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Tetris Creator Claims FOSS Destroys the Market

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the sterile-absentia dept.

Businesses 686

alx5000 writes "In an interview conducted last week with Consumer Eroski (link in Spanish; Google translation), the father of Tetris Alexey Pajitnov claimed that 'Free Software should have never existed,' since it 'destroys the market' by bringing down companies that create wealth and prosperity. When asked about Red Hat or Oracle's support-oriented model, he called them 'a minority,' and also criticized Stallman's ideas as 'belonging to the past' where there were no software 'business possibilities.'"

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686 comments

Missing tag (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22563660)

Where's the "idiot" tag?

bringing down companies that create wealth (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563668)

Complains the author of one of the biggest productivity destroyers in computing history.

Re:bringing down companies that create wealth (5, Funny)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563840)

Tetris was originally designed as a training tool for late Soviet-era transport interests. The idea was to reduce shipping costs by training load masters to improve the density of packing freight cars, container ships, and trucks.

This is all covered in my book, Shit I Made Up About The Russian Software Industry.

News Flash: bitter ex communist hates communism (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563670)

Details at eleven.

Re:News Flash: bitter ex communist hates communism (5, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563952)

Oddly, I see FOSS as an extreme example of capitalism. Reductio ad absurdum with a twist.

In a given market with profits, more competitors will enter until profits are driven down to the point the cost of entering just isn't worth it. With software, this set point is a bit lower than many industries, because less capital is needed for production. FOSS lowers it further by reducing the barriers to entry (you get to reuse older code). Some people derive a non-financial benefit (and sometimes financial) that exceeds the cost of contributing, so there is a negative cost (a benefit). It's still worth it to them to enter the market no matter what. So even assuming no profit, you get plenty of competitors.

The capitalist version of superconductivity. Against the rules except in unique circumstances.

What this guy misses are controlled markets with barriers to entry.

Re:News Flash: bitter ex communist hates communism (4, Interesting)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564208)

Not only that, but his complaint about software companies generating wealth is mostly bogus as well. They are able to generate income, but that is much different than wealth. When a software company goes under, typically the code is sold of at rock bottom price and then forgotten about. Look at BeOS as an example. Open source generates true standing wealth.

Actually he's half right (2, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563962)

and he is half wrong. As always the "truth" is not in any extreme. not everything is black and white, there are a lot of shades there in between. The free software is not paradise (says me, who developes freeware) and open Source is not the cure against cancer, and commercial development is not the hell either.

Both worlds are perfectly valid and can (and NEED) to co-exist. The problem is when we have taliband like Stallman in one band and Job and the other.... THERE we have a problem.

Re:Actually he's half right (5, Funny)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564072)

You use Steve Jobs as the extreme for closed source software?

Are you sure you can't think of someone more...qualified?

Obligatory, sorry. (4, Funny)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563672)

Someone has to say it.

In California, you play Tetris.
In Soviet Russia, Tetris play YOU!

(thank goodness for burnable Karma...)

Re:Obligatory, sorry. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22564136)

This joke is never obligatory! Will you people finally let it go?

What do you expect... (5, Interesting)

rvw (755107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563674)

from a Microsoft employee?

Before everyone jumps on him (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563708)

This is a guy who got screwed out of a lot of money because the state took his hard work without giving him a dime. I am not surprised that he finds the idea of people giving away their hard work for no money to be repulsive (even if it's voluntary).

Of course the irony is that he is from a country where piracy is (and has been) running crazy rampant.

Re:Before everyone jumps on him (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22563866)

Having unique life experiences and thus unique perspective is great... but is in no way an excuse for having a skewed world-view.

His assertion that Free software doesn't contribute economically is way off base. The university culture of spreading information and freeing knowledge is not a bygone rebellious idea: it is sound principle that is gaining more and more traction as people become more interconnected. Rather than stifling business opportunities, this free distribution of knowledge has been a core enabler of technological and economic progress in the western world.

Besides, the core ethos of Free software is about user choice and promulgation of ideas. It is the antithesis of the central-control that co-opted his hard work for its own gain.

Re:Before everyone jumps on him (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563894)

Steal This Film I and II further this AC's point. I highly suggest folks watch it if they haven't seen it.

Re:Before everyone jumps on him (3, Insightful)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564002)

Stealing software is similar to stealing a film. Both hurt their respective industries, and have nothing to do with a discussion of FOSS.

FOSS rarely hurts commercial software companies who still sell valuable software. That's because we geeks generally prefer to get rich rather than give away our work for free. Once a software niche has matured, and when there's no remaining opportunities to make money, you generally see the rise of FOSS. Tetris is a good example of a game so simple that any good hacker could crank out a clone. It was worth a bit in it's time, but not now.

Re:Before everyone jumps on him (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564134)

I was talking more along the lines of how throughout history, every time some new way of communication allows us (meaning anyone not in power) to communicate amongst each other more efficiently, it is seen as the downfall of civilization.

Hell, even the printing press was initially thought of as a horrible thing for humanity. Where would we be had our leaders been successful in stopping it's spread?

Re:Before everyone jumps on him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22563940)

Of course the irony is that he is from a country where piracy is (and has been) running crazy rampant.

There's nothing ironic about that.

Re:Before everyone jumps on him (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22564090)

No, I think the irony is that while there are a million and one free clones of tetris, the reason he got screwed out of a ton of money was due to the acts of proprietary software companies [wikipedia.org] .

True, the Soviet government screwed him over, too, but only after Andromeda had sold the rights (which they didn't own) to Spectrum HoloByte (who got rich selling it in America).

Re:Before everyone jumps on him (1)

netruner (588721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564094)

It bears pointing out that the assertion that the free software movement does not "bring down companies that are producing wealth and prosperity", it prevents the use of artificial barriers that promote the hoarding that can be seen in the rest of the industry. The true path lies somewhere in between. Creating wealth implies that something new is being created, not merely extracted from someone else. When a new program is created it's only new for a short time - should it be a life-long meal ticket? The proponents of the proprietary, closed source model seem to think so.

Discuss...

Re:Before everyone jumps on him (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564116)

FOSS would have also have destroyed the shareware software market completely. I don't really have a strong opinion about whether or not companies like Nico Mak, Helios, Impact or JASC should have existed or made some money for their founders, but I do know that they made pretty good products (WinZip, TextPad, Microangelo and PaintShop Pro) that I paid for at some point because they represented an excellent deal for the money. Human nature being largely what it is, does anyone think that these applications would have had the same financial success if they were based on some tip jar model? And these are just the big boys of shareware, there are literally thousands of them still around.

How much revenue are you going to get out of supporting a text editor or an archive program? For a 100K-level individual user base? Probably none. The support model might work in the enterprise space where a CTO pays lots of money as CYA insurance so he can point the finger at the vendor when the shit hits the fan, but it does not work at most other levels.

The shareware model might be odious to many people here, but it was a good business for a lot of people who don't think selling bits is a blasphemy. And that's still the majority of people. Not everyone can write web browsers and get $20M deals with multi-billion dollar search engines. It's the simpler, more niche software that would be impossible to monetize.

Re:Before everyone jumps on him (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564202)

If I recall, early on when Tetris was licensed for use in the USA. Tengen (an Atari company), Spectrum Holobyte and others all claimed Tetris as their IP and all made commercial versions of it. There was an arcade version, a Nintendo Entertainment System version, then a Gameboy version that Nintendo released. They all fought over who had the rights to Tetris. Here is a history of Tetris [atarihq.com] and as you can see many people and companies made versions of it, but please note that each version was a closed commercial license not an open source license.

Seriously, WTF?

Roasted over an open translation. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22563724)

Umm, excuse me. Before we start with the roasting. Shouldn't we have a better translation than Googles?

MS employee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22563730)

Is the creator of Tetris a Microsoft employee (current or previous)?

He's Just Bitter (4, Insightful)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563736)

Because he was employed by the Soviet government,
Pajitnov did not receive royalties. Pajitnov, together with
Vladimir Pokhilko, moved to the United States in 1991
and founded the Tetris Company with Henk Rogers.

Translation:

"I didn't get diddly-poop from my program until I started selling it for money,
and obviously the entire world should work that way!"

Everybody's got a right to be wrong. (4, Insightful)

JesseL (107722) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563738)

Free air is destroying the market for oxygen bars!

Any market that is so easily undermined was due for an adjustment anyway.

Re:Everybody's got a right to be wrong. (3, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563868)

Didn't realize that free air is made by an intense effort of people applying their talents.

Re:Everybody's got a right to be wrong. (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563972)

Didn't realize that free air is made by an intense effort of people applying their talents.

Funny, I thought it was photosynthesis and plants. Now, if you meant hot air ...

Re:Everybody's got a right to be wrong. (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563990)

Nope, it's thanks to the hard work of all those trees.

Either way, I didn't have to work for it.

Re:Everybody's got a right to be wrong. (3, Funny)

non (130182) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563932)

you're close. its more like, "clean environment campaigns are ruining the market for bottled water."

Re:Everybody's got a right to be wrong. (5, Funny)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563964)

Free air is destroying the market for oxygen bars!
I am a representative from the AIAA (Air Industry Association of America). As a firm believer in the rights of plants and blue-green algae to earn money through their photosynthesis, I find it irresponsible and criminal that animals across the world use oxygen without paying the creators royalties. Therefore, I have decided that I am going to sue everyone on Earth. Not just humans, mind you. All of you bears and tigers and piranhas will have to pony up too! Gwahahaha! GWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA AAAGGHHHAGHH GET IT OFF ME GET IT OFF ME AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

Re:Everybody's got a right to be wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22564082)

Sir, I support your stand to protect the rights of the ordinary oxygen-producing life form. May I also suggest that you further direct your campaign against the estate of the dodo.
yours,

Re:Everybody's got a right to be wrong. (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564022)

It's not comparable, and saying that the market's so easily undermined is laughable. It took hundreds of man-years for open source to reach the point that it's at today, and it's an amazing achievement. I wouldn't be surprised if people look back at the movement as one of the great achievements of humanity. Saying that the market was easily undermined is an insult to those who worked hard to bring free software to the level it's at today.

However, this is also what makes his comments ultimately pointless. People give to the open source movement with the expectation of getting something back, whether it's more open source apps or just recognition for their achievements. Between training people, being able to make a name for yourself, and the hundreds of high-quality tools that it provides, free software is an overall benefit to the market, and a huge one at that.

Re:Everybody's got a right to be wrong. (3, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564088)

Destroying the software market, eh? Lets see, they've been selling software for... how long? Over half a century? And free software has been around for, lets see, I was getting free software (and shareware; I paid good money for the squeaky 2D side scroller called Duke Nukem 1, all three episodes) for, um, carry the one... damn somebody else do the math, I need a nap.

If it's destroying the software market, what's taking it so damned long?

-mcgrew

(journal is too violent to link, don't want to give the tetris guy any ideas. Let alone "Chairman Steve")

Re:Everybody's got a right to be wrong. (1)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564172)

Air has always been free...we only recently started building businesses around distributing vanity air...

software was a business first...then came the Free Software movement.

Meh. (3, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563740)

I'm sure he thinks so...Tetris is the sort of thing that only has to be seen for a few minutes before you know all you need to know to create your own. OSS people do that, and he sells less copies of his game. C'est la vie. If there were companies that depended on Tetris these days...Well...Sucks to be them.

Re:Meh. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563912)

Yet find a simple elegant solution to a problem or game and then have everybody copy it.
I can understand how he feels. Tetris is a great game. I play it all the time. Is all that FOSS good for is copying others work? I don't think so Frozen Bubble is a lot of fun as are some other FOSS original games.
So yea I can see his point.

Re:Meh. (4, Insightful)

smithcl8 (738234) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563996)

OSS shouldn't be about reverse engineering good ideas and making them freely available. OSS is supposed to be about innovation and new ideas. Sadly, for most OSS apps that I see, it does appear to be a way to skim the main parts off of products that cost money and redistribute them for free. GIMP and OpenOffice are perfect examples. Does the world really need another app to do the jobs that their proprietary "cousins" do? No! Some folks just think those programs should be free! I can't tell you a single thing, other than freeness, that those apps have provided the world.

The spirit of Open Source is the belief that making the code available to anyone makes the product better, because anyone with a bit of inventiveness and some time can make the product better. Unfortunately, apart from a few apps (Apache, maybe Linux), I don't see where much has been "created" with the open source methodology...I just see programs that offer rough approximations of the apps they are trying to mimic.

Your comment "...Sucks to be them..." strikes the core of the problem with open source. It's not supposed to be about screwing "The Man"...it's supposed to be about making better apps. Unfortunately, too many people see it your way.

Russian to English Translation: (4, Insightful)

InfinityWpi (175421) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563748)

"All you 'free software' freak who made clones of my game and called them different things, or made it multiplayer and then didn't charge anything so there's no royalties to be paid to me, are assholes! Charge for your rip-offs of my game so that I can get money from you!"

Gotta admit, the man has a point... not much of one, but he has it.

Re:Russian to English Translation: (2, Interesting)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563984)

His point non-existant because you can't patent a play mechanic. so long as the marketing is distinct you can clone the mechanics. See bejeweled vs Puzzle Quest.

Re:Russian to English Translation: (2, Informative)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564152)

Naw he doesn't. If he did, he could just do what everyone and their mum seems to be doing these days and sue every author of every clone for copyright infringement. If he doesn't have the copyright or perhaps a patent for the game, then he hasn't got a point besides being greedy and miserable.

It's called "Creative Destruction" (5, Insightful)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563760)

When another producer in your market has the ability to indefinitely create products whose quality and cost make them preferable to anything you can create, that is supposed to destroy the market for your products. It's a form of "creative destruction" [wikipedia.org] , a process in which going out of business is just the final signal to the terminally clueless that yes, it really is time for you to find a job you're better at.

In this case, if you can't make a better product than something that is already available to the whole world for free, you're not doing anything productive. Either make better software, or quit whining that people won't pay you for what you do make.

Outsourcing (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564060)

When another producer in your market has the ability to indefinitely create products whose quality and cost make them preferable to anything you can create, that is supposed to destroy the market for your products. It's a form of "creative destruction" [wikipedia.org] , a process in which going out of business is just the final signal to the terminally clueless that yes, it really is time for you to find a job you're better at.
Does this apply to people who lose their jobs due to (possible off-shore) outsourcing?

I'd say yes, but my impression is that the majority of slashdoters consider outsourcing an evil.

FOSS could never have popularized computing (3, Insightful)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563764)

We need a human translation of the article, but he is somewhat correct. If you look at the computer revolution, it only entered everyday home and work life once software became a commercialized commodity. FOSS doesn't have a profit motive, which means you can create what you want, but it also means there's no strong incentive to provide a product that *others* want. Using the Linux example (need to find another one), it has a lot of neat, weird, esoteric features bundled into it, that Windows lacks, but Windows has what people are willing to pay for, not whatever the Windows devs want to put into it. Look at Vista; MS put crap into it no one wanted, and now large numbers of people aren't buying the thing. FOSS is great, but it's a very niche system that serves a niche very very well, but the computing world could survive without it. It could not survive a world without commercial software.

Re:FOSS could never have popularized computing (2, Insightful)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563904)

Possibly... then again, without MS and other conventional commercial outfits selling lots of closed source, companies may have sprung up contributing to FOSS projects and making money from selling support and associated services (bespoke development, etc.)

What do you mean exactly? (2, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564110)

"FOSS is great, but it's a very niche system that serves a niche very very well, but the computing world could survive without it. It could not survive a world without commercial software."

Why, exactly? At the worst it would mean a return to a world in which corporations had to design their own applications from scratch, and in which expert programmers moved from job to job and moved the skills around. Before long big corporations in different but related business areas would get together and say, OK guys, let's co-operate on designing what we need. I think somebody a bit cleverer than I am wrote a book about it. How did you think those medieval cathedrals got built?

In fact it is difficult to point to a single NECESSARY business or other process which cannot be done with FOSS. It may not be as pretty as with paid-for software, it may in fact be as much as 5-10 years behind but some of us remember there was a fully functioning computer industry 10 years ago.

You may not remember, you may not be old enough, but you could originally obtain the source code to Unix for basically the cost of the media. This actually antedated DOS. You could support the document production and simple program development needs of eight people on a box with a 16MHz processor, a couple of MBytes of RAM, a couple of disk drives and a tape drive. Everything that has happened since, other than networking, has basically been icing on the cake, and even networking is still basically about shipping a clever pattern of ones and zeroes down a wire.

How is being a minority relevant? (5, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563774)

When asked about Red Hat or Oracle's support-oriented model, he called them 'a minority
Yes, so..? Is that supposed to be a "problem" here?

Obviously, Red Hat's and Oracle's (and a number of others not mentioned) business models works, otherwise they would have been abandoned in favor of the more traditional ones. And whether they work is what matters here, not how many have or haven't dared trying something new!

Re:How is being a minority relevant? (1, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564012)

The point you are all missing here is that no one is going to pay support for a game like tetris, or most other products for that matter. the only viable model for these small software packages is to sell them per version or release.

now think ahead, if you spent years writing some novel little package that did something nifty, then a bunch of people looked at it, figured out what it did then made a copy of it and gave it away, destroying your efforts, you'd be singing a different tune.

Re:How is being a minority relevant? (2, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564024)

Minority?

Look at IBM for Bob's sake!

Yes, they sell software and hardware, and make money off it.

But their primary business model is based on SERVICES.

Also, if you're into uber-high-end CRM, Oracle is NOT a minority ANYTHING. They're nearly the ONLY thing.

Re:How is being a minority relevant? (1)

SpiderClan (1195655) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564080)

I don't think he's trying to use minority as a pejorative. His point seems to be that even if Red Hat and Oracle don't fit into his description, most FOSS does.

He has a point... (4, Funny)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563776)

I was discussing with a client today about whether to use a service oriented architecture on a Redhat server supported by an Oracle database, but he was much more keen on using a vertical block model with a rotational function that maximized resources by removing redundant full rows, and had pretty colours and a catchy tune.

who cares what he thinks (0, Troll)

EjectButton (618561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563782)

So are we taking economic advice on open source/free software from someone who worked for Microsoft? Which as a company stands to lose the most from a diversified software market. Or are we taking business advice from someone who failed to make any money off one of the most popular games in history?

How does he figure? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563784)

The vast majority of computer users in the world still use either Microsoft or Apple products...even amongst those that use FOSS, it is very rare to find someone who EXCLUSIVELY uses FOSS.

In a way, the FOSS community could be a huge help to the big corps...imagine if microsoft offered 20 dollars to every person who submits code to help fix issues within Vista. Within a few days, they would have all the code they need to make Windows run damn near perfectly.

Imagine the ingenuity of the Linux devs combined with the endless resources of Microsoft. It would be an unstoppable combination. Of course, it goes without saying that the nature of both sides would prevent this from ever happening, but you get the idea...

it is unfortunate (1)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563788)

that the creator of one of the greatest video games in history (played it on the throne this morning on my cell phone) didn't get shit for his invention. We can blame Soviet communism for that one.

However, he shouldn't shit all over one of the greatest software concepts in history. Built a website, (not from the toilet or on my cell phone) using open source this morning.

Let it go and adapt, bitch.

Re:it is unfortunate (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564138)

Must you talk about him not getting shit while you played his game from the throne? Or were you just going out of your way to mock him?

Re:it is unfortunate (1)

retupmoca (932711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564210)

...played it on the throne this morning...didn't get shit...shouldn't shit all over...from the toilet...
Are you posting from your bathroom?

Destroys the market? (1)

Daemonax (1204296) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563796)

And what about all the markets that it supports? Google themselves use a huge amount, probably _every_ ISP has been able to generate wealth with the use of free software. Free Software creates markets and lowers the entry barriers.

Stallman is old (1)

Apoorv (1019864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563798)

"Red Hat and Oracle........ There are always one-offs, you know" {stammers, wipes sweat off forehead} "Haven't you seem Stallman? He resembles the human predators [resurrectisis.org] . This automatically implies that the OSS is a thing of our ancient history and shouldn't be dug up now. You are hurting the balance of nature"

This man makes a silly assumption (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563802)

He assumes that the largest market for software is in selling packaged, off the shelf products.

Well, it may be for a few things like games and OSs. But for 90% of the computing industry, the real money has always been in customised or semi-customised (based on off-the-shelf modules) solutions. Microsoft and Electronic Arts are anomalies, making good money with COTS products.

Pack your shit up (1)

gozu (541069) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563808)

Unless you've coded something better than Tetris, you all need to STFU with the wise-cracking and start dismantling opensource and freeware now.

Sheesh!

Sigh (1)

NIckGorton (974753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563822)

So because you were part of a failed economic model (totalitarian communism), you feel that its near opposite (capitalist plutocracy) is better. Well that and you make more money here and can buy more cool junk. Wow. How painfully short sighted and somewhat ignorant. This is why people with expertise in one area should not be expected to render cogent opinions in another area.

Though you would hope that most people would see as a civic duty a certain minimal level of competence in civics, the natural sciences, the humanities, logic and math. Sigh.

And that's what really torqued my nads about this: not that Leonidovich embraces that idea that the only real way to motivate people is to progressively increase their wealth past all reasonable needs and wants for yourself and extended family, but that he's so goddamn stupid. If FOSS is a doomed business model and bad for markets, why is it still here? I mean c'mon. If the market is the only thing that is either sustainable or creates progress, why even be worried about this? Its just a bunch of hippy dork college students and a few old guys with personal hygiene problems and poor social skills that make software that no one can use and no one would want to because its crap, right? Just give it some time and it will go away just like other unsustainable fads. Go back to writing video games and put up a link to the don't copy that floppy video on your website, K?

Re:Sigh (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564010)

FOSS is about as capitalist as it gets. It represents the bar of efficiency you have to pass: if you can't compete with people who are just doing it for fun, if you can't add something of value that people would actually pay for, and others wouldn't easily develop, then your product just doesn't pass.

Companies that pour several millions into FOSS might be leaning on the lever somewhat, but like he said, it's a minority, and thus shouldn't be destroying the market, should it?

This is about as bad as Bob "I invented Ethernet, I deserve your worship" Metcalfe. The irony about mister Ruggedly Indepent Capitalist here is that the only other game he created that actually got any traction is Hexic ... a "free" pack-in with XBoxes (perhaps not technically free, but it's not even available for download on XBLA).

The irony is that it is great for Tetris (1)

kingduct (144865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563864)

Thanks to Free Software, Tetris continues to be one of the most popular games around. Commercial companies would surely consider it to not be commercially viable because of its simplicity.

I love Tetris. I love the fact that there are so many versions of it available that I can choose my favorite. I loved the C64 version from 1987 (especially the music) and I love many of the versions available today (which tend to have better playability). I thank everybody who has worked on programming them.

Wrong model (5, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563872)

He is starting from the wrong position. He seems to think that software has to be written by companies for sale to customers. He thinks that increasing profit comes from making lots more sales.

Wrong. Increasing profit can also come from reduction in costs.

90% of software is written within organisations and never sees light of day outside of the organisations that create it. This is in spite of many organisations sharing some common problems/needs, even if much is specific/unique to them. Most of these organisations are not in the business of selling programs, they run factories, trains, banks, ...

What Open Source does is to liberate a little of this 90%, the bits which other organisations might find useful and can easily adopt into their IT systems. The companies that release it get: feedback, bug fixes and enhacements. The guys who receive/use the software send their patches back because doing so is less (long term) work than putting the patches into each new release that comes out.

This is how Open Source works. It does not depend on software houses to sell to users, the profit does not come from software sales, it comes from cost reduction by those who use the software.

Yes, there are those who make a living from support, from the big guys like Red Hat to the small ones like myself; but the greatest profit from Open Source is the cost reduction in the users.

Re:Wrong model (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22564122)

You're an idiot. If software houses relied on reducing costs as a means to profit there would not be a single software house left. Reducing your costs only allows you to do exactly that, *not make a profit*. It's like asking a supermarket to close down stores to "make a profit". Sure the running costs would be less, but then you sell less as well. Apart from your argument about software being developed in-house, the rest of it is complete nonsense.

I just don't understand... (4, Insightful)

TheGrapeApe (833505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563888)

I am constantly astounded by the vigor with which some seemingly otherwise intelligent programmers pick up the Open Source banner and run with it.

Open Source is better for the world-at-large. Make no mistake about it. **The world-at-large is more productive for getting software for free.** They can spend the money they would have spent on software on other things.

But how could you think that this is better for *programmers*? I *always* ask this of my fellow IT professionals and they *always* respond with some vague argument about how participating in Open Source projects will get you "recognized"...Well, in the sarcastic wrods of Homer Simpson "Look at me: I'm making people _happy_".

Someone please enlighten me. Explain to me how we, as programmers, are better off when the fruits of our labor are surrendered for free. I'm not saying it doesn't make the economy-at-large more productive...clearly it benefits all the people with "business" and "creative" degrees, and since there are more of them than us, it clearly benefits the "larger group", so to speak. But how does it make *us* better off? I'm not so engrossed in matrerialism that I think how much I make is the only thing that matters...but I find the idea that my reward for being part of a highly successful OS project might be getting "recognized" and maybe if I'm lucky getting hired on as a code monkey for some "creative" people that used what I worked so hard on for free very distasteful.

I really tried to embrace the idea of the OS movement, but because no one could answer those questions I have come to regard it, at best, an idea for a perfect society (one where *everyone*, not just programmers, works for the common good) that is tragically ahead of its time and at worst a pox on the profession of programming.

Re:I just don't understand... (1)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563982)

The truth is, that "programmer" as a profession is going to become extinct in the future.

Re:I just don't understand... (1)

slartibart (669913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564154)

The truth is, that "programmer" as a profession is going to become extinct in the future.


Gee, ya think? Everything will become extinct in the future. You want to give some kind of time estimate, or just make tautological arguments?

Re:I just don't understand... (5, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564222)

Actually I can answer it simply: it makes my job as a programmer easier. I'm one of the vast majority of programmers who do not work for a company writing software for others. I write software for internal use at my company. We aren't going to sell it. We aren't going to give it away. It's never going to leave the confines of the company. And F/OSS gives me easy options. I need an HTTP library? Grab Curl. I need a SOAP library? Grab gSOAP. SSL? Grab OpenSSL. Printing? CUPS. XML/XSLT parsing/processing? Xerces and Xalan. And having gotten that utility software out of the way, I can proceed on to the business-specific stuff that my company really wants me to be working on.

Yes, we could buy commercial libraries for all those things. But those commercial libraries come with hefty costs for things we aren't going to use, have license restrictions attached like how many copies we can have installed that have to be managed, and have very poor support when it comes to bug-fixes and support for exotic hardware/OS platforms. F/OSS simply gives us far fewer headaches and costs us fewer dollars to use. When we need it somewhere, we just install another copy and we're good to go. All we have to watch out for is redistribution of our software outside the company, and that's easy since it's not supposed to happen.

Yes, F/OSS is very bad for programmers who make their living selling software commercially to others to use. But that's like saying that the advent of the automobile was very bad for the people who made horse-drawn wagons, carriages and such, and the people who bred and sold horses to pull them: it pretty much meant the end of most of their business. But those people were a small minority compared to the number of people who merely used wagons and carriages, and now trucks and automobiles, to move cargo and people around.

Re:I just don't understand... (1)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564224)

Oh let me count the ways:

1. Get paid for feature bounties by those OS customers that want a specific feature implemented.
2. Get paid by integrators who are making a customized build and run across issues when deploying.
3. Get paid by the corporation who runs the project who makes there money selling support contracts.
4. Get paid by Google, Sun, IBM, etc who pay developers to do all sorts of kernel and toolchain development.
5. Be an entrepreneur and actually code up your own project, with the help of all the OS developers, then find customers who will pay you to deploy it.

Thus, the best programs still win, and those that don't need programmers support can implement it, and still send you bug requests (ie free QA/beta testing).

If, on the other hand, you're working for a corporation, do you particularly care how they monetize given that you still get your check?

100% Correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22563890)

He is 100% correct. Free software destroys the pay-per-copy software market. I happen to think the pay-per-copy software market shouldn't exist, just like pay-per-flush toilet shouldn't exist.

Maybe he wants to pay every time he takes a crap. That's certainly his prerogative.

That's not how it works (2, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563898)

The wealth created by software companies lies not primarily in those companies themselves, but in the companies that use their software to boost productivity and to create business opportunities that would not have existed before. The software industry could disappear tomorrow without causing much of a ripple, but without the software itself, the global economy would collapse. If FOSS makes more useful software available to more people than closed source software does, then it should boost the economy, not drag it down.

What this guy is bitching about is not being able to make money off the low-hanging fruit. If it can be done by individuals or small groups working in their spare time, then there will be one or more FOSS packages to do the job. There are any number of areas where FOSS is unlikely to make inroads by the very nature of the problem space, but writing software in those areas is a bit more challenging than implementing falling blocks on an 8-bit CPU, a task so simple that I've taught schoolchildren how to do it in BASIC on vintage Apple IIs. Aside from random luck, I'm afraid the road to prosperity involves lots of hard work, and there's no way around that.

Shooting one's self in the foot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22563908)

In what other profession do people work for free? And don't mention law or medicine, because in those fields they volunteer services on an individual basis.

Years ago I did quite a bit of work on a large OSS project. Why did I do it? I did it for selfish reasons. To get a bullet item on my resume so I could get a job. I also did it to show off. Today I realize all I did was help push the idea that MBAs now have that software engineers are paid too much and that "it's only typing".

Today what I worked on benefits large corporations that have hijacked and commercialized the project. These very same companies now act like (expect?) engineers should work for less than they are truly worth.

Guy who ran to MS to cash in is bitter (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563936)

If you read up a bit about the guy you get the idea of a man who once had an idea for an intresting game, that game was mostly made succesfull by others partly because he was behind the iron curtain. Then when the curtain lifted he instantly ran away and grapped the cash on offer (rather then say found a software company in his own country) from Microsoft who got a couple of half-assed games in return.

And now he complains about FOSS destroying wealth.

Better sell my IBM shares then.

FOSS does a simple thing, it changes the flow of money, rather then the author of the software getting the money (or at least the person who owns the software, as this guy himself should know, the inventor/writer isn't always the one who ends up with the cash) the money stays with the user of FOSS so he can spend it on other things.

By NOT buying Vista for my new PC I could instead spend the cash on extra hardware. The local computer store didn't give a shit, I still spend the same amount. The trucking company shifting the goods didn't give a shit, roughly the same size box. The bank handling the transaction didn't give a shit. In the end the only people who noted was a memory company and MS. The memory company ends up with more money, MS with less. Does this matter on a global scale? No. Wealth hasn't been destroyed, it has merely been re-distrubuted.

Mmm, he longer works for MS, I wonder wether he was fired after MS went bankrupt because I used gentoo rather then XP for my file server.

"Free" Software must exist (3, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#22563992)

Some software, or code, must exist free, since that it the only possible form in which it could be viable.

TOR, Freenet, could have never been created if it were not for open source. They serve a very important purpose.

All closed-source, proprietary encryption solutions are worthless, since the code has to be reviewed independently. Otherwise there *could* be back doors in it.

I can go on, about other situations in which open source is the only viable development strategy for a given technology, but that is all irrelevant really. This author can say it *should* not exist, but it has the *right* to exist. Anybody can write code and choose to give it freely to the world. Some that do are amateurs at best, and the code merely a shadow of the similar commercial offerings. Some that do it, are truly gifted, and it is a dire threat to the similar commercial offerings.

As for it creating competition with companies that create wealth and prosperity and obviously destroying that wealth and prosperity, that is a very weak argument. It just sounds a little bitter and petulant. IMO, that is like a businessman selling bottled water up and down a road for a few years in the desert at high prices. Something, or somebody else comes along and creates drinking fountains alongside the road for free. Or even just torrential rains. He just has to move on to something else. Not that much more complicated.

Point in fact, it won't destroy that wealth and prosperity anyways. Maybe what software companies should be doing is offering support packages on the software, and get their wealth and money that way.

Give him some understanding. (1)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564014)

Guy made Tetris and no money of of it because of a government run monopoly at the time. I mean hell, he properly views FOSS as the same thing. You create something, give it away and you starve in an ally behind a crack house. In his case, a Yugo:P

I tend to think the idea of FOSS is more of a generation gap than anything.

To what ends? (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564048)

it 'destroys the market' by bringing down companies that create wealth and prosperity


That's bad. Or is it? I guess it depends on what you see as the "ends" or the "goal" of software. For most of us, software (with hardware) exists to allow us do more in less time. Or better yet, to reconcile our aspirations with our limitations.

There are others, though, who see software as a business whose ends and goals lay in wealth and prosperity... whose ends are completely debatable but nonetheless attractive.

Where does that leave us? If it were up to this guy, not rich, not capable, but definitely allowed to make him rich and capable.

By sheer coincidence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22564050)

I normally only lurk here at Slashdot, but I just couldn't pass up this opportunity.

Funnily enough, the fortune at the bottom of the page when I first saw this story is a great response:

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

Maybe because of all the free tetris clones? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22564052)

Tetris is one of the simplest games imaginable to code. Everyone and their brother has implemented it. Hell, at my university, it's even an assignment for the intro programming class. Google "free tetris [google.com] " and you'll get nearly a million hits.

Now, the Tetris company still exists and is still trying to make a profit from Tetris, and cease and desisting people who use the Tetris name. I wonder if this has anything to do with his gripes?

Obvious? (1)

pinballer (655113) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564062)

Of course giving something away for free destroys the market for commercial software, isn't that obvious? In my experience, though, free is not necessarily better. People and businesses select their products based on total cost of ownership and support availability and costs play a large factor in that. As a colleague of mine pointed out, your software is only as good as the support you get with it. If your software doesn't work, it doesn't matter what the off-the-shelf cost is. However, if you have good support that can get something working for you in a short amount of time, that's where the real value is. Yes I use Linux and yes I love it, because it gives me personal freedom and it gives my company freedom. We pay for support of course. Same freedoms with Apache, MySQL, BIND, Firefox, etc etc etc. Open standards, interoperability, TCO: these are things that benefit the consumer and ultimately the market benefits.

As a businessman - he sucks, plain and simple. (1)

MindPrison (864299) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564092)

...and that is of course sad somehow, but he really needs to get over it, bitterness and bitching will get him absolutely nowhere. I know - because I too am an author of a game YEARS ago...come to think of it..it's 27 years by now, I wrote an assembly game when the commodore 64 was released to the public, unfortunately I was a clueless kid just having fun - drooling over the fact that I now had the power to write ARCADE coin-up games in my very own home, just to find out later that I could have earned millions on that, and that I gave the games away for free - for someone else (who actually where businessmen) to steal - rip off...and earn on. Now...you can call me really *stupid*....but think about this...I was 12 years old...writing my own assembly games in 1981 - how stupid is that? It's just the difference between creativity and business - business always wins - but is somewhat dependent on leeching of creative people, unfortunately there is no real symbiosis unless it goes both ways. And yes...that's the moral of this story. I'm personally not bitter, but just kind of like "Homer" saying "d'oh!" years later. Well - live - learn - move on! That goes for you too - my dear Russian.

i think he is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22564108)

everything has a price, everything cost something.. all time spent by student or others on 'free' project, cost something for those who spent this time on those projects..
now, sounds like they can afford to, either because they are rich enough, or they've planned to get something in return, which is not always money, but can be experience.. experience that in turn they'll try to sell to managers, etc..
But so far to be honest.. i see many taking advantage of plenty of students working for free.. at best, they'll gain knowledge, and achieve a degree, through an interesting project. At worst, they worked for nothing, while red hat and others make the full profit.
There is some chance if you maintain a project you would be able to make some benefits (but don't dream too much about it), so far barely only big projects does, but you'll have plenty of starving people (students) working for you (whom don't know much about real life, and what does it cost), and a few knowledgeable, skilled and well payed people, whom will ask for new features or similar things, will providing, now and then a few patch, they would like to fit in.. at best..
Free software / linux, sold you a dream, but so far there is no software which can provide you food, without money..
Personaly i don't want to work for a freeSoftware company, for the simple reason, it sounds disgusting to me, to get a salary, for most part, because of the work of many, and for plenty of them.. they are students, not rich people, whom just think that way they would find a place to settle down and make money. It ain't true, but indirectly it can happen, while in the meantime, those working in a free software company got your work for free.

In Soviet Russia...and Eastern Europe (2, Interesting)

SOMNIVM (1246772) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564140)

I'm from Eastern Europe, from the generation that began its conscious life in the end of the 80's, just before the end of the communism era and I can forgive him, because a lot of people from Eastern Europe who are now at the age between 40 and 60 are marked by what happened there. They refuse to accept anything that's not capitalist and they are constantly trying to prove themselves being capitalists by talking all the time against communism or even against any freedom which is not based on money. It is nothing more than a psychological problem of a generation, so let's leave those people live their lives... You wouldn't blame a person for his or her handicap, would you?

FOSS Makes Old Dogs Learn New Tricks (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564150)

I don't expect a 1980s Soviet programmer to understand how to make money off sharing source code.

I also don't expect anyone working in SW since the end of the Cold War a generation ago to pay any mind to what he's saying.

So only free software is the problem? (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564230)

I find it odd that free derivatives are making him angry when capitalist have been screwing him over for years. Anyone remember the whole Tengen/Nintendo Tetris debacle back in the late 80s? Anyone remember him getting any money for it?

yo0 fa1l it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22564232)

3 simple 5teps! Could sink your Good manners

Free software brings wealth and prosperity (1)

kgroombr (608645) | more than 6 years ago | (#22564236)

Free software helps me to keep wealth and prosperity since I don't have to shell out thousands of dollars on software.
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