Subject: Re: source access vs dynamism
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1999/08/27
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* User Knotwell <>
| I'm trying to understand your point of view.  Based on your posts on this
| topic, it appears to me that you're advocating for source access based on
| merit and/or investment.  What is your reasoning for this position?

  I'm advocating source access to people who express an actual desire and
  need for it.  "investment" here isn't monetary, as in "an investment of
  time and effort", but a concern that one has limited resources and want
  to maximize the value of using those resources.  without a sense of
  "investment", people are likely to waste what they get.

| 1) inexpensive.  I've always been amazed by the people who try to make
|    out that this isn't a big motivator.  Does anyone else but me snort
|    when they see a comment like "I'd pay for it even if it wasn't free?"

  of course it's a big motivator for the users.  who argues against that?

| 2) lacking in administrative bullsh*t.  IBM's C compiler for the RS/600
     cost $400.  Personally, I don't care about the $400 (a cost of doing
     business).  On the other hand, I do care about having to chase down a
     PO.  I do care about having to install a goofy-a** license monitor to
     make sure I don't do something evil.  Similarly, I do care about
     having to call IBM sales support to get a new license key when we
     decide to move development to a new box with a faster network
     card. . .I could go on, but I'm even starting to bore myself :-).

  of course it helps to deal with non-stupid people.  however, there are
  lots and lots of license-restricted software products that doesn't need
  any of this administrative bullshit.  if "PO" is a Purchase Order, it is
  unclear to me whether that is a requirement of IBM or of your company.  I
  have worked for companies where senior programmers are given budgets to
  purchase tools and time alotments attend courses without individual
  management approval.

| 3) generally tailored towards use on commodity hardware.

  this implies that commodity hardware would have been ignored if it
  weren't for the current crop of freely available source-based tools.  I
  don't think this is the case.  the quality of implementation may be an
  issue, but SCO Unix and even SUN Solaris for Intel are certainly present
  in the market.

| 4) another tool in the fight against getting jabbed by your vendor.  To
     be honest, I believe a better tool in this fight would be open,
     understandable data formats so my data won't be held "captive" against
     it's will.

  well, I worked with SGML for half a decade because I believed it would be
  a means to free the data, but that turned out to be false, it makes no
  difference whatsoever.  if your data should be less captive, I think the
  way to go needs to be the ability to call functions to retrieve objects
  and manage them.  again, dynamic languages win big in my view.  there
  might be an issue of just how much you get access to even in a running
  system, but at least the world isn't closed up.

  I personally fail to see why people don't take this "getting jabbed by
  your vendor" thing much more seriously.  if you're afraid of it, and you
  don't tackle the issue head-on, is it because you _fear_ the vendor?  do
  you actually _need_ products that will likely cripple you in the future?
  (I don't think so.)  have you ever talked to the vendor and expressed
  your concern?  if you haven't, do it now.  if you have and was dissed,
  why do you still deal with them?  this is the labor union thing all over
  again, except now with entities you'd expect were able to defend their
  own interests much better.

| 5) community-oriented.  From what I can tell, open source projects tend
     to do an extremely good job of putting "customers" and  developers
     together.  On the other hand, most commercial companies where I've
     worked went out of there way to keep developers and customers apart
     (counter-productive in my view).

  yup, counter-productive in the extreme.  if you use a software tool for
  developers, and you can't talk to the developers of the tool, you have
  made a mistake in purchasing it.  however, this is not a function of
  source access, but of smart people who actually care about what they do.

  you have pointed at several issues that point to why people should choose
  source-based products instead of shrink-wrapped products, and I agree
  with all of them, but at issue is not source vs shrink-wrap, in my view:
  at issue is a lot of incompetent people who are mortally afraid that if
  anyone saw their source, they'd be exposed as the frauds they are, and I
  actually believe that a certain major software company in Redmond, WA,
  would be history the day its sources were released in a much more
  important sense than any other company would fold if its trade secrets
  were dispersed.  I have argued elsewhere that I think a big motivator in
  the source-based software world is legitimate rejection of said company
  and its extremely predatory behavior.  however, defense against idiocy
  and evil is not an end in itself -- you have to have a pretty clear
  picture of what you're fighting _for_.  while destroying a company that
  has defrauded millions if not a billion of people is a very worthy goal,
  we need to consider what comes after it, and we need to consider what we
  want to accomplish when the idiotic evil is gone, otherwise, we'll just
  give rise to another.

| Why do I get the feeling I'll regret this?

  beats me.  and you don't come with source, so I can't fix your problem.

  save the children: just say NO to sex with pro-lifers