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Author Topic: Another experiment in free software profit models from Bryan Lunduke  (Read 1775 times)
JavaJones
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« on: July 06, 2012, 01:16:04 AM »

A subject of ongoing interest here (for obvious reasons) is how developers can make money from free or practically free software. Bryan Lunduke has previously had some interesting things to say on this subject, his name has come up here before in related discussions, and he's been experimenting with various approaches for a while now.

Now he's trying a new approach to funding his software development efforts, which he lays out in this blog update: free source code (under the GPL), but only those that donate get compiled binaries. This has of course been thought of and tried before, but I suspect we'll learn more about how it all works out from following his updates from here on as he has tended to be pretty transparent about things. He's got a few other donator benefits thrown in to the mix as well, and I think he's got a reasonable chance of moderate success overall. But is that just due to his existing notoriety as a speaker and FOSS advocate, and building off the established name of his software company? Is this a model that new software devs have a chance with? It remains to be seen if even he will make it work, but I'm hopeful.

I imagine there will also be those who disagree with the idea, perhaps on the grounds that it's against the FOSS ethos, but it's interesting to note that this is coming from a pretty vocal FOSS advocate.

- Oshyan
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mouser
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« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2012, 08:49:21 AM »

Nice find.

I still have a somewhat hard time wrapping my head around some of the FOSS money-raising approaches when the possibility of forking is always looming in the background.  Forking may be more of a theoretical concern than a practical one, and my problem may simply be that i let the theoretical longshot issues concern me too much, but it still concerns me.
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TaoPhoenix
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« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2012, 09:11:11 AM »

I dunno, as a non-techie this bothers me. I can't compile my own binaries so to me it just becomes another form of paid software.

The line I like better is contributors get to vote on what he works on for the second week of a month. So instead of just $2 for 2 votes, a power user could just blast it with like $100 and win the vote then you get a dev for a week making a custom feature!  Cool
« Last Edit: July 06, 2012, 09:19:11 AM by TaoPhoenix » Logged
barney
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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2012, 08:01:15 PM »

I dunno, as a non-techie this bothers me. I can't compile my own binaries so to me it just becomes another form of paid software.

The line I like better is contributors get to vote on what he works on for the second week of a month. So instead of just $2 for 2 votes, a power user could just blast it with like $100 and win the vote then you get a dev for a week making a custom feature!  Cool

Hm-m-m ... I'm not wild about that model, either.  Boils down to hiring a programmer for a week for  next to nothing.  Great for the consumer, but no so much for the coder. 

I don't compile (any more) either.  But if I do require some app modification - or even a new app - I expect to pay for it.  skwire and mouser may be able to chip in on how well donations work, but I don't see that as life-sustaining.  Nice bit of reverse lagniappe if you have a[nother] reliable source of income, but that seems to be about it.

Methinks the FOSS advocates/aficionados assume providers as hobbyists, not as folk trying to make a living  ohmy.

Mind, I'll take advantage of free as long as it is there, but at least I know that I'm taking advantage, not demanding it as a right  huh.

There's yet to be developed a reasonable FOSS model, to my mind, one (1) that is fair to both provider and consumer  Sad.

A bottom line here is that creating/modifying a program is hard work, and should be compensated.  That compensation model has yet to be [widely] established, save for entities such as Microsoft, Apple, et al.
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« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2012, 09:27:23 PM »

I'm surprised somebody as generally savvy as Brian Lunduke is trying the above approach.

To Mouser's point, releasing under GPL is not a business model. It's a development philosophy. Attempting to "monetize" such a philosophy is much like attempting to run a "for profit" non-profit. In short, it's an oxymoron. And all the semantic hairsplitting and tap-dancing in the world won't change that.

Simple truth - no matter what 'open' license you release under, it's tantamount to giving your code away. Which is exactly what most open software licenses are designed to accomplish. They make code freely available to "all mankind." And the only restriction is it forbids anybody from asserting exclusive ownership of the code in question. Sound like a silly license if you're in business to sell an app? Sure does to me.

Several businesses have tried what Brian is suggesting. It generally doesn't work for a single smallish app.

Where it does work is when somebody is providing configuration or integration services for a bundle of apps that would be extremely difficult for the average user to get working correctly. Highly "vertical" distros that provide immediate out-of-box high level functionality are good examples. Turnkey music studios, network appliances, app servers, and media editors/compositor collections have all been successfully bundled and sold as turnkey binaries. But that's selling a service and expertise. Which is not the same thing as selling a single app binary.

And even then, it's only a matter of time before somebody uploads your binaries to the torrents. And it's questionable (to the point of doubtful) that you can legally prevent somebody from doing that under the terms of the GPL. Or was last I checked when the question of whether it was ok to wrap a restrictive or proprietary installer around GPL-ed software came up. (Note: I'm not a legal expert so I may be wrong on this point.)

I wish Brian the best. After his fiasco with Apple's App Store (which almost broke him) he deserves a break.

But I don't think his latest brainstorm is going to give it to him.

And I sure hope, for his sake, I'm wrong about that. Sad
« Last Edit: July 07, 2012, 06:47:58 AM by 40hz » Logged

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