OSS (was Re: Stand Alone Erlang)

Richard A. O'Keefe ok@REDACTED
Sun Mar 14 23:25:34 CET 2004

Ulf Wiger wrote:
	If your business is to make more complex products, possibly using a mix
	of 3rd party and OSS components, whether to release one of your own tools
	or components as OSS would depend mostly on whether you think that the
	expected return (in terms of outside help improving the code) would
	outweigh the cost of packaging and documenting it for external use.

One question is whether there is any expected return *other than*
help improving the code.  I suggest that there is:  building a reputation.

* If potential investors are technically informed, they can look at the
  code and form their own opinion of your code quality.
* If they aren't, they can be impressed by the fact that *you* think
  your code quality is good enough to let people look at it.
* Above all, if you can say "hundreds of projects are using this code
  of ours", that gives investors some confidence that there might be
  some kind of market for some of the things you do.
* It can serve as advertising.

Let me give one example.  Ross Quinlan wrote a decision tree induction
program called C4.5.  Now, if I hadn't gone looking for a free copy of
C4.5 (and found it), I would never have known that he now has a company
selling more advanced data mining tools and services.  Giving C4.5 away
has given him a reputation which now makes the products and services of
his company attactive.

(Considering what happens when you run lint on the c4.5 source code,
there can be reasons for *not* releasing your source code...)

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