IPL as a burden

Andrew J Bromage Andrew.Bromage at its.monash.edu.au
Tue Jan 16 00:13:11 UTC 2001

G'day all.

On Mon, Jan 15, 2001 at 04:36:38PM -0800, Frank LaMonica wrote:

> Most users of software don't consider the availability of source code in
> their purchasing decisions.  Why?  Because they are not in the business of
> writing software, they are simply using an application as a tool.

I think they might take the availability of source into account if they
understood it better.

When I buy a car, I don't care about tinkering with its innards because
I am not a mechanic, and have no aptitude or desire to become one.
However, I do insist that my car be servicable by any appropriately
qualified mechanic that I nominate.  That way, I'm not locked into
paying the company I bought the car from every time it needs
maintenance.  With a car, that means many things including good
engineering such as low coupling between independent systems (if I
change the colour of the upholstery, that shouldn't make the headlights
stop working) transparency (i.e. that the insides of the car are not
hidden) and openness (anyone can produce service manuals, spare parts
or even a clone of the whole car if they want to).  And in the end, I
should be able to modify the car to my hearts' content (maybe put in
a different sound system, maybe put in a cargo barrier, maybe convert
it to run on unleaded petrol or LPG) and sell it to someone else when I
don't want it any more, and not have to get permission of the original
car manufacturer to do any of these things.  Naturally I would wait
until the warranty expired (assuming the car came with a warranty)
before doing anything not approved by the vendor, but it wouldn't be
because the vendor forced me to.

Would you buy a car that didn't let you do any of this whether you're
a mechanic or otherwise?

If I were not a programmer, I'd reason the same way about software.  If
my purchased software needs maintenance, I don't want to be at the
mercy of the company I bought it from.  I want to be able to hire any
appropriately qualified programmer that I wish, or even do it myself if
I think I know what I'm doing; after all, I'm not a mechanic but I can
change a tyre with the best of them.  I should be able to freely give
details of my fixes/enhancements to others, and I should be able to
resell the software when I'm finished with it.  I should not have to get
the original vendor's permission to do it.

Would you buy software that didn't let you do any of this, whether
you're a programmer or otherwise?

This is not the full set of rights provided by Open Source, but if I were
not a programmer, it's what I'd be looking for.

Andrew Bromage

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