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Eric Raymond has updated his latest paper, The Magic Cauldron, adding an appendix to specifically address why closing the source for a device driver loses money for the vendor. "If you stay closed you will usually get the worst of all worlds -- your secrets will get exposed, you won't get free development help, and you won't have wasted your stupider competition's time on cloning."
We actually think Eric has missed many of the best reasons why closing the source for a driver is economic bad judgement. Losing free development help is certainly one of the best reasons, which he does mention. However, he forgot to mention no longer having to pay your internal staff to rewrite, test and distribute new binaries for each new kernel as it comes out. In fact, open source drivers are a whole lot less likely to break with new kernel releases, partially because of Linus' well-known dislike of closed source drivers.
The best reason, though, is because selling hardware is what makes money for you. If your drivers are hard to find, have to be updated frequently, or worst, run poorly, it reflects badly on your hardware and you will sell less of it. Fewer sales, less revenue. Period.
Continuing our discussion of open source in vertical markets, Tim Cook from the FreePM project sent in an editorial to us, entitled "Open Source: Going Vertical. It sums up some of his thoughts and planning that went into the June 28th announcement of the FreePM project, concerning the promise of vertical open source software and some of the potential difficulties of managing such projects. "Many open source vertical market applications are actually started as either in-house or hobby projects. In these cases, one of the most difficult things to do is create the required emotional detachment."
Comdex Canada is underway and Dan York has sent in a report from Day 1 of the event. "Packed in the back corner of the large North Hall of the Toronto Convention Center, the Linux Pavilion proved once again that Linux will draw a crowd. During much of the first day, the aisles were filled, almost all of the presentations in the Linux Theatre were standing-room only, and the questions were coming fast and furious." Expect pictures from the event tomorrow and compliments to the members of the Canadian Linux Users' Exchange (CLUE), the group that organized the Linux Pavilion.
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July 15, 1999