sense but no one can have a competitive edge based on software alone, they would have to compete based on some secondary attribute like customer service. This means there is little incentive to *universally* improve the code (because it will offer no competitive edge.) Now internally large corporations would probably modify to their needs, but then the code is not universally available and doesn’t universally progress. However, if GPL is not the only license in the industry and proprietary software will always exist GPL will accomplish in spliting the entire software world in two. The GPL world and the non-GPL world. As a developer you would have to choose which world to delve into, are you going to use GPL or are you going to use everything else. Now, I know someone is going to say “dual license” will solve all problems, but the developer will still live in the GPL codebase world, they wouldn’t have any benefit from other non-GPLd libraries and software. The release of their package under a proprietary license doesn’t reflect the code they know and use in actual work and development, just the license model they chose to release the code under, and only for their particular product. Plus when they release a closed version doesn’t that eat some GPL’ers alive? Isn’t that against the the first commandment of GPL, thou shalt release source code. I just don’t understand the point of GPL, is it to create a bastion against all other non copy left software (because that can be the only rational conclusion.) This means that the sofware world (as far as code usage) is split perhaps permanently into two camps. The forced protection of GPL or the chaotic and frightening world of non-GPL. 2005-06-17 9:30 am @Wolf By Rayiner Hashem (IP: —.res.gatech.edu) – Posted on 2005-06-17 03:23:44 GPL mentality is like a bunch of rats in a box, if one tries to come up…don’t worry others will pull him down. That is capitalism, by design. Your rat in the box analogy is actually an excellent description of the ideal capitalistic market. Capitalism has done great things for the Western world. If, by your own description, the GPL is making the computer market more capitalistic than it used to be, well, that’s a great thing indeed! Computer companies have rested far too long on their monopolistic and oligopolistic practices. 2005-06-17 9:32 am GPL mentality is like a bunch of rats in a box, if one tries to come up…don’t worry others will pull him down. That is capitalism, by design. Your rat in the box analogy is actually an excellent description of the ideal capitalistic market. Capitalism has done great things for the Western world. If, by your own description, the GPL is making the computer market more capitalistic than it used to be, well, that’s a great thing indeed! Computer companies have rested far too long on their monopolistic and oligopolistic practices. AMEN BROTHER!!!! I can not agree with you more, the days of charging you an awful amount of money for spinning up your hard disks, accessing files, and display the data on a screen are over. And it was about time! 2005-06-17 9:37 am Which is to guarantee that a free product remains free. (free as in freedom of speech) No more no less, If you do not like it, do not use it, no one is forcing you. 2005-06-17 11:20 am Nothing to see here. Move along. He can’t milk anything more from the O’Gara-Groklaw mud puddle, so he’s reaching for more crap. His current Forbes piece is a rant by a BSD lead (who craps all over Linux just to get some PR for the also-ran BSD, which maybe five people in the world – who prefer it for security reasons – will appreciate), which he headlines as “Is Linux For Losers?.” Read my lips: BSD is an also-ran. Get used to it. I sent him an email telling him HE’S a loser who will be writing toaster reviews for Consumer Reports when Linux buries Microsoft and his FUD funding dries up. 2005-06-17 11:42 am I loved this part: Poor guy. Did he not get the memo? This is what open source software is all about: creating knockoffs and giving them away, destroying the value of whatever the other guy is selling. I’ve been saying that for YEARS and been called a heretic for it. Why ANY programmer would support open source to me is beyond comprehension, as they are basically devaluating their own work. You are saying software has NO value… that’s BAD for the future of ANYONE who wants to be a programmer. 2005-06-17 11:53 am I’m not convinced valid Open Source business models have been discovered for every part of the software industry. > they are basically devaluating their own work Isn’t it the case that in some parts of the industry the money obtained by supplying the software is not particularly important relative to the associated consulting, support contracts, etc? In these cases they aren’t devaluing their own work – they’re just admitting the code itself doesn’t bring in the money. In this sort of situation it makes sense to consider the option of an OSS model: be it for quality reasons or to cut development costs. 2005-06-17 11:58 am >>>”With GPL, no matter how much value you add, someone will get it and screw you over.” <<<the only people that think this way is the type of people that would do something like that! The only people that DON’T THINK that way is Linus himself — that’s why he is not rich (at least not in the billions or hundreds of millions of dollars). Or Stallman. 2005-06-17 12:00 pm I’m unsure if this is sarcasm. If it’s not, yours is a scary comment. open source != freeware 2005-06-17 12:28 pm If the source code is freely available how is it not freeware? Just because you can get crazies to pay for software when the source is freely available. It is support that people pay for, not the software. Open source = freeware 2005-06-17 12:36 pm Sounds like the dot-com bubble, except that this time it’s not just investors who will get burned. Customers are taking a risk too. Because when these open source software providers burn through their venture funding and go out of business, customers will need to either hire teams of expensive techies to maintain that orphaned code or pay someone to rip out the old stuff and replace it with something new. Either way, all that free software is suddenly going to look awfully expensive. Funny comment, that. The whole idea behind OSS is that other people can continue the work, and people won’t be left in the dark after a company goes belly up (read: BeOS, Amiga). And investers who get burned shouldn’t have invested unwisely, eh? I’m not surprised Redhat makes money mainly from services. How else to make money from free software? They haven’t been creating that ‘Redhat certified tech support’-certification for nothing. What I’m wondering about is how companies like Redhat see their own future. If the free software they’re servicing finally reaches the point where it’s userfriendly enough not to require tech-support…what will they do? It’s not like companies need tech support to maintain Firefox or Open Office. And if things are really as easy to set up as they claim, they’ve already lost validity. Perhaps offering Open Office training would be a valid buisness, but still..anyone can do that. 2005-06-17 1:05 pm You’re defining value rather narrowly. Free software can have intellectual and academic value, if not monetary value. You’re also ignoring the fact that software, even if it is not sold, can be used as a tool to generate value elsewhere. That’s why IBM makes tons of money off software that they never sell — the software is a way of generating value from hardware sales. But let’s define value the way you do, in terms of “how much can I make selling this widget.” In that case, do you know what has no value? You know what would be completely useless? Yet another commercial program in a market that’s already heavily consolidated! Imagine a startup releasing something like a proprietory image-editing program, or a proprietory OS, or a proprietory office suite. These would be completely useless. Not only are there very good programs that already do these things, but the potential of an upstart competing successfully against the likes of Photoshop or Windows or MS Office are slim to none. If Gimp or Linux or Open Office (or Mozilla, etc) had been commercial programs, they would be as irrelevant to the market as Pixel32, SkyOS, Gobe Productive, Opera, etc, etc, are today. After all, who in the world needs yet another proprietory UNIX? Who needs another proprietory Photoshop clone? Who will bother buying those products? When competing against a large, entrenched company, you need to give your customer something he cannot get already. Otherwise, there is no point. Creating “killer apps” is one way of doing this. If your program is so powerful that it makes its competitors look useless, well, then you can make some money. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to create such apps (especially if you’re just starting a product line), and today’s apps are good enough that most people don’t need more power anyway. Take word processing. A successful commercial competitor to Word will be impossible. Why? Anything that is just an evolution of Word will be rejected because Word is “good enough”. Anything revolutionary will be rejected because “it’s different”. Open source is another way of competing with entrenched competitors. It can offer benefits proprietory softare cannot. It gives customers freedom from forced upgrade cycles, reduced cost-of-acquisition, etc. It gives you something to differentiate your product from commercial competitors that are (at least at the beginning), better than you, and more established than you. Further, it’s pretty much the only way of competing with an entrenched monopoly, for the simple reason that its easy to kill startup commercial companies but hard to kill open source projects. 2005-06-17 1:17 pm That so many of you think only of the money,money,money. The fact is that free (as in beer) is completely secondary to free (as in freedom). Open source gives every single one of us the power to create, to improve, to grow. It removes the mystery of the way things work. Some quick examples of the way open source has benefited me personally: 1. I really like the Airport Extreme and Express. I have several of them to cover a rather large property. The one thing I didn’t have was a good way to configure them without rebooting to Windows out of linux. A few minutes of googling and I found that someone had done some work in this area in Java. Now a couple weeks later, I’m close to finishing a more-polished version in C# that suits my needs properly. 2. I’m also currently training for a marathon and bought a Garmin Forerunner (GPS-enabled stopwatch) to help me track my progress. The software available for this device is for windows only, but what’s this? Full documentation for the serial and USB interface on their website? Why on earth would a company release something like that!? In a way, I feel sorry for those of you who see open source/free software as simply a way to rip someone else off. You have lost/missed something really important along the way. 2005-06-17 1:26 pm You’re defining value rather narrowly. Yes 🙂 In that I’m concentrating on monetary value to IT companies. I totally agree that there are other forms of value, I was just looking at the business side of it. You’re also ignoring the fact that software, even if it is not sold, can be used as a tool to generate value elsewhere. Actually, that was my point in replying to deathshadow’s post: that OSS can generate money for a company without being sold. In my example, if your main revenue stream is from support and consulting and not *directly* from the product, there’s no point annoying your customers by charging them for it, or hiding its sourcecode from them. You don’t lose anything by going OSS in this case, so you might as well! That’s why IBM makes tons of money off software that they never sell — the software is a way of generating value from hardware sales. And from support – IBM are remodelling themselves as a *services* and (erk! marketing speak!) “solutions”. Basically the pitch is “Come to us and we will *solve* your IT infrastructure using our expertise, coupled with a range of free and commercial products”. I basically agree with everything you said, with the exception of the suggestion that more closed source products are definitely not a good thing: they don’t have to change the world or reshape the market. If their companies can exist on their revenues then it’s good for them. If it makes life easier for the (few) who buy them, it’s good for them too. 2005-06-17 1:35 pm Poor guy. Did he not get the memo? This is what open source software is all about: creating knockoffs and giving them away, destroying the value of whatever the other guy is selling. Hahahahaha 2005-06-17 1:52 pm “you are taking sample code and putting it into your product? wow you are irresponsible. ” No – I use sample code to help my understand the context of more complex APIs. For example, I’m learning DirectX 3D programming…being new to 3D it really helps to see how someone else uses an API. There are many examples to solve many problems – and of course only a fool copies samples verbatem into their products. My point is that even outside of OSS circles it is much develop now (as opposed to 10yrs ago) because: a) the tools and APIs are much better and easier to understand, b) you don’t have to buy books to learn API’s or even spend much time – usually in less than an hour I can find a similar example, learn from it, and adapt it to my needs. 2005-06-17 2:00 pm How many strong supporters of the GPL create GPL software or sell GPL software services FOR A LIVING AS A SOLE SOURCE OF INCOME? So far, games appear to be the only market that a small developer can do well for himself, since open sourcing the engine allows for a lot of mods, but you’re actually selling the music/artwork/level design/online gameplay, that makes some sense as a business. 2005-06-17 2:25 pm I sorta do. I’m funded as a student by Intel to do research on the Xen VMM. I’m also paid consultants fees by XenSource, Inc. All the code I produce for Xen is OSS (XenSource require me to do this, which is fine because I’d do so anyhow). My living basically comes from OSS work, although as a grad student I’m not strictly required to do it. 2005-06-17 2:32 pm JBoss, like all major open source software projects, does not exist purely to “attack” another product or organization. Open source software is created out of a belief that a collaborative, community-driven effort produces quality software that can compete with commercial offerings. It gives people the freedom to add features they need, and to maintain and develop the software as long as they so desire. Users of proprietary software must rely on the vendor to fix security problems and to add value to the product. This becomes a problem when a particular program reaches its end-of-life, or the vendor is no longer in business. Claiming that JBoss exists purely to attack IBM is false and inflammatory. It’s simply a competing product. Open Source software is not about “destroying value.” Many innovative and unique products come out of the open source movement, and many of them are adopted by commercial software vendors because they can bring value to the company. IBM supports and incorporates a number of open source projects; one example is the Eclipse development platform, for which IBM has sponsored a development grant program for many years. The word “knockoff” keeps appearing in this article. This kind of language betrays an unfamiliarity with the products in question, and an ignorance of the open source development model. Most open source projects are born, not out of a desire to duplicate a proprietary product, but to create something new and different. Linux is not a knockoff of Microsoft Windows. It is a fundamentally different system, both technically and philosophically. Open source software gives users a choice. All that is typically asked in return is that users support the community by contributing improvements back to the original product. The reason Red Hat is “besieged” by “knockoffs” is because they don’t own the project in the first place. It’s certainly possible to build and run your own Red Hat Enterprise Linux. But most actual enterprises are going to opt for technical support and security updates from Red Hat. Again, it’s about choice, and about recognizing the community of developers that have created and maintained these projects. The community aspect is precisely what refutes Daniel Lyons’ assertion that using open source software is risky. If JBoss, Red Hat, or Novell go out of business, the code will still be around. The very same members of the community who originally developed it will take up the project and maintain it. Other firms will emerge to support it, as long as people are using it. These products don’t depend on their vendors. They have a huge user base and a devoted community following. In contrast, what will happen when Windows 2000 reaches the end of its support cycle this month? The thousands of organizations that still use it (and prefer it over Microsoft’s later products) will either be forced into an expensive upgrade, or will watch as their infrastructure gets more and more insecure and outdated. Daniel Lyons has it backwards. 2005-06-17 3:29 pm >>>I’m not surprised Redhat makes money mainly from services. How else to make money from free software? They haven’t been creating that ‘Redhat certified tech support’-certification for nothing. If you read the forbes article carefully — RedHat made their profits “mainly” from sitting on $928 million cash and collect interest payments from it. Without the internet bubble, they would have never have that much cash to sit on, and without sitting on that much cash — they would have lost money every year since its founding. 2005-06-17 3:33 pm After reading the article and the posts here the one thing I have the biggest problem with is Mr. Lyons saying, “This is what open source software is all about: creating knockoffs and giving them away, destroying the value of whatever the other guy is selling.” Linus didn’t start out trying to destroy the value of SunOS; he just wanted a UNIXy machine to use without having to spend a boatload of money. Knuth didn’t write TeX to put other typesetting software out of business; he just wanted a good tool to use. That is not what most open source projects are all about. The opportunity in open source is in support. When I was a developer we used some gcc and some commercial compilers. For some projects gcc was superior and for others commercial compilers were better. We actually considered gcc to be the most expensive option because when problems arose we usually had to solve them ourselves and our time was a lot more expensive than opening a trouble ticket. Ready-to-Run and Cygnus both made good livings supporting oppen source software long before Linux was on the scene. The other point I’d make is that CentOS isn’t evil; they are providing an essential service. Redhat does follow the model of giving away software and charging for support; they just bundle the support into the price of the license. When someone wants the software but doesn’t need the support they should be able to run a Redhat clone. At my shop we have plenty of Redhat licenses. We also have some less important machines running Fedora. In our shop CentOS is competing against Fedora instead of RHEL. 2005-06-17 3:39 pm >>>Linus didn’t start out trying to destroy the value of SunOS; he just wanted a UNIXy machine to use without having to spend a boatload of money. Linus and Stallman — are a “minority” in the open source movement that are “poor”. Everyone else wants to get rich from open source movement. 2005-06-17 3:49 pm Linus is one of the get rich quick scam artists of the opensource movement, Stallman is the only true hero of our FREEDOM! 2005-06-17 4:07 pm It really depends on what you call “rich”. Is Linus financially set for his whole life? Probably. Is Linus a millionaire? Very likely. But Linus could have been a billionaire (like the redhat founders) — if he chose to do so. 2005-06-17 4:17 pm There is a difference between Capitalism and GPL. GPL vs BSD (on the RAT analogy) There are a bunch of rats in a box trying to get out to make their fortune. Few are intelligent others are not. They all are given a base system on which they can build to get out of the box and make their fortune. With GPL, even if the intelligent rat design some whizzy cool, he will have to share his design with every one in the box and so even if he is intelligent…all the other dumbasses and losers are screwing him. With BSD, he could take the base design and build something special and use it. He doesn’t have to worry about losers screwing him over and over. In my eyes, someone making profit for my work is better than no one making it. GPL takes away all the incentives for adding value to a product unless you want have a business model doesn’t rely on making money by selling software. I firmly believe that this model is good for companies that sell hardware but not for anything else. Support and services business is almost negligible as compare to money earned from software sale. Also support business doesn’t have much value and for long term growth a company needs value. Lastly, the low income due to GPL model will cause people to turn away from computer science and reduced univerity fundings and thus will harm the future of computer science to a large extent. 2005-06-17 4:26 pm I for one love the idea of a company sitting on previous earnings. Treat that money like an endowment, and you can go on doing whatever the heck you want without worrying about how every little policy affects your bottom line. Forbes makes it sound like earning money on investments doesn’t “count”. WTH? Forbes is the last place I would have thought to hear that *any* method of making money doesn’t count. IBM, Sun, and MS would also be in very different positions if the Internet bubble hadn’t happened! It DID happen. Forbes is complaining because a company has so much money (relative to its size and business model) that it doesn’t have to be profitable every quarter in order to stay afloat? Craziness. The opposite approach is exactly what is wrong with MS. They have 60 billion freakin’ dollars in the bank and insist on maintaining a state of war with most everyone in their industry, including their customers. Had they chosen to be benevolent about their position, we would have handed them their monopoly ungrudgingly and given them all the control they now have to fight for. 2005-06-17 4:32 pm “I firmly believe that this model is good for companies that sell hardware but not for anything else.” Isn’t it also good for software that gets developed with no companies in sight? I personally use several pieces of software that never had a company involved in their creation at any step of the way… true community software. Community software is what the GPL is designed for. Whether or not a company can make a profit on being involved with that software isn’t really relevant to the purpose of the GPL. The GPL is designed to accomplish its goal whether or not anyone is making any money. As a result, it happens to be ambivalent about whether anyone makes money. It’s “all about the source”, as they say… 2005-06-17 4:47 pm The community aspect is precisely what refutes Daniel Lyons’ assertion that using open source software is risky. If JBoss, Red Hat, or Novell go out of business, the code will still be around. I don’t understand why so many people fail to get this. Open source is fundamentally less risky than closed source (“proprietary”) software, because the license itself guarantees more than one vendor for support and maintenance. It’s time to realize that magazines like Forbes aren’t pro-capitalism or pro-free markets or pro-freedom of capital. They’re merely pro-big business, to the exclusion of all other concerns. What the Dan Lyons and Microsofts of the world really don’t like about open source is the competition – it’s so much harder to lock in your customers, they always have the option to go somewhere else. You can easily move your LAMP or J2EE installation from Red Hat to Suse or even to proprietary Unix or OS X or Windows… and back again, if you decide to shop for a better deal! That’s freedom of capital movement, baby. But start with Windows-only technologies and you are locked in and have no place to go! Lock-in is good for companies like Microsoft and bad for every single consumer, reducing competition in the marketplace. Their position is anti-capitalist in a sense, and clearly against a vibrant and free market. Imagine that. I have no problem with a company like Microsoft acting this way, because the market will ultimately correct these problems – unless the vendor also happen to be in a monopoly position. And they are. Forbes should be ashamed of themselves for blindly supporting this claptrap, which harms not just small and medium sized business, but even most big businesses, in exchange for grossly benefiting a select few. Nobody would tolerate a car that can only be serviced by the dealer, run on gas sold or blessed by the dealer, and which requires you to either drive that same model of car for the rest of your life or learn how to drive all over again. We should expect no less from our software. Open standards lead to open markets! 2005-06-17 5:04 pm >>>I for one love the idea of a company sitting on previous earnings. Firstly, the other companies — EARNED their cash. It was just dumb luck that RedHat for their billion dollar cash before the internet bubble bursted. RedHat did NOT earn the cash — it was investor’s own money. Very different. Secondly, no other open source company was that lucky with the timing of the internet bubble. It means that the whole business model for the open source movement is either losing your shirt or barely making money as a “consultant” or selling “support”. RedHat is not the business model for open source software — they are the business model for once in a lifetime dumb luck and it will never happen again in the future. 2005-06-17 5:12 pm The community aspect is precisely what refutes Daniel Lyons’ assertion that using open source software is risky. If JBoss, Red Hat, or Novell go out of business, the code will still be around. I don’t understand why so many people fail to get this. Open source is fundamentally less risky than closed source (“proprietary”) software, because the license itself guarantees more than one vendor for support and maintenance. I think that what they are saying is that with a company like Microsoft, you’ve got the support of a mult-billion dollar corporation standing behind the product. But compare this to some fly-by-light open source operation (excluding IBM, of course) or some kid coding the project in his basement, people using an app professionally want to make sure that the company/individual who wrote it will still be around a month from now to provide support/bug fixes. Of course, if you have the code, you could always find somebody else to support/maintain it, but I don’t wanna be stuck with a few million lines of code that *I* now have to pay somebody else an assload of cash (probably much more than it would’ve cost had I bought a proprietary solution) just to maintain for me. And that is assuming I could actually find someone who was willing, able, and skilled enough to do the job. 2005-06-17 5:17 pm “Firstly, the other companies — EARNED their cash.” No. May of them are floating on a stock bubble and speculation. This is the way it has been since the stock market started. That’s why you have corrections when people loose faith in one stock or another. If the stock is not worth the price asked, nobody should buy it. Yet, people do. I have yet to have it explained logically why people make certian purchases — be it stock or other goods — and not other ones. To single out any one company over this and not to acknowledge others is simply not credible. 2005-06-17 5:36 pm There is also a big difference between RedHat and the other companies that you talked about. Today’s (June 17, 2005) 10 year US government treasury bond (the lowest risk of investment and therefore the lowest interest rate) is 4.07%. England’s 10 year government bond is at 4.4%. Which means that if RedHat fires everyone, closes the business down entirely and just sit on the lowest interest investment on earth (government bonds) — RedHat would still earn approximately the same amount of money as now. Other companies may have a large portion of the profit coming from sitting on their cash. But RedHat is the only company that can have 100% of their profit coming from their cash holdings — if they closed down their business. 2005-06-17 5:43 pm > GPL takes away all the incentives for adding value to a > product unless you want have a business model doesn’t > rely on making money by selling software. Yes (from a business point of view). > I firmly > believe that this model is good for companies that sell > hardware but not for anything else I’m not convinced about that but I’ve never seen any hard numbers for either side of the argument. Of course, there are other options, such as GPL-ing the basic functionality but keeping some related tools proprietary. e.g. you build a free server-oriented product which offers some nifty features to make people want to deploy it. Open Source that, if you want but require people to pay for a full friendly and powerful management interface. This way you can use GPL software to sell closed-source software and there’s nothing in the GPL to stop you doing that. > Support and services business is almost negligible as > compare to money earned from software sale Doesn’t that depend on what the software and the service actually are? > Lastly, the low income due to GPL model will cause > people to turn away from computer science and reduced > univerity fundings and thus will harm the future of > computer science to a large extent. It’s worth noting that GPLed software is very useful for researchers who want a real system to experiment with, rather than needing to start from scratch (or negotiate with a company to access their source and then not be able to release their research code as part of a complete system). Software under other open source licenses is also useful, of course. 2005-06-17 5:59 pm I think that what they are saying is that with a company like Microsoft, you’ve got the support of a mult-billion dollar corporation standing behind the product. But compare this to some fly-by-light open source operation (excluding IBM, of course) or some kid coding the project in his basement, people using an app professionally want to make sure that the company/individual who wrote it will still be around a month from now to provide support/bug fixes. That’s a red herring. Poorly supported, fly-by-night software made in some kid’s basement is poorly supported, fly-by-night software made in some kid’s basement whether it’s open or closed source. This argument might apply to KCrud or GJunk or Joe Haxor’s Random Sourceforge Project. But it would similarly apply to most shareware and a lot of tiny development shops in the closed source world. But does your argument apply to the LAMP stack? The Linux kernel? Eclipse? SWT or GTK toolkits? Apache? GCC? You know, mainstream open source software that businesses actually do rely on. The kind of stuff we’re actually talking about here. I don’t claim there’s an open equivalent for every single technology, but there are for many, and to ignore them for philosophical reasons (or because of red herring arguments) is just poor business sense. Build your Web solution on Apache, for example, and you’ve got many great options for support, and the freedom to migrate between dozens of vendors who want to compete for your business – platforms like Windows, Solaris, RHEL, Suse, Mac OS X, and on and on. Build your Web solution on something like Microsoft’s IIS, though, and you’re largely locked into Windows for life (until rewrite do us part). Open standards and open source foster real competition, real freedom of capital. And there are some entrenched interests – with oodles of cash – who will do anything in their power to see the status quo of limited competition and customer lock-in maintained. 2005-06-17 6:03 pm >>>It’s worth noting that GPLed software is very useful for researchers who want a real system to experiment with, rather than needing to start from scratch (or negotiate with a company to access their source and then not be able to release their research code as part of a complete system). Software under other open source licenses is also useful, of course. It’s a double edge sword. Universities get some of their fundings from the technology that they created. SUN originally stands for stanford university network. From a university’s point of view — why not use software that is based on BSD license. Commercialize it and then get a percentage of the profit. 2005-06-17 7:42 pm I for one love the idea of a company sitting on previous earnings. Treat that money like an endowment, and you can go on doing whatever the heck you want without worrying about how every little policy affects your bottom line. Forbes makes it sound like earning money on investments doesn’t “count”. WTH? Forbes is the last place I would have thought to hear that *any* method of making money doesn’t count. The money Red Hat is earning on the cash in the bank is from Interest Income (so says the article), not stock dividends, not mutual funds, not investing it in other endeavors. The economy grows and expands through money changing hands, not sitting in matresses. When the papers and what not complain about recessions, it’s not that we all of a sudden ran out of money, rather its that money is no longer moving. Things like taxes are a cost on moving money (when money moves from my employer to me, a chunk goes to the assorted governments). So, when people talk about tax cuts helping the economy, it’s because moving money costs less. (I don’t want to get into a discussion about tax policies, etc, it was simply an example.) But in general, the economy is better when money is changing hands, but that typically entails risk. That’s why Venture Capital is typically a risky investment, but can have high pay offs. Money sitting in banks has some value, as the banks turn around and lend it out to others (and they need money to lend). But, in general, idle capital is worthless capital. That’s why you see companies that go out and buy other companies, in order to get their revenue streams, increase their earnings, and increase their profits. Since most money is made from a value add, for example your typical “middle man” markup, volume in your revenue stream is better for the company than necessarily cash in the bank. Plus when you expand the company, you expand the workforce, which put more money into the community, who then spend it on other things. Microsoft has billions of dollars in the bank, a lot of it is sitting there as a hedge against potential fines and damages from assorted governments. But, then look at Sun which recently just dropped a large wad to buy StorageTek, so they can merge the product lines and bring growth to their bottom line. As an individual, I’d love to be independently wealthy and able to live off a large wad of interest income, but it’s typically not healthy for a company to be doing that. You don’t want them squandering their money, but they shouldn’t be sitting on it either. 2005-06-18 4:27 am Red Hat already had their wad of cash from the internet boom before they started making a profit. They didn’t start making a profit until they did the RHEL / Fedora Core split, making RHEL the more stable, longer supported, better certfied option, and Fedora Core the cutting edge version for the enthusiasts (helping generate the ever so important mind share). At that point, subscriptions for RHEL started to go through the roof, even though Red Hat increased the price (dramatically). And subscriptions for RHEL continue to climb. And profits, as well as Red Hat stock price, continue to climb. At that same time, Red Hat has been buying other companies and assests, like JoNas, and Netscape directory server. Thus they have not been making money only on interest from their wad of cash. That wad of cash existed before Red Hat started making a profit. And they are spending some of that wad of cash increasing their product portfolio. The simple fact is that Red Hat started making a profit when they released the more conservative RHEL, which has longer release cycles and much longer support periods, thus ensuring that enterprises can rely on it longer, and it’s an easier target for third party software vendors (Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP, IBM, BEA, etc). In other words, Red Hat filled a market need – a stable, long supported, software certified Linux platform. And they started raking in the $$$$ after that. So for this idiot in Forbes to say that all of Red Hat’s profits come from interest on their wad of cash is absolutely ludicrous and completely false. And for anyone to take Forbes seriously on anything Linux or tech is like the blind leading the stupid. 2005-06-18 3:25 pm RedHat made $45 million profit last year. RedHat (before buying JoNas, and Netscape directory server business) — had a full billion dollars in cash (it’s now down to $928 million). Grade 4 students can do this math. $1 billion cash x 4.5% interest = $45 million dollars. If RedHat fired everyone last year, closed down the business entirely — they would still made $45 million profit in interest payments from sitting on the $1 billion government bonds. 2005-06-19 9:48 pm with the belief that no one could or would create good or great software and give it away. Yet, a number of them profited from this from the very beginning, financially or otherwise. The fact is, some great software has been made by intelligent, dedicated people who just wanted to do it. Unix, although created by Bell Labs employees, was essentially a mothballed project that a couple of now-famous programmers refused to give up on. And, read “Barbarians led by Bill Gates” to learn exactly how the Scroll Screen Tracer, a debugger written by one computer scientist who had no commercial aspirations for it, helped Windows make the transition to protected mode – here’s the short version: one university professor with a cool utility and one Microsoft programmer took what was essentially a dead-end project and , over a summer, turned it into the product that made M$ its first billion. The FOSS movement has made it easier for the little guy to compete but now ALL those who want to stay in the game must learn to adapt – this is an eternal process and bitching about it is about as useful as pissing into the wind – you’ll end up all wet and noone will want to be near you. 2005-06-20 2:39 am >>>The FOSS movement has made it easier for the little guy to compete but now ALL those who want to stay in the game must learn to adapt – this is an eternal process and bitching about it is about as useful as pissing into the wind – you’ll end up all wet and noone will want to be near you. Precisely — but in this case — it was JBOSS that was doing the “bitching”.