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Ask Slashdot: Spreading the Word About At-Risk Open Source Projects?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the do-not-go-gentle-into-that-good-night dept.

Open Source 115

An anonymous reader writes "There is a piece of software, released under the Modified BSD license, that risks becoming abandonware and, IMHO, is worth being saved. Where can I post an announcement to find people than can take care of it?" This seems like a problem that a lot of projects run into; is there a clearinghouse for open-source projects at risk?

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115 comments

Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625698)

Create a project on one of the FOSS repos. Flag it as needing a maintainer.

You may need to GPL it.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (2)

0racle (667029) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625718)

Can't change the license if you're not the copyright holder.

To the submitter, one way of getting the word out is to actually name and link to the at-risk software in question.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625838)

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. The submitter is wise and asks the the latter.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625892)

As wise as a starving man who throws back his catch while he's being taught. You can do both at once...

Depends how it's been modified BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37626392)

But since most BSD trolls insist that the BSD is more free because you can relicense it into a closed source project, relicensing it to a GPL product should be completely acceptable.

Just don't tell TdR.

Re:Depends how it's been modified BSD (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37626964)

No, you can sublicense it.

If you don't want to continue the project as BSD, you *can* make a GPL fork.

But many GPL trolls seem to think the ability to make closed source derivative works, somehow prevents this.

Re:Depends how it's been modified BSD (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627332)

Huh? Relicensing the code would violate the license. even with BSD only the.copyright owner can relicense it. Yes it can be integrated with.proprietary code, but that doesn't mean it's been relicensed.

Re:Depends how it's been modified BSD (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37628890)

Which definition of the word "troll" are you using here? Is it trolling to state a plain fact?

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37626898)

You can't change the source license. However, you can:

* Link it to GPLed source code - which effectively GPLs all the code after a while, once the BSDed code becomes too dependent on GPLed code
(Hint: This is what people mean by "relicense" - not what the idiots who actually think one can change the license think!)

* License binaries with an EULA on top of the BSD license - evil, but true. The BSD license covers the source code, not binaries, as those are a separate work.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627186)

The BSD license authorize anyone to change the license to GPL or proprietary, so it is totally possible.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37628822)

No version of the BSD license allows any such thing. Clause 1 of all versions of the license explicitly forbids such a thing, in fact. You may make it difficult to separate the BSD code from GPL or propriety code by thoroughly intertwining it, or not even distributing it at all if it's proprietary, but you cannot actually change the license of the BSD licensed code.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37629148)

AFAIK The BSD license don't mention that it is not possible to re-license under proprietary or GNU GPL. The BSD does not demand that the derivative work will be open source too. http://www.opensource.org/licenses/BSD-3-Clause [opensource.org]

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37629494)

The BSD license does not grant you the right to change the license of the code. It does, however, allow you to create new derived works that incorporate the existing work and are released under a new license, as long as you follow a few rules (basically, don't claim you wrote the BSD licensed parts). You can create a new project that has the GPL as an overall license, but some files under a BSD license, but you can't replace the BSD license with the GPL unless you are the copyright holder.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

allo (1728082) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631136)

the bsdl requires you to do some things. The gpl requires you to do just the same plus some additional stuff. Nowhere in the bsdl is said, you cannot make additional rules, its only forbidden to make less. But it is hard to have less rules, because bsdl does not have so many rules.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37632996)

Nowhere in the bsdl is said, you cannot make additional rules

Yes it does. That's basically all the BSDL says, in fact, The one requirement the BSDL has is that you must keep the copyright notice. The copyright notice says, "you can do whatever you want as long as you keep the copyright notice that allows everyone else to do what they want." You cannot add restrictions on top of that, because then you are no longer keeping the copyright notice that says "you can do whatever you want."

The BSDL is a very, very simple license, It's about letting you do whatever you want with the software. It doesn't guarantee that someone else has to make it easy for you to do what you want, it simply means they cannot place any legal restrictions on it.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37629444)

duck..with strawberry souse. Flaming pancakes, it's going get hot in here!

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625740)

GPL it? Why? Maybe let the new maintainer decide, rather than deciding for them?

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625908)

The repo may require it. If you don't have the rights (as another poster mentioned) then I guess you can't use the repo.

Which repo requires GPL? (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625958)

The OP's situation involves software under what appears to be a 3-clause BSD license, which is a GPL-compatible free software license. Which repositories require specifically the GPL as opposed to GPL-compatible free software licenses in general?

Re:Which repo requires GPL? (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37629274)

Which repositories require specifically the GPL as opposed to GPL-compatible free software licenses in general?

GNU Savannah just says "Use a license compatible with the GNU GPL, and use the "or any later version" formulation in your license notices."

Re:Which repo requires GPL? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37629538)

Which doesn't contradict anything that the grandparent said. MIT and BSD licenses are GPL compatible. Any license that is more permissive than the GPL is GPL compatible, because the GPL only states that code may not have more restrictions placed on it than are present in the GPL (thus GPLv3 is incompatible with GPLv2, because it includes restrictions not present in GPLv2). You can include a BSDL component in a GPL'd project. There are a few BSDL projects hosted on GNU Savannah, although not very many.

Re:Which repo requires GPL? (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 2 years ago | (#37634100)

Which repositories require specifically the GPL as opposed to GPL-compatible free software licenses in general?

GNU Savannah just says "Use a license compatible with the GNU GPL, and use the "or any later version" formulation in your license notices."

So GNU Savannah does NOT require specifically the GPL as opposed to GPL-compatible free software licenses, in fact the passage you quoted explicitly states that.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37626994)

So, the new maintainer can maintain a fork, have the original mention the fork as the successor application, and GPL the fork.

Not a challenge.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 2 years ago | (#37626878)

There are people who are reluctant to put effort into a project, which can be just taken by a company and put into a closed source product. And looking at the size of GNU/Linux world, compared to xBSD world, I'd say there are more of these people, than people who'd rather contribute to BSD licensed project. So switching to GPL might improve chances of the project staying alive.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627028)

But if you aren't going to maintain it yourself, why make that choice for the future maintainer? Leave the option up to them. Especially since the reverse change is a lot harder to manage.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627262)

Yeah, if just putting the source out there, then sure, best leave it up to the hypothetical future maintainer.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#37628128)

Exactly. If you don't have anything to offer in the way of work and improvements, then you haven't really forked the project. If you don't have that, then worrying about how you're going to license your non-fork is dumb. ;)

Any new maintainer will do as they please with it, regardless of what you do. The point is to advertise that an existing project needs maintainers.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37629580)

There are people who are reluctant to put effort into a project, which then may not be usable by them in some future situation. And, looking at the number of active contributors to LLVM, compared to GCC, I'd say there are more of these people than people who'd rather contribute to a GPL'd project. Sticking with the BSDL might improve chances of the project staying alive.

See? It works both ways. Oh, and for the record I get paid to write BSDL code fairly often, but I've never been paid to write GPL'd code (although I do sometimes get paid to write LGPL'd code).

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 2 years ago | (#37629972)

I was talking about the entire (partially overlapping, of course) ecosystems, you're taking an individual piece of software, so I'd say my case is stronger. But of course if a company is going to adopt an abandoned open source project, then they are more likely to prefer BSD license. It depends on a type of the software, and whether an individual or a business is expected/hoped to pick it up.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636680)

You said Linux (which is a tiny project with about 70 regular contributors) compared to *BSD. I picked another project. If you're talking about the entire ecosystem, then you might consider things like the entire Apache ecosystem, which are more permissively licensed than the GPL, things like OpenOffice (LGPL), the Mozilla family (triple licensed, MPL, LGPL, and GPL), X11 (MIT license). Even things like GTK and Qt and the core libraries for common desktop environments are LGPL, not GPL'd.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633802)

There are people who are reluctant to put effort into a project, which can be just taken by a company and put into a closed source product. And looking at the size of GNU/Linux world, compared to xBSD world, I'd say there are more of these people, than people who'd rather contribute to BSD licensed project.

Looking at Postgres (or, at least from its activity, SQLite) vs. any GPL-licensed RDBMS project, I'd say the reverse -- looser license are better at attracting effort.

OTOH, its more likely that the important distinctions on either the OS side or the RDBMS side aren't the licenses at all.

Re:Taking Care of Open Source Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37634506)

Thank goodness it's open source, YOU can modify it. Just like anyone else can modify it. That is what is so good about open source. Didn't anyone ever tell you that? Modifying and maintaining code is easy for everyone. Or didn't you get the memo from all the proprietary hating Slashdot wonks.

Try to get the license changed to GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625726)

You might find more people willing to take it on.

The problem with BSD is that anyone can take the code private, and give nothing back to the project. Many people feel this is unfair, and tend not to want to provide unpaid work.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (1, Interesting)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625810)

The problem with GPL is that nobody can take the code private and make money selling it. Many people like me think this is unfair and tend not to provide unpaid work. I sometimes send bug reports to a GPL project, but would never even consider contributing any code. GPL people feel the same way about my MIT licensed projects. So before you change the license, be sure you are on the side you want to be on. I have no numbers, but you should not just assume one side is larger than the other.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (2)

ysth (1368415) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625884)

Your high horse doesn't let you do unpaid work, but you are willing to use these projects for which you send bug reports? Don't you feel morally tainted by encouraging other people to do unpaid work like that? How about you consider use of the end result as your payment.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625988)

You are aware, of course, that numerous projects (GPL or MIT or BSD) are developed by paid-for people, right?

If I develop an open source project, I'd rather have people use it than people not use it. I feel it will be more useful to have real-life users that contribute in feature wishes and bug reports rather than a few users that either violate the GPL and don't contribute or dump me some code blob from time to time that will take ages to incorporate and may violate my guidelines / prectices to the point where I won't even want to incorporate the code.

That's me. Your mileage may vary. So I tend to prefer BSD-type licenses nowadays.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (1)

ysth (1368415) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631036)

Your reasoning is totally inapplicable to a choice between BSD-type and GPL licenses. With either, you can refuse to accept code contributions from users. With neither is a user who modifies your code obligated to give their changes to you.

Which is not to say that a BSD-type license is not a better fit for you, though that too has nothing to do with explaining why you feel it wrong for you to contribute code to GPL'd projects.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636588)

you feel it wrong for you to contribute code to GPL'd projects.

Huuuu, where did you get that from?

Not having to maintain your private patch (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625984)

The reward for contributing your code to a GPL program is not having to maintain your private patch against the program's source code for as long as you use the program.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (2)

Silk (13032) | more than 2 years ago | (#37626508)

You don't know much about the GPL, do you? You were almost right about one thing: "nobody can take the code private." Only the copyright holder has the right to change the license. Anyone else, however, can make changes to the software, not provide those changes back to the copyright holder AND make money by selling GPL software. Any modifications you make to the software are also licensed under the GPL and you are not required to share the source code with anyone except the people that use your modifications. If you sell object code (binaries) of the software to customers, you are required to provide the source code to your customers upon request. The price you charge for the software is only limited by what your customers are willing to pay and you can't charge anything more for the source code.

It's not difficult. Reading the GNU project's philosophy on selling GPL software [gnu.org] might help you better understand how it works. Looking up "selling GPL software" [google.com] on Google is also an option.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (0)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#37626972)

The price you charge for the software is only limited by what your customers are willing to pay and you can't charge anything more for the source code.

You are forgetting one crucial difference: the GPL does not allow any restrictions to be placed on redistribution of the software other than the ones explicitly mentioned in the license (such as the source code availability requirement). When you purchase a proprietary program you are not allowed to give it out for free to anybody. You are not allowed to upload it to a torrent site and let the whole world have it. When people do that, they commit copyright infringement, which is a crime, even though it is seldom prosecuted. When you pay for a GPL program, you are not bound by any agreement to not redistribute it, so it becomes perfectly legal to give it away for free to everybody. The consumer thereafter has a choice: download it for free or pay you for it. With proprietary software the former choice is illegal, which serves as a deterrent to some people. With GPL software both options are equally legal and create the same result, so which choice do you think the user will take? I'm betting you won't make a dime after the free torrents and mirrors pop up.

Of course, GNU does not really think you should be making any money that way anyhow. If you were to actually read the links you provided, you'd see that GNU does not want you selling the actual software in the first place. The fee they suggest charging is the copying and distribution fee and other service fees related to the software, rather than the software itself. Copying fee is not justifiable any more, since physical distribution media is more or less obsolete. Other services like offering support or modifications are likewise impractical [slashdot.org], and generally beside the point because you'd be making money from the wrong kind of labor - customer service instead of software development.

Some of us want to be software developers rather than helpdesk jockeys and get paid for it. It's what we're good at, and we want to be paid for it. For writing code, not for holding customer hands, or for getting yelled at, or for pleading to big corporations to "please please buy my custom splash screen". We also recognize that there are people like you and Richard Stallman who dislike that attitude and want us all unemployed and dead. All I have to say about that is: you can keep your GPL and your philosophy and get out of our hair.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 2 years ago | (#37628878)

You aren't seeing the full picture. Yes, you're right, physical media is obsolete, and charging a fee for making physical copies won't make much money. But you don't think support and service works either, and Red Hat has made it work. You didn't mention ad revenue, and that's fine. Ad revenue cannot start projects, it can only help projects that have already achieved some popularity.

So what do you suggest for a solution? Copyright it and hope that respect for the law will persuade enough people to pay for a license? Sorry, I don't think that will work. Copyright evokes precious little respect any more, thanks in part to the crusade waged against millions of ordinary citizens, with lawsuits, 3 strikes laws, and DRM. Even if the reputation hadn't been ruined, we can see that copyright is too costly. It's insane the way businesses have to keep records of all their software purchases for each computer, in case they are audited. When we have to spend 10x as much solely to comply with copyright, we're going to question it. Evading copyright is actually easier than complying, and often results in a better product. People simply aren't going to jump through a bunch of pointless hoops. We can't force them to do it either, not through the law, and not through technological means. Even if you wrote some successful software and managed to sell access to it, it only takes a few people to duplicate its functionality, without breaking any laws, and then where are you? Sidelined, unless your software is so much better that it's worth the price. But when that software gets better than your own, then what? Resort to lock in and inertia, as MS has done? That can't last.

We need some other system. I think I know what it must be: some form of patronage. Exactly how it will be organized, operated, funded and its revenues distributed is wide open. I am thinking we will want many diverse organizations all working a little differently than any other, as that has the best chance of covering as much as possible so that no deserving software writer is left out.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627088)

MySQL
RedHat
etc.

Yes, you can make money with the GPL, even if you can't make closed source derivatives.

Personally, I want a license that says:
- If you release your derivative open source, changes made in the derivative can be back-ported to the original project, without modification of the original project license
- If you release the derived work for compensation (either of the derived work or related services), you must make an agreement with the original to properly compensate the original author/project team.

This means that you fairly compensate the original team, but can release your derived work with whatever mechanism you like (closed or open source, for or without compensation).

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627398)

So you want a license that will scare off any.commercial company from touching it? with those terms most companies will stick to a proprietary solution instead.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627626)

Why would it scare off any commercial company?

They check the desired price, come to an agreement, and pay it, as with any other proprietary solution. They don't have to release their code open source, so they can keep modifications under their hats if they want, but they do get the benefit of back-ported OSS softwawre. In other words, they pay as they would proprietary software, but they get some extra developmental effort as well, and don't need to release their source if they don't want to.

Each side contributes as each side recieves.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#37632860)

Just use 2 licenses. It's called dual-licensing and is done all the time (QT does a similar thing). The only time you run into issues is with code others have submitted to the project, since those authors technically own those patches, you need to make sure they release it under both licenses as well.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627090)

The problem with GPL is that nobody can take the code private and make money selling it.

There are several companies that have no problem making a wad of cash from GPL software without changing the license. At least one has two or three other groups giving away the same software for free, and yet is still doing just fine.

Typical miss-understanding of the GPL(2) features. (1)

geohump (782273) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627124)

You don't have to take the code private to sell the product.

Under the GPL (2)

#1 You can make your own changes to the product source code
#2 You can build that product
#3 You can sell that product for any price you want.
#4 You -do not- have to publish the src code on the web.
                If your customer requests a copy of the GPL source code, you give them a copy. You can charge a reasonable fee for making the copy. You can provide the copy as regular text source, or a paper printout, or a pdf file etc..

#5 If you use GPL(2) code in a product you build, you don't have to share the code you yourself created - IF IT MEETS EITHER ONE OF THESE TWO REQUIREMENTS:
#1 The GPL code you use is LGPL and all you do is link to it.
OR
#2 you structure your code so that it is only dynamically linked to the GPL(2) code. I need to double check on this one and i dont have time right now. I'll try to get back to y'all on this.

Re:Try to get the license changed to GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37634190)

The problem with BSD is that anyone can take the code private, and give nothing back to the project. Many people feel this is unfair, and tend not to want to provide unpaid work.

So you'll only work on projects with people who share the same view as you? I'm sure somewhere along the supply chain you very often deal with people that don't share your world view and most certainly would have people contributing to the products you purchase working in conditions - and for pay - that you would deem 'unfair'. So GPL zealots are pretty hypocritical!

Oh I get it (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625732)

You're trying to find someone who will work for free to maintain a piece of software with dubious usefulness just because you like it.

You got 2 options:

1. Learn to program it and maintain it yourself.
2. Pay someone to do it for you.

Re:Oh I get it (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625782)

Most likely, although I do come across projects from time to time that have been abandoned for years that would have been useful if they had made it to critical mass. And those sorts of projects can easily die if they don't attract enough attention early on to handle the lead developer leaving.

Re:Oh I get it (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625996)

When I come across a project like that, I ask myself the question "Why did this project not make it to critical mass?" Chances are very good it's one of the following:
1. It really wasn't that useful, just a fairly good idea that turned out to be not worth the effort.
2. It's handled better or at least well enough by a larger more established project.
3. It's targeting a problem that's only a problem to a tiny number of people.

I'm not saying there isn't some project infancy mortality due to failure to publicize, but if it's really that good, either the original developer will want to keep working on it (because it's useful to him), or that developer will be enamored of it enough to show to his / her friend, who finds it useful enough to keep working on it.

And GP is right that if your problem is that there's only a tiny number of people who need the project, and you are a part of that minority, the right thing to do is either take it on yourself or pay somebody to help you out.

Re:Oh I get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37626312)

The original developer making for himself doesn't always make the best published program. I've released a few myself - operation is by a combination of hard-coded parameters and undocumented command line options. If people were using them other than me, then and only then would I be bothered to put effort into useability.

Re:Oh I get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625788)

If you genuinely *need* the software, this is probably the best advice, otherwise you can sit around and hope someone else picks it up and you can benefit from it. Sometimes you have to be the one to pick up the challenge.

Re:Oh I get it (2)

studog-slashdot (771604) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625818)

You're trying to find someone who will work for free to maintain a piece of software with dubious usefulness just because you like it.

You got 2 options:

1. Learn to program it and maintain it yourself.

2. Pay someone to do it for you.

I'll take this opportunity to point out that, if this had been a piece of commercial software where the corporation behind it was gone, your options would be:

1.

2.

This is the power of OSS. You still have options when things don't go the way you'd hoped.

Re:Oh I get it (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625856)

3. learn about RE and code injection.

It is used in extreme case...

Re:Oh I get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625924)

3b) Get sued by corporation for altering their software and / or redistributing it.

Re:Oh I get it (1)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627416)

3c) fail to read "where the corporation behind it was gone"

Re:Oh I get it (1)

Anonymus (2267354) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627794)

Oh, someone somewhere probably owns it. If you declare bankruptcy, all your stuff (including IP) goes up for auction.

I'm just guessing, but I imagine very few businesses large enough to have IP close without a fight ending in bankruptcy.

Re:Oh I get it (1)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 2 years ago | (#37628532)

If it's been bought out of bankruptcy by someone else, then there is still a corporation behind it... it is changed, not gone.

Re:Oh I get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37634348)

You're trying to find someone who will work for free to maintain a piece of software with dubious usefulness just because you like it.

You got 2 options:

1. Learn to program it and maintain it yourself.

2. Pay someone to do it for you.

I'll take this opportunity to point out that, if this had been a piece of commercial software where the corporation behind it was gone, your options would be:
Determine who owns the software, buy it and:

1. Learn the software and language and maintain it yourself

2. Track down the programmers that worked on it and pay them to maintain it

This is the power of OSS. You still have options when things don't go the way you'd hoped.

FTFY, in any case it's going to cost you, whether it's money, time or both.

Re:Oh I get it (1)

chronoglass (1353185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625882)

hate to say it, but for the most part this is true.
if it were useful for everyone, in general, it would survive on it's own. Sort of one of the points of open source really.

Re:Oh I get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37626040)

I don't know about that. People that are willing to adopt a stray animal are not necessarily the people that find stray animals. It makes sense to have an intermediary where both parties can meet.

Re:Oh I get it (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625978)

Bit of a shame this was posted anonymously, because it's 100% true yet many readers filter anonymous cowards. There are few better ways to find out how interesting a software project is to the world at large than releasing it as F/OSS and seeing who - if anyone - picks up on it.

It's something that many of us who advocate F/OSS need to be careful of.

If a company goes to the wall, the idea that all their customers are guaranteed to be SOL is just plain wrong. The likelihood is that some other company will buy their customer list and pick up their products - either to maintain them or to migrate the customers to something else. Getting new customers is a fantastically difficult, expensive, risky operation so to buy a ready-made group of customers who you know need a product that does X because they're already using it is a very efficient way to grow a business.

The customers are fairly unlikely to be left with nothing.

Anyone who's been running a business for any length of time is not only fully aware of this, but is going to consider the "if they collapse, you're stuffed" argument to be somewhat odd, at best.

If a F/OSS project goes to the wall, however, you're pretty much on your own.

Re:Oh I get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37626322)

I think the bigger commercial risk is old code either{

- unfamiliar to the new hires who want to replace more than necessary (~ Visual Basic, Metro?) or

- not modernized as much as necessary (Palm)

}

Open source offers outside influence and ideas here, making it less-likely to kill-off a product.

Re:Oh I get it (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37629668)

If a F/OSS project goes to the wall, however, you're pretty much on your own.

Only if you're the only user of the project. If you're the only user of a piece of proprietary code, no one is going to care about you when the company goes bust - the best you can hope for is being able to buy the code outright from the receivers. If you're the only user of a piece of F/OSS code, then you may want to invest some money in maintaining it.

If there are lots of users, then you won't be the only one with a vested interest in seeing it not die. At least some of these would probably find it cheaper to put some money into funding development than to migrate to something else.

Re:Oh I get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37631752)

In my world, this is what happens when a closed source vendor goes under...

1.) Company A sells you a $very_expensive package specific to your (very narrow) industry, along with $expensive_support/yr
2.) Company A can't sell enough to anyone else, so they go out of business
3.) Competitor B buys some/all of Company A and offers a 10% discount off $even_more_very_expensive package as an upgrade, while offering $twice_as_expensive_support/yr for the old package from support staff that have no interest in what they are supporting since it's old and NIH that is riddled with a mix of 'it's impoosible to do $X [which you've been doing for years, but is broken suddenly]' and 'We can do that if you are willing to pay $crazy_insane_expensive customization'.
4.) Repeat!

Notice the lack of 'profit'?

what's the name? (4, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625850)

So you want to spread the word but won't even give out the name?

Re:what's the name? (3, Interesting)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625920)

If the submitter had given the name, the comments would be full of people bitching about slashvertisments.

Re:what's the name? (3, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625986)

Yes there are idiots who would do that. So what? If the guy wants help he's going to have to give out the name. I'd be interested but if the guy won't say the name it'll be a bit hard to help them.

Its not about that project - its more general (2)

FritzSolms (859937) | more than 2 years ago | (#37626306)

If the poster had given the name, the focus might have been on how to safe that particular project whilst the question is more general (and more important). What infrastructure has open source got in place to safe abandoned software projects in general?

Re:Its not about that project - its more general (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37626834)

True but for someone interested.in helping the question asker I can't do so without the software's name.

Re:Its not about that project - its more general (1)

FritzSolms (859937) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627102)

Except by pointing out general places where orphaned OSS projects can be advertized for adoption :)

Re:Its not about that project - its more general (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627268)

That's all fine and dandy but if I don't know the projects name how will I know which request.for.help is his? As I said if help him with maintaining the project but I can't help without knowing its name. I'm offering to help here and now. If I'm going to have to wait forever for him to post his request on some other site then I'll just move on. No big loss for me.

Universities? (2)

Niris (1443675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37625886)

Depending on the size of the project you may want to see if any students looking for a graduation project would want to pick it up

Re:Universities? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37628056)

This seems like a good suggestion and isn't getting much play.....commenting because I don't have mod points and hoping this gives more credence to this answer.

Uwe Hermann? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37628366)

He runs the Unmaintained Free Software archive. It's currently down but the best thing would seem to be to contact him and get the project listed.

The next step would be to get the aforementioned students interested in picking up projects listed on his site. There are A LOT. Some probably deserves junking, but other projects are of high importance and should be picked up.

It would be great if Google's Summer of Code could involve not just proven teams working on proven projects, but could also include revival of projects with a high probability of value by teams formed for the purpose. Yes, I know, they have to balance the risks and the potential for returns, but some of the abandonware is already of amazingly high quality, it just has to be maintained. That's relatively low risk for a Google.

Fork it (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625906)

Well, first of all, there's no such thing as "abandonware" in open source. The term is used to describe closed source program in which was offered at one point and then largely forgotten about by its developers and therefore not ported to newer operating systems and/or architectures despite having an active or semi-active user base.

With open source software, the code is always available so anyone who wants to continue maintaining it can always do so. If you, as a user, care enough about the project, and the maintainer seems to have left town, then it's up to you to continue maintaining it and/or fork your own version. If you're not a developer, then hire one. You can't just rally the community and say, "hey there, somebody please support this software for me! It's BSD-licensed so I don't have to pay you!"

Re:Fork it (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37627326)

You can't just rally the community and say, "hey there, somebody please support this software for me! It's BSD-licensed so I don't have to pay you!"

Of course you can. It's just that you'll most likely not be very successful.

Re:Fork it (2)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37628422)

Not true, I'm afraid. VSIPL++ was GPLed for some time by CodeSourcery. When they were bought up by Mentor Graphics, the GPL version ceased to be available. Anywhere. It is not on their site, requests for information reveal only that it was funded by the USAF and that when the funding stopped so did the project.

I know of nobody who possesses a copy of that last GPLed VSIPL++ library. I know of no repository hosting it. I know of no developer attempting to maintain it. There will be binaries out there, since the code was indeed used, but the source? The source appears to no longer exist.

(Yes, the commercial branch of VSIPL++ is still under development but there's no source for it.)

That, in my books, makes the GPL branch of the library every bit as much Abandonware as any other product.

Worth Saving? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37625982)

Isn't that for it's hundreds or thousands of users to decide, one of which might be willing to save it himself/herself?

Software that doesn't get used, dies.

Social engineering (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37626082)

Try sending the project a DMCA Cease and Decist notice, and then post a story in slashdot about some patent troll bullying an open source project.

Then watch as the streisand effect does its magic.

Open Source Software (2)

Lando (9348) | more than 2 years ago | (#37626230)

Generally open source software are scratch projects, ie I have an itch so I scratch it. If something isn't maintained, it either works well enough as it is or isn't used. If you want to keep work going on it and are not a programmer you have 3 real solutions, ie pay to have it worked on, try to interest others in working on it by advertising via websites(slashdot / freshmeat / sourceforge / github /etc), personal emails to people that might want to work on it, or any other means of communication, eg attend a local Lug, etc, the last option of course is to learn how to program and scratch the itch yourself.

The biggest issue is the license the software is released under. If GPL, just fork the code and get to work. If under a more restrictive license your hands are pretty much tied. Proprietary software dies quite frequently, opensource might get mothballed for years and then get pulled back out when someone has an itch to scratch.

Gotta encourage developers (1)

rokkaku (127052) | more than 2 years ago | (#37626360)

Ack, "that risks becoming abandonware?" How do you know?

It might be pretty insulting for the current maintainer to find out that you think the software is not advancing quickly enough. I mean, if there's really nothing going on, new patches aren't being incorporated, etc., then, yeah, it might be a good time to look at some options. If it is just that the current maintainer isn't doing what you want, working hard to support your current platform, is doing this on weekends when they have some spare time, etc., then perhaps you should think about ways to encourage and help the current maintainer. Getting them a set of patches for whatever functionality you want to add is a lot more effective than posting to Slashdot.

Again, there aren't enough details to know which kind of problem you have (real abandonware or a cranky user), but it would be good to think about this before proceeding.

Where OSS goes to die (3, Insightful)

chrish (4714) | more than 2 years ago | (#37626390)

Lots and lots of dead/abandoned Open Source projects at sourceforge.net, codeplex.com, etc.

I don't think we need a new service for this, just go look for projects that haven't been updated in 3+ years, you'll find lots of them.

Re:Where OSS goes to die (2)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37628454)

Too late. Uwe Hermann has been running a service since around 2002 for abandoned Open Source software, maybe longer. And, yes, it's been on Slashdot a few times (thank you Google).

Re:Where OSS goes to die (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37629694)

2000, actually, since he posted on /. in 2002 saying "Pretty exactly two years ago I started to work on the Unmaintained Free Software site.(...)"

Re:Where OSS goes to die (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 2 years ago | (#37631766)

There are also a lot of widely used projects that haven't been updated in years, simply because they are finished, believe it or not.

Talk to the current project lead? (1)

dthulson (904894) | more than 2 years ago | (#37626462)

Have you already tried to contact the project lead(s)? Maybe they'd help you take it over, or your interest could encourage him/her/them to get going again, etc...

Evolution at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37626848)

Survival of the fittest.

Request a search feature on freshmeat (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37626974)

Send a request to freshmeat.net for a search feature allowing you to search for projects that haven't been updated for a long time.

Re:Request a search feature on freshmeat (1)

captjc (453680) | more than 2 years ago | (#37632712)

Better yet, they can set up a new website that has all the projects that haven't been updated. It could be called...Deadmeat!

Re:Request a search feature on freshmeat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37636238)

I'm the original poster. Unfortunately, Toontalk [codegoogle.com] connot be published on Freshmeat, being, as now, a Windows only software.

Too soon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37627562)

"There is a piece of software, released under the Modified BSD license, that risks becoming abandonware and, IMHO, is worth being saved. Where can I post an announcement to find people than can take care of it?"

Are you talking about MacOS??

Abandonware? (1)

LocalH (28506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37628292)

This is not "abandonware". Certainly not when it comes to open source software that is still freely available and not at all hard to acquire. "Abandonware", traditionally, has referred to closed source software that, over time, either has no known copyright holder (but is not public domain so is still illegal to redistribute) or has literally been "abandoned" by the copyright holder (but is also not public domain so is still illegal to redistribute). Thus making the ability to find a legitimate copy of the software much tougher than it needs to be, and (ignoring abandonware sites and other such forms of "piracy-preservation") increases the likelihood of a work being lost forever.

Reddit /r/programming (1)

H0bb3z (17803) | more than 2 years ago | (#37629038)

Describe the details in a post to http://www.reddit.com/r/programming

There's quite a concentrated community in some of the sub-reddits -- you are bound to find a kindred spirit with a passion for the application that may not realize it is at risk. The community is very interactive and may be helpful in finding a home for the ailing project...

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