Comments inline:
Simon Coulter wrote:
On 07/07/2009, at 8:26 AM, Pete Helgren wrote:

There are probably a few dozen
folks on the list who really understand the value of F/OSS and make it
part of their mission to promote it.

I'd like to understand this. Perhaps you can explain it to me.

I can see that F/OSS has value to the end-user. That is they get software to perform a given task and it doesn't cost them anything in license fees. There is a cost to install (and possibly package depending on target platform), customise, and for some types to maintain the software. By maintain here I mean keep it running in their environment.

Agreed. That is how I got started.
However, what is the benefit to the creator of the F/OSS software? I've made trivial code available in the past but I wouldn't release the source to anything non-trivial even if I can't manage to sell it. I might make the compiled objects freely available but I would never release the source. What is the benefit to me if I do
If I port F/OSS code to OS/400, and make the port public, I would make that source available because it's part of the deal but if I wrap that F/OSS source in a native interface I may choose not to release the source for that part of it. In general, that may not be in the spirit of F/OSS but it's certainly within the strict legal interpretation of many OSS licences.

Yes. I think Mac OS based on the BSD version of Linux (or some variant I think) is an example of F/OSS morphing into a commercial product. As long as the license allows it, go for it!
I make my living from writing software. If I give away the application how do I make a living? If I give away the source how to I benefit from my efforts? I'll get kudos for making something useful available to the masses but that doesn't feed me.
I depends (below). The question is: How much of what you currently produce for one customer do you then resell to another? If it is 100%, then you have a great model. If it is 5%, then what are you losing by giving it away?
Seems to me that most people who make F/OSS available already have another job that provides their living. In that case they can afford to give it away--they're doing it for the glory. In other cases the F/ OSS development is sponsored by someone (usually a company) so again development costs are covered.
It is difficult to frame an all encompassing answer to your questions because the motivation to create F/OSS is varied.

1. Some of the motivation is altruism, where you have folks who want to help in a particular way, providing a solution that has some particular usefulness. You might also have something developed for a customer who wanted to "donate" it with the hope of getting some future free enhancements out of it if the "community" embraced it.

2. Some of the motivation might be ego. Get your name out there and become another Linus Torvalds.

3. Some companies use it as an entry point to a "full featured" and revenue producing solution.

4. Some companies use it to get off the upgrade and enhancement treadmill. Rather than being driven by constant customer requests, they turn the software over to the community and the community decides and provides the future upgrades and enhancements with the original company providing some technical support and installation assistance.

5. Sometimes it is just a ploy to get a customer. Period.

If all you do is sell your time programming, then F/OSS probably isn't the most productive way to higher earnings. The stuff I have made available in the F/OSS arena have been one-off, small solutions that I found useful but with no particular customer in mind. I have then used that same OSS in a paid project later. I have also developed some stuff secondarily as I was prototyping or researching a solution. I have yet to build an application over thousands of hours and made it available Open Source. I earn my living primarily as a consultant and that could involve some software craftsmanship as well as some integration work, but I sell my time in order to eat. Do I ever "bet on the come" and give away some consulting work in anticipation of it leading to a bigger, paid contract? Yes. My open source stuff falls into that sphere as well.
Seems to me that your use of "promote" in the quoted sentence is aimed at making use of someone else's efforts. That is, promoting the use of existing F/OSS that can run on our system even if it's only in PASE rather than a native port. Where is the "promotion" of native F/OSS?
There is very little promotion of native F/OSS. This is the issue.
Where is the ROI for the developer of such native F/OSS?

I can't say, again for the reasons stated above. If your goal is to only sell your time and only sell it to the highest bidder, then you should stick to that plan. If your goal is to sell your time but also foster a community to sustain income for yourself and others, then sharing knowledge and code is one way to do that (there are others of course). Perhaps the 1960's left more of a mark on my psyche than I think. It just seems like the right thing to do. So for me, it is a personal, not a financial decision. There IS no rational explanation for F/OSS in *that* context.
Further, if the PASE variant is so useful, and you adhere to the ideals of F/OSS, why do you not put effort into making a native port?
I am not smart enough. My open source projects are "hacks" compared to the code and the brains on this list. I do what I can. True native ports are beyond my abilities. At least, beyond my abilities at this point.
What am I missing about this utopian ideal?
The "missing" part might just be personal. Why do some people drive by automobile accidents and others stop to help? My personal preference is to donate what I can in hopes that it will be useful to someone else. Maybe someone will find the revision work challenging enough for me to be hired to do it. Maybe someone will see my signature and want to hire me for another project. I am OK with that uncertainty of immediate benefit or any benefit. I still keep food on the table. I can't think of a better job and lifestyle to have, lean and mean as it is.
NOTE: This is probably becoming a general discussion rather than RPG- specific so responses should be directed to the Midrange-L list.
Yes. I'll post everything after this to midrange if we want to keep this going.
Simon Coulter.
FlyByNight Software OS/400, i5/OS Technical Specialists
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