[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: arch and linux 2.7

From: Tom Lord
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: arch and linux 2.7
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 21:39:14 -0800 (PST)

    > From: Colin Walters <address@hidden>

    > On Tue, 2003-11-04 at 17:44, Tom Lord wrote:

    > > To their discredit, they have done so without adopting a free software
    > > business model.  This is really quite stunning because, by Larry's own
    > > public accounts, he got business model advice from at least one Red
    > > Hat executive -- Red Hat being a company that has on several occasions
    > > publicly reaffirmed its own commitment to a free software model.  It
    > > seems to me that one of five conclusions follow:

    > [...]

    > (f) This is an overblown rumor with very little if any truth to it.

    > I spent some time googling, and the closest thing I could find was this:


    > "McVoy's hybrid model for his own company, Bitmover, was spawned when
    > Linux developer Alan Cox came up with the idea of a central log for
    > changes to the Linux kernel."

    > Hardly a business plan.

Alan Cox is not a Red Hat exec and that is not the only account of
history that has been offered.

On the other hand, history seems to evaporate, in spite of the web,
and I do admit that I can no longer find the specific reference I was
referring to.

I am _quite_ confident that in one of his interviews or screeds LM
remarked that a Red Hat exec (I'm _fairly_ confident it was Bob Young)
argued to LM that a free software business model would not work for a
revision control product.  The closest currently accesible reference I
found is quite weak:

    "Two other people are worth special mention: Bob Young (of Red
     Hat) is who I turn to for business advice, he's helped us out
     many times and I'm very grateful." -- LM

but again, I am quite confident that I read an interview or screed in
which LM was far more explicit that an RH exec had made the case that
a free software model would not work for a revision control product.

    > In fact, on the same page:

quick Google search != truth

    > "In a paper entitled "The Sourceware Operating System Proposal," McVoy
    > wrote that "software that is widely available and royalty free is more
    > useful and valuable to the end user than proprietary software." (This
    > would later become a mantra for Red Hat and other companies. The McVoy
    > paper, in fact, was a key influence in the creation of Red Hat's
    > business plan back in 1993.)"

    > So it looks like you have it backwards.

Not at all.  I am quite familiar with that paper. I was handed a copy
by Tiemann ca. 1993-1994.  

We ought to be very careful in our interpretation of history here, to
separate the stories told from the facts that occured.  Because I was
there, because I participated even if only a small way, I will offer
you "primary source material" rather than argument to a conclusive
interpretation.  I'll speak of "my impressions" very deliberately and
you should be careful to read what I say with that particular grain of

It is not my impression that the paper's content broke new ground or
was, in and of itself, influential.  It is my impression that what was
influential was that people "of class", like Tiemann, were handing out
copies of the paper.  I speculate that, for example, that a typical
silly-valley VC of he era might have recieved multiple copies from a
variety of "of like class" sources -- the mere correlation of those
events being sufficient excuse to invest rather than any deep
understanding of the issues.  It's not an idiotic heuristic, even if
it is an immoral one.

When Tiemann handed me a copy of the paper, the context wasn't "Oh,
look at these great ideas that someone has come up with" it was, quite
clearly (to me at least, at the time and since), "Oh look, free
software is gaining in legitimacy because this guy has mentioned it."

The paper says a number things beyond what you have quoted, some of
them quite goofy in retrospect.   It makes some recommendations that
have very clearly not been acted upon.  In short, it is a narrative
symbol:  e.g. it is something that Bob Young can include as an element
when he "tells his story" even though, in reality, the influence of
the content of the paper is quite undemonstrated (and from my
perspective, quite implausible).   It is, at most, a symbol of an era
-- not a breakthrough collection of ideas.


reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]