George I didn't intend my post as a personal attack, and I'm sorry if you interpreted it that way. i wasn't looking to turn this into a public debate. I encourage Clem and others to read my posts and consider my words at face value. I don't know Clem personally. He expressed a concern about portability. The Surface and other tablet PCs running JMRI would offer that, just like an iPad.
Three-rail O is already loaded with proprietary systems. Does that leave us better, or worse off than model RR hobbyists in other scales? The beauty of open source is there is no incentive for manufacturers to 'kill' anything or act selfishly, because there are no profits to protect. To Lionel's credit, compared to MTH they have been very good about making their codes available since the beginning and encouraging 3rd party development. So if they lost interest in LCS in the future, there's a chance the specs would be released to the public domain, or like ERR the whole product line could be sold to another company.
JMRI has been around a long time, and it probably has a larger user base than LCS. No cutting edge development is required to use the system. If something better comes along, I'm sure the community would devise a "migration path" to the new technology.
As far as being cheaper- I have no idea of how the cost of JMRI hardware (sensors, actuators, etc.) compares to LCS. I only pointed it out as an alternative (the only one I know of), and encouraged Clem to do a little research. I'm in the process of designing an elaborate layout, and I'll probably implement one of these systems myself. I'm trying to learn as much about LCS as I can, and I want it to succeed. More choices are better for everyone!
Edit: Yes he can call me. Unlike Lionel my phone system isn't down. But if he really needs the answer to a JMRI question, he can go here.