2x52: Apples to Oranges


Stuart Langridge, Jono Bacon, and Jeremy Garcia present Bad Voltage, in which there is charity and there is hope but there is not a lot of faith, and:

  • [00:02:50] Lenovo are apparently making a Thinkpad-brand foldable PC next year. We have Thoughts, not surprisingly
  • [00:08:40] Uber finally do their IPO, which manages to seriously underperform expectations and yet still be the 9th biggest US IPO ever
  • [00:11:10] Someone comes up with a worrying Whatsapp remote exploit -- dial a call which would then buffer overflow the target and install software on it. It went unmentioned in the release notes, although maybe that's a good thing because people don't install security updates?
  • [00:13:50] Drinking six or more coffees a day can be detrimental to your health. In other news, a bear prays, and the Pope was seen heading into the woods with a roll of toilet paper
  • [00:15:20] Our main feature: lots of people think it's unfair if their open source software is bundled up and sold by someone putting no effort into it. This is certainly legal, but there seem to be more developers who are disillusioned about this, both for personal projects and in large enterprises. Historically the response has been: that's legal, so you just have to live with it. But as the open source world has changed, is that still a good answer? Maybe those developers do need to live with it, but perhaps there should be a better explanation as to why living with it is actually better in the long term? Or maybe the open source pitch itself should change, or the world should: can we do better than dismissing people's concerns rather than helping them understand?

Come chat with us and the community in our Slack channel via https://badvoltage-slack.herokuapp.com/!

Download from https://badvoltage.org


My $0.02 on Open Source. I think like the presenters my thoughts on ‘Fairness’ are probably in agreement.

If I write some software and somebody then complies it for a particular platform, puts it on a CD and sells it for a nominal cost to cover their time and the CDs I’m fine with that .

If they charge a bit more and use it to support my project, other projects or charities I support then I am happy too provided the money they donate is reasonable. I wouldn’t be happy if they are selling a CD for $50(US) and making a $0.10 donation to causes I support. This would feel very unfair.

However most open source project licences are far more permissive and there is little I could do to stop anyone from doing this. Assuming I still want to keep open source. I believe we should contribute to projects we find useful, either technically or financially, if we can. Though I do not believe anybody should be prevented from using a piece of software if they are unable to contribute.

I think the answer to this does lie in education but this is a two pronged attack: software producers need to be made more aware that open source is open and as such people can make profit from your work. Software consumers need to be pointed towards ethical suppliers who either pass on the money to the developer or whoever the developer supports and away from those who just want to maximise their own profits.

I’m not sure how we achieve this but it may be possible in a small scale. Google could be encouraged for example to push you towards proffered suppliers when you download an Android app.



Great discussion on open source & selling… just a couple things I kept yelling at the speakers while the episode played:

  • The Creative Commons non-commercial licenses are a valid solution here. https://creativecommons.org/choose/ is a great tool for simply choosing an appropriate license that covers the core licensing questions: sharing, giving back, attribution, and commercial use.

  • The market is definitely a player here. If some jerk posted the app for $2, someone else will post it for 99¢. Then there will be a free version. And a free version with ads. And and and… If you buy a $24 CD of VLC on Ebay, well… that’s darwinian economics :wink:

P.S. LinuxFest Northwest 2019 was amazing!


Yeah, great discussion about selling FOSS. To answer Stuart’s question directly, yes, it feels wrong. I’d say it borders on morally wrong, but as we all know it’s allowed by the license. The whole Librem One thing actually felt a bit like this when we saw the apps offered were just apps which were widely available that got rebranded.

What I’d like to add to the discussion, though, is that the stick a trademark on it feels like sort of a hack to me. After all, it’s a way to make it a harder to do something that the license allows, not much more than that. By this line of thought, as was pointed out above, it’d be better to simply choose a license that prevented this from happening.


Re: Selling open-source
I’ve always equated it to buying bottled water.
Why do people buy bottled water when they can get drinking water for significantly less from a mains tap.

Is it unfair that companies can bottle up a cheap resource and sell it for a profit?


I don’t often buy bottled water but sometimes it offers a certain level of convenience so I may see it as a viable option if, for example, I am at a music concert or other similar event (e.g. Linux conference): I have a drink in a portable container I can take with me.

Let’s say there is a particular program I want to use that is FOSS but not currently available for free on let’s say Windows, I could port it myself but if somebody has already done so and only wants a nominal fee or is using my money to support the package I may well pay for it.

If I felt they were trying to make an excessive profit I would port it myself and contact the project owners to make it available to others. However while many on this site are capable of porting software to a different OS it is not true of all end users.

It should be noted my OS of choice is Ubuntu though all are free to use whatever they prefer.


I got into a discussion with ones that use software to run specific frequency generators. The software is free to download, but is copyrighted. They sell the generators. I was mentioning the benefits of open source and the response was ‘if we opened the code, other manufactures will use it and put us out of business.’ This is a small company, and I cannot fault their reasoning. I have seen other software, and it doesn’t even come close.

@bear454 mentioned the Creative Commons non-commercial licenses. Would that be a solution? Would there be a way to open the software, but limit the equipment it is used on?


Is it fair? Absolutely. Choosing a license that freely allows commercial use, such as the MIT license means you are telling people, go ahead and sell it. If that’s not desirable, choose an open source license that doesn’t allow this.

With the discussion of fair vs legal, obviously it’s legal. For me, it’s also fair. I would say it was unfair if someone found a loophole in the contract in order to do this. Reselling an MIT (or similar) licensed software isn’t a loophole, it’s a foundational point of the license.

An open source license that might be interesting in terms of sustainability, it a license similar to MIT or whatever, where there’s a commercial restriction. Yes you can sell this software, yes you can sell it for whatever you want, but there’s a 30% royalty fee that gets paid back to the project.

This would allow the freedom to modify and sell, and sell for whatever price, but the project can earn a kickback in proportion to what the software is being sold for.


Except they explicitly recommend against using CC licenses for software:



The difference now compared to selling CDs on eBay is this appears to happening at scale with a certain large cloud vendor. Selling certain Open Source projects as a service and literally making billions out of it without putting any code / money upstream. As more people move to cloud it hits investment into the software.

Several companies such as MongoDB had one solution (change license), the company I work for has another more Open Source friendly solution which will become apparent in the next few months. As well as a better supported, higher performance cloud solution than the vendor.

It is a difficult scenario and I wish the vendor would work better with Open Source Software foundations.


On the subject of drinking coffee, I read somewhere’s* that you either stop at three cups or drink at least seven! Because drinking more than seven cups a day produces the same brain wave activity as playing chess, etc that has been known reduce and delay mental illnesses - but drinking coffee is much easier than figuring out a damned Sudoku grid!!!

* Sorry, I can’t find the original source right now


I dunno about open source but as a Free software enthusiast I’m all for people taking my stuff!
Hell, I wish they would take it because the only reason I make stuff is to give it away (altruism) in the first place. The thing is, the first thing you’ll notice if you look at my code…is the fact that I can’t code! Yet, with the help others who can in the Kivy project (I used buildozer to make the .apk) I managed to ‘make go!’ an app as a non-coder. On the topic of Kivy, I suspect there are quite a few open sourcers who share a love of altruism too because they’re helping non-coders, the users, make working apps :slight_smile:
I made OuiWee years ago to help with my shy bladder in public washrooms issue and have been using it ever since. Apparently, a lot of people suffer from ‘stage fright’ and also apparently medical related apps are in demand right now; So, if somebody thought they could make money off of it and wanted to take, fix up a bit, and sell the code I wrote…I’d be the very first to cheer them on :slight_smile:
a) because it might help an independent coder financially,
b) if they’re successful it would add to the assertion that it is possible to make money with Free software,
and most importantly…
c) it might help other people avoid embarrassment if they also can’t wee in public bathrooms from time to time :slight_smile:

I know the question wasn’t really asking about Free software, but as open source and Free software are so very similar and often lumped together (FOSS) I thought at least one comment in the thread should share that perspective just for the sake of completeness.

Also, tea is actually good for your heart ! :smiley: (I much prefer coffee, but I drink tea too for the fuct up heart I was born with)


The more money people make from selling open source software, the more of a stake they have its success. If they make enough money, eventually they won’t be able to afford not to contribute. That benefits us all.

Please respect our code of conduct which is simple: don't be a dick.