Tech Insider					     Technology and Trends

From webmaster at alpine.k12.ut.us  Wed Oct  1 12:07:20 2003
From: webmaster at alpine.k12.ut.us (District Webmaster)
Date: Wed Oct  1 11:05:56 2003
Subject: [uug] Open Source, Open Standards
Message-ID: <sf7ab570.072@mail.adm.alpine.k12.ut.us>

So I've been thinking about something lately, and I'd like to hear
the list's thoughts on the matter. Bear with me before you get your
flame throwers out . . .

I've been wondering how much the average end user really from Open
Source software -- does the fact that a package is OS make a significant
difference to a person who is not a programmer? Sure -- they could
pay a programmer to do some work for them, but in my experience,
it takes a fairly in-depth understanding of how a package works
before you even know if it _can_ (or ought to) be modified the way
you'd like. And then the cost of paying a programmer to add your
modifications may be prohibitive.

Programmers, on the other hand, should generally have very positive
experiences in their role as OSS end users. They have the knowledge,
means, talent, background, moxie or whatever to modify source code
in meaningful ways.

Now _Open Standards_ on the other hand, seem to be very beneficial to
the average end user. When the end user utilizes file formats, network
protocols, etc. that are based on open standards, they avoid vendor
lock-in. This means the consumer dictates to the vendor what level of
service is required. If the vendor fails to respond satisfactorily,
the consumer can choose another vendor.

Take, for example, Adobe's pdf file format. The software Adobe makes
and sells is proprietary. The pdf format is essentially an open
one because Adobe voluntarily publishes very detailed information
about the format in a timely manner. The result is that a great many
software packages can create pdf files -- and there are also multiple
readers. The fact that none of us has access to Adobe Acrobat's
source code hasn't been a detriment to us -- but the fact that the
pdf standard is (essentially) open, has been a benefit to all of us.

I'm not trying to suggest that open source software isn't important,
or good, or any of that. I'm just wondering if the greater impact
comes from open standards.

Of course, I may be way off track. Please enlighten me.

Dave

From findlay at cosmic.utah.edu  Wed Oct  1 17:29:18 2003
From: findlay at cosmic.utah.edu (Justin Findlay)
Date: Wed Oct  1 16:29:51 2003
Subject: [uug] Open Source, Open Standards
In-Reply-To: < sf7ab570.072@mail.adm.alpine.k12.ut.us>
Message-ID: < Pine.LNX.4.44.0310011500220.21649-100000@bessie.cosmic.utah.edu>

> I've been wondering how much the average end user really from Open
> Source software -- does the fact that a package is OS make a significant
> difference to a person who is not a programmer? Sure -- they could
> pay a programmer to do some work for them, but in my experience,
> it takes a fairly in-depth understanding of how a package works
> before you even know if it _can_ (or ought to) be modified the way
> you'd like. And then the cost of paying a programmer to add your
> modifications may be prohibitive.

I suppose I am an "average end user".  At least you could say that I use
Redhat simmilar to how I used Windows.  OS makes a tremendous difference
to me mainly because of the amount of software available.  What is more
important to me (in the desktop sense) is not whether I am capable of
modifying a complicated piece of software to my needs, for a desktop user
everything you need has been written in most cases multiple times.  You
have a KDE desktop and a GNOME desktop, OpenOffice and KOffice, etc.  
What is more important is that all of this costs little or is free and
whether my box can keep itself alive without me worrying over it.  As for
modification (the simple GUI end-user kind) itself and an understanding of
how your system works, OS will always be superior.

> Now _Open Standards_ on the other hand, seem to be very beneficial to
> the average end user. When the end user utilizes file formats, network
> protocols, etc. that are based on open standards, they avoid vendor
> lock-in. This means the consumer dictates to the vendor what level of
> service is required. If the vendor fails to respond satisfactorily,
> the consumer can choose another vendor.

Exactly, and for open source/free software there actually are many good
projects to choose from.

> Of course, I may be way off track. Please enlighten me.

Yeah, you are way off track. (it's a joke :)


Justin

From todd at carlsonfamilypage.com  Wed Oct  1 20:25:45 2003
From: todd at carlsonfamilypage.com (Richard Todd Carlson)
Date: Wed Oct  1 19:25:46 2003
Subject: [uug] Open Source, Open Standards
In-Reply-To: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0310011500220.21649-100000@bessie.cosmic.utah.edu>
References: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0310011500220.21649-100000@bessie.cosmic.utah.edu>
Message-ID: <3F7B7E99.5000006@carlsonfamilypage.com>

*pop*  (that was the sound of a can of worms being opened)

So given the benefits of OSS, is it unethical to produced closed source 
software?

Justin Findlay wrote:

>>I've been wondering how much the average end user really from Open
>>Source software -- does the fact that a package is OS make a significant
>>difference to a person who is not a programmer? Sure -- they could
>>pay a programmer to do some work for them, but in my experience,
>>it takes a fairly in-depth understanding of how a package works
>>before you even know if it _can_ (or ought to) be modified the way
>>you'd like. And then the cost of paying a programmer to add your
>>modifications may be prohibitive.
>>    
>>
>
>I suppose I am an "average end user".  At least you could say that I use
>Redhat simmilar to how I used Windows.  OS makes a tremendous difference
>to me mainly because of the amount of software available.  What is more
>important to me (in the desktop sense) is not whether I am capable of
>modifying a complicated piece of software to my needs, for a desktop user
>everything you need has been written in most cases multiple times.  You
>have a KDE desktop and a GNOME desktop, OpenOffice and KOffice, etc.  
>What is more important is that all of this costs little or is free and
>whether my box can keep itself alive without me worrying over it.  As for
>modification (the simple GUI end-user kind) itself and an understanding of
>how your system works, OS will always be superior.
>
>  
>
>>Now _Open Standards_ on the other hand, seem to be very beneficial to
>>the average end user. When the end user utilizes file formats, network
>>protocols, etc. that are based on open standards, they avoid vendor
>>lock-in. This means the consumer dictates to the vendor what level of
>>service is required. If the vendor fails to respond satisfactorily,
>>the consumer can choose another vendor.
>>    
>>
>
>Exactly, and for open source/free software there actually are many good
>projects to choose from.
>
>  
>
>>Of course, I may be way off track. Please enlighten me.
>>    
>>
>
>Yeah, you are way off track. (it's a joke :)
>
>
>Justin
>
>
>____________________
>BYU Unix Users Group 
>http://uug.byu.edu/ 
>___________________________________________________________________
>List Info: http://uug.byu.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/uug-list
>
>
>
>  
>

From sdibb at comcast.net  Wed Oct  1 23:37:52 2003
From: sdibb at comcast.net (Steve Dibb)
Date: Wed Oct  1 22:36:47 2003
Subject: [uug] Open Source, Open Standards
In-Reply-To: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0310012106100.24337-100000@bessie.cosmic.utah.edu>
References: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0310012106100.24337-100000@bessie.cosmic.utah.edu>
Message-ID: <3F7BABA0.4070602@comcast.net>



Justin Findlay wrote:

> On Wed, 1 Oct 2003, Richard Todd Carlson wrote:
> 
> 
>>*pop*  (that was the sound of a can of worms being opened)
>>
>>So given the benefits of OSS, is it unethical to produced closed source 
>>software?


Here's my take on it -- developing closed source software, versus open 
source:

I love tinkering with programming, figuring how to make things work, and 
*really* enjoy learning new things.  Having other people's code open to 
me to not only look at it provides me with not just examples of how to 
code something similar, but also a look into different coding styles and 
principles.

With that in mind, I create a program, and it was a lot of fun to make 
and I enjoyed the development.  I release the code, and leave it to the 
community to do what with will, while I move onto something else.

I keep learning to develop new programs as new opportunities arise, 
learning from my experience in the past, relying on my programs of the 
past and other open-source projects to help me figure out problems as I 
plug along.  At the same time, everything I learn is at the very least 
documented in my code, which at some point is given back to the 
community freely so that they can benefit from my sweat and tears. 
Sure, I may make a few measly bucks going this route, but what's 
important is that I'm providing for myself and enjoying my job.

And using open-source apps in work is great as well.

If I need a program to solve a solution, with open-source I generally 
have a few options that I'm allowed to try before I decide, and 
implement in part of completion to see how well it applies.  With a 
commercial application, I'm limited much more in my testing abilities. 
I have to rely on a demo, screenshots, customer comments, and so on. 
And if I do end up buying a program to solve my problem, I'm out that 
money, whether it works for me or not.  If it doesn't work for me 
exactly how I wanted to, I either have the option of kludging it into 
submission to do my tasks, or start searching for an option that works 
again.

Another great bonus is that it adds to my list of skills having become 
experienced with implementing an open-source application.  The same is 
true with commercial apps as well, but the advantage in selling someone 
else on it in the future, is that it's also free and/or free.

The opposite side of this whole scenario is building programs with a 
profit-only approach.  I tend to think that this naturally breeds a lack 
of caring for the actual project, as I tend to do my work solely to get 
paid, instead of having a backend agenda to help out the community with 
my development.  I'm driven to succeed because I need to get paid, and 
then I need to protect my investment.  Not only am I sweating and 
stressing now, but already I'm putting a lot into my future that I'll 
have to continue to support it with promotion, and protect it from 
piracy.  Plus, the only guarantee that I can give people that my program 
is what they want is my word only, which is obviously biased from a 
marketing perspective.  In the end, it's all for me, and ends up only 
for me, and if the program is unused, does badly, then it's lost to the 
world, and I sit at home with no job, alone with my satisfaction that 
nobody can have the source code but me.

My commercial perspective on the matter may be a little harsh, but I 
think it's pretty obvious that any company working solely for-profit 
cannot at the same time proactively care about their customers, as they 
say they do.  At the least, I think it would take little effort for any 
corporation to passively be active by releasing their source code of 
defunct, unused, or otherwise applications to the community so that they 
can then do what they want with it, after everyone's made their share of 
the pie off of it.  Pride be damned.

Don't get me wrong.  It's good to have a job that pays, but using open 
source is just a great idea for all the great reasons we already know 
about.  If I can implement a program into the workspace that's free, 
then I save time for me, money for my company, and impress my boss in 
that I can get stuff done faster that way .. and I get to move onto 
other areas of innovation.  It just makes things more effective and fun. :)

Steve

From uug at danandcheryl.com  Thu Oct  2 08:24:44 2003
From: uug at danandcheryl.com (Dan Reese)
Date: Thu Oct  2 08:26:17 2003
Subject: [uug] Open Source, Open Standards
Message-ID: <20031002142444.EF05F79953@smtp.us2.messagingengine.com>

The effect of applying this statement to business in general is
astounding to me: working for profit "breeds a lack of caring for the
actual project."  I might be persuaded on that one, but it would have
been more correct to say "working for profit breeds an intense focus on
solving customer problems."  If you're working for the project itself,
maybe Free Software is the way to go.

Should all businesses then charge only for material cost and "make money"
off of providing support?  Where's the incentive for a company (as
opposed to an individual) to invest in researching new ideas?  A cure for
cancer isn't going to come out of someone's garage, nor will a company
invest billions developing one if they're expected to give it away.  Same
problem with health care -- "free" health care for everyone (paid for by
taxes) will only decrease the quality of that care as the incentive to
focus on the patient decreases.

I like the ideal of Free Software far better than just Open Source. 
Additionally, getting rid of software "licenses" would allow the
purchaser of a piece of software to do with it what they want within the
bounds of normal copyright law.  And it doesn't necessarily mean that I
must get it for free.

I think we need to find a balance: paying for some software should be a
normal part of life, and copyright/patent law will guarantee that ideas
aren't lost or abused.

--Dan



On Wed, 01 Oct 2003 22:37:52 -0600, "Steve Dibb" < sdibb@comcast.net>
said:
<snip>
> The opposite side of this whole scenario is building programs with a 
> profit-only approach.  I tend to think that this naturally breeds a lack 
> of caring for the actual project, as I tend to do my work solely to get 
> paid, instead of having a backend agenda to help out the community with 
> my development.  I'm driven to succeed because I need to get paid, and 
> then I need to protect my investment.  Not only am I sweating and 
> stressing now, but already I'm putting a lot into my future that I'll 
> have to continue to support it with promotion, and protect it from 
> piracy.  Plus, the only guarantee that I can give people that my program 
> is what they want is my word only, which is obviously biased from a 
> marketing perspective.  In the end, it's all for me, and ends up only 
> for me, and if the program is unused, does badly, then it's lost to the 
> world, and I sit at home with no job, alone with my satisfaction that 
> nobody can have the source code but me.
> 
> My commercial perspective on the matter may be a little harsh, but I 
> think it's pretty obvious that any company working solely for-profit 
> cannot at the same time proactively care about their customers, as they 
> say they do.

From jason at lunkwill.org  Thu Oct  2 17:33:28 2003
From: jason at lunkwill.org (Jason Holt)
Date: Thu Oct  2 10:33:32 2003
Subject: [uug] Open Source, Open Standards
In-Reply-To: <20031002142444.EF05F79953@smtp.us2.messagingengine.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0310021624040.29373-100000@potato.zayda.com>


On Thu, 2 Oct 2003, Dan Reese wrote:
> off of providing support?  Where's the incentive for a company (as
> opposed to an individual) to invest in researching new ideas?  A cure for
> cancer isn't going to come out of someone's garage, nor will a company
> invest billions developing one if they're expected to give it away.  Same

Let's say you're a Pharm company.  Millions of cancer patients (and their
insurers, who are looking at millions in life insurance and degenerative care
costs, per patient) are pleading for a treatment.  They've collectively
committed to pay $10B to the first company to provide one.  Your scientists
tell you that for $100M, they have a 10% chance of finding a cure.

Society has come to its senses and done away with all patents and copyright.  
Do you spend the $100M on a 10% chance of getting 100:1 payback?  Because I
sure would.

YHBT by Disney and the other information tyrants who think they're entitled to
thousands of private monopolies.  HAND.

						-J

From uug at danandcheryl.com  Thu Oct  2 13:04:57 2003
From: uug at danandcheryl.com (Dan Reese)
Date: Thu Oct  2 13:05:03 2003
Subject: [uug] Open Source, Open Standards
In-Reply-To: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0310021624040.29373-100000@potato.zayda.com>
References: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0310021624040.29373-100000@potato.zayda.com>
Message-ID: <20031002190457.4163E79D71@smtp.us2.messagingengine.com>

If a company isn't expected to give their cure away, then there is
motivation to invest.  However, without patents and/or copyrights, I can
just wait until they invent it, copy their work exactly, and sell it for
much cheaper (since I don't have to recover the cost of the investment). 
Again, the company wouldn't have any motivation because no one will pay
$10B to the company if I have the same cure "on sale" for $1B two weeks
later.

--Dan


On Thu, 2 Oct 2003 16:33:28 +0000 (UTC), "Jason Holt"
<jason@lunkwill.org> said:
> 
> On Thu, 2 Oct 2003, Dan Reese wrote:
> > off of providing support?  Where's the incentive for a company (as
> > opposed to an individual) to invest in researching new ideas?  A cure for
> > cancer isn't going to come out of someone's garage, nor will a company
> > invest billions developing one if they're expected to give it away.  Same
> 
> Let's say you're a Pharm company.  Millions of cancer patients (and their
> insurers, who are looking at millions in life insurance and degenerative
> care
> costs, per patient) are pleading for a treatment.  They've collectively
> committed to pay $10B to the first company to provide one.  Your
> scientists
> tell you that for $100M, they have a 10% chance of finding a cure.
> 
> Society has come to its senses and done away with all patents and
> copyright.  
> Do you spend the $100M on a 10% chance of getting 100:1 payback?  Because
> I
> sure would.
> 
> YHBT by Disney and the other information tyrants who think they're
> entitled to
> thousands of private monopolies.  HAND.
> 
> 						-J
> 
> 
> ____________________
> BYU Unix Users Group 
> http://uug.byu.edu/ 
> ___________________________________________________________________
> List Info: http://uug.byu.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/uug-list

From jason at lunkwill.org  Thu Oct  2 21:07:58 2003
From: jason at lunkwill.org (Jason Holt)
Date: Thu Oct  2 14:08:01 2003
Subject: [uug] Open Source, Open Standards
In-Reply-To: <20031002190457.4163E79D71@smtp.us2.messagingengine.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0310021957150.29373-100000@potato.zayda.com>


On Thu, 2 Oct 2003, Dan Reese wrote:
> Again, the company wouldn't have any motivation because no one will pay
> $10B to the company if I have the same cure "on sale" for $1B two weeks
> later.

It's interesting that you blasted socialized health care in your earlier
message as having no motivation to perform since it's a monopoly.  But now you
claim that a company has no motivation *without* patent monopolies. 

There are several scenarios in which my solution works; I'll leave you to work
the others out, since they're simple applications of free market economics.

The cancer patients and insurance companies gather together their B dollar
bounty.  They contact well regarded pharm company and offer them $B if they
can produce a working cancer cure within a certain amount of time.  P consults
its accountants and engineers, who claim a C% chance of finding a claim within
the alotted time, at a cost of R dollars.  If R/C < B, they accept the
challenge.  In fact, if they can work out a function f(R)=C, they can even
maximize their expected profit.

Note that the company profits without any need for "ownership" of the idea.  
The patients and insurance companies have already determined that their
investment is worth it, and so wealth is created for them as well.  The fact
that everyone else in the world also benefits is frosting on top.  Third world
countries, future cancer patients and all the rest can be grateful for the
pharm company and investors, and motivated to likewise put up cash when
they're able.

					-J

From uug at danandcheryl.com  Thu Oct  2 17:18:32 2003
From: uug at danandcheryl.com (Dan Reese)
Date: Thu Oct  2 17:18:38 2003
Subject: [uug] Open Source, Open Standards
In-Reply-To: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0310021957150.29373-100000@potato.zayda.com>
References: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0310021957150.29373-100000@potato.zayda.com>
Message-ID: <20031002231832.7263E79DEE@smtp.us2.messagingengine.com>

I never mentioned "socialize healthcare" or "patent monopolies."  I just
pointed out that if you remove monetary rewards (which patents and
copyrights are designed to protect), then a lot of motivation to innovate
is lost.  I also limited my comments to "a company" and excluded
"individuals" who often have altruistic motives outside of money.

I guess I just really doubt that a scenario where the "the company
profits without any need for 'ownership' of the idea" would work in real
life as you suggest.

--Dan


On Thu, 2 Oct 2003 20:07:58 +0000 (UTC), "Jason Holt"
<jason@lunkwill.org> said:
> 
> On Thu, 2 Oct 2003, Dan Reese wrote:
> > Again, the company wouldn't have any motivation because no one will pay
> > $10B to the company if I have the same cure "on sale" for $1B two weeks
> > later.
> 
> It's interesting that you blasted socialized health care in your earlier
> message as having no motivation to perform since it's a monopoly.  But
> now you
> claim that a company has no motivation *without* patent monopolies. 
> 
> There are several scenarios in which my solution works; I'll leave you to
> work
> the others out, since they're simple applications of free market
> economics.
> 
> The cancer patients and insurance companies gather together their B
> dollar
> bounty.  They contact well regarded pharm company and offer them $B if
> they
> can produce a working cancer cure within a certain amount of time.  P
> consults
> its accountants and engineers, who claim a C% chance of finding a claim
> within
> the alotted time, at a cost of R dollars.  If R/C < B, they accept the
> challenge.  In fact, if they can work out a function f(R)=C, they can
> even
> maximize their expected profit.
> 
> Note that the company profits without any need for "ownership" of the
> idea.  
> The patients and insurance companies have already determined that their
> investment is worth it, and so wealth is created for them as well.  The
> fact
> that everyone else in the world also benefits is frosting on top.  Third
> world
> countries, future cancer patients and all the rest can be grateful for
> the
> pharm company and investors, and motivated to likewise put up cash when
> they're able.
> 
> 					-J
> 
> 
> ____________________
> BYU Unix Users Group 
> http://uug.byu.edu/ 
> ___________________________________________________________________
> List Info: http://uug.byu.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/uug-list

From mike at halcrow.us  Thu Oct  2 20:34:37 2003
From: mike at halcrow.us (Michael Halcrow)
Date: Thu Oct  2 18:36:24 2003
Subject: [uug] Open Source, Open Standards
In-Reply-To: <20031002231832.7263E79DEE@smtp.us2.messagingengine.com>
References: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0310021957150.29373-100000@potato.zayda.com>
	<20031002231832.7263E79DEE@smtp.us2.messagingengine.com>
Message-ID: <20031003003437.GB5883@halcrow.us>

On Thu, Oct 02, 2003 at 04:18:32PM -0700, Dan Reese wrote:
> I never mentioned "socialize healthcare" or "patent monopolies."  I just
> pointed out that if you remove monetary rewards (which patents and
> copyrights are designed to protect)

The role of copyrights and patents is not to protect profits.  Their
role is to provide an impetus for the increase in wealth of knowledge
possessed by society.  To the degree that copyrights and patents fail
to promote the increase of intellectual (scientific and artistic)
works for the benefit of the members of society, they fail to perform
their only justifiable function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's works, Hot and Cold Blood and Invasion of the
Sanctuary, should have been released into the public domain a long
time ago.  Thanks to the Sony Bono Copyright Extension Act, society
has been robbed of his works and kept in bondage to whatever producers
have inherited (and/or purchased) the copyrights.  It is patently
immoral for the government to force people not to copy these works at
this point.  The law has ceased to serve its only valid purpose.

> , then a lot of motivation to innovate
> is lost.  I also limited my comments to "a company" and excluded
> "individuals" who often have altruistic motives outside of money.
> 
> I guess I just really doubt that a scenario where the "the company
> profits without any need for 'ownership' of the idea" would work in real
> life as you suggest.

This is a fundamental problem with economic theories.  The only petri
dish is the real world, and when people start experimenting, you get
things like Mussolini...

Mike

.__________________________________________________________________.
                Michael A. Halcrow <mike@halcrow.us>                
           Security Engineer, IBM Linux Technology Center           
GnuPG Fingerprint: 05B5 08A8 713A 64C1 D35D 2371 2D3C FDDA 3EB6 601D

Most people aren't thought about after they're gone. "I wonder where 
Mike got the plutonium" is better than what most get. 

The materials and information included in this website may only be used
for purposes such as criticism, review, private study, scholarship, or
research.

Electronic mail:			       WorldWideWeb:
   tech-insider@outlook.com			  http://tech-insider.org/