Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck GNU is Not Unix Operating Systems Software Linux IT

What's The Linux Kernel Worth? 376

Posted by timothy
from the tree-falls-in-forest-makes-sound dept.
schneelocke writes "What's the value of the Linux kernel? After an offer by one Jeff V. Merkey to pay 50K USD for a BSD-licensed copy of Linux, David Wheeler does some calculations and comes up with an estimate of 612M USD." Wheeler has come up with a number of interesting software-worth estimates and other quantified facts about Free software; since some aspects involve ineffables and hypotheticals, the details can be argued, but he provides a good framework with SLOCCount.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

What's The Linux Kernel Worth?

Comments Filter:
  • Nothing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai ... m minus language> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:44AM (#10514097) Homepage Journal
    By my calculations, the Linux kernel is worth: nothing.

    Before you get your tights in a twist, just listen to me for a moment. The value of a product in a capitalistic system is determined by what the market is willing to bear. Yet it is not worth anything if the developers are not willing to sell it at what the market demands. Thus we have a gap. The market would probably be willing to bear a few million (perhaps as high as 50 million) dollars for the Linux IP. Yet it seems that the developers would demand a price in the range of 612 million.

    The end result is that the Linux kernel has no market value what so ever. The developers won't sell it at the market's price, and the market won't buy it at the developers price.
    • Re:Nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by millwall (622730) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:49AM (#10514150)
      The end result is that the Linux kernel has no market value what so ever. The developers won't sell it at the market's price, and the market won't buy it at the developers price.

      This is not quite true. The market value is what the market would buy the product for, if it WAS for sale.

      Imagine that you have a car, which you for whatever reason don't want to sell at the moment. This doesn't leave your car with "no market value". The market value is still what the market would have bought it for if it was for sale.
      • Re:Nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bickerdyke (670000) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:59AM (#10514243)
        You are asuming that there IS a market. The OP stated that there is currently no market for linux kernels, because there is only one potential buyer and one potential seller who cant agree on a price --> no trade, no market, no market price.

        In your example there is a market for collector cars which can be used to find a market price.

        But it would be better to say "priceless" than "nothing"
        • There is a market for kernels.
          There is not a market for Linux kernels.
          The Linux kernel still has value in the earlier market.

          There is a market for paintings.
          There is not a market for Mono Lisas.
          The Mona Lisa still has value in the earlier market.
      • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @05:07PM (#10518143)
        The value cannot be expressed in dollar terms because there can not be (realisticly) any seller.

        The Linux code is owned by, perhaps, thousands of people [the individual contributors/copyrightholders]. Each of these could sell you non-GPL rights to their code, but not to anyone elses.

        Linus "owns" probably less than 10% of the code. That'a a much bigger share than the 0.05% or so that I've written, but he still can't sell it.

    • Re: Nothing (Score:3, Funny)

      by Black Parrot (19622)


      > The end result is that the Linux kernel has no market value what so ever. The developers won't sell it at the market's price, and the market won't buy it at the developers price.

      Yeah, I'm waiting for SCOX [yahoo.com] to come down off its high horse before I buy it, too.

    • Re:Nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wcbarksdale (621327) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:54AM (#10514198)
      So the Mona Lisa [wikipedia.org] is worth nothing, because the Louvre isn't willing to sell it?
      • Re:Nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bombcar (16057) <<racbmob> <at> <bombcar.com>> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:55AM (#10514601) Homepage Journal
        You've hit the nail on the head. The Linux kernel is Priceless.

        A DSL connection to the internet: $50
        A decent PC: $500
        Downloading enterprize-class source code: Priceless.

        There is some code you can't buy, for everything else, there's Microsoft.
        • Re:Nothing (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @01:00PM (#10515101) Homepage Journal
          Any script kiddie can download enterprise class source code :)

          Priceless is running it on your home computer, finding a bug, fixing it, and having Linus Torvalds tell you your patch is going in and millions of other people will see it in an hour.
          • Re:Nothing (Score:3, Funny)

            by iceburn (137875)

            Priceless is running it on your home computer, finding a bug, fixing it, and having Linus Torvalds tell you your patch is going in and millions of other people will see it in an hour.

            Or better yet: finding a bug, reporting in on the kernel mailing list, and starting a gigantic flame war ;)

      • Re:Nothing (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        " So the Mona Lisa is worth nothing, because the Louvre isn't willing to sell it?"

        Apparently that is what some people here think. They also think my wife is worth nothing I might add. I however think she is priceless, as is my son.

        A Nony Mouse
    • Very true. I remember this story [informit.com] from a while ago. It says that linux is worth roughly over 1 Billion dollars. Check out the math with me...

      but that's totaling all the software on the disc you'd be getting from a distro. I can't find the article that origionally said this.

    • Are we entering voodoo economics again? The value of a good (e.g. IBM p690) or service (e.g. labor) is principally determined by the market when the market is relatively free. The forces that determine the dollar value are incredibly complex, and there is no way for a supercomputer or a human being to model them accurately.

      We can, to some extent, model the overall economy and predict economic growth, but such models are imprecise. Further, modeling the overall economy is easier than predicting the prec

    • by Gopal.V (532678) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:18AM (#10514363) Homepage Journal
      • Windows XP - 200 USD .
      • Windows 2000 Professional - 290 USD
      • Mac OS X - 120 USD

      Linux - priceless .

      Of course, unless you consider all those hours you pored over google results and irc chats about *that* bug in the 2.2 kernel, waay back in '99.

      I've invested too much time and effort in Linux to consider it "Free" in an economic sense. But , yeah it pays to be the admin , not developers.
      But, I've sent my share of patches ....
    • The value of a product in a capitalistic system is determined by what the market is willing to bear.

      The market is willing to bear a lot for the Linux kernel. It is willing to bear programmers time (and pay them for it). It is willing to bear costs of promotion and advertisment. It is willing to bear spending the time to develop it in the first place. You need to expand your view of the market to be beyond the people who would potentionally (sp) buy the software, to include those that buy and use it in o

    • Mu (Score:5, Interesting)

      by temojen (678985) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:40AM (#10514515) Journal
      You are assuming that market value is the only measure of worth. Even in capitalist accounting (GAAP) you are mistaken.

      To an accountant, all assets are valued at their expense, minus any prior amortization or markdowns. Most Linux users would thus have to include in their valuation any time they spent downloading, configuring, and installing the kernel.

      I would have to include a few hundred dollars for the time to develop, test, and submit the (very small) patch I submitted. With ten years of their life put into it, Linus Torvalds, Alan Cox, etc would each have to value it at several million dollars.

    • Re:Nothing (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mr. No Skills (591753)
      One person does not a market make.

      Microsoft asks for a price for Windows. I'm not willing to pay more than 3 dollars for it. Our disagreement over this does not make Windows without market value.

      The interesting exercise would be to figure out what all of us that are running Linux would be willing to pay for it if it were suddenly unavailable at no cost, not the math of what one person is trying to sell it for times number of potential installs. I think the price of what _investors_ are willing to pay f
    • Re:Nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tassach (137772) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @12:11PM (#10514705)
      Yet it seems that the developers would demand a price in the range of 612 million
      RTFA. The 612M figure is an ESTIMATE of what it would cost to DUPLICATE the 2.6 kernel using traditional software development methods. And it's probably a pretty reasonable estimate. Developing good complex software is HARD and EXPENSIVE.
    • The market value of the Linux kernel, like anything else, is determined by supply and demand. Because of the way it's licensed and the fact that no one company controls the distribution, the supply is basically infinite and so the fair market value is zero.

      It's a lot like air, which also has a market value of zero. There's plenty of it to go around even though it's free. Therefore it has no economic value.

      Of course, another similarity between Linux and air is that it's really valuable to those who use
    • null vs zero (Score:3, Insightful)

      by radtea (464814)
      This is something that people on /. ought to understand: the difference between null and zero.

      The market value of the linux kernel is null--it does not have one. That's very different from having a value of zero, which would be the case if there were a market and the only way you could transfer ownership of the kernel in that market would be to give it away.
  • ooooh (Score:5, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:45AM (#10514109) Homepage Journal
    612million / [Developers.Count] = $650 (per machine)

    Who woulda thunk it..... ;)
  • perhaps... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:46AM (#10514117)
    we should get a better estimate by asking the nice folks at SCO. They seem to know much about this.
  • by numbware (691928) <justin@justinjacobs.com> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:46AM (#10514125) Homepage
    ... put a price on it. Linux is priceless. Mac OSX is $50.00. Windows is a paperclip and a bubblegum wrapper.
    • by eln (21727)
      I thought Windows was the cost of a blank CD...

      • Well people gobble up Windows for $150. So I'm guessing that's it's market value.

        Linux-based operating systems rarely sell for more than $50. And more often than not people just download it for free. Of course that's with GPL. Without GPL I'm sure it would be worth 600M or whatever. GPL seems to really devalue your software.
      • That can't be right, a blank cd won't crash yer systen, or let in ALL teh scriptkiddies that want to play in yer box! But IMHO, you be real close to teh value of Windoze!
      • by merdark (550117)
        No... that's Linux. Optionally, you can install over the network, hence it requires no price. It's priceless, see?
  • could have a monetary value attached depending of certain criteria. i.e. for Slashcode, if is sold as Weapon of Mass Destruction (of other web sites, a.k.a. slashdotting) could worth millons!
  • by rastakid (648791) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:48AM (#10514138) Homepage Journal
    "They want me to be a whore!" -- Linus Torvalds.
  • Is that by the same accounting used by SCO???
    • Re:612 millions? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kawika (87069)
      No, it's the same accounting used by Microsoft and the RIAA. If someone has a copy then you assume they would pay (or could be forced to pay) the full retail price of the product as defined by its maker.

      That's not the way the market works though. Only a small fraction of people pay full asking price. The others pay less via sales, rebates, coupons, volume discounts, or other incentives. And yes, some will pay zero by stealing it.

      The key to maximizing profit is not to have one price, but to have a spectrum
  • Have to say it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rampant mac (561036) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:50AM (#10514159)
    Cue the Austin Powers quotes.

    Now, I have to wonder, how much would it cost to pay Microsoft to GPL their Office product file formats?

    • Now, I have to wonder, how much would it cost to pay Microsoft to GPL their Office product file formats?

      What do you mean? Release GPL code for reading/writing these file formats, or do you mean release the specifications for these file formats (in which case the GPL would be an unsuitable license since it's not source code).

      As for the latter.. that might become available for free.. If the EU antitrust guys do their job properly.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    That depends on what price you put on freedom.

    In an increasingly technologically based society and future, the GNU license provides the theoretical foundation for freedom.

    It's Linux, and all the other Free (as in speech) software that gives us the practical foundation to realise this freedom.

    What price on that?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:55AM (#10514203)
    After an offer by one Jeff V. Merkey to pay 50K USD for a BSD-licensed copy of Linux

    Why would they do that? What advantage is there to the BSD vs GPL licenses?

    The only advantage is that if you redistribute or sell software that is GPLed, you have to provide source code - with BSD you don't.

    So, Merkey's company wants to sell modified Linux without providing source code to the modifications. While I doubt the modifications are worth that much, he apparently does.

    Why wouldn't Merkey use FreeBSD for the application he wants to sell? Almost all linux software is available for FreeBSD, and then he wouldn't have to pay $50,000 for a license.

    Or can someone explain this to me?
    • The advantage is they don't HAVE to share the source if they distribute the binary. I can't be sure their exact use, but something that comes to mind is wanting to market a canned OS that uses the linux kernel. Selling it like windows would mean that they would have to make the source available... but there are a lot of instances where it simply makes no sense to give people the ability to fork your code... especially in an OS.
    • Either that or he is a comp[lete moron. $50,000? I mean, come on! Bill Gates paid that amount nearly a quarter century ago for a hobbyist's CP/M knock off when he was a snot nosed kid.

      The least he could've done was adjust for inflation. Add to that the fact that Linux is much more sophisticated (and way more lines of code) and any fool can see the offer was a complete joke.

      Assuming Merkey was serious about the offer, The BSD license would permit Merkey to sell a commercial OS based on the Linux kernel.
    • Linux has more mindshare among corporate managers and business leaders. BSD is a very similar animal all things considered, but the minute you have to say "Berkley" to describe the product your business partners will run away screaming. "Some adolescant university pet project to run my core systems??? Are you nuts!?!?". Attempts are rationality are met with a Dilbert-esque anti-logic field that are impenetrable to all but the most diabolical methods (e.g. FUD, free golf games, vendor lunches).
      • Apple OS X is based on a BSD licenced product, and I've never heard of that excuse used against it.

        "Some adolescant university pet project to run my core systems???"

        Isn't this the same opinion PHB's had of Linux?

        And will there be headaches from people that "report" the lack of source to Linus, FSF, et. al?

    • I'm going to be intentionally vague here so that I don't have to post as an AC.

      About two years ago I was speaking to the developer who had ported Linux to a particular hardware security device. I asked him why he had gone with Linux instead of OpenBSD as his base. He stated that it was his preference to go with OpenBSD, or any of the flavors of BSD, but he went with Linux because the company is publically committed to Linux and Linux has a marketing value that the BSDs do not. It is better to say, "Our gadget now runs Linux! Won't your developers be happy?" than it is to say, "Our gagdet now runs OpenBSD! Won't your developers be happy?"

      Basically there are often non-technical reasons for wanting to use Linux even when some other OS would be a better technical fit.

    • The only advantage is that if you redistribute or sell software that is GPLed, you have to provide source code - with BSD you don't.

      Yup. And the number commercial products with BSD derived code in them is much greater than GPLed code because of this.

      Why wouldn't Merkey use FreeBSD for the application he wants to sell? Almost all linux software is available for FreeBSD, and then he wouldn't have to pay $50,000 for a license.

      Or can someone explain this to me?


      1st, he wants the kernel not almost all lin
    • Merkey works for SCO (Score:3, Informative)

      by schon (31600)
      Well, actually Canopy (his name is listed on a patent obtained by Canopy), but close enough.

      Gentlemen, at this time, I ask that you don your tinfoil hats.

      with BSD you don't

      Exactly. Now, suppose you want to sell licenses to people for using your IP in Linux, but people tell you "hey, that's under GPL - you distributed it, so you can't charge a license fee."

      Merkey's company wants to sell modified Linux without providing source code to the modifications.

      Yes, yes it does. Think about that - think abo
    • by Xtifr (1323) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:16PM (#10516019) Homepage
      For some very very very very very loose definition of "Linux", FreeBSD *is* Linux! No, really. I saw an ad once for a vendor that was selling Linux distributions, and there was FreeBSD on the list of Linux distributions....

      Heck, who am I to tell 'em different? I used to refer to Abiword as "my version of Word", as in, "My version of Word seems to have problems with your file, could you try resending as RTF?" Nobody ever questioned me (which just shows how overrated the notion of Word as a "standard" is). :)
  • The cost of a product is not necessarily equal to the cost of developing it.
  • After an offer by one Jeff V. Merkey to pay 50K USD for a BSD-licensed copy of Linux ...

    Sure it wasn't Stef Murkey [userfriendly.org]?

  • Eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by niko9 (315647) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:02AM (#10514256)
    It's like trying to put monetary value on a Van Gogh or a Matisse. The Linux kernel is truly priceless. You could never get that kind of collaboration even with the most highly paid software engineers, beacuse they don't do it for money, neither did Van Gogh.
    • Re:Eh? (Score:3, Funny)

      by papasui (567265)
      I bet Van Gogh would trade it for a some absinthe and a human ear.
  • Mu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vainglorious Coward (267452) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:04AM (#10514264) Journal

    What is air worth? Some things have great value, but simply trying to measure that value in dollars is to misunderstand the nature of that value.

    • Re:Mu (Score:3, Funny)

      by 1000101 (584896)
      Good point. The problem is that business doesn't work that way. You need actual monetary values for all of your business property, requirements, etc. Are the managers supposed to say, "We have 1,000 machines running Linux. Our infrastructure is priceless!"?
    • While I appreciate what you are saying, the thing is you can assign a value to a product by asking the question "what would I have to pay a bunch of people to build this"? I don't really see how you can do that with air, since it's not produced by humans and thus not subject to monetary or economic motivations.

      I agree that Linux's value to the community is "priceless" in that you can't really quantify very easily things like sense of community, the feeling of freedom and so on (well, you can generally qu

    • Re:Mu (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ctr2sprt (574731)
      What's air worth? The same as everything else: whatever people are willing to pay for it. Most people will never have a need to get air any way other than by breathing in, and so most people will never pay a cent for air. But some people, like divers and astronauts, certainly will pay for it, because it's not that simple to breathe underwater or in space.

      Don't think of money as having intrinsic value, or objects as having intrinsic price tags. Money is a convenient abstraction which allows us to assig

  • by Lethyos (408045) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:12AM (#10514319) Journal

    Clearly it's $699.

  • In terms of the amount of man-hours, resources, user time, and the complexity of it, the linux kernel is probobly worth about as much as the complete blueprints of the Airbus A380.

    Strange to think of it in these terms, but when you think about it the kernel is at this point at the same, or a greater level of complexity than an aircraft design, and is probobly in use by more people than the average aircraft model at this point. What is the current population of the republic of linux these days anyway?
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:17AM (#10514358) Homepage Journal
    No price is high enough for the Linux kernel. If Linux is ever translicensed to anything other than the GPL, it paves the way for Microsoft to eventually come up with their own closed-source version of it -- at no cost to them. From there, they could "embrace and extend" it and drive the GPL version of Linux into obscurity.

    Think about that, and then tell me how much the Linux kernel is worth. $50,000? A few hundred million? A billion or more? Nope -- it's like a MasterCard commercial, in real life. "Having an operating system Microsoft can never own: PRICELESS."

    I suppose I could get a "funny" mod by saying "There are some things money can't buy; for everything else, there's Microsoft" but I'm actually dead serious here.
    • Microsoft can never own FreeBSD either. They can take all the code they want and they still won't own it. There will always be people developing for it and it will always be there.

      With the GPL you make GPL software better. With BSD you make all software better. Many of us still use Windows from time to time... why wouldn't we want Windows to be better too? Even if Windows becomes better than every *BSD in every way we can still have our own functional, free (libre) operating system.

      Really who past their a

  • pretty safe offer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kwantus (34951) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:18AM (#10514361)
    Jeff's offer:
    This offer must be accepted by **ALL** copyright holders...
    That'll be harder than getting agreement on the Charlottetown accord (a thing in which any given Canadian could find something to hate)...A) you'll never find *ALL* the copyright holders - plus the complication some have died, who of their heirs has the say? B) of the hundreds you can find it's sure a few will say No on principle.
    • You can't get all the people in a building to agree to walk across the street for ice cream.

      Never mind this deal...
  • by ajs318 (655362)
    Why would you want to pay millions of dollars to buy a copy of Linux under a BSD-like licence, when there is already an operating system [freebsd.org] available under a BSD-like licence -- and it costs nothing?!

    The 3-clause BSD licence is poisonous, because it allows someone effectively to turn an open-source product into a closed-source one, just by not distributing the source code. {The 2-clause variant allowing source code distribution only is fine for stuff written in interpreted languages -- but makes it inconveni
    • Re:Why (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Brandybuck (704397) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @12:46PM (#10514988) Homepage Journal
      The 3-clause BSD licence is poisonous, because it allows someone effectively to turn an open-source product into a closed-source one, just by not distributing the source code.

      Not "poisonous" at all. Keep your FUD out of this. While one can take BSD licensed source code and create a binary closed source product, this is not "poisonous". The orginal source code is still there. The orginal project is still there.

      It would be like someone taking one apple from a free apple tree and locking it up. Are people going to be screaming "he poisoned the tree" when he locks up one apple? Of course not!
  • Yes, $600 million may be an accurate value for what it would cost to develop Linux from scratch, but how often do people buy software at the price it took to build.

    I could purchase a copy of windows for $200 even though it cost a couple of billions to develop. So although this figure is interesting, it really doesn't mean anything -and thats assuming the licensing issues could be overcome.
    • Yes, $600 million may be an accurate value for what it would cost to develop Linux from scratch, but how often do people buy software at the price it took to build.

      I could purchase a copy of windows for $200 even though it cost a couple of billions to develop. So although this figure is interesting, it really doesn't mean anything -and thats assuming the licensing issues could be overcome.

      Sure, and you can get a copy of Linux for free. That isn't the point. You'll never get a copy of Window's source for an

  • "Either lower your dosage or up it."

    /me goes off to change his sig
  • This article raises some interesting questions. Let's consider the following scenario: Assume that Corporation X would like to develop a closed-source product based on the Linux kernel. They offer to pay a certain amount of money for a commercially licensed kernel. To avoid arguments about who gets the money and in what amount, the money will be paid to a commonly agreed charity. Let's also assume, for the sake of the discussion, that it is feasible to contact all kernel contributors and get their agreement
  • Cost vs Value (Score:2, Informative)

    by clenhart (452716)
    David Wheeler's answer is based on how much it *costs* to make. This is different from how valuable the kernel is to a buyer.

    For example, Windows is *worth* more than it costs to produce (based on profit margins), meaning people are willing to pay more than it takes to make it, which is another way of saying that Windows is worth more to consumers than it costs to make.

    Now, windows is a monopoly so the price tends to go towards the worth of the product, not the cost. Linux is highly competitive (with ma
  • Misconceptions (Score:5, Informative)

    by Savant (85811) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:58AM (#10514629)
    There seem to be a remarkably large number of people posting on this one who haven't read past the title, never mind the article.

    This isn't about a consumer price for a kernel binary. Comparisons with copies of Windows are irrelevant. The $612 million dollars quoted is a suggested figure representing the kind of cost a commercial company would have to take on to develop an identical operating system kernel.

    Software companies have in the past changed hands for large sums of money. The brand is of course worth some of that money, as are relationships with existing customers, but a large part of that value is the IP possessed by the company. There are few companies that have possessed software assets of a complexity and widespread use comparable to the Linux kernel that have changed hands, and such companies when sold have been bought for large sums - to pick one example, Netscape was bought by AOL at a price tag of $4.2 billion dollars.

    The value of the Linux kernel code and Linux branding, if a company with sufficient resources were interested in obtaining it, and if it were for sale, would quite probably exceed this figure of $612 million by a sizeable percentage.

    $50K is a derisory offer for even an non-exclusive right to develop and redistribute the IP, which is effectively what a solitary copy under the BSD licence would give. Certainly the company I work for would laugh helplessly if such an offer was made for our code, which is several orders of magnitude smaller and less complex than the kernel.

    Savant
    • True, this isn't a comparison to a single license of windows. However it would be interesting to see what other similar deals have cost.

      Windows NT is (arguably) a derivative of DEC's VMS operating system. Back in the early 90's microsoft settled a case with digital for copyright problems. (Anyone know the value?)

      When cray research developed the cs6400 server, they licensed solaris from sun. I wonder what they paid or that.

      Microsoft's SQL server is a derivative of sybase. Anyone know what they paid for th
  • Very little (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adiposity (684943) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @12:03PM (#10514666)
    Considering the several free kernels (OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD to give a few) of comparable (or superior, some would say) design, performance, and extensibility, which can be used in any commercial product you like, I'd say the market is very weak. When comparable products sell for $0, your product isn't worth (read: market value) much more than that. -Dan
  • What's it worth? Hmmm, I'll throw out the first number that pops into my head...How does 503 sound?
  • What is mathematics worth? Shouldn't we pay Pythagoras' decendants a royalty each time we use his triangle theorem? How about the theory of electromagnetism? Shouldn't we kick in a few cents to Maxwell's decendents each time we use an electrical device? The works of Shakespeare? Free software, like the Linux kernel belong to a body of knowledge that is not really saleable but are beyond value. Our society may be highly influenced by capitalist ideas, but they are not universal.

  • 10 Billion ++ (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HexaByte (817350) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @12:32PM (#10514862)
    According to an IBM rep who spoke to our LUG 2 years ago, IBM promised to invest 1 Billion in Linux because they had estimated it would take them $10 Billion to get it to where it was then. That was in the 2.4 stage. Now, with the 2.6 kernel, it should be worth another Billion or so. Of course, I'm willing to sell copies of the latest kernel to all comers for only $500. That includes a year of my "Platinum Support".
  • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @08:41PM (#10519780) Journal
    Asking the price of the Linux Kernel is pointless.

    What exactly would you be buying?

    The right to make it proprietary? (Sell it or a derivative for a lot of money) That'd be worth a lot to a few of companies - who wouldn't sell it they'd just keep it locked up and continue selling their own product?

    The right to use it? Value there would be $0 thanks. You already have that for free unless you want to modify in a way that doesn't comply with the GPL.

    The right to sell it. People already do that - oh sorry correction my mistake sell support for it.

    The question is pointless because you can't un-GPL it once its been released under GPL...which is the point of that license.

    I think the question being asked here is what would it cost to develop something similar? The answer is bucketloads. But why would you want to? How many freaking times does UNIX need to be redeveloped. Go create a different OS.

"Out of register space (ugh)" -- vi

Working...