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SubjectRe: Why is Nvidia given GPL'd code to use in non-free drivers?
On January 3, 2003 04:26 pm, Larry McVoy wrote:
> If we look at the entire software development world as one big system,
> what history shows us is that the vast majority of the effort is wasted,
> only 1% of it succeeds (1%, 10%, pick your number, the vast majority of
> it fails).

Larry, in general I agree with you, but there are a number of things
that you've touched upon which I feel need a bit of a debate.

1. Immitation vs. Inovation
The free software world has started from 0 relatively recently.
It is to be expected that we first fill in the gaps that are
known to be useful, before we start experimenting. I don't think
this is a major case against us. As for money that is fueling
research, this is not quite so. It works well in telecom, it
has a poor record in drug companies, it has a lousy record in
software. For how much money MS has, what have they innovated?

2. Research & Money
It seems to me that history has proven that the open ways of the
scientific community has generated _order_ of magnitude more
research than the closed business model. Not to mention mathematics.
Software is a lot more like mathematics than a construction company.
What have all this money produced in software that's we didn't do
for free? You see, it is hard for me to say this since I am a
'rightist': I believe in the free market, capitalism, etc. But it
certainly looks to me that software works out better in the open.
And if that's the case, how do we avoid the bleak world you're painting?
In all honesty, I don't know. But it might not be as ba as you make it
to be. It might end up like science today: it doesn't pay to be a
scientist, but I guess it's fun so people do it. Yeah, you will not have
as much money to test all sort of silly ideas (the 99% that fails), but
tell me, what do we get out of that? In a free software world, if there
is a need for something, it will get done. Maybe not now, but in 6 month,
or 1 year. Big deal. We don't need a Big Brother to invest large amounts
of money to convince us that we _need_ his useless program.

3. All free software
This, you know, we'll never happen. We have free software mostly in the
world of consumer software, and really, it's only a handful of companies
(MS mostly) that will lose if this turns free. But the vast majority of
sofware is developed in house, for a client, and that can stay proprietary.
We're talking mostly infrastructure (OS, X, Office) that need to be free.
And we all benefit from it. The software that the banks use can stay
proprietary and continue being shit as it is now. There's no inovation going
on there, just mony thrown out the window.


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