The free software myth and the commerical myth

87 views
Skip to first unread message

rodrigo vanegas

unread,
May 18, 1993, 3:20:35 PM5/18/93
to
In article <C789M...@cscns.com>, ma...@cscns.com (Mike Jones/Mountain Alternative Systems) writes:

> The problems of unrestricted software
> It is tempting to say that the major problem is quality.
> However, after using the Linux system for a while, I find the
> quality very good. So, if the problem is not quality what is it?
> Two things. First, stability. The system changes fast is is
> difficult to keep up with. You have to be a genius and a gorilla to
> keep up with all the goings on about Linux. Second, there is no
> guarantee of getting help when you need it. Just last week there
> was a news posting begging for help a third time. People are
> irritated when someone askes a question that was answered in a FAQ.
> This intimidates the novices real quick. There is also no single
> place to go for answers with any assurance you will get an answer.
> You are depentent on the good will of others for help.

I think you have confounded the idea of "freely redistributable"
software with the idea of "no-money-transfer" software. This
confusion has led you to consider two possible drawbacks of
"unrestricted software": (1) instability, and (2) no guarantee of
support. But this is by no means inherent to free software! In fact,
it isn't even alien to restricted software!

Let us take the GNU+Linux phenomenon as an example. With the possible
exception of the ever-so-popular emacs and gcc/g++, this software has
been a hacker-only enterprise. This is because until recently, the
only means by which it has been distributed is via sources on some
tape or ftp site with a "Good luck! Let us know how everything goes."
thank you note. For the most part this hasn't changed. Programmers
would prefer to use their resources hacking and incorporating
contributed patches into their programs instead of conducting PR
campaigns and answering 10 newbie questions a day on the net.

This is where the money comes in. The emacs distribution comes with a
file ("etc/SERVICE" i believe) which lists people who would be willing
to provide competent and guaranteed support for a fee. And recently a
company called Cygnus (Cygnus, Your GNU Support) has been making its
money by supporting and developing parts of the GNU development suite
for a fee! Apparently they are doing very well. So unrestricted
freely redistributable software and guaranteed support for a fee are
NOT incompatible. They have not been the norm only because it has
been the domain of individual hackers (as opposed to companies with
purchasing dept's) who couldn't afford support they could use even if
it were made available.

The instability of free software can be similarly explained. Until
recently, free software has been used almost exclusively in an
environment where it doesn't matter very much if some random utility
breaks. Why? Because there is usually someone around who can fix it
(even if that means reverting to an earlier version), and because the
operations that the software supports are rarely so critical that it
can't wait an hour or a few days to get fixed (for free). However,
the demands of the real world are unlikely to give computers so much
slack.

This is where the money comes in. If one were willing to pay for it,
I am more than convinced that any free software support house such as
Cygnus or Softlanding would provide a service by which you could be
given as much stability as you could pay for. Take gcc, for example.
gcc-2xx has been out for more than a year, but those of you who want
the stability which gcc-2xx doesn't already provide, you can get
gcc-1.42! And this is freely (as in price) provided at cost to the
FSF! I can't even begin to imagine the potential for making money if
there were a greater demand for a stable selection of free software.

Now let's consider the issues of support and stability in the realm of
commercial but restricted software. The convetional wisdom in the
Linux crowd about real world support is that it is non-existent.
Typically, one will be put on hold and forced to listen to some
aggravating elevator musak for a few minutes until one of the
engineers frees up. Then you explain your problem OVER THE PHONE,
and he'll try to hack up a solution while you wait. This is often
prolonged since you have to do your own trouble-shooting ("Could you
read me your AUTOEXEC.BAT?"), and you have to play a sort of mediator
between the tech-support line and your misbehaving computer. And all
of this is if you're lucky! Often you won't have the luxury of a
toll-free number, or your "free" support will have expired last month,
or the guy on the phone wasn't a developer, or you'll get the dreaded:
"Sorry, we no longer support that."

Stability is not that much better. How many times a day would Win3.0
give you the ol' "Unrecoverable Application Error" before forcing you
to reboot? (Oh sure, just blame it on the apps, won't you!) And how
much money did you pay for the "upgrade" to 3.1 which fixed this bug.

Assuming you do more than start up your copy of WordPerfect each time
you start up DOS and stay there most of the day, how often do you
reboot your DOS box? How often is this the solution proposed when you
call tech support to report a problem? How about the old "Abort,
Retry, Ignore?" deal? (Try this at home: disconnect your printer and
"accidentally" type Ctrl-p at the DOS prompt. Now try to abort.)

The reason commercial software companies can afford to provide such
shoddy support and maintenance to their products is that once sold,
you have only ONE source for it. Although it's not strictly a
monopoly (you can always buy Dr.DOS or OS/2), once you've made an
investment (say 100 copies of Windows) the effect is quite the same.

> Future discussion
> I would like to see some discussion about where boundries
> should be drawn between unrestricted software development and
> commercial development. I would also like to see some discussion
> about how the two systems can compliment each other rather than work
> against each other.

i hope i've done my part to explain why we may possibly not need
restricted software at all. I suggest we consider the possibilities
of *unrestricted commercial* software.


rodrigo vanegas
r...@cs.brown.edu

ps. i've cross-posted to comp.os.linux. hope no one minds.


Kelly Murray

unread,
May 18, 1993, 2:59:39 PM5/18/93
to
Cygnus is constantly held up as a shining example of the commercial opportunity
of GNUism. I would like to understand just how successful this firm is.
How many people does it employ? How much job security is there working
for this firm? How well does it pay its employees?

I would also like to mention that contrary to the support opportunity,
most people don't care about support. They want software that helps solve
their problem. This can often require support to get the software to work,
but the best software doesn't need support.
It seems that GNUism creates an incentive to develop software that needs support,
at least if you want to create commercial opportunities.

Further I would add that it is constantly said that GNU software is better
supported than commercial software. Why pay for commercial products that
provide support, if you can use GNU stuff supported free
via the net? Don't have net access? It's cheaper to get net access
than to pay someone for support.

-Kelly

In response to:

Jeffrey M. Simon

unread,
May 18, 1993, 4:41:28 PM5/18/93
to
In <1tbbmr...@no-names.nerdc.ufl.edu> k...@prl.ufl.edu (Kelly Murray) says:
>Cygnus is constantly held up as a shining example of
>the commercial opportunity of GNUism. I would like to understand
>just how successful this firm is. How many people does it employ?
>How much job security is there working for this firm? How well does
>it pay its employees?

I really don't know; I once heard that Cygnus takes home more than the
small _commercial_ software developers, just for supporting free wares.

>I would also like to mention that contrary to the support
>opportunity, most people don't care about support. They want
>software that helps solve their problem. This can often require
>support to get the software to work, but the best software doesn't
>need support. It seems that GNUism creates an incentive to develop
>software that needs support, at least if you want to create
>commercial opportunities.

I'd disagree with you here. I've written enough custom software to know
that most of my clients look for three things, in this order:

1) hand-holding and support (before, during, and after development)
2) a whiz-bang interface that looks good (doesn't matter how good
it really is, it just needs to _look_ good.)
3) a program that accomplishes the basic tasks

I've been hired after a company did a fantastic job on software and then
didn't document it (or answer phone calls), to write completely new
software (and 75% of the time, the customer has already paid the fees on
the first program when they hire me to rewrite it).

>Further I would add that it is constantly said that GNU software is better
>supported than commercial software. Why pay for commercial products that
>provide support, if you can use GNU stuff supported free
>via the net? Don't have net access? It's cheaper to get net access
>than to pay someone for support.
>
> -Kelly

To be blunt, the, how shall I put it delicately, computer illiterate of
the world that know enough to turn it on, log in (maybe) and run their
word processor would disagree with you.

It is much easier (and safer and less scary :-) to pick up a phone (oh -
the phone! I know how _that_ works) and call someone who can make all the
bad dreams go away, then it would be to use the modem (does the phone line
need to plug into the modem? Really? :-) log into the remote system
(or configure...SLIP?), find an address, send mail, ftp for patches,
patch source, recompile, etc.

I've been hired by companies who pay third party service organizations
$500,000.00 each year to maintain computer hardware that never breaks
down (in one case, a DEC VAX and 10 terminals) -- note that that fee
only covered emergency service, other calls were billed to a credit
card, $75/10 mins with a minimum call length of 30mins :-0

Cygnus and other such organizations are the only hope _free_ software
really has. Problem is, right now the fees are too high and the
popular press has nothing good to say about anything other than DOS,
Microsoft Windows (and Windows NT, which no one has much of a clue
about).

Flames not intended (even *if* my eyes had an eerie red glow :-)

J
--
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Jeffrey M. Simon INTERNET: jms...@cs.buffalo.edu
112 Fairgreen BITNET: jmsimon%cs.buff...@ubvm.bitnet
Amherst, NY 14228 UUCP: ...!{rutgers,uunet}!cs.buffalo.edu!jmsimon

david d 'zoo' zuhn

unread,
May 18, 1993, 5:47:57 PM5/18/93
to

Cygnus is constantly held up as a shining example of the commercial opportunity
of GNUism. I would like to understand just how successful this firm is.
How many people does it employ? How much job security is there working
for this firm? How well does it pay its employees?

Well, I started a little over a year ago, and we were at 20 people. We're
around 40 people right now. I don't expect that I'll be forced to go job
hunting anytime soon, and I don't worry about Cygnus not being around in a
couple of years. What I do wonder about is how we'll handle being a
200-300 person company in a couple of years (my estimates). As for the
last question, I don't drive a Lexus, nor do a drive a 20-year-old beater.

I would also like to mention that contrary to the support opportunity,
most people don't care about support. They want software that helps
solve their problem. This can often require support to get the software
to work, but the best software doesn't need support. It seems that
GNUism creates an incentive to develop software that needs support, at
least if you want to create commercial opportunities.

I don't think this is the case. We never hear from many of our customers.
They're too busy getting work done with the tools we provide them. That's
support. It's a warm-fuzzy feeling that they're getting high quality
tools, and that they have someone they can ask if/when they need to.

Further I would add that it is constantly said that GNU software is
better supported than commercial software. Why pay for commercial
products that provide support, if you can use GNU stuff supported free
via the net? Don't have net access? It's cheaper to get net access
than to pay someone for support.

Because you don't get a contractual obligation to provide a fix for you
from the net. Or you can't expect the net to port the entire toolchain to
a new processor. Or you just like having someone you can call up and ask
about the problem, instead of throwing it into the wind and seeing what
happens. "I shot a bug into the ether, it landed I know not where".

Seriously now, if you report a bug in a program, do you expect that you'll
get a fix (patch) within a few days? Or do you just work around the
problem and wait for the next release? Many people are willing to pay to
not have to spend the time finding a work-around. They have a job to do,
and want to be doing that job, even if it means paying for support from a
third-party (and Cygnus is not the only company who does support for free
software) to get the fixes into their hands in a timely manner.

Opinions herein are not officially sanctioned by Cygnus. They may not even
be reading this. Obviously, I'm somewhat biased. If you can't figure out
which way, that's your problem. Blah. Blah. Blah.

david d 'zoo' zuhn |
cygnus support | And if you're never lost, how can you be found?
z...@cygnus.com |

Anna Pluzhnikov

unread,
May 18, 1993, 11:35:04 PM5/18/93
to
In article <C78pH...@acsu.buffalo.edu> jms...@acsu.buffalo.edu (Jeffrey M. Simon) writes:
>
>Cygnus and other such organizations are the only hope _free_ software
>really has. Problem is, right now the fees are too high and the
>popular press has nothing good to say about anything other than DOS,
>Microsoft Windows (and Windows NT, which no one has much of a clue
>about).
>
I hope I don't start another flame war here :-)
A guy next to me tries to install Windows NT SDK for 10-th day in a row.

Here is how far he's got:

- first he halved 2 other machines' memory to get extra 8M -- NT
requires 16 to run.

- then he went through the following (with minor variations):

partition the disk into 2 dos partitions, install MS-DOS + networking
on one of them, run "winnt" - that copies files from Sun CD-ROM to
the other DOS partition and prepares a "boot floppy" (no questions
are asked).

reboot the machine from boot floppy, it searches for SCSI devices,
which there are none, then says: "can not find partition prepared
during the DOS part of installation, press Control-Alt-Del".

At this point all partitions on the disk are trashed.

- call MSoft's technical support, wait on the line 40 minutes,
on speaker-phone so he can do something else (and I can't :-(,
get somebody who has no clue and suggests that he subscribe to
CompuServe and ask his questions there (which he did -- response --
me too).

This is on generic hardware with IDE drive.

I think it's going to be a while before we see NT capture 90% of the PC desktops.

Donald J. Becker

unread,
May 19, 1993, 11:33:10 AM5/19/93
to
In article <1993May19.0...@midway.uchicago.edu> be...@midway.uchicago.edu writes:
>In article <C78pH...@acsu.buffalo.edu> jms...@acsu.buffalo.edu (Jeffrey M. Simon) writes:
>>Cygnus and other such organizations are the only hope _free_ software
>>really has. Problem is, right now the fees are too high and the
>>popular press has nothing good to say about anything other than DOS,
>>Microsoft Windows (and Windows NT, which no one has much of a clue
>>about).
>>
>I hope I don't start another flame war here :-)
>A guy next to me tries to install Windows NT SDK for 10-th day in a row.
... [ deleted ]

> - call MSoft's technical support, wait on the line 40 minutes,
...

>This is on generic hardware with IDE drive.


He he he. I had a _great_ time last week. Some machines that we had
ordered ages ago showed up, and a few (!) very experienced collegues
tried to load WNT on one machine while I loaded an generic, unmodified
"SLS" Linux on two others. It took me longer to physically install
the ethernet cards than to load up the SLS software over the net. The
only bug I found was that LILO reported a BIOS error 0x09 when trying
to boot using the VLBus IDE controller, but using a boot floppy and
later disabling the IDE controller boot PROM fixed it.

The WindowsNiceTry machine? After spending a few days working on it
(and listening to Microsoft hold), they appear to have given up. I'll
wait a week or two and make it a Linux machine when they aren't
looking. I'll do it quietly, since they have already taken enough
ribbing from me. ("Hey, I've got X running, anything yet?" "Can you
telnet in to make certain the net is running OK? Oh, that's a real
nice BIOS screen you have there." "I'll check out your disk on the
Linux machines if you think it's broken.")

To be fair (or perhap more damning of Microsoft?) the BSDI
distribution also loaded with minimal problems.

--
Donald Becker bec...@super.org
Supercomputing Research Center
17100 Science Drive, Bowie MD 20715 301-805-7482

Michael Will

unread,
May 19, 1993, 2:18:15 PM5/19/93
to
k...@prl.ufl.edu (Kelly Murray) writes:

>supported than commercial software. Why pay for commercial products that
>provide support, if you can use GNU stuff supported free
>via the net? Don't have net access? It's cheaper to get net access
>than to pay someone for support.

It is not because you have to spend a lot of time on reading news, tending
the news-system etcpp, so if you do not have this as a hobby but use
it on your job, it is tremendously expensive - every hour costs money!

If you can simply call up a hot-line and tell them your problem so they
solve it for you, this will be cheaper...

>|> monopoly (you can always buy Dr.DOS or OS/2), once you've made an
>|> investment (say 100 copies of Windows) the effect is quite the same.

And if you are producing software yourself you are forced to use the
OS your customer uses - we are really disgusted by the DOS-6.0 stuff :-|

Cheers, Michael Will
--
Michael Will <mich...@desaster.hanse.de> Linux - share and enjoy :-)
pgp Key fingerprint = E2 95 5F 67 E4 4B 46 E7 7F E8 6F 60 0C F7 53 2E
Happily using Linux 0.99p9-13 with X11R5, \LaTeX, cnews/nn/uucp and: PGP!
>>> Ask for Linux and / or pgp-Information <<<

Jim McCoy

unread,
May 22, 1993, 9:52:49 PM5/22/93
to

In article <1993May19....@desaster.hanse.de>, mich...@desaster.hanse.de (Michael Will) writes:
> k...@prl.ufl.edu (Kelly Murray) writes:
>
> >supported than commercial software. Why pay for commercial products that
> >provide support, if you can use GNU stuff supported free
> >via the net? Don't have net access? It's cheaper to get net access
> >than to pay someone for support.
>
> It is not because you have to spend a lot of time on reading news, tending
> the news-system etcpp, so if you do not have this as a hobby but use
> it on your job, it is tremendously expensive - every hour costs money!
>
> If you can simply call up a hot-line and tell them your problem so they
> solve it for you, this will be cheaper...

While this may be true about some GNU packages, there are several that are
considered fairly stable. In addition there is a huge resource pool (the
net) that you might be able to use to provide you with free support.
Support time is becoming increasingly more expensive for the consumer in
the computer industry.

Calling up a hot-line is nice, if they can solve the problem for you, if
they even admit it is a problem. At least with the GNU stuff (and a lot of
the free unix code out there) there is available source to check it myself
if I am able. This is not even an option with a commercial package.
There is also a growing cadre of people providing support for packages of
this nature for people with the needs you describe. Let them read news,
fix bugs, and answer the phone when you need help.

jim
--
Jim McCoy | UT Unix Sysadmin Tiger Team
mc...@ccwf.cc.utexas.edu | #include <disclaimer.h>
pgp key available via "finger -l", on pubkey servers, or upon request

Marty Leisner x71348

unread,
May 23, 1993, 10:51:57 PM5/23/93
to
david d 'zoo' zuhn (z...@cygnus.com) wrote:

: Because you don't get a contractual obligation to provide a fix for you


: from the net. Or you can't expect the net to port the entire toolchain to
: a new processor. Or you just like having someone you can call up and ask
: about the problem, instead of throwing it into the wind and seeing what
: happens. "I shot a bug into the ether, it landed I know not where".

There is really no contractual obligation in most cases to provide
reasonable support.

Support is a very nebulous thing...I get much better support when I have
source code...It is not free, but you have freedom of choice (this is the
old adage)...

And I generally get reasonable support from the authors of programs
(it is very different when the author has a name rather than a company).

Instead of throwing problems into the wind, you can fix them if you desire...
With "support" you're at the mercy of someone else (please fix my problem).

Many times, if you ask a question "how does something work" you get an
answer which is effectively "this is a proprietary secret".

: david d 'zoo' zuhn |

: cygnus support | And if you're never lost, how can you be found?
: z...@cygnus.com |


--
Marty Leisner lei...@eso.mc.xerox.com leisner....@xerox.com
"Things should be as simple as possible, no simpler" -- Albert Einstein

Drew Eckhardt

unread,
May 24, 1993, 4:31:38 AM5/24/93
to
In article <C789M...@cscns.com>, ma...@cscns.com (Mike Jones/Mountain Alternative Systems) writes:
>
> The problems of unrestricted software
> It is tempting to say that the major problem is quality.
> However, after using the Linux system for a while, I find the
> quality very good.

I administer machines from DEC, HP, IBM, and SGI and have found
that the Linux + GNU + Xfree system is more bug free than any of
their offerings, at both the kernel and user levels.

> So, if the problem is not quality what is it?
> Two things. First, stability.

My definition of stablity is a machine that is bug free and
doesn't crash under a load. With this definition, Linux is
more stable than many commercial systems.

>The system changes fast is is difficult to keep up with.

Who says you have to keep up with it? Most patches aren't bug fixes,
so if you aren't interested in the new features (ie, /proc, SLIP) or
added performance (scatter gather for selected SCSI drivers, fully
unified buffer cache, etc) you don't have to upgrade.

>You have to be a genius and a gorilla to keep up with all the goings on
>about Linux

> Second, there is no guarantee of getting help when you need it.

There isn't with commercial software.

We were having problems with an AIX NFS server loosing gigabytes
of files talking to other vendor's clients. Many other sites
had the same problems, but the official line from IBM's staff
(for months) was that they'd never heard of the problem.

We didn't find a solution until I cornered an IBM programmer at
Usenix and asked him to look at the source.

With free software like Linux, everyone has the source code,
and everyone can fix the bugs - so you have a much better
chance of getting what you want.

> Just last week there
> was a news posting begging for help a third time. People are
> irritated when someone askes a question that was answered in a FAQ.

If you haven't read the documentation concerning Linux and Xfree,
you could wipe out your DOS partitions or nuke your monitor. So,
people who won't read TFM shouldn't be using Linux.

> This intimidates the novices real quick.
> There is also no single place to go for answers with any assurance
> you will get an answer.

There isn't with commercial software either. I once mailed Microsoft
concerning a compiler bug, with the source code that generated incorrect
code, sample output, and a reference to the correct documented
behaviour and was told that there was no problem (Since then, I haven't
bought a single Microsoft product, but I digress).

> You are depentent on the good will of others for help.

Since Linux is free software, developed by hobbiests in there spare
time, no one has any obligation to help you. If you're willing
to pay for it, there are many people (myself included) who
would be more than willing to give you guranteed support and
a comfortable amount of handholding.

--
Boycott USL/Novell for their absurd anti-BSDI lawsuit. |
Condemn Colorado for Amendment Two. | Drew Eckhardt
Use Linux, the fast, flexible, and free 386 unix | dr...@cs.Colorado.EDU
Will administer Unix for food |

Timothy H Miley

unread,
May 26, 1993, 6:39:00 PM5/26/93
to
dr...@ophelia.cs.colorado.edu (Drew Eckhardt) writes:

>I administer machines from DEC, HP, IBM, and SGI and have found
>that the Linux + GNU + Xfree system is more bug free than any of
>their offerings, at both the kernel and user levels.

>My definition of stablity is a machine that is bug free and
>doesn't crash under a load. With this definition, Linux is
>more stable than many commercial systems.

>>The system changes fast is is difficult to keep up with.

>Who says you have to keep up with it? Most patches aren't bug fixes,
>so if you aren't interested in the new features (ie, /proc, SLIP) or
>added performance (scatter gather for selected SCSI drivers, fully
>unified buffer cache, etc) you don't have to upgrade.

The biggest reason that commercial software is so buggy is because the software
company wants to get the product out as fast as humanly possible, thus the
package isn't tested effectively. Here, there are many people testing alpha
and beta versions of the software and tweaking the code to get it right. You
aren't allowed to see the code of commercial packages, because of the
proprietary nature of the software. That's why I like Linux. I wanted Unix on
a PC instead of trekking to the lab all the time. I'm only a junior CS
student, and I haven't had any major prolems figuring out Linux.


--
thm...@cs.wmich.edu (Timothy H Miley)
Computer Science Major
Western Michigan University
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Rob Levin

unread,
May 27, 1993, 12:02:52 PM5/27/93
to
> Second, there is no guarantee of getting help when you need it.

DE> There isn't with commercial software.

Yup. I've done systems software maintenance on IBM mainframes since
1980. In this "highly-developed, sophisticated" environment (yes, I
know, but that's what the end-users think), I can't tell you how many
times a vendor who didn't provide source for their products, responded
to a problem report with the professional equivalent of a wide-eyed,
blank stare.... :-)

You can pay $5-200 for software and get no support, crummy support or
excellent support. You can pay $200-5,000 for software and you'll get
the same choices. You can pay $5,000-$50,000 and you'll get the same
choices. And, sadly, you can pay $50,000-$2,000,000 for software and
get *exactly* the same choices. In each case, "no support" or "crummy
support" are your most likely options. It pays to shop around.

And, for that matter, you can pay nothing at all and get the same set of
choices. I won't say the quality goes up as the price goes down--but
your investment certainly decreases. And there are certain advantages
to working with people who are doing what they do purely for its
entertainment and educational value. They may not agree with you as to
what the product should be doing--but at least they are more likely to
be willing to spend (a little) time paying attention to the way it
works.... [grin]


Rob L.

* Origin: Annex Hall Closet, Chamber Seven (1:3802/213.13)

Hal N. Brooks

unread,
May 30, 1993, 9:58:42 AM5/30/93
to
In article <73868430...@remote.halcyon.com> Rob....@p13.f213.n3802.z1.fidonet.org (Rob Levin) writes:
>> Second, there is no guarantee of getting help when you need it.
>
> DE> There isn't with commercial software.
>
[stuff deleted]

>
>You can pay $5-200 for software and get no support, crummy support or
>excellent support. You can pay $200-5,000 for software and you'll get
>the same choices. You can pay $5,000-$50,000 and you'll get the same
>choices. And, sadly, you can pay $50,000-$2,000,000 for software and
>get *exactly* the same choices. In each case, "no support" or "crummy
>support" are your most likely options. It pays to shop around.

This has nothing to do with Linux, so I apologize for that, but this
is where the thread started, so ...

I have a friend working for a company which does something I had never
heard of before, and thought some people might find the concept
interesting.

In effect, they provide a kind of "insurance" for (commercial) software,
by holding source code in "escrow", checking that the source code produces
the binaries distributed, and resolving conflicts between commercial
software vendors and their customers. If a customer finds a bug that
the vendor is obliged to fix under the terms of their contract, and if
the vendor doesn't respond within a reasonable period of time (or if
the vendor simply goes bankrupt), then this company will turn the
source (being held in escrow) over to the customer.

I really don't know much about the details, but I think it's an
interesting concept. I gather that this is generally used with
more expensive packages in niche markets on mainframes. The service
is evidently being required by customers, who don't care to be left
blowing in the wind should the software vendor go under, as a term
of purchase (or licensing).

-hal

Scott Moore

unread,
May 31, 1993, 3:18:19 AM5/31/93
to

As a poor subsitute for the days when source code was a virtual requirement
to be shipped with mainframe code. It was also not unusual for a large
client to have their own debug staff to go after problems faster than the
vendor could.

<sam>
--
Scott A. Moore [SAM] | This space for rent.
sam...@netcom.com |
Santa Cruz, CA USA |
408-423-1624 |
ExaByte Corp. | "my opinions do not represent my company, etc."
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages