Re: Payware ??? (Paolo Amoroso)
17 Dec 1997 14:06:18 -0500

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From: (Paolo Amoroso)
Newsgroups: comp.compilers
Date: 17 Dec 1997 14:06:18 -0500
Organization: Paolo Amoroso - Milan, ITALY
References: 97-12-133
Keywords: tools, practice

On 16 Dec 1997 11:25:12 -0500, "Paul Mann" <> wrote:

> I'd like to know how many software developers are using a free
> compiler for their work.

You may be interested in a use of free software for - space - mission
critical applications. It's illustrated in the article "GNU-Based
Compilation Systems for Spacecraft Microprocessors", by M. Martignano,
published in the September 1997 issue (Vol. 7, N. 3; page 16) of
"Preparing for the Future", an ESA - European Space Agency - printed
newsletter devoted to technology programs.

According to the article, the Agency is promoting the use of free
development tools for its own projects based on spacecraft
microprocessors. More specifically, two such compilers have been
selected: GCC (for work with C; C++ may be used in the future) and
GNAT (for Ada-83; Ada-95 may be used in the future). They will target
two standard architectures selected by ESA, one for 16-bit
(MIL-STD-1750A/B; just out of curiosity, any info about this beast?)
and the other for 32-bit applications (SPARC V7).

The article lists a number of advantages offered by GCC and GNAT. But,
in my opinion, the most interesting are the following non technical

"- they [GCC and GNAT] have a large and active user communities, which
compensates for the lack of conventional support and maintenance; -
errors in are widely reported and remedies and/or workaround solutions
are published by the same users;"

This official statement apparently means that the quality of informal
support which comes with most free software is at least as good as
that offered with commercial products.

> I've thought about giving it away for free. Any ideas, I'm listening

According to the model of free software economy popularized by Richard
Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation, the main source
of revenue should not come from package sales, but from services
offered to users, e.g. porting, customization, localization, training,
documentation writing, etc.

The above mentioned article seems to support this view. If I get it
right, the task of developing additional support libraries and tools
for adapting GCC and GNAT to spacecraft processor applications has
been contracted - relying on general infrastructure funds - to a
British company, "Chris Nettleton Software".

The newsletter "Preparing for the Future" is also available on a Web
site, but there is some delay between the publication of an issue and
its online distribution. Last time I checked the article was not
there. If there is enough interest, when it is posted to the site I
will notify the group.

Paolo Amoroso <>

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