Free is too expensive (Economist)
Posted Apr 7, 2012 18:55 UTC (Sat) by rqosa
In reply to: Free is too expensive (Economist)
Parent article: Free is too expensive (Economist)
> VAX and SunOS users typically knew how to compile things
I know firsthand that many VAX users didn't have anywhere close to that level of technical expertise. For example, people used to use dumb terminals on a VAX (or other minicomputer) for email at work (I remember one such place that used Pine on VMS, for example), or for using their employer's in-house applications, or even for searching public library catalogs. These users knew less about computers than most people today, and yet they probably outnumbered (by far) those who did know how to compile things.
> Bullshit. GNU software was always parallel-installable and never required “forgoing first-party support from the system vendor”.
Yes it did — the more that someone was using GNU software (or other third-party software, generally), the more they'd have to rely on other sources of help than the first-party system vendor. It's just that back then they were still using plenty of software from the system vendor, whereas with GNU/Linux on commodity hardware now, the proportion of non-system-vendor software has increased to almost 100% — though of course, some high-end server hardware vendors actually have first-party support for GNU/Linux now.
> Most users of GNU software in these days cared about additional features, not about source availability. […] it was never (or almost never) the motivation for the initial installation of GNU tools.
But that just goes to show that it's entirely possible for FLOSS to compete against proprietary software on practical features, and win. And it's not just a coincidence, either — the greater functionality of GCC and coreutils was a direct consequence of the ability of skilled users to join the developer-base, thus giving them a larger and more meritocratic developer-base than their proprietary counterparts had.
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