A very technocratic view, to be sure. Source code is no guranatee of
future portability or viability; for the vast, vast majority of users --
we do care about those, don't we? -- source code is useless.
You or I might be able to keep a source-based program going past the
interest of its creators -- but most computer users lack the skills and
tools to equal our prowess.
Scan SourceForge and Freshmeat, and you'll find an amazing number of
dead and dying projects, without support or documentation. The printing
press didn't automatically impart literacy upon the masses, and the
source code for "free" software promises nothing about future support.
I'm not saying that commercial companies are any more reliable -- what I
*am* pointing out is that "free" software makes no guarantees, either.
> In other words: it's all about being free or being dependant on goodwill.
Free software is very dependent on good will -- the good will of
developers to continue maintaining and updating their software for free!
A commercial software company only survives if it provides value to its
customers -- and that value includes future support.
Most "free" software exists to scratch an itch; if the programmer stops
scratching, users are out-of-luck. Unless, of course, they hire someone
like you or me to maintain or update an abandoned program... ;)
Commercial software is no better or worse then its free counterpart;
they merely operate under different rules. While I love free software
and strongly support its existence and growth, I also am cognizant of
its weaknesses. To ignore those weaknesses requires either fanaticism or
-- Scott Robert Ladd Coyote Gulch Productions (http://www.coyotegulch.com) Professional programming for science and engineering; Interesting and unusual bits of very free code.
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