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The 'Everyone Gets the Source Code, Donations Get You Binaries' Software Model 341

Posted by Soulskill
from the freedom-with-a-side-of-sustainability dept.
TroysBucket writes "One developer who is trying to fund his development work via donations has taken on an 'Everyone gets the source code, donations get you binaries' business model, where he provides installers and binaries directly only to donating users. Quoting: 'A very central goal of everything I am doing, right now, is to show a concrete [and highly documented] way that other developers can fund their own FOSS work. With that in mind One major mistake I made, right off the bat, was that I provided very little direct benefit to people who donate (no “perks”).' Has anyone seen this work well before with other projects?"
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The 'Everyone Gets the Source Code, Donations Get You Binaries' Software Model

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  • by ModernGeek (601932) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @05:04PM (#40506975) Homepage
    Not sure of how successful it is, but Colloquy for the iPhone is a pay for version, and the source is readily available. Perhaps code signing and walled gardens need to exist for this model to be successful, also release source a version behind the binaries would probably help, too.
  • by millette (56354) <robin@millette. i n fo> on Saturday June 30, 2012 @05:45PM (#40507219) Homepage Journal

    "Sveasoft is a small company which makes its living by selling supported versions of Linux-based firmware for a number of wireless routers. Paying subscribers can download current versions of the firmware, which adds a number of features not normally found on those routers. They can grab updated versions as they become available, and participate in support forums as well.
    Sveasoft's products are based on free software - Linux in particular. The company's approach to GPL compliance has raised eyebrows for a couple of years now. One tactic employed by the company has been to terminate support accounts for any subscriber who further redistributes the Sveasoft binaries or source. The GPL says that customers are entitled to that code (for the GPL-licensed portions of Sveasoft's products, at least), and that they have the right to pass it on to others. Sveasoft has responded that, when this redistribution happens, it is no longer obligated to provide future versions of the software. The company has employed various schemes for determining which subscriber has redistributed any particular version, and has been quite aggressive at shutting down accounts.", quoted from http://lwn.net/Articles/178550/ [lwn.net]

  • Re:Mysid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 30, 2012 @05:49PM (#40507247)

    The NeoOffice project (more-or-less OS X native port of OpenOffice; deliberately not providing a link here because the stunt pulled by the devs at the beginning of 2012 makes them weasels in my book) recently switched to an arrangement similar to this, except those guys are far worse than the developer in TFA (who is actually being perfectly reasonable, IMHO). Essentially, the donation in this case buys you the time savings of not having to compile yourself, and some measure of assurance that the binary is compiled as intended by the developer. And if you're OK with setting up the build environment, running makefiles, and taking the time to run the build, then great.

    The Neo binaries used to be free. Somewhere around the end of 2011/beginning of 2012, without warning, they started requiring money for binaries of the new major-version release (3.2.x). They didn't bother to disable the update check in the latest 3.1.x binaries, nor to modify it to say something like: "NOTE: subsequent updates will be pay only." The weaselly thing is that they describe this as a "voluntary donation" -- no kidding. You can't download the binaries (nor post to most of the forums) without a donation. All of which would be only mildly annoying if the source, which is available via anonymous CVS and includes the makefiles, were actually possible to build by following the published instructions. Unfortunately, it isn't: quite a few people have tried (myself included), and all independently arrived at the same conclusion, which is that the source will absolutely not build as published. (Search the macosx-talk [omnigroup.com] archives and see for yourself.)

    In short, it seems quite clear that the Neo devs are deliberately doing the absolute bare minimum to satisfy the GPL requirements (and to be able to use a ".org" domain, which may have significant tax implications) -- maybe not even that. I suspect they know damn well that the source won't build according to the instructions, even if you follow them to the letter. "Disingenuous" doesn't even begin to cover it.

    By comparison, the developer in this case is being very transparent and upfront with his reasons and intentions. Kudos to him!

    --Tim

  • by synthespian (563437) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @06:37PM (#40507471)

    I have a beef with opinions such as yours. You seem to imply the value of having source code is one of having the regalities of a freeloader. That is to say, we must have the source code, so some dude who specializes in repackaging make us a nice binary, because all we care about is "apt-get install my-freeloading-shit".

    To which I say: no! The value of source code is that if you would like to see the code, to learn how it was done, so that perhaps you can not only just use it, but contribute back, then you might want the source code. This "contract" may or may not make your life easy. The whole idea, when back in the BSD Unix days (the people who invented this open source thing), was one of learning and cooperation.

    Now, if you think I'm some sort of idealist hippie neckbeard, then read my other post (the one in which I propose proprietary binaries + updates with source code with a BSD license - which would allow that, instead of the infamous GPL. This empowers the individual developer. Read: money.)

    In fact, if the developer wants to makes some money off his own software (which might exclude install scripts and makefiles), then who is to say he can't put food on his table, because some free software freeloading unemployed student, living in his parent's home doesn't like it and think it goes against "freedom"?

  • Re:One caveat. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 30, 2012 @07:28PM (#40507715)

    starting with copper ore and coal (I've always wondered how far one person could get...)

    To a toaster at least. A British man did that in a documentary.
      I would say such a model supports the spread of the ideology behind open source and open system even. You build your software (meaning the binaries) exactly the way you want them and every processor and system architecture is invited to the party.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

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