Re: Obsolesence of Intellectual Property

From: James Wetterau (
Date: Fri Aug 04 2000 - 07:52:13 MDT

"Michael S. Lorrey" says:
> MS-DOS is effectively freeware as well, under similar circumstances. In both
> cases, my selling 'official' MS versions with included support is illegal, just
> as it is illegal for me to sell 'official' RedHat distros that include support.
> You are trapped in the hacker mindset that everyone is an expert, when they most
> certainly are not. A non-official distro is useless to a non-expert, which means
> its useless to most people.

That may be true, but it does not mean that it's not useful to a fine
market - the experts who need media. It might also be useful to
plenty of people in poorer countries, where every dollar counts more.
This may be a major factor driving Linux in the future -- companies,
ISPs, colleges, and high schools in India and China who will buy one
CD to install on dozens and dozens of PC's, rather than having to pay
hundreds of dollars for each seat. This can lower the cost of a PC by
as much as 10 - 30 % depending on the cost of the alternative
commercial OS.

It is also definitely true that having to pay only once for support
(which is what you're really buying from Red Hat) is vastly cheaper
for a small company than having to pay for each desk's installation of
the OS.

A small company could buy one CD, copy it to each of, say 10 desks,
and then have one designated tech guy call up and get support for any
problems that anyone in the company experiences. This is vastly
cheaper than $40 x 10 and an excellent deal for the small company.

Rather than a good or bad way of doing things, I think of this as a
different market niche. In my opinion there's no inherent moral
superiority to one or another way of doing things, though I personally
enjoy the freedom that free software gives and therefore enjoy using
it more.


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