Paying for open source software


#18

I’m quite luckily in that I work for a company that pays me to work on Open Source and have contributed to several Open Source projects that way.

Several years ago I was a core developer on something called the Drizzle project. It started out in Sun Microsystems as pretty much taking MySQL 6.0 (never GA’d) source code and turning it into a clean micorkernel architecture. In the first year we had a goal of 50% of the contributions coming from outside of Sun, we exceeded that goal as Oracle kicked out all the developers and they were hired by Rackspace :smile:

We had many contributions from other people, especially students wanting to learn C/C++. We were also in GSoC every year which pays university students (quite well for junior level) for bounties on features.

There are many different ways of monetising Open Source development, my friend and colleague Mark Atwood could talk at length on this.

Elementary’s way is good if people pay, but the key thing they were missing in their post was many people have indirectly contributed to Elementary OS. It is based on Ubuntu which in-turn is a collection of Open Source packages with thousands of contributors. Put up your hand if you have ever filed a bug for Ubuntu? Filing a bug is a contribution even if you can write code, it is effectively part of QA which is a very expensive process in software development. There are many other things such as documentation, adding to a wiki, blog posts, etc… which are all contributions that have value which are not code.

Drizzle’s downfall in the end was that Rackspace pulled funding for core developers and the model used meant that without core developers to review code the project stagnated. On a positive note many of the features coming in MySQL 5.7 and beyond are based on our work on the Drizzle project.

Anyway, as big businesses are finding out that funding Open Source development of project outside of their own company is not a cost centre it is starting to find new ways in getting more developers and other skills to the projects.


#19

It looks like Kickstarter can work for adding new features to Open Source projects:

https://krita.org/krita-2-9-the-kickstarter-release/


#20

@sil Just looking at that address you gave me for contacting canonical ?

Maybe this one should be more fruitful - as it’s been over fortnight and I’ve yet to receive an answer.

http://www.ubuntu.com/management/contact-us

I’ll do this in good time. But I don’t expect to get a response anytime this month.


#21

Huh. That’s pretty disappointing. I would have expected Canonical to get back to you, even if only to say “we don’t have a list of people who will hack on low-level Ubuntu issues for money”. Sounds like there might be an open market segment there… maybe we should discuss this on the show…


#22

Sounds like a good idea. I find it very difficult to believe that nobody at Canonical knows developers with enough knowledge of Ubuntu to provide low level hacks. I would have expected at the least to get a reply saying “You are asking the wrong guys. Try asking this person” with suitable contact details.


#23

So the question/s seems to be:

  1. Is the bounty amount really all that counts with bug bounty sites ?
  2. Should there be an anonymous ‘dev. listings’ site, that could jump start getting in touch with free software developers ? Feed back would be interesting to read off this.
  3. Why is it so difficult for commercial hubs such as Canonical to connect users with dev.s ?
  4. Should there be a ‘bug-bounties’ users group on Launchpad ? Meet-ups would be fun !
  5. As suggested in forums, when does the community have the last say in micro-crowdfunding of this sort ?
    In the end it is the backer that can decide what’s backed and what isn’t. >Jono’s thoughts ?
  6. And lastly, do you think we should have a ‘suggested donation’ ledger in the system settings that allows for a fraction of a cent, accrued, to the appropriate developer group: like LibreOffice ?

I imagine a whole operating system like this with bounty-bugs for tool-tips (BountOS), where the developers get paid for the latest and greatest LTS for money up front (like ZorinOS), and the dev.s in the background get small-scale tips for work done similar to elementary. Equally (and I think this is a different pie in the sky side of things), the service agreement could be a_lot better with video calls and proper service over the wire. In the final analysis these are two different sides to the same laser guided accurate bug-bounty coin that would mean in 10 or 20 years the desktop could be a proper attraction to windows users etc.
I meant the tool-tips side of things because you could show in the operating system itself, what needs work on, like tool-tips and a leaderboard (something launchpad is missing).
I think I mangled that, but the spirit of the discussion is there; soz.

Is this just Boun- TOS or do you think it would work ?
Homework: Bountysource video.


2x26: Shining Emerald City
#24

As just a simple user I see the whole thing as a try before you buy scenario. I believe in paying for the things you use, especially if you are using them to make money. What if there was a site, something similar to Ninite, but with a contribution option? I’d go once a year and divvy up what I think it’s worth between software, desktops, and OS.


#25

I’m not sure I understand what Ninite is…? It seems to bring the “get software from a central place, and keep it updated” experience that Ubuntu and other Linux OSes have to Windows?


#26

I would agree that’s exactly what it is. Perhaps a poor example, but say I wanted to give 5$ each to 5 different OSS packages as well as 10$ to Gnome and 15$ to OpenSuSE. Is there one place I can do all that?

Not to blow too much smoke up your skirt, but you guys have one of the better podcasts out there. Plus this forum layout is awesome.


#27

There is not. Perhaps it’d be a good idea if there were, but that feels to me rather like saying that you want to give $5 to each of eight different charities, and there’s no central one-click way to do that either…


#28

Well. There kind of is. Things like The Humble Bundle’s offer that functionality. Though that requires a small team of people to manage and orchestrate it.

Which, really, is another way of saying “good idea… but it sounds hard and nobody has done it in such a way that makes it a re-usable service for multiple projects”.


#29

Totally. If you want to donate to the set of organisations they’ve chosen, it’s a great way to do it. If you want to donate to a set you’ve chosen, you’re SOL at the moment.


#30

I wouldn’t mind paying for it.
None of us do.

It’s just that OpenSource.com persists in tracking tweet links.

{Note I took the id link out for this one :}

Just for reference bountysource.com only has about 20,000 members. That’s not enough.


#31

I noticed an aricle on Distrowach Issue 664, about The cost of free software.

Starting at the Cost of free Software is far better than just blindly ‘Paying for open source software’ don’t you agree ?


#32

Found this interesting article on an anti-bounty thinker.

https://wiki.snowdrift.coop/other-crowdfunding#bounty


#33

Found this PDF from the ford-foundation on paying for Labour.


#34

There’s a new company developing OSS for SailfishOS called WerkWolf.
I think their payment approach is very interesting.
Here’s a quote from the first app called Piepmatz, a twitter client:

Piepmatz is and will remain Open Source Software. However, in order to support the development of Piepmatz, we’d like to ask you for a contribution - you could also call it royalty - before you can run it after a trial period of 14 days. Such a contribution can be made by translating Piepmatz to another language, help developing it or simply by purchasing a key.

As mentioned, you have a testing period of 14 days after the first run of Piepmatz. Take your time to test the application and ensure that it fulfills your needs and that you really like it. There are no limitations to the software during this time - simply press the button “Continue Testing” on the initial screen.

If you decide to purchase a contribution key in order to keep on using Piepmatz beyond the testing period, please choose a contribution type. You have the choice between 4 different contributions: S, M, L, XL. No matter which size you choose, the purchased key will unlock the the complete application after the trial period. It’s up to you to decide how much the app is worth to you.

It is interesting, that you can also get a key by contributing to the software.


#35

Presumably as it is open source there would nothing to stop you from editing the source to remove the key from and recompile. I’m not advocating this however. Coding is a real skill and people deserve to make a living from it.

My personal approach to this is that if a piece of software is useful to me I will find a way to support the project, either in some technical capacity or financially. I appreciate that not everyone can contribute technically, and I have no problem with people paying nothing if they genuinely can’t afford to. There are lots of ways to contribute to a software technically even if you are not a coder. You can report bugs, help improve documentation if you speak a language the program does not, yet, exist in you can help to translate it…

Failing that what’s wrong with giving the project some cash. Requiring people to purchase a key seems a little over the top but I guess it makes some sense. If I were to use this software I would have to decide if was have to decide if was worth my time to hack it if I didn’t want to pay but for a minimum payment of 3.33 euro or a maximum payment of 9.99 euro I can’t imagine it being worth my time to hack.


#36

The developer himself claims it is very easy to remove the key check. My skills would bee good enough to do this but that’s not my intention. I’m testing the app right now, if I like it, I’ll pay for it. And if I miss features I will try to contribute them.
P.S. He has chosen this key mechanism because the Jolla store still does not support payed apps.


#37

Agreed, we should contribute where we can. I don’t use Sailfish. I have a Windows desktop and laptop,a Ubuntu laptop and two Ubuntu servers together with an Android phone but I wish the project every success. I try to avoid using the Windows laptop as much as possible but the mechanical and PCB cad software I need does not have a suitable Linux alternative. If it did I would be using it, price is not an issue here, I pay for the windows licences so would pay for Linux licences.

However I can’t get away from using Windows for CAD. I use the same software at home as my main client uses at work. Namely Altium and SolidWorks.


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