Open source as kosmos

I wanted to make sure people saw this response linked in a previous comments section from Dave Masten from his excellent website:

Basic economics tells us that lacking government coercion any good supplied by the market must have continual price decreases as competition drives suppliers to find less costly means of production. There is nothing in economics that says this function must be a smooth and gradual curve. In fact, if a market is a chaotic system (it is) then a discontinous curve may be a better fit. Historically, the first operating systems were tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per machine during the mainframe days. In the 70's several smaller computers (mini-computers) became available and OS prices dropped to the thousands of dollars. In the 80's Bill Gates started producing an operating system that cost in the high tens and low hundreds of dollars. Now, Linux costs zero dollars for a license. So a rough fit might be a curve that is flat for a number of years, then drops an order of magnitude or two, and repeats. Linux is the latest drop and that is to zero

Perhaps the reason that Linux may not be as 'robust' as Windows right now is that the price for 'robust' software has not dropped as fast as the 'basics' of Linux, but might do so with time?

Eric Raymond in The Cathedral and the Bazaar suggests that the way Linux is developed represents a fundamental shift in how software is developed. This shift should not be surprising to free-market economists. The traditional (Cathedral) style of development correlates well with command-economics, i.e. a central authority directs each person's actions, with each person having little to no autonomy. In the open-source (Bazaar) model each person has full autonomy and each bit he does is evaluated by the market and accepted or rejected. In open-source development each developer competes at the level of code snippets, whereas a traditional developer has no (direct) competition to measure against. To an economist the Open-source model is the more efficient method in the same way that free markets are more efficient than command economies. From this we can see why the price is driven down to zero, and we should expect that over time the open-source model should produce better results.

It seems like the Cathedral/Bazaar dichotomy is essentially the taxis/kosmos dichotomy, and that Windows, being propietary sofware is designed from the top-down whereas Linux, being open-source is evolved from the bottom-up. Interesting, I never thought of it that way.

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Dave's response is very good

Dave's response is very good but I do not agree with everything in it.

First of all, the notion that open-source software is a more efficient method is bogus. The ability to develop large-scale systems is non-existent and time-to-market is a non-starter. Computers in this day and age are a commodity utilized by the masses and time wasted recompiling a kernel or making a device driver work is not acceptable or efficient.

Next, this concept of a "central authority" (i.e. your team lead) that controls everything you do is also misleading. On any normal project a single developer is given an entire CSCI or portions of multiple CSCIs. Typically the CSCI is assigned to a developer based on his/her skill set and interests. In my 7 years of software development I have enjoyed large amounts of autonomy and have learned more from being given the opportunity to spend 50 hours a week designing and developing entire CSCIs rather than improving "code snippets".

CSCI = Comupter Software Component (basically a modular unit of work)

I was discussing this topic with a client of mine this morning and he brought up another good point. Most open-source projects are the brain child of a handful of smart people and once the core technology is developed by them, the interest and focus is lost. I believe Linux is a prime example of this. They still cannot decide which desktop environment standard (GNOME or KDE) to follow. So instead of leading the IT industry, Linux is struggling just to keep up.

As far as the assertion that proprietary software is designed from the top-down is also incorrect. Not enough time to get into this can of worms but I'm sure others will agree with me on this one.

Lastly, I don't own MSFT stock and don't care what the future holds for Windows, but time is money and it is well worth paying for something that makes your life easier.

Jonathon, Thanks for the

Jonathon, Thanks for the kind words about my site.

The ability to develop large-scale systems is non-existent

I'd think the OS on an IBM S/390 (or whatever they call it these days) would be considered a large scale system. What do you consider a large scale system?

time-to-market is a non-starter
It is also a non-issue.

Computers in this day and age are a commodity utilized by the masses and time wasted recompiling a kernel or making a device driver work is not acceptable or efficient.

This is also a non-issue. The only time I recompile a kernel is when I'm experimenting. Never on a production machine.

On any normal project a single developer is given an entire CSCI or portions of multiple CSCIs
What do you have to compare to? It is still like the difference between a state-enforced monopoly market and a free market. Where are the "competitors" or even potential competitors to drive continous improvement for your CSCI?

They still cannot decide which desktop environment standard (GNOME or KDE) to follow.

[sarcasm] Yep, can't have choice, that would be inefficient.[/sarcasm] You are making my argument for me. ;-)

Also, I don't think interest and focus are lost from the core developers of Linux. In fact, Linus just announced a leave of absence from his day job to spend more time on the kernel.

I am pretty sure that IBM

I am pretty sure that IBM pumped a lot of money into their operating system which added the financial variable back into the equation.

The non-issues you highlighted are issues in a free market.

Competition in the commercial world is not internal but rather external. Multiple companies develop word processors, media players, etc. You do a bad job and you get fired, do a good job get a raise. Guess the sarcasm tag would go nicely here!

Choice is not inefficient but lack of direction is. (referring to GNOME vs. KDE)

Linus doesn't need a day job!

apologize for the succint response but I'm at the airport with my WiFi (on WinXP!) connection. See you guys in a few days.

damn flight is delayed. saw

damn flight is delayed.

saw this link from SlashDot and thought is was pretty crazy. Basically the open-source guys (those free-market phenomenons ) want commercial companies to pay a 10% penalties until they comply with their "open standards".

http://newsforge.com/newsforge/03/06/17/1655215.shtml?tid=19

Now why should any company have to comply with open-source software? This is bad news.

I am pretty sure that IBM

I am pretty sure that IBM pumped a lot of money into their operating system which added the financial variable back into the equation.

$2,000,000,000 I believe. Mostly in marketing. What does this have to do with anything?

The non-issues you highlighted are issues in a free market.

Time to market - Linux and Windows NT/2000/2003 are about the same age. Drivers for new hardware are coming out at about the same time. Windows does have an advantage for some hardware products but that is more a market demand effect (Windows does dominate the desktop and laptop markets) rather than any benefit of proprietary or open source. Is Windows shipping Opteron 64-bit OS yet?
SuSE linux is. Also, Itanium 64-bit support was available on Linux before Windows.

Competition in the commercial world is not internal but rather external. Multiple companies develop word processors, media players, etc. You do a bad job and you get fired, do a good job get a raise. Guess the sarcasm tag would go nicely here!

And the sort of free-market US competed with the command economy of the USSR. So does that make USSR autos more efficient?

Choice is not inefficient but lack of direction is. (referring to GNOME vs. KDE)

How is it a lack of direction? Hmmm you may be getting confused about the differences in Linux and Windows. In Linux a desktop manager is just another application, unlike Windows where the desktop GUI is built into the kernel. It really is just a choice.

Linus doesn't need a day job!
I do not know enough about his personal finances to comment on that. ;-) He will be getting paid to work full time on the kernel.

apologize for the succint response but I'm at the airport with my WiFi (on WinXP!) connection. See you guys in a few days.
Cool isn't it? Back in 2000 I was skiing at Tahoe, got a page from a monitoring app for a website I was maintaining, I logged into the web server (Linux) on a telnet session from my PDA (running Linux) using my GSM phone as a modem while riding the lift. Have a nice flight.

Dave

ha, this flight sucks. Now

ha, this flight sucks. Now I'm sitting in the plane on the runway and waiting for the weather in Chicago to improve before we can take off.

anyway, we're looking at the same facts and seeing different things. Half full/half empty. Not sure who is who!

but any comment on the article I posted?

but any comment on the

but any comment on the article I posted?
The group suggesting this is just a bunch of parasites arguing about how to spend other people's money. So no matter what they do they are wrong.

Other than that, it looks more like they are suggesting that the internal cost calculations will be 10% higher for products that use proprietary (lock-in) protocols and data formats. There is some sense in that, one of my first consulting gigs was writing code to get accounting data off a mini-computer based accounting system and into a SQL database. The company that put together the old accounting package had gone belly up, and there was no support their proprietary data formats. So it is a real risk, and some companies have been known to end-of-life products to encourage (force) upgrade purchases.

finally made it. if it costs

finally made it.

if it costs 10% more to develop proprietary protocols, file formats, etc, then why would they add an additional 10% tax on top of it?

I agree they are wrong, very wrong. What concerned me were the user comments at the bottom. Very anti-Microsoft/Capitalism without much merit to what they were saying. This is the open-source mentality/culture I was talking about a while ago. Damn Commies!

Anyway, I also think you have to balance standards with stagnation. GSM is a well-established standard around the world for cell phones but CDMA and TDMA are much better protocols for data bandwidth. (information provided to me from my friends in the cell phone industry).

I'll have to look closer at

I'll have to look closer at the article, I thought the idea was that when considering bids from software producers the agency would be instructed to add 10% to the bid price for non compliant software then compare with compliant software. I haven't really had time to do more than scan it.

Very anti-Microsoft/Capitalism without much merit to what they were saying. This is the open-source mentality/culture I was talking about a while ago. Damn Commies!

Slashdot is full of idiots. Most of the commenters wouldn't know how to write a "Hello,World!" program in any language. This is not the open-source world of the Linux kernel list, the various GNU projects, or any other open-source project that I am aware of.

Yes CDMA and TDMA are better, but in 2000 GSM was the only way to get data on the left coast.

OK, read it a little closer.

OK, read it a little closer. It is a tax. Bad thing.