OSS (was Re: Stand Alone Erlang)

Joe Armstrong joe@REDACTED
Fri Mar 12 10:57:27 CET 2004

> Perhaps I might kick off the issue of OSS on erlang-questions. How does
> one convince the non-technical bean counters that using and _providing_
> OSS is of commercial benefit? And that opening source code may generate
> goodwill (something that SCO Group is suffering a severe lack thereof!)
> leading to sales.

I would argue that S/W falls into several different categories

	1) Pre-competitive
	2) Competitive
	3) General odds and sods 

1) Is a when different companies co-operate with each other to produce a 
market - without the market there is no competition. 

2) Competitive is what you live off - this you keep secret

3) Is general improvements to everybody.

  Now suppose you make better test-suits  - who stands to gain? - your
products  might be  useless unless  they can  interoperatate  with the
other  guy's products -  so I  guess test-suits  are a  1) -  they are
pre-condition  that you get  to the  point of  competing in  the first

 If you are alone in the market - no worries - release all! - why?

 What can happen:

	a) nobody is interested -> no threat
	b) people find bugs -> great, a positive benefit
	c) people steal your ideas -> great - you were on the right track
	   the market *expands* (because you had the right idea) *but*
	   (a big but) you were first - and will hopefully always stay
	   ahead - by being first you have more knowledge of the problem
	   that other follow (steal) acknowledges your leadership.
	   Your can even sell updates to them :-)

  You can choose to be in the commercial market place swapping ideas -
building upon the  work of others - or sit in  the corner keeping your
ideas to yourself - but your ideas will not grow if you do not share them.

  Giving your software away is  symmetric processes - if you give your
stuff away, what do you get back?

	- bug-fixes (nice to have - saves you work)
	- feedback - ideas - every time I post S/W to the net I get
	  feedback - people find bugs and have new ideas for great new

  Imagine - you post your S/W to  the net - some guy takes the S/W has
a great idea - mails you and  ... wow ... this is your next product.

> But hey! I'm a naive soft-hearted programmer who knows nothing about the
> hard tooth-and-nail world of commerce!
> Maybe geeks and suits will never really understand each other...

  They will - explain that the code is not really important but that the ideas
behind the code are. Explain that by cutting off the flow of code you are
cutting off the flow of ideas.

Explain that without new ideas your products will fail.

Explain that you are using Erlang because it is a new idea.

If despite this you don't want to use new ideas - go and use Java -
go and keep all your ideas secret.



> Pete.
> P.s. However, if what we're doing interests you as a customer, Hal,
> please visit http://www.newport-networks.com/ and we can discuss this at
> a commercial level :-)
> On Thu, 11 Mar 2004 08:40:58 -0600
> Hal Snyder <hal@REDACTED> wrote:
> > 
> > Sounds interesting. Are outside collaboraters allowed?

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