1x07: Life On Mars


What you want is a Visa Prepay single-use disposable credit card, I think. See http://www.visa.co.uk/products/visa-payments/visa-prepaid for Visa’s writeup about them, and then find a place near you which sells them?


When it comes to open source software making money, Calibre seems to be a notable exception. Kovid, the lead developer, makes a full-time living off donations and advertising on the website, and has been doing so for years.

I don’t know what his secret is (a few million active installs no doubt helps), but I thought it’s worth noting that there is at least one (only one?) project that has managed it.


I just wanted to say that hearing about Bryan’s business model, finding what works and what doesn’t for an indie OSS developer is probably my favouite segment you’ve done so far. Thanks!


@bryanlunduke Am I right in thinking that under your current model I could download the source of, say, Linux Tycoon, build a debian package and stick it in a PPA for anyone to download for free? If people start doing that, are you screwed? If so, what do you think has stopped people doing it so far?


While you guys were talking about regular people being sent to Mars, all I could think about was Kerbal space program. You know, the game where the astronauts are not the best and brightest, but are chosen on the basis of two criteria - bravery and stupidity. No THAT could make great television.


Regarding indie development, and make a living out of it, what do you think about initiatives like the Humble Bundle? (I know it’s not open source)
The idea is to release a pack of games available DRM-free for an open price (above 0). It looks like it’s been a pretty successfull initiative so far, and I think there are similar initiative for softwares other tha games.
@bryanlunduke: If you had the opportunity to participate in a Humble Bundle (for instance by adding Linux Tycoon to the bundle), would you participate?
On a side note, I think Humble Bundle has been good for Linux (and Mac) gaming, because it forced developers to propose their games on all the platforms (Win/Lin/Mac). (Although there have been bundles with games only for Windows)

About the music topic, it was pretty interesting, thanks!
I wanted to add something: it’s often very hard to judge someone’s talent as a musician compared to graphic designers for instance.
You can browse pages and pages of graphic art on Deviant Art for instance, and quickly determine what graphic designer you like, but it takes much longer to judge someone’s music.

I remember when going to demoparties in the late 90s, there were different competitions, including 2D graphics, 3D graphics, chiptunes, etc.
Everyone was allowed to vote for their favorite entries in a given topic, but it was clear that people were paying attention to the graphics (because they were shown on the screen for 30 seconds, with a guy zooming in and showing the details to everyone), so everyone could have seen and evaluated all the graphics in 20~30 minutes.
With music, it was much more difficult, because each tune was 2 to 3 minutes, and it was broadcasted in the room as a “background music”, and suddenly no one was giving a fuck, apart from a few people sorting the tunes one by one.



Agreed on all points about the Humble Bundle being good for open source users, good for gaming on Ubuntu, and good for me, etc. However, @bryanlunduke already knows how to make a living by selling closed-source software; that’s what he was doing before :slight_smile: It’s doing it while making the software open source that seems to be the challenge…


I’d be interested to see how well Tales of Maj’Eyal does. The game has been around for ages and is open source but now available for pay on Steam. Maybe just the convienience of having something available through a portal like that is enough for people to fork over cash.

I remember hearing a FLOSS Weekly with the dev of Ardour. Leo said he had bought the binary copy of Ardour from the site for the default number of dollars and the dev admitted the default actually was randomized.

Ooh weird, Life on Mars just came on the radio as I type this…


Well, one of the first games on Humble Bundle was Lugaru, by Wolfire Games, and I believe this has been opensourced.

Another solution would be to release the source code (and the art used in the game), but to propose the compiled binaries for sale… wait, this is what Ardour is doing! (I just realized while typing!)


I’m not aware of it ever being random. The big change was when Ardour 3.0 came out. There is a major push for people who get Ardour directly from Ardour.org to pay something for it. Of course, you can still get it for free as it is a proper GPL app. Paul Davis isn’t shy about the fact that money keeps the project going, although he seems most interested in increasing the percentage of users who financially support Ardour, not getting individuals to pay more for it.



I’d like to do an experiment one day, the jist of it being:

Set up a stall in a busy shopping mall. Have a pile of various Linux Distributions to cover most user cases. Obviously the majority would be vanilla Ubuntu, Mint etc. Have a few machines set up to demonstrate to people what you’re giving them.

But as well, have a great big “Honesty Box” prominently at the front. Just to see whether it made a difference asking people to face to face to chip in for something that might be valuable to them.

I doubt that you’d get £0.00, but I wonder how much over £0.01p and some pocket fluff you might bet in the real world.


Actually, not quite.

Selling Open Source software using a Shareware model is now a proven strategy that works quite well.

Donations? Not at all. Fund raisers? Not a chance. And thinks like kickstarter? Well that’s just a bad long term strategy.

But mixing Shareware with Open Source gives the best of both worlds. At least in my experience.


I think this is becoming a new model for selling content. As an example, recently I bought the latest Louis CK special - it was $5. At that kind of price I felt like I would be cheating him if I downloaded it for free. In other words, I felt like Louis CK was being generous in offering his content at a reasonable price, and I appreciate that generosity and hence bought it. I have noticed more and more comedians are doing this - I bought similar specials such as the Jon Stewart/Bill O’Reilly rumble and Jim Gaffigan.


This is similar to buying newspapers in airports and busy railway stations – quite often they’ll have a big stack of papers and a moneybox so you can buy a paper and pay without queueing. Obviously some people will choose to steal a paper, but in general, most people, most of the time, are mostly honest. Mostly :smile:


I wonder how location and demographics play a part here. Does the wealth of the individual and the location (e.g. good/bad part of town) affect how honest people are?

On one hand, a wealthy, nice part of town would seem to be likely for people to be honest, but history has also taught us that wealthy people can steal despite having more money than they need.


Listening to you guys rag on the Mars One project sounds a lot like mainstream software companies talking about open source back in the day when it was just getting rolling. Now it’s a different story. In the same way that open source software rewrites the rules of commerce, open source space exploration (as in not sponsored by a particular country) has the opportunity to rewrite the rules of space travel. It’s not palatable for NASA to risk the lives of astronauts as they are accountable to their political minders, but if a private company chooses to risk the lives of volunteers, what’s wrong with that?
Yes, it is a lot of money, but building something from the ground up with today’s technology is a bit easier than building on top of NASA’s 30 year old technology stack, as India, China, etc. are finding out. We have a lot more computing power and cheap off the shelf components with custom manufacturing being relatively straight forward as well. In terms of getting there, they basically just have to get past the earth’s gravity well and coast the rest of the way, provided they get the calculations right. Mars One is going to land several missions before they even attempt the manned (and womanned) mission anyway.
It’s a pretty well thought out plan so what’s wrong with an alternative funding model? We get all manner of ‘free’ services by selling bits of our attention to Google, et al. At the beginning, nobody knew how those things were going to be funded either but it worked fine. It’s a small price to pay to colonize the first secondary planet.


I think this is the point…it just isn’t a well thought out plan. It is scientifically and economically bonkers.

I think we all agree that de-centrlized space exploration from companies and enthusiasts is a brilliant idea…our issue isn’t with that…our issue is with the fact that Mars One, as one example of this, it entirely unrealistic. It would be like Linus saying in 1991 “I want to build a new Operating System for computers that turns your 386 into a quad-core 64-bit powerhouse”.


Here’s an interview with the guy behind it: http://www.newstalk.ie/player/podcasts/Futureproof/Highlights_from_Future_Proof_with_Jonathan_McCrea/30204/1/one_way_ticket_to_mars/cp_3

He talks about how people from their own specialist area say his plan will work in their area of expertise but point out how it will fail in some other area. I don’t consider myself an expert in this at all but I think the odds of getting people to Mars today is better than the odds of getting people to the moon in the 60s.

Regarding the economics: according to this - http://www.forbes.com/pictures/emdm45hje/the-most-valuable-super-bowls/ - the ten best super bowls generated 1.7 billion in ad revenue. Isn’t the first off Earth colony worth more than that? Whatever company does this will literally be holding the feed themselves so there is no other way to get the info except through them.


Some of the coolest things in history have come from ideas that were completely bonkers. I love bonkers.

Considering all the silly things companies and governments of the world throw money away on… this doesn’t seem like a terrible idea. :smile:


Honestly? Your argument is “well, we waste money and effort on all this stupid stuff anyway, what’s one more stupid thing”?? That’s not so much a slippery slope as a slippery Mount Everest.

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