Yeah. See below.
> April 13, 1998
> Sentiment Growing for Freeware
> By JOHN MARKOFF
> SAN FRANCISCO -- What is the best way to improve the quality of software
> in the $50 billion software industry? Give it away.
> Or so say more than a dozen of the nation's best-known software
> designers, who met last week to promote the idea of freely sharing the
> underlying code -- known as source code -- for both popular and arcane
> Credit: Stuart Brinin/O'Reilly & Associates
> John Gilmore, left, of Cygnus Solutions and Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly &
> Associates advocate the sharing of source code for software programs.
> Such sharing, which recalls the "freeware" spirit of the original
> Internet, could result in better software by giving any programmer the
> opportunity to modify, add to or otherwise improve existing programs,
> the group said.
> Subversive as the idea may sound in an age of stock options and initial
> public offerings, proponents say the point is not to do away with
> commercial, for-profit selling of software. Instead, the group simply
> wants to foster more alternatives to the industry-dominant programs
> created by giants like Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp.
> "There's a fantasy that open source code and capitalism are
> contradictory; that is false," said Eric Allman, a member of the group
> and creator of Sendmail, a free program that routes and delivers the
> majority of the Internet's electronic mail.
> Until recently Allman maintained Sendmail as a hobby, while he worked at
> a variety of programming jobs. But last month, he co-founded Sendmail
> Inc. to create a commercial version of the program, for which customers
> would receive technical support. At the same time, the company will
> continue to maintain a free version of the software.
> Freeware sentiment seems to be in the air these days. The group's first
> meeting, last Tuesday evening, came a week after Netscape Communications
> Corp. announced that it was making the source code to its Communicator
> Internet browser freely available to programmers who wished to modify it
> or add features. Source code is the original programmer's instructions,
> before the instructions are read by a program called a compiler or an
> interpreter and converted into a form that can be used by a computer.
> Netscape executives have said that they are hoping to tap into a ground
> swell of creativity by the programming community to help the popular
> program become even more widely adopted and enable the software to
> evolve in ways that Microsoft's team of in-house programmers might not
> be able to match with their browser, called Explorer.
> To compete with Netscape, Microsoft back in 1996 decided to give away
> the Explorer browser for free. Then last year Microsoft decided to add
> the browser at no extra charge to the Windows 95 operating system,
> prompting an antitrust inquiry by the Justice Department. In neither
> case, though, did Microsoft publicly release the original source code
> for Explorer.
> For Netscape, whatever the competing alternatives to Communicator that
> might result from releasing the source code, the company itself would
> conceivably benefit by having its program serve as the industry
> Netscape's goals are similar to those of the ad hoc group of programmers
> who met last Tuesday: speeding up software innovation by making it a
> community affair.
> "This is a second force in the computer industry," said Tim O'Reilly,
> the meeting's organizer and president of O'Reilly & Associates, a
> Sebastopol, Calif., publisher of computer software guidebooks. "The open
> source model is an engine for innovation."
> The programmers contend that the economic forces that favored
> Microsoft's market model of selling software in shrink-wrapped packages
> has been altered by the Internet. The free distribution of software over
> the network will increasingly favor those who want to freely share their
> software, they said.
> O'Reilly said that much of the software that is integral to the Internet
> was written by the programmers who attended the meeting. "This is the
> Internet's dream team," he said.
> Besides Allman, the group included Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, a
> popular free version of the Unix operating system; Phil Zimmermann,
> creator of Pretty Good Privacy, an encryption program widely used in
> both freeware and commercial forms; Larry Wall, creator of Perl, a
> language used widely by Internet web sites; Brian Behlendor, a software
> developer who maintains and updates Apache, the Internet's most popular
> software for Web server computers; Paul Vixie, creator of Bind, the
> program that translates numeric Internet addresses into names, and John
> Ousterhout, developer of Tcl/Tk, a popular language for special projects
> and tying together disparate programs.
> Sendmail and Apache are examples of free programs that dominate markets
> in which commercial competitors lag badly. In both cases, the free
> programs were able to quickly establish a foothold because of the ease
> of distribution via the Internet and were of such high quality that it
> has been impossible for commercial products to dislodge them.
Also interesting for people who have read this far...
> Linux Seems Headed for Mainstream Despite a Developer's Disapproval
> by Hiawatha Bray
> The Boston Globe
> The upstart Linux operating system took another step toward the
> mainstream this week, as two leading makers of corporate database
> software said they would begin developing products for use on Linux
> But not every Linux backer is happy. Indeed, a Cambridge computer
> scientist who played a major role in the development of Linux has
> denounced the latest development as a violation of the principles on
> which Linux is based.
> Oracle Corp., the world's largest maker of database software, will
> develop a Linux version of its Oracle8 database. The company will also
> produce Linux versions of other Oracle business applications, for tasks
> like product ordering and inventory management.
> Mark Jarvis, Oracle's senior vice president of marketing, said there's
> a growing demand for heavy-duty business software that can run on Linux,
> because companies don't want to be locked into using Microsoft Corp.'s
> Windows NT operating system. Linux is a high- quality alternative that
> is available free of charge.
> "It's cheaper than NT and it's actually more reliable than NT," said
> Meanwhile, another database software company, Informix Corp.,
> announced that it has begun selling a Linux-compatible version of its
> Informix-SE software for small- and medium-sized businesses. Steve
> Lambright, senior manager for server products for Informix, said that
> customers have been clamoring for a Linux version of the product.
> Linux is an operating system that works like the advanced Unix system
> developed by AT&T Corp. But it runs on regular desktop computers and is
> available at no charge. A large part of Linux was created by the GNU
> Project, a team of programmers associated with the Free Software
> Foundation in Cambridge.
> But the head of the foundation, Richard Stallman, isn't thrilled about
> the growing acceptance of his work. Stallman believes that all software
> should be "free." That doesn't mean the software cannot be sold.
> Instead, Stallman says software makers should allow customers to make
> copies of their products, and even alter the underlying computer code in
> any way they wish.
> Oracle and Informix, like most software companies, copyright their
> work and don't allow users to give copies to friends. Stallman considers
> this immoral. "It's the sort of thing that, if there was a Satan, Satan
> would find very effective," he said.
> Linux is distributed according to Stallman's principles. Anyone can
> make an infinite number of copies and modify the code. Stallman said he
> was appalled that Linux users might embrace "non-free" software that
> violates the Linux philosophy.
> Stallman admitted that the moves by Oracle and Informix would likely
> lead to broader use of Linux, but he says it's not worth the sacrifice
> of his principles.
That Stallman, what a guy. He should take a sabbatical like InfoWorld's
"Notes from the Field" column this week suggests has been ongoing @ MS...
> Microsoft's new, serene facade could prove to be just that, however --
> a facade.
> Take the core team of Java badmouthers who helped Microsoft do such a
> bad job of stating its Java case last year. Not only is the group no
> longer on campus, but they are disappearing in a manner reminiscent of
> Agatha Christie's novel And then there were none: Cornelius Willis left
> in March to help form a start-up, Proscenium; Tom Johnston left the
> company earlier this year; Developer Relations General Manager Tod
> Nielsen is on sabbatical; and outspoken Charles Fitzgerald is on an
> "extended vacation."
> Of course, this could all be coincidence, and Microsoft insists that
> Nielsen and Fitzgerald will return -- but then they've said that about
> Brad Silverberg, who is still on "sabbatical," too.
I like my sugar with coffee and cream.
-- Beastie Boys, "Intergalactic"