Internet Outlook with Richard Wiggins | 81 | WebReference

Internet Outlook with Richard Wiggins | 81

EXTRA!!! January 28, 1998

Netscape Releases Source Code: A Conversation with Tim O'Reilly

Freeware: One Product, Thousands of Developers

Finally, I asked O'Reilly if Netscape's move is, in effect, a bold statement to Microsoft of the form "We can't beat you by ourselves in the browser market. However, dozens or hundreds of entrepreneurs can stand up to you. Where Windows 98 tries to build Internet functionality into the operating system, companies will partner with Netscape to build all the Internet applications functionality they need based on the cross-platform freeware Navigator. The operating system will become irrelevant." O'Reilly responded: That may well be Netscape's attitude. And it could be that they're right, or it could be that this is too little, too late. No matter what, their browser is much more likely to compete successfully under the freeware model, with countless individuals and firms contributing to the base of the product. ------------------

Other Voices

I asked a group of authors who write about Internet issues for their comments on Netscape's announcement. Here are the thoughts of two such authors, followed by a cogent summary of the philosophy of the Bazaar:

Having Navigator source code available lets people choose between imagining how other products -- for example, Microsoft Internet Explorer -- might someday meet their needs, or collaborating with Netscape to satisfy requirements today. The latter choice lets developers volunteer as stakeholders in Netscape's universe, and lets users benefit from resulting synergies.

My past experience with source-available vendor products is that they elicit intimate and productive bonds among the vendor, add-on developers, and users. This is an exciting and promising breakthrough for the nearly completely no-source PC environment. I hope Netscape benefits from its action and that other vendors follow suit.

-- Gabriel Goldberg, President, Computers and Publishing, Inc. first I thought, "if we have a zillion browsers floating around, then we will have a zillion different set of HTML 'extensions' to drive us nutso." Then I began to wonder, if there are really that many browsers floating around...maybe browsers will be forced to hew more closely to the standard.
-- Karen G. Schneider, Author, A Practical Guide to Internet Filters Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix obvious to someone.

Or, less formally,"Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow." I dub this: "Linus's Law."

-- Eric Raymond, "The Cathedral and the Bazaar"


Comments are welcome

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Created: January 28, 1998
Revised: January 28, 1998