There’s no such thing as free beer. But free software abounds. It seems that everywhere I look these days companies are offering their embedded operating systems and tools for free evaluation. Often, the price includes full access to the source code.
Examples just this week include the announcement that Quantum Leaps would make the source code for its previously proprietary QP-nano product available under GPL, that Micrium would release the source code for the TCP/IP stack it developed at great expense under a 45-day evaluation license, and that Hitachi‘s brand new Entier relational database could be downloaded for use in 30-day trials.
Given access to the source code of a complicated product such as an operating system, network stack, or relational database how many people pay? A restrictive license is perhaps a legal consideration, but if these guys can afford to give their source code out wily nily how do you feel about being the only schmuck to actually cough up dough? Does anyone buy embedded software components anymore?