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Tetris Creator Claims FOSS Destroys the Market 686

Posted by kdawson
from the sterile-absentia dept.
alx5000 writes "In an interview conducted last week with Consumer Eroski (link in Spanish; Google translation), the father of Tetris Alexey Pajitnov claimed that 'Free Software should have never existed,' since it 'destroys the market' by bringing down companies that create wealth and prosperity. When asked about Red Hat or Oracle's support-oriented model, he called them 'a minority,' and also criticized Stallman's ideas as 'belonging to the past' where there were no software 'business possibilities.'"
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Tetris Creator Claims FOSS Destroys the Market

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  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:47PM (#22563668) Journal
    Complains the author of one of the biggest productivity destroyers in computing history.

  • Details at eleven.
    • by jbeaupre (752124) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:05PM (#22563952)
      Oddly, I see FOSS as an extreme example of capitalism. Reductio ad absurdum with a twist.

      In a given market with profits, more competitors will enter until profits are driven down to the point the cost of entering just isn't worth it. With software, this set point is a bit lower than many industries, because less capital is needed for production. FOSS lowers it further by reducing the barriers to entry (you get to reuse older code). Some people derive a non-financial benefit (and sometimes financial) that exceeds the cost of contributing, so there is a negative cost (a benefit). It's still worth it to them to enter the market no matter what. So even assuming no profit, you get plenty of competitors.

      The capitalist version of superconductivity. Against the rules except in unique circumstances.

      What this guy misses are controlled markets with barriers to entry.
      • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:19PM (#22564208) Journal
        Not only that, but his complaint about software companies generating wealth is mostly bogus as well. They are able to generate income, but that is much different than wealth. When a software company goes under, typically the code is sold of at rock bottom price and then forgotten about. Look at BeOS as an example. Open source generates true standing wealth.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AvitarX (172628)
          Income is wealth (as much as anything else can be called wealth anyway).

          But FOSS frees up capital to create wealth in other ways. The market for software is a drain on the economy (when looked at globally), and its destruction would be a plus (just as if people were freely repairing your windows). Saying that companies must spend money on software to help the economy is the broken window fallacy, and something I would expect from a communist (or at least one whom was trained by them in economics).

          I am tag
          • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:46PM (#22565636)

            Income is wealth (as much as anything else can be called wealth anyway).

            No. An automobile is wealth. An airplane is wealth. A book is wealth. Income is just an IOU based on your contribution to creating wealth.

            "Creating wealth" is all about producing things of value. "Free" software is wealth if it has value. The fact that people use it demonstrates nicely that it has value. The fact that it costs nothing to use is irrelevant to its "value".

            • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @08:08PM (#22567214)
              > No. An automobile is wealth. An airplane is wealth. A book is wealth.

              Actually those are just things of _arbitrary_ value. If someone can't use it, it is worthless for _that_ person.

              Wealth is the ability to _generate_ income.

              If you own a house are you wealthy? That depends -- does it COST you to have it (thus it is a liability), or does it GENERATE revenue for you (thus it is an asset)?

              Open Source is the perfect example of the new "monetary" system that humans are progressing towards. It is not about the "things" that will determine wealth (since in the future everyone's basic needs will be met), but about what you can do for others.

              --
              Money is in invention that represents time & skill.
          • by Bloke down the pub (861787) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @06:26PM (#22566118)

            Income is wealth
            Only if electrical current is charge. Wealth is measured in dollars or pounds, income in dollars or pounds per time period.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ichthus (72442)
          Not only that, but his complaint about software companies generating wealth is mostly bogus as well.

          Wha? Yeah, because Adobe and Microsoft haven't created any wealth at all. Please. Microsoft's (I really hate them, but they're a convenient example here) products make many within the company wealthy. Many who purchase [or pirate] their products use them to make themselves wealthy. The same can be said about pretty much any other large closed-source software company you can think of. Even the founder
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by AJWM (19027)
            Microsoft's [...] products make many within the company wealthy.

            That doesn't prove that Microsoft creates wealth. Drug dealers products make many in their supply chain wealthy. Protection rackets make the mobsters running them wealthy. Casinos make plenty of people wealthy, most of them casino owners. None of them create wealth, they just harvest it -- same as tax collectors.
            • by ichthus (72442) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:21PM (#22565248) Homepage
              As I stated above, the users of Microsoft's (or Adobe's or whoever's) products use those products to make themselves wealthy. I believe this fact quite handily proves my point.

              In the [non-software-related] examples you gave, wealth is simply shifted from the consumer to the producer. In my [completely software-related] argument, the selling of the product creates wealth for the company. The company expands and creates jobs, providing wealth for new employees. The purchasers of the product use the product to generate wealth for themselves. In all of these cases, the tax (income and sales where applicable) revenue enables the expansion of infrastructure and education - thus generating even more... wealth.

              Did I really need to go into that level of depth? Pretty simple stuff.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by AJWM (19027)
                As I stated above, the users of Microsoft's (or Adobe's or whoever's) products use those products to make themselves wealthy. I believe this fact quite handily proves my point.

                It proves no such thing. A skilled blackjack player can use casinos to make himself wealthy; that still doesn't mean that the casino created the wealth, nor even that the blackjack player did.

                Users of free software such as Linux, OpenOffice, Cinepaint (aka Film Gimp) can and do use those products to make themselves wealthy. In this
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Vancorps (746090)

              I believe the parent poster was referring to the fact that I make a good salary supporting Microsoft installations, along with Oracle software, Sonicwall, and the thousands of other programs are out there. Furthermore, our business couldn't make as much money as it does if we went the all paper route. The automation that the software tools give us save us a ton of both time and money allowing us to grow faster which is illustrated by the fact that our workforce has doubled now in three years. I would defini

              • by NickFortune (613926) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:31PM (#22565414) Homepage Journal

                I make a good salary supporting Microsoft installations, along with Oracle software, Sonicwall, and the thousands of other programs are out there. Furthermore, our business couldn't make as much money as it does if we went the all paper route. The automation that the software tools give us save us a ton of both time and money

                That makes a good argument for the notion that software generates wealth. I don't think you've established that we need Microsoft, or proprietary software from any vendor in order to have these benefits. You could make just as much money supporting free software. Granted, the ubiquity of Microsoft products means that your customer base is larger for MS kit, but that still doesn't make proprietary software a necessary part of the business model. And the office automation you describe can be done as well using free software solutions.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Grishnakh (216268)
                As NickFortune points out, all you've done is shown that software creates wealth, because it improves efficiency. Instead of wasting lots of time doing repetitive things or messing with paperwork, you do it on a computer in less time, for less money, and do other, more productive things instead.

                This doesn't mean that proprietary software necessarily creates wealth. If you can do the exact same job with free software as with software that you've spent thousands on, you've wasted money. Instead of creating
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by AJWM (19027)
                  I could bottle and sell air to people, and generate a lot of wealth for myself (assuming I could get people to buy it from me), but this isn't creating wealth. People may need air to live, but they can get it for free in most places, so me selling it to them doesn't create wealth, it only harvests it from suckers.

                  Hey, people and companies make good money selling bottled air. There's always a value-add, though. Dive stores sell compressed, filtered air to scuba divers, and 3000-psi compressors don't come c
          • by podperson (592944) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:48PM (#22565670) Homepage
            I don't think you understand what the post you're replying to means by "creating wealth".

            Making software creates wealth. Making source code creates wealth. Selling it is just redistribution of wealth.

            If a bunch of people get together and produce a word-processor, an open source word-processor will always be around for people to improve, debug, learn from, while a closed source word processor will only be around while the company survives and sells it.

            In both cases the "wealth" of a useful product is produced, but in one, the product and its useful constituents (source code, etc.) eventually disappear.

            The reason we have copyright and patent law is to give people an incentive to produce public goods which, once produced, are best given away. One of the intrinsic problems with closed source software is that a big part of the thing which IP law is intended to generate and eventually give away for free is instead kept secret and lost.
        • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:04PM (#22564990) Journal
          Money is what you use when you have scarcity instead of wealth, and you're trying to figure out who should get the short supply.

          Artificial scarcity, which includes all intellectual property law, is about destroying wealth so you can force people to work like slaves and fight over the scraps.

          It's reminiscent of the wealth burning parties of primitives, intended to prevent the accumulation of wealth so the people would have to keep making more in the service of the tribal leaders.

          Basically, Alexey Pazhitnov Leonidovich doesn't value wealth, he values leverage over his fellow man, which he can only have if people are systematically kept in a state of deprivation.

          It blows my mind how many people defend a system that keeps them impoverished, not because they don't understand what it's doing to them and their fellows, but because they think they're going to be the man on the top one of these days and they want to be the beneficiary of all those systematic imbalances.
        • I disagree... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by encoderer (1060616)
          I'm not saying I agree with the guys entire premise.

          But I do agree that software companies generate wealth.

          I mean, you used BeOS as an example. That's a bad example because BeOS was never a terribly _valuable_ product. Sure, there was a large investment made, but very little value produced. This is not endemic to the software industry, it's endemic to Be. Supporting this theory that a large investment produced little value is the fact that THE COMPANY WENT UNDER!

          With software, the user-base is equally as va
      • by BeanThere (28381) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:31PM (#22564398)
        Yeah, I've also always thought of free software as being an extreme example of a truly free market endeavour, the closest to capitalism you can get. It's a FULLY free "market", anyone can contribute, barriers to entry, control and scarcity are close to NULL, and free market competition can be pushed to the max. I don't see how FOSS is like communism at all actually. Does the government strictly control the creation and supply of software? Does the government provide an income to the limited few software suppliers allowed? Do you get your software license coupons each month and have to stand in line to get software? Does it eliminate value judgments and class? (No, actually, it's highly competitive and the best software "wins".) Does it preclude everyone from ever selling their programming labour? I'm just missing the connection, I guess. FOSS 'creates' wealth for everyone, in the direct form of the benefits you get from using the software, and in the indirect form of lowering the cost of production of other products (e.g. a retailer using Linux as PoS can offer cheaper products).
        • by Peter Mork (951443) <Peter.Mork@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:45PM (#22565624) Homepage

          I don't see how FOSS is like communism at all actually. Does the government strictly control the creation and supply of software?

          "Communism is a socioeconomic structure that promotes the establishment of a classless, stateless society based on common ownership of the means of production." (from the (reasonable) Wikipedia defintion [wikipedia.org]) Nothing in this definition mentions the government. FOSS really is quite communistic in that everyone owns the means of production and the product. Up the irons!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dbIII (701233)

          I don't see how FOSS is like communism at all actually.

          Because "communist" used to be the insult that "terrorist" is now. Metcalfe use to throw that insult around in his columns whenever open software of any kind was the topic. Open software is really just a subset of the sharing of information that got our science to the point where it is today.

      • by frission (676318) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:44PM (#22564618) Homepage
        >> Reductio ad absurdum with a twist.

        Don't come at us with your Harry Potter speak...
      • by Ilan Volow (539597) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:50PM (#22564720) Homepage
        In my experience, code being free is not enough to make it reusable.

        The original author of the code has to *actively want* his code to be reused, design it modularly for reuse, and provide useful documentation to other programmers on how it can be reused. Anything else is a just an enormous hunk of code that substitutes cost in money with cost in time.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Z34107 (925136)

        Not that my Spanish is perfect, but he doesn't want higher barriers of entry to programmers. He seems to be saying that free software exists simply to destroy business opportunities that would otherwise serve to be making money and providing for-pay jobs. (An interesting but unrelated thought: if open-source contributors are mostly professional programmers, what happens when the market for for-profit software dies?)

        I think he misses the flip side of this, though: although no programmers got paid for the

      • by damburger (981828) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @06:10PM (#22565892)
        FOSS is not capitalism, or communism. Both are economic systems based on scarcity and information by its nature is not scarce. That is the point of FOSS - we don't need to apply the old models of how to divide up resources to knowledge.
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:47PM (#22563672) Homepage Journal
    Someone has to say it.

    In California, you play Tetris.
    In Soviet Russia, Tetris play YOU!

    (thank goodness for burnable Karma...)
  • by rvw (755107) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:47PM (#22563674)
    from a Microsoft employee?
  • Waaaaah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:49PM (#22563690)
    Just another has-been who can't compete with free.
    • by smitth1276 (832902) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:22PM (#22564270)
      In reality, the "free" stuff is not really all that competitive with products that are expensive. The vast majority of people use Windows. Linux, despite an enormous amount of work and evangelizing from the community, is simply not competitive with Windows on the desktop. Sure, they've made inroads and Linux is actually becoming fairly usable for the first time, but generally speaking Linux--as a brand--is getting its ass kicked. The same can be said for most "free" products.

      There are some exceptions, of course, like apache, and linux is obviously successful in the server market. However, the notion that any commercial products are having a hard time "competing with free" is bass ackwards.
      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:10PM (#22565064) Journal
        One area I'm quite familiar with is routers. Now it's true that hardware routers like Cisco's various offerings will outperform damned near anything you can build with Linux and IPTables, when price is an issue (which it often is when you look at the cost of Cisco hardware), Linux/IPTables, while behind Cisco in speed, is still good enough for a lot of situations. It's good enough that a fair chunk of the low-end routers/firewalls out there are running Linux under the hood; and that goes to show you how Open Source, rather than destroying a market, has in aided it. Rather than bizarro in-house embedded operating systems that a lot of companies had to develop for their routers, firewalls, switches and so forth, they can port Linux. Yes, they have to place nice with the GPL (which sometimes they don't), but all in all, open source has been a great boon to the market place.

        I'm certainly not one of those hardcore FOSS types that believes proprietary closed-source software is evil. But just as much as there may be competition (ie LAMP vs. Windows/.NET/IIS), there's a lot of crossover as well.

        The lack of polish is a good point. Ubuntu's close, but laptop hardware in particular is a real problem point, and reduces its utility a great deal. Still, it does work on most desktops, and it's a pretty polished product that in some ways I find a good deal more usable than Vista, which is a closed-source product gone nuts.
      • In reality, the "free" stuff is not really all that competitive with products that are expensive. [...] There are some exceptions, of course, like apache, and linux is obviously successful in the server market.

        All you see is the desktop, but the desktop is the exception. You mentioned Linux being competitive on the server market, yes, and what about Linux on appliances: wireless access points, NAS, network printers, network cameras, mobile phones, etc ? Linux devices probably outnumber Windows devices by

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:50PM (#22563708)
    This is a guy who got screwed out of a lot of money because the state took his hard work without giving him a dime. I am not surprised that he finds the idea of people giving away their hard work for no money to be repulsive (even if it's voluntary).

    Of course the irony is that he is from a country where piracy is (and has been) running crazy rampant.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:59PM (#22563866)
      Having unique life experiences and thus unique perspective is great... but is in no way an excuse for having a skewed world-view.

      His assertion that Free software doesn't contribute economically is way off base. The university culture of spreading information and freeing knowledge is not a bygone rebellious idea: it is sound principle that is gaining more and more traction as people become more interconnected. Rather than stifling business opportunities, this free distribution of knowledge has been a core enabler of technological and economic progress in the western world.

      Besides, the core ethos of Free software is about user choice and promulgation of ideas. It is the antithesis of the central-control that co-opted his hard work for its own gain.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, I think the irony is that while there are a million and one free clones of tetris, the reason he got screwed out of a ton of money was due to the acts of proprietary software companies [wikipedia.org].

      True, the Soviet government screwed him over, too, but only after Andromeda had sold the rights (which they didn't own) to Spectrum HoloByte (who got rich selling it in America).
  • He's Just Bitter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wandering Wombat (531833) <mightyjalapeno AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:51PM (#22563736) Homepage Journal

    Because he was employed by the Soviet government,
    Pajitnov did not receive royalties. Pajitnov, together with
    Vladimir Pokhilko, moved to the United States in 1991
    and founded the Tetris Company with Henk Rogers.

    Translation:

    "I didn't get diddly-poop from my program until I started selling it for money,
    and obviously the entire world should work that way!"
  • by JesseL (107722) * on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:51PM (#22563738) Homepage Journal
    Free air is destroying the market for oxygen bars!

    Any market that is so easily undermined was due for an adjustment anyway.
  • Meh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`Satanicpuppy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:51PM (#22563740) Journal
    I'm sure he thinks so...Tetris is the sort of thing that only has to be seen for a few minutes before you know all you need to know to create your own. OSS people do that, and he sells less copies of his game. C'est la vie. If there were companies that depended on Tetris these days...Well...Sucks to be them.
    • Re:Meh. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by smithcl8 (738234) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:07PM (#22563996)
      OSS shouldn't be about reverse engineering good ideas and making them freely available. OSS is supposed to be about innovation and new ideas. Sadly, for most OSS apps that I see, it does appear to be a way to skim the main parts off of products that cost money and redistribute them for free. GIMP and OpenOffice are perfect examples. Does the world really need another app to do the jobs that their proprietary "cousins" do? No! Some folks just think those programs should be free! I can't tell you a single thing, other than freeness, that those apps have provided the world.

      The spirit of Open Source is the belief that making the code available to anyone makes the product better, because anyone with a bit of inventiveness and some time can make the product better. Unfortunately, apart from a few apps (Apache, maybe Linux), I don't see where much has been "created" with the open source methodology...I just see programs that offer rough approximations of the apps they are trying to mimic.

      Your comment "...Sucks to be them..." strikes the core of the problem with open source. It's not supposed to be about screwing "The Man"...it's supposed to be about making better apps. Unfortunately, too many people see it your way.
      • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`Satanicpuppy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:23PM (#22564276) Journal
        If I want to use a tool, and am willing to make one myself so that I can use it, and then I put that tool out for everyone to use, what exactly is the problem with that? Should I be forced to buy the expensive tool from the big tool company, even though I have the skill to make it myself? Should I be forced to charge for my tool when I don't feel any need to do so?

        If I like tetris, and make a tetris variant of my own to see if I can do it, am I then forbidden from showing it to anyone?

        No one owes Microsoft, Macromedia, and Adobe a living. If their products are superiour, then they'll do well enough. If not, then they deserve to go out of business. End of story.

        And it's not just about "free". If it were only about free, then no one would have bothered writing an alternative to the existing commercial stuff; we'd have just pirated it. The amount of work needed to crush security on any copy-protected media is trivial compared to the amount of work required to create an alternative.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BeanThere (28381)

        OSS is supposed to be about innovation and new ideas

        Huh? Says who? I've never heard that before. OSS isn't "supposed" to be about anything other than exactly what each contributor wants it to be. The only thing it's "about" is allowing everyone to share the product, whatever that might be, but it most certainly does not have to be original, nor is there any compulsion/pressure to that effect. Heck, that would require an authority of some sort, of which there is none operating specifically for open source.

      • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by businessnerd (1009815) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:18PM (#22565212)
        I disagree. At a minimal level, what FOSS does is put pressure on the non-free products to become better. You gave the example of MS Office. You are correct that OpenOffice.org (arguabley) doesn't offer much more to the user other than just being FOSS (dont' forget it runs on Linux too). However, what it does do, is put pressure on MS to justify their high price tag. If you are going to charge me $300 for an office suite that I could otherwise get for free, it better be worth $300 more. It also puts the pressure on MS to bring the price down. Is Office really worth that much money? Considering there is a free alternative, no it's not. The extra features I will get for $300, is not worth $300 to me. Maybe to some, but not to me. That's for the consumer to decide. Just look at the latest version of Office. It's the most radically different version we've seen (for better or worse). This is a direct response to OpenOffice.org.

        Firefox and IE7 are another example of this. IE didn't have any significant improvements until Firefox came along, and now IE is being very actively improved upon. It took five years to go from IE6 to IE7, yet now IE8 is already being developed. However, in this scenario, the FOSS product was actually a major improvement over the existing non-FOSS product. Many want all software to be FOSS. I'm still not completely sold on that. I think everyone should have the choice and sometimes it takes a well payed developer to get the job done because its hard to find someone to volunteer their time for a rather uninteresting (yet necessary) application. Right now, I think the two complement eachother. FOSS creates competition in areas that otherwise would be dominated by monopolies. FOSS makes applications available that would otherwise be too expensive for a single person or a small business to afford. This is quite empowering. Think about it for a minute. Thanks Apache or MySQL the singular person with modest budget can implement an enterprise class web server or database. The playing field has just been leveled.
      • GIMP and OpenOffice are perfect examples.

        I don't know which proprietary Linux paint program GIMP replaced.

        OpenOffice is an even worse example, it was a non-free program (StarOffice) until it was "liberated" by Sun in order to spite a corporate enemy. If anything, StarOffice is an example of the duplication going on in the non-free world.

        Unfortunately, apart from a few apps (Apache, maybe Linux), I don't see where
        much has been "created" with the open source methodology...I just see programs that offer rough approximations of the apps they are trying to mimic.

        The keyword is "I see" because it just tells about the path you have gone. Some of us have traveled a different path, and seen more. The Internet and the Web started from "open source methodologies". The comm

  • by InfinityWpi (175421) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:51PM (#22563748)
    "All you 'free software' freak who made clones of my game and called them different things, or made it multiplayer and then didn't charge anything so there's no royalties to be paid to me, are assholes! Charge for your rip-offs of my game so that I can get money from you!"

    Gotta admit, the man has a point... not much of one, but he has it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by king-manic (409855)
      His point non-existant because you can't patent a play mechanic. so long as the marketing is distinct you can clone the mechanics. See bejeweled vs Puzzle Quest.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by teslar (706653)
      Naw he doesn't. If he did, he could just do what everyone and their mum seems to be doing these days and sue every author of every clone for copyright infringement. If he doesn't have the copyright or perhaps a patent for the game, then he hasn't got a point besides being greedy and miserable.
  • by roystgnr (4015) * <roystgnr@nOspAm.ticam.utexas.edu> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:53PM (#22563760) Homepage
    When another producer in your market has the ability to indefinitely create products whose quality and cost make them preferable to anything you can create, that is supposed to destroy the market for your products. It's a form of "creative destruction" [wikipedia.org], a process in which going out of business is just the final signal to the terminally clueless that yes, it really is time for you to find a job you're better at.

    In this case, if you can't make a better product than something that is already available to the whole world for free, you're not doing anything productive. Either make better software, or quit whining that people won't pay you for what you do make.
    • by _|()|\| (159991)

      From the GNU Manifesto:

      If your business is selling an operating system, you will not like GNU, but that's tough on you. If your business is something else, GNU can save you from being pushed into the expensive business of selling operating systems.

      I'm reminded of this quote every time I see hospitals, schools, etc. deal with deployments of expensive (usually Oracle-based) database software. There are hundreds of very similar organizations around the country that could get together and commission a world-c

  • by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:53PM (#22563764)
    We need a human translation of the article, but he is somewhat correct. If you look at the computer revolution, it only entered everyday home and work life once software became a commercialized commodity. FOSS doesn't have a profit motive, which means you can create what you want, but it also means there's no strong incentive to provide a product that *others* want. Using the Linux example (need to find another one), it has a lot of neat, weird, esoteric features bundled into it, that Windows lacks, but Windows has what people are willing to pay for, not whatever the Windows devs want to put into it. Look at Vista; MS put crap into it no one wanted, and now large numbers of people aren't buying the thing. FOSS is great, but it's a very niche system that serves a niche very very well, but the computing world could survive without it. It could not survive a world without commercial software.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jez9999 (618189)
      Possibly... then again, without MS and other conventional commercial outfits selling lots of closed source, companies may have sprung up contributing to FOSS projects and making money from selling support and associated services (bespoke development, etc.)
    • "FOSS is great, but it's a very niche system that serves a niche very very well, but the computing world could survive without it. It could not survive a world without commercial software."

      Why, exactly? At the worst it would mean a return to a world in which corporations had to design their own applications from scratch, and in which expert programmers moved from job to job and moved the skills around. Before long big corporations in different but related business areas would get together and say, OK guys,

  • by Jugalator (259273) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:54PM (#22563774) Journal

    When asked about Red Hat or Oracle's support-oriented model, he called them 'a minority
    Yes, so..? Is that supposed to be a "problem" here?

    Obviously, Red Hat's and Oracle's (and a number of others not mentioned) business models works, otherwise they would have been abandoned in favor of the more traditional ones. And whether they work is what matters here, not how many have or haven't dared trying something new!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chas (5144)
      Minority?

      Look at IBM for Bob's sake!

      Yes, they sell software and hardware, and make money off it.

      But their primary business model is based on SERVICES.

      Also, if you're into uber-high-end CRM, Oracle is NOT a minority ANYTHING. They're nearly the ONLY thing.
  • by PinkyDead (862370) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:54PM (#22563776) Journal
    I was discussing with a client today about whether to use a service oriented architecture on a Redhat server supported by an Oracle database, but he was much more keen on using a vertical block model with a rotational function that maximized resources by removing redundant full rows, and had pretty colours and a catchy tune.
  • Wrong model (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:00PM (#22563872) Homepage
    He is starting from the wrong position. He seems to think that software has to be written by companies for sale to customers. He thinks that increasing profit comes from making lots more sales.

    Wrong. Increasing profit can also come from reduction in costs.

    90% of software is written within organisations and never sees light of day outside of the organisations that create it. This is in spite of many organisations sharing some common problems/needs, even if much is specific/unique to them. Most of these organisations are not in the business of selling programs, they run factories, trains, banks, ...

    What Open Source does is to liberate a little of this 90%, the bits which other organisations might find useful and can easily adopt into their IT systems. The companies that release it get: feedback, bug fixes and enhacements. The guys who receive/use the software send their patches back because doing so is less (long term) work than putting the patches into each new release that comes out.

    This is how Open Source works. It does not depend on software houses to sell to users, the profit does not come from software sales, it comes from cost reduction by those who use the software.

    Yes, there are those who make a living from support, from the big guys like Red Hat to the small ones like myself; but the greatest profit from Open Source is the cost reduction in the users.

  • by TheGrapeApe (833505) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:01PM (#22563888)
    I am constantly astounded by the vigor with which some seemingly otherwise intelligent programmers pick up the Open Source banner and run with it.

    Open Source is better for the world-at-large. Make no mistake about it. **The world-at-large is more productive for getting software for free.** They can spend the money they would have spent on software on other things.

    But how could you think that this is better for *programmers*? I *always* ask this of my fellow IT professionals and they *always* respond with some vague argument about how participating in Open Source projects will get you "recognized"...Well, in the sarcastic wrods of Homer Simpson "Look at me: I'm making people _happy_".

    Someone please enlighten me. Explain to me how we, as programmers, are better off when the fruits of our labor are surrendered for free. I'm not saying it doesn't make the economy-at-large more productive...clearly it benefits all the people with "business" and "creative" degrees, and since there are more of them than us, it clearly benefits the "larger group", so to speak. But how does it make *us* better off? I'm not so engrossed in matrerialism that I think how much I make is the only thing that matters...but I find the idea that my reward for being part of a highly successful OS project might be getting "recognized" and maybe if I'm lucky getting hired on as a code monkey for some "creative" people that used what I worked so hard on for free very distasteful.

    I really tried to embrace the idea of the OS movement, but because no one could answer those questions I have come to regard it, at best, an idea for a perfect society (one where *everyone*, not just programmers, works for the common good) that is tragically ahead of its time and at worst a pox on the profession of programming.
    • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:20PM (#22564222) Homepage

      Actually I can answer it simply: it makes my job as a programmer easier. I'm one of the vast majority of programmers who do not work for a company writing software for others. I write software for internal use at my company. We aren't going to sell it. We aren't going to give it away. It's never going to leave the confines of the company. And F/OSS gives me easy options. I need an HTTP library? Grab Curl. I need a SOAP library? Grab gSOAP. SSL? Grab OpenSSL. Printing? CUPS. XML/XSLT parsing/processing? Xerces and Xalan. And having gotten that utility software out of the way, I can proceed on to the business-specific stuff that my company really wants me to be working on.

      Yes, we could buy commercial libraries for all those things. But those commercial libraries come with hefty costs for things we aren't going to use, have license restrictions attached like how many copies we can have installed that have to be managed, and have very poor support when it comes to bug-fixes and support for exotic hardware/OS platforms. F/OSS simply gives us far fewer headaches and costs us fewer dollars to use. When we need it somewhere, we just install another copy and we're good to go. All we have to watch out for is redistribution of our software outside the company, and that's easy since it's not supposed to happen.

      Yes, F/OSS is very bad for programmers who make their living selling software commercially to others to use. But that's like saying that the advent of the automobile was very bad for the people who made horse-drawn wagons, carriages and such, and the people who bred and sold horses to pull them: it pretty much meant the end of most of their business. But those people were a small minority compared to the number of people who merely used wagons and carriages, and now trucks and automobiles, to move cargo and people around.

  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:01PM (#22563898)
    The wealth created by software companies lies not primarily in those companies themselves, but in the companies that use their software to boost productivity and to create business opportunities that would not have existed before. The software industry could disappear tomorrow without causing much of a ripple, but without the software itself, the global economy would collapse. If FOSS makes more useful software available to more people than closed source software does, then it should boost the economy, not drag it down.

    What this guy is bitching about is not being able to make money off the low-hanging fruit. If it can be done by individuals or small groups working in their spare time, then there will be one or more FOSS packages to do the job. There are any number of areas where FOSS is unlikely to make inroads by the very nature of the problem space, but writing software in those areas is a bit more challenging than implementing falling blocks on an 8-bit CPU, a task so simple that I've taught schoolchildren how to do it in BASIC on vintage Apple IIs. Aside from random luck, I'm afraid the road to prosperity involves lots of hard work, and there's no way around that.
  • by EdIII (1114411) * on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:07PM (#22563992)
    Some software, or code, must exist free, since that it the only possible form in which it could be viable.

    TOR, Freenet, could have never been created if it were not for open source. They serve a very important purpose.

    All closed-source, proprietary encryption solutions are worthless, since the code has to be reviewed independently. Otherwise there *could* be back doors in it.

    I can go on, about other situations in which open source is the only viable development strategy for a given technology, but that is all irrelevant really. This author can say it *should* not exist, but it has the *right* to exist. Anybody can write code and choose to give it freely to the world. Some that do are amateurs at best, and the code merely a shadow of the similar commercial offerings. Some that do it, are truly gifted, and it is a dire threat to the similar commercial offerings.

    As for it creating competition with companies that create wealth and prosperity and obviously destroying that wealth and prosperity, that is a very weak argument. It just sounds a little bitter and petulant. IMO, that is like a businessman selling bottled water up and down a road for a few years in the desert at high prices. Something, or somebody else comes along and creates drinking fountains alongside the road for free. Or even just torrential rains. He just has to move on to something else. Not that much more complicated.

    Point in fact, it won't destroy that wealth and prosperity anyways. Maybe what software companies should be doing is offering support packages on the software, and get their wealth and money that way.
  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:18PM (#22565200)
    He's right. Take a look at this screenshot of FOSS about to destroy The Market:

    |F.........|
    |O.........|
    |S.........|
    |S.........|
    |..........|
    |.TheMarket|
    |.TheMarket|
    |.TheMarket|
    |.TheMarket|
    ------------
  • LoL? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vexorian (959249) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:27PM (#22565336)
    I'll quote translation of my own, cause I feel I am better translating Spanish than google is:

    In the soviet union, the state kept the rights and Pazhitnov could not recover them until hi emigrated to the United States to work at Microsoft
    Old Microsofty attacking Free software, I am surprised.

    He currently works at WildSnake Software, a company dedicated to the creation of new puzzle games.
    I guess this is the issue, once upon a time a game with sub par graphics and repetitive gameplay used to make good business, but then the Atari market collapsed, 3d shooters and RTS came, and now it is just not as interesting anymore, what's worse is that games made by fun tend to be very funny to the few casual gamers that would still miss Pazhitnov's idea for a game (i.e. me) I think you could blame FOSS for that, but it is just one of the factors.

    Regardless, if companies cannot cope with change, their end is all we can hope for, that's a free market, if we were to protect companies from competition that would be death to our free market and wealth.

    He declares himself a convinced capitalist and opines free software "is something that destroys the market"
    I think competition is what keeps the market alive, then he doesn't sound too much like a capitalist to me.

    So, I'll tell you my opinion about free software: that should have never existed and today it shouldn't exist. And I'll tell you why: Free software destroys market. There where with the efforts of groups of people market, wealth, and prosperity possibilities are built, irresponsible people come and create alternative developments that sink the companies. And this is not good for the development of technology, free software doesn't have a market projection, doesn't create wealth, it is only proof of sterile rebellion.
    Seriously, this guy has created one of my favorite games and all, but this paragraph is quite ridiculous. Has free software ever killed a company? Is free software all about copying stuff? Is free software anti-business? (Let's forget all those companies, even MS making money out of these things...) Does free software prevent innovation (I could say 'firefox' and prove the opposite is true) . Really, this paragraph is so lame, perhaps he thought no one was going to find out he was saying these ridiculous things because it was a Spanish interview, that's about the only explanation for this piece of non-sense.
  • Innovation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OneFix (18661) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @06:01PM (#22565786)
    The entry of FOSS into any market encourages innovation on the commercial products. Innovation doesn't necessarily have to come in the way of new features, but the commercial software needs to do something that the FOSS alternatives don't.

    In this case, the FOSS games are better and more innovative than the commercial game (see Hextris [hextris.com]). The reason this happened is the same reason that you could never make money on the original Battlezone [wikipedia.org] anymore. Because BZFlag [wikipedia.org] is so much better.

    Do the authors of BZFlag deserve to be blamed for this? Probably not. Is it Atari's fault for not constantly updating their game? Maybe. Should the author be making money off of an idea he had 20 years ago? Probably not. It's like Pong or Breakout. Both were firsts, both started a genre that continues today, but they have seen their day.

    Wouldn't it make more sense for this guy to start a company that makes puzzle games?
  • by mungmaster2000 (1180731) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @07:41PM (#22566968)
    He thinks FOSS screwed-over his buddy Vladimir causing his software company to go tits-up, causing him to kill his wife and son. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Pokhilko [wikipedia.org] http://www.rotten.com/library/culture/tetris/ [rotten.com] I read it on rotten, so it MUST be true!!

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