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Open Source Payday

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the and-ya-takes-yer-chances dept.

Open Source 129

itwbennett writes "The recent Slashdot discussion on the open source community's attitude on profits neglected an important point: 'no profits' doesn't mean 'no money.' There are plenty of open source not-for-profit organizations that take in millions of dollars in order to pursue their public-minded missions, and some pay their employees handsomely. Brian Proffitt combed through the latest publicly available financial information on 18 top FLOSS organizations to bring you the cold, hard numbers."

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129 comments

didnt that song say .... (-1, Offtopic)

trinity93 (215227) | about 2 years ago | (#39464747)

Cant buy me looooovvvvveeeee! Looooovvvvveeee! ~ Beatles

Re:didnt that song say .... (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#39464853)

Cant buy me looooovvvvveeeee! Looooovvvvveeee! ~ Beatles

I'm quite sure Robert Love will be happy to do a consulting gig for you for a fee.

What does each dude make? (1)

rottenSoul (900240) | about 2 years ago | (#39464751)

Working on FOSS or commercial, its good to know your value. On commercial, I have a dollar value on mine. RS

Brian Proffitt (0)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#39464753)

Brian Proffitt should shut up and stop trying to manufacture some kind of controversy over absolutely nothing controversial or even notable.

Re:Brian Proffitt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39464881)

What controversy? The article is as factual as a listing of the facts appearing in the companies' filings could possibly get. It doesn't contain a single subjective word offering opinion in any direction whatsoever.

If anyone is trying to create a controversy it's the poster Alex Belits, starting with the pure ad hominem in the subject line.. Christ, what a retard.

Perhaps I should have given this response a title of "Alex Belits", but that would have been just too easy.

Re:Brian Proffitt (0, Flamebait)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#39464889)

Brian Proffitt has a long history of Fox News-style articles with idiotic "questions" he is trying to attach to open source developers and open source software in general. This is clearly one of them.

Re:Brian Proffitt (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39465033)

This is clearly one of them.

Only in your imagination. You simply didn't read what he wrote and made an assumption, which happens to be utterly incorrect.

The fact that the article doesn't contain a single subjective word offering opinion in any direction whatsoever is impossible to dispute --- try and find one ---, and therefore you're extracting controversy out of empty air.

If you wanted to be accurate, you could have said: "Brian Proffitt has a long history of Fox News-style articles with idiotic 'questions' he is trying to attach to open source developers and open source software in general. This is clearly NOT ONE OF THEM."

But no, accuracy would not have allowed you to spout your biased agenda. You're adopting the reporting standard of Fox News perfectly.

Re:Brian Proffitt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39465161)

The fact that the article doesn't contain a single subjective word offering opinion in any direction whatsoever is impossible to dispute --- try and find one --

Cherry-picking which companies are talked about is one way to inject a subjective opinion into a factual report. There may not be any subjective words or opinions expressed directly, but that doesn't mean they aren't in there.

You're adopting the reporting standard of Fox News perfectly.

Yeah, if you want some good examples in action watch Fox.

H. Peter Anvin (4, Informative)

game kid (805301) | about 2 years ago | (#39464759)

The source article mispells H. Peter Anvin [wikipedia.org] as "Alvin" where he's listed for "The Linux Kernel Organization". I normally wouldn't have cared but for all the times I've seen his name on various Linux bootloaders...he's kind of a big deal. :)

Electrician.... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39464847)

If I need a new electrical socket, I may hire an electrician to put one in. I pay him some money.

Yet, the specs of the socket, the wiring, how to connect them all up are easily available and in the public domain, for free. After he's connected the socket, I can see his work, I could even copy it to add my own socket in another room.

The electrician would be paid money for what he did. He does not fit sockets out of 'love'!!

Why should Open Source software development be any different?

Re:Electrician.... (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39465229)

Why should Open Source software development be any different?

Wrong question. The correct question is why should software development be any different? Back in the day, putting software on disks, boxing it up and distributing it was a large part of the cost of development. Now, with the Internet, distributing software is basically free. Writing software, however, still takes time, which means it takes money (even if it's just opportunity cost). In fact, given the increase in complexity of software, it often costs a lot more than it used to.

So does it make sense to do the expensive bit (creating the software) for free and then try to charge for the trivial bit (copying the software)? Absolutely not! It would be like your electrician putting in the socket for free and then charging you a small fee every time you turned it on or off.

I write quite a lot of open source software. Some of it I write because I want to use it. Some of it I write because I'm paid. The people who pay me are almost always people who want to use the software. It's usually much cheaper for them to pay me to add a few features to an existing project than to pay a team of people to recreate it. I get paid to write it, so I'm happy. They get the software that they want to use and don't have to worry about EULAs, license audits, or hidden costs when they scale up their business, so they're happy. The only people who are unhappy are the ones trying to cling to a business model that doesn't make any sense.

Unfortunately that doesn't work all the time (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 2 years ago | (#39465825)

Either from the consumer or the author's standpoint. The real problem is with software that is complex and expensive to develop but, if done right, easy to use. There's little to no ability to sell support on it if you do it right because it is easy to use, well documented, and so on. So you aren't going to make money trying to sell support contracts. However you also can't rely on good will. If you need to spend $10 million to write the stuff you'd better have a way to make that money back. However it isn't feasible for a customer to plunk down that kind of cash, and if it was they very well might wish to own the resulting code.

As an example: I need video editing software at work. None of the OSS solutions are remotely close to capable of what they need to do. So, commercial software it is. We can afford to drop $500 for Sony Vegas (and did). We can't afford to pay developers to fix up the OSS out there because it would cost a lot, given that it would be a ton of work to get what we want, and of course there's no guarantees they could get the job done.

Well Sony has to charge for Vegas, because it took a substantial team a good amount of time to write the stuff (not to mention shit they had to license). They can't afford to give it away and hope people will give them money either to be nice, or for new features. Frankly I wouldn't because it has all the features I want that I'd be willing to pay for.

I'm not saying it is a model that can never work, but there are many cases where it isn't workable.

So then when you wish to charge for the development, how do you do it? Well by breaking it down in to small amounts that each person pays. You sell it for a price people are willing to pay, and sell enough copies and you make your investment back and make a profit.

Same shit is done with physical goods. When you buy a CPU you aren't just paying for the production cost, you are paying R&D. That's why even after you account for all the markups and so on you find the cost doesn't match. The reason is there's hidden cost in there. You pay the marginal AND the R&D. For Software there is a low marginal but there's still the R&D.

Re:Unfortunately that doesn't work all the time (3, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#39467275)

The problem with FOSS is what I call the "Busted shitter dilemma" which you ran into when you couldn't find a replacement for Vegas. As you pointed out taking one of the existing FOSS editors and bringing it to to Vegas level? Really really REALLY not fun, instead it'll be long, slow, headache inducing thankless work. Since as you have pointed out it is VERY difficult to make money with FOSS except in some very niche circumstances that work simply doesn't get done.

I bet the FOSS editing software you looked at had lousy or incomplete docs, obvious features missing, and one or more nasty bugs that had been well documented but not fixed. That isn't because all FOSS software is shit, its because of human nature. We humans love to create new things but HATE long boring tedious jobs. Ask for someone to write you a song or paint you a portrait for free? you'll probably find several willing to do so. Ask them to come fix your busted shitter? Watch as you have ZERO willing to do this, its just the way it is.

That is why I have been saying for years we need a NEW license, one that will allow companies like Canonical the ability to get paid for fixing busted shitters. Wouldn't it be nice if Canonical didn't have to flail around trying to find some way to make money, like slapping together Unity and trying to sell it to TV and phone OEMs that will never bite? Wouldn't it be nice if instead they could pay developers to ONLY make things better? Better docs, QA, regression testing, insuring that all software fit the UI conventions, in short making a truly world class OS? Wouldn't that be nice? Because like it or not for every creative job you have in FOSS you have 100 that are about as pleasant as being the guy that cleans up the puke at the Chuck E Cheese. So instead we need a new license i call the "Hard Work" license, because I think we would all agree if you bust your ass you should get to be paid for your labor. here is the new license:

1.-You are allowed to have the code, 2.-You are free to modify that code for personal use in any way you desire, 3.-If you distribute that code YOU MUST PAY for a license, which must be offered.

See how simple that is? You still get ALL your freedoms, even the freedom to distribute (since the other company can't just refuse to sell you a license) but those that actually fix the busted shitters can be paid for their doing the thankless jobs nobody will do for free. Imagine how truly incredible the FOSS landscape would be in less than 5 years...Vegas? There would be software MUCH better since the devs would get feedback direct from the users and wouldn't have to depend on selling new features. Operating systems? Apple and MSFT are stunned when the latest releases come out and ALL the complaints have been wiped out, all drivers are solid and stable, upgrades never break, all the docs are well written and helpful, the entire ecosystem thanks to having the users and devs tied tightly together and the devs having a monetary incentive to listen to their users causes a complete change, no more itch scratching and "will not fix" blowing off the users since those that strive for a "it all just works perfectly" mantra get rewarded for their hard work.

Its really simple folks, the GPL works in SOME places but not ALL places and I would argue not even in most places does the GPL license work. It works in both servers and embedded because large corporations make money on those servers and embedded devices and thus see it as an investment, this model simply doesn't work on the desktop or on software that will primarily be used on a desktop. What you end up with is what we have now, where companies that try to treat FOSS as more than a hobby blow millions before finally folding for lack of a way to recoup costs. The landscape is littered with the dead, gOS, Xandros, Linspire, Novell, Mandriva any day now and within 3 years Canonical. If you want the desktop software to get beyond some guy's hobby and the desktops to have more polish than "Bob's distro" then you simply have to allow those that spend large sums fixing the busted shitters the ability to recoup their costs and make a couple of bucks. Devs need to eat too ya know, isn't that fair? Because as it is you reward those that don't give you the code like Apple and MSFT because THEY can charge per software and you can not.

Re:Electrician.... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 2 years ago | (#39467051)

It's usually much cheaper for them to pay me to add a few features to an existing project than to pay a team of people to recreate it.

Hurm...

My dad's a master carpenter. If you asked him to, say, add in a bay window to the front of your house he'd be able to estimate what it would cost including materials, time, and potential cost overruns. Contractors pretty much always pocket the difference.

I really like the whole "bug bounty" thing as it provides an economic incentive to find bugs... so why aren't there more software developers that do the same thing? "Want me to add a feature to this program? Ask me. If enough people ask me I might do it for free. If it's something you really want, I may very well do it for a fair price."

There are more than a few programs out there that I wish had certain functionality and I'd be more than glad to pay for it.

Re:Electrician.... (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39467647)

why aren't there more software developers that do the same thing? "Want me to add a feature to this program? Ask me. If enough people ask me I might do it for free. If it's something you really want, I may very well do it for a fair price."

Most open source developers will do this. If you want a feature, we'll quite happily give you a quote for implementing it. I usually work on a fixed price, so I estimate how long it will take, multiply that by my daily rate, and will do it for that amount. Even if projects don't advertise it, a mail to the list saying 'I want this feature, what will it cost' will usually get some replies...

Re:Electrician.... (3, Interesting)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 2 years ago | (#39468501)

Most open source developers will do this. If you want a feature, we'll quite happily give you a quote for implementing it. I usually work on a fixed price, so I estimate how long it will take, multiply that by my daily rate, and will do it for that amount. Even if projects don't advertise it, a mail to the list saying 'I want this feature, what will it cost' will usually get some replies...

Consider my ignorance of the fact a hint that maybe you guys should advertise it a bit. Think of all the people who are not taking advantage of something they otherwise would had they known it exists.

Re:Electrician.... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39467179)

Back in the day, putting software on disks, boxing it up and distributing it was a large part of the cost of development. Now, with the Internet, distributing software is basically free.

Way back in the day, I wrote code for single configuration computer systems (8 bit Apple/Atari/Commodore), and when I had it working, I copied it onto a disk and shipped it. There were some optional fancy loader schemes, but basically, no headaches at all.

Now, get out NSIS or whatever to make an installer, test it on 3 or 4 of the OSs it's supposed to run on, put in the "live patching via web" module, test that... you could invest a couple of hundred man hours in distributing "Hello World" to a typical spread of target systems. If your target audience size is in the millions, it's clearly worth the effort, but down in the less than 100 customers range, software is much harder to distribute now than it was when you FedEx-ed a floppy, and if you pay your developers anything, no cheaper.

You can go deeper than that. (1, Informative)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 2 years ago | (#39465383)

Saying things to make the subject go away avoids useful investigation. As usual, the money needs understanding.

For example, Mozilla Foundation is a rich, rich corporation. No one should make the mistake of thinking that work on Firefox is done mostly by volunteers.

But where does all the money go? Did you see $78.6 million worth of improvements in Firefox in 2008? [zdnet.com]

Did you see improvements suggesting that Mozilla Foundation had $168 million in assets in 2010? [mozilla.com] -- (Official PDF file, see page 2. Numbers are in thousands, as it says at the top of the page.)

Firefox is a world-class asset. No other browser has all the features. There is no substitute for the capabilities of Firefox together with Firefox add-ons. (Mozilla Foundation calls one thing by 3 names: Add-ons, extensions, and plug-ins.)

But Firefox is unstable. Firefox instabilities are experienced most frequently by those who open many Firefox windows and tabs, and leave them open while putting the computer into standby or hibernation several times. That is the pattern of use of those who do a lot of online research. The crashes and memory gobbling have been reported for more than 10 years, since version 0.9 of Mozilla Suite [evolt.org] , before Mozilla began using the name Firefox. Firefox is still unstable even though the change reports for almost every version say there have been "stability improvements".

Firefox crash info:

about:crashes
Put about:crashes into your URL bar and press ENTER. Firefox will then show a list of crashes of the copy of Firefox on that computer.

Crash info for all users and all versions:
https://crash-stats.mozilla.com/products/Firefox [mozilla.com]

Crashes per 100 active daily users, version 10.0, the version before the most recent:
https://crash-stats.mozilla.com/products/Firefox/versions/10.0 [mozilla.com]

Version 11 is less stable. Crashes per 100 active daily users, version 11.0, the most recent version:
https://crash-stats.mozilla.com/products/Firefox/versions/11.0 [mozilla.com]

Top crashers, version 11.0:
https://crash-stats.mozilla.com/topcrasher/byversion/Firefox/11.0/14 [mozilla.com]

Notes:

1) The lists of crashes are ONLY the ones that Firefox caught and that were submitted. The lists do NOT include crashes that did't start the crash reporter. The lists do NOT include crashes that weren't submitted to Mozilla Foundation.

2) The crashes are often preceded by rapidly increasing memory use. Firefox often corrupts Microsoft Windows, so that Windows needs to be re-started. When Firefox corrupts Microsoft Windows it often damages operations in Windows that are not connected with browsing.

Microsoft's fault (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39465655)

When Firefox corrupts Microsoft Windows it often damages operations in Windows that are not connected with browsing.

That Windows allows itself to be corrupted in a way that survives killing firefox.exe is the fault of Microsoft (for defective Windows code) or of hardware manufacturers (for defective driver code).

Re:Microsoft's fault (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39465843)

True, and very important, but a change in subject.

Re:Microsoft's fault (0)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | about 2 years ago | (#39465859)

That linux allows itself to be corrupted in a way that survives killing firefox is the fault of Linux (for defective Linux code) or of hardware manufacturers (for defective driver code).

I've seen it happen too many times. While I *am* posting this from firefox on linux, I also log out regularly because firefox is unstable, and it does corrupt other parts of the system. It's not "just a Windows problem," unfortunately, and their "rapid release cycle" only aggravates the problem.

Non-profit does not mean no profit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39465873)

The overall issue is this: Non-profit organizations sometimes make a LOT of profit.

Re:You can go deeper than that. (1)

jorgevillalobos (1044924) | about 2 years ago | (#39466723)

Crashes per 100 active daily users, version 10.0, the version before the most recent:

https://crash-stats.mozilla.com/products/Firefox/versions/10.0 [mozilla.com]

Version 11 is less stable. Crashes per 100 active daily users, version 11.0, the most recent version:

https://crash-stats.mozilla.com/products/Firefox/versions/11.0 [mozilla.com]

Comparing crashes this way isn't quite fair. Firefox interacts with other software (plugins, extensions, injected DLLs) and it is likely that a new release will cause more crashes that a release that has been out for 6 weeks already because the developers of this software haven't tested or updated it to work in the new version. One would need to compare the current crash rate in 11 vs. the crash rate in 10 at the same point in the release cycle to come up with meaningful numbers.

Time to post the top 20 excuses... again. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 2 years ago | (#39468029)

Every time someone talks about Firefox instability, someone else gives excuses. In this case, Mozilla Foundation changed the Firefox version number more than once a month and broke a lot of the extensions. That should not be listed as an excuse, as the parent comment does, it should be listed as a fault of Mozilla Foundation management.

Mozilla Foundation
Top 20 Excuses
for Not Fixing the
Firefox Memory and CPU Hogging bugs


These are actual excuses given at one time or another. They are not all the excuses, just the top 20.

1) Maybe this bug is fixed in the nightly build. [The same memory and CPU hogging bug has been reported many, many times over a period of seven years.]

2) Yes, this bug exists, but other things are more important. [The bug eventually takes 100% of CPU power, and makes Windows XP unusable, even after Firefox is killed. The bug affects the heaviest users of Firefox.]

3) Yes, this bug exists, but it is not a common occurrence. [Numerous users have reported the bug. See the links.]

4) Works for me. [The bug is complicated to reproduce, so the developers did a simplified test, which didn't show the bug.]

5) No one has posted a TalkBack report. [If they had read the bug report, they would know that there is never a TalkBack report, because the bug crashes TalkBack, too, or a TalkBack report is not generated. TalkBack does not generate a report if Firefox is hogging the CPU. TalkBack cannot generate a report if the bug takes 100% of the CPU time.]

6) If you would just give us more information, we would fix this bug. [They didn't bother to reproduce the bug using the detailed information provided.]

7) This bug report is a composite of other bugs, so this bug report is invalid. [The other bugs aren't specified.]

8) You are using Firefox in a way that would crash any software. [But the same use does not crash any version of Opera.]

9) I don't like the way you worded your bug report. [So, he didn't read it or think about it.]

10) You should run a debugger and find what causes this problem yourself. [Then when you have done most of the work, tell us what causes the problem, and we may fix it.]

11) Many bugs that are filed aren't important to 99.99% of the users.

12) If you are saying bad things about Mozilla and Firefox, you must be trolling. [They say this even though Firefox and Mozilla instability is beginning to be reported in media such as Information Week. See the links to magazine articles in this Slashdot comment: Firefox is the most unstable program in common use [slashdot.org] .]

13) Your problem is probably caused by using extensions. [These are extensions advertised on the Firefox and Mozilla web site, and recommended.]

14) Your problem is probably caused by a corrupt profile. [The same bug has been reported many times over a period of five years. One of the reports discusses an extensive test in both Linux and Windows that used a completely clean installation of the operating systems, not just a clean profile. The CPU hogging bug and instability was just as severe.]

15) If you are technically knowledgeable, you can spend several hours (or days) trying to discover the problem: Standard diagnostic - Firefox [mozillazine.org] . [Firefox has "Standard Diagnostics". It has become accepted that some users will have severe problems. !!! ]

16) I won't actually read the (many) bug reports, but I will give you some complicated technical speculation. [This pretends to be helpful but, on investigation, is shown to have nothing to do with the bugs.]

17) It's understandable that Firefox developers become defensive when users report so many problems.

18) To spend smart developers' time going over reports of bugs generated by analysis tools would be a waste. [There have been 3 analysis tools recently used to find Firefox bugs, and many have been found: 1) A special tool designed by a Firefox developer. 2) Software by Coverity. 3) Klocwork's K7.]

19) Your bug report was not specific enough. [Numerous conditions were listed which provide reliable ways to reproduce the problem.]

20) "This is open-source. The developers are not there to do your bidding." [True, but the fact remains the other browsers, such as Opera, are completely stable. Also, if that is the reason, don't mark the bug invalid.]

Re:Time to post the top 20 excuses... again. (1)

jorgevillalobos (1044924) | about 2 years ago | (#39469241)

I'm only pointing out that the methodology you're using in that specific comparison is flawed. I'm not even saying you're wrong (I don't know if you are).

I'm not making up excuses, I'm actually trying to help you come up with more compelling arguments.

You can spare us the list/rant. I know I've read it many times before.

Re:You can go deeper than that. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#39469169)

The crashes are often preceded by rapidly increasing memory use. Firefox often corrupts Microsoft Windows, so that Windows needs to be re-started. When Firefox corrupts Microsoft Windows it often damages operations in Windows that are not connected with browsing.

Can you give any references for that? Given that Windows (NT, anyway) has process separation and all that other nifty stuff, the only way a user mode process can "corrupt" the system is if you've stumbled into a kernel security hole that would be potentially exploitable - and those kinds of things tend to be Slashdot front page news.

Does the OS community really hate RH? (3, Interesting)

nzac (1822298) | about 2 years ago | (#39464851)

As long we can obtain the source code for free (as in both beer and freedom) does anyone care if someone found a way to make a profit off it?
I would much rather give a company selling FOSS related products so they could profit over someone else.

Some do (2, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 2 years ago | (#39464903)

You find a number of people like OSS not because it is free as in speech but because they don't want to pay for anything. They don't tend to claim that is the reason, of course, but it is. I've met more than a couple people that were big OSS heads and claimed it was all about freedom of the code (though they never did anything with it themselves) but were completely opposed to the idea of paying for any software.

How they expected developers to put food on the table I'm not sure.

Re:Some do (3, Interesting)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#39464939)

"You find a number of people like OSS not because it is free as in speech but because they don't want to pay for anything."

Which they have perfect right to do. *I* don't want to pay for anything, from software to Ferraris. When I pay for something is because I *have* to do it.

"were completely opposed to the idea of paying for any software."

I am basically opposed to the idea of paying for something that it is already done, payed for and that has zero replication costs too.

Paying for writing new software or servicing said software, both of them activities that have obvious production cost tagged to them, on the other hand, I find perfectly reasonable.

"How they expected developers to put food on the table I'm not sure."

I'll tell you. By doing what they are qualified to do: writing software, not distributing software of tagging artificial scarcity to something with no replication costs.

Re:Some do (3, Insightful)

firefrei (2569069) | about 2 years ago | (#39465111)

I am basically opposed to the idea of paying for something that it is already done, payed for and that has zero replication costs too.

So what if the replication costs are zero? The work to make the software in the first place isn't free (we're assuming of course a for-sale product), so compensating for said effort is appropriate. It might take quite a number of sales before the costs for developing a product breaks even. Then there are the distribution costs, which even if it's something as simple as a server requires upkeep and maintenance costs.

Your position doesn't match the realities of the real world and no-one would take you seriously if you tried doing business with such a position.

Re:Some do (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 2 years ago | (#39465285)

I think he favours the Blender model of FOSS: there are people in the community coming up with ideas for new features and making fundraisers for it. It's like Kickstarter except the result becomes OSS. If not enough money comes together, less features will be implemented. Of course it only works for people with proper resume/portfolio. (See their OpenCL renderer.)

Re:Some do (1)

firefrei (2569069) | about 2 years ago | (#39465313)

I think he favours the Blender model of FOSS: there are people in the community coming up with ideas for new features and making fundraisers for it. It's like Kickstarter except the result becomes OSS. If not enough money comes together, less features will be implemented. Of course it only works for people with proper resume/portfolio. (See their OpenCL renderer.)

Blender is rather unique though. They have their milestone rendering projects to create short films (Big Buck Bunny, Sintel, etc) that push the latest features and raise their profile. This helps in fundraising and allows the project to continue. I think Blender is a success story for a professional-level tool in the FOSS ecosystem, but not all software can be made like this. A single product like a game, well... maybe the engine can be released as FOSS and you end up buying the data (maps, models, sounds, etc). But from his post I don't think he'd be satisfied with any financial compensation as an end-user, no matter how minor. That's his prerogative though.

Re:Some do (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#39465401)

"Blender is rather unique though."

Only on perception. Basically *all* service companies work that way: you*1 contact them asking for a service, they tag a price to the service, you negotiate and in the end, you either accept their conditions or you don't. If you accept the conditions, you pay for the service and they deliver. Quite easly understandable and common.

It just happens the provided service is "writing software".

*1 For an operative definition of "you": it can be you yourself, the company you work for, an association of end users, and association of companies with common needs...

Re:Some do (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39465459)

So how do you recommend that "an association of end users" fund the development of a video game?

Re:Some do (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#39465585)

"So how do you recommend that "an association of end users" fund the development of a video game?"

Not necessarily. But I support the notion that the videogame company shouldn't make its business model to stand on top of artificial scarcity of the product it delivers.

If that means there's no business case for creating videogames, so be it.

It happens that right now I'm listening 1980 Gould's interpretation of Bach's Goldberg variations. There's no way a today's Bach would write a work of art like that, much less have it marketeed by a record company exactly *because* the way the media industry wanted and managed this market and what's their standpoint? So be it.

Re:Some do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39466321)

'Not necessarily' doesn't make any sense as a reply to his question; he asked 'how', not 'do you'.

Shit, you read almost as badly as you write. 'Only on perception' -- WTF is that supposed to mean?

Re:Some do (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39466505)

'Not necessarily' doesn't make any sense as a reply to his question; he asked 'how', not 'do you'.

I took it as "-- How do you x? -- You don't."

Re:Some do (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#39467713)

"I took it as "-- How do you x? -- You don't.""

Take it whatever way you want.

In fact, in the end, you are right: I am not in the videogames industry, therefore I don't do X. It's up to those in the videogame industry to seek for their profit as it is up to me to stablish the social contract I feel profits myself and the society I want to live in the best. And certainly I don't think it's a good bargain, one that benefits overall society, the current one with regards of "intellectual property".

Maybe a collective of users can found a videogame production, maybe not. Maybe a good business model is the old and probed arcade shop, where owners pay for game development and then recover by the coins on the machines... I certainly don't give a damn.

Re:Some do (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 2 years ago | (#39465997)

How it could work for a game: there's a developer with high street credit and makes a fundraiser Kickstart style. If there isn't enough money coming together, no game is being made and supporters get their money back, otherwise the game is made and it gets opensourced (even the game art).

So the punishment for those who didn't support is that the game doesn't get made and there's nothing to piggyback. (And maybe get the game with 2 months delay if it gets made.)
  If you thing about it, the way Steam sales goes are a bit similar: hard core fans get the game on day one for $60, patient gamers get it for $5 one year later in a sale.

I'm not saying that it's a one size fits all model, but it can work.

Re:Some do (2)

Jens Egon (947467) | about 2 years ago | (#39465289)

Many years ago I stopped paying for non-free software. I don't want it. I don't need it. And I'm not going to pay for it unless it's (going to be) free.

After all, for most software the major part of the value comes from all the other lemmings.

(And, yeah, I know, that means I should be running (pirated) Windows .... But I'm not, I'm on Debian atm.)

Re:Some do (1)

firefrei (2569069) | about 2 years ago | (#39465339)

After all, for most software the major part of the value comes from all the other lemmings.

Belittling people who see value in purchasing non-free software just makes you look like an arrogant ass. There's nothing wrong with a balanced middle-of-the-road approach.

Re:Some do (2)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#39465497)

"here's nothing wrong with a balanced middle-of-the-road approach."

That's the stupid notion of "all opinions are born equal". No, they aren't.

Just to make fun of Mr Godwin, since one opinion is "jews are people too" and the other is "let's kill all jews" are you still saying there's nothing wrong with "OK, so let's kill just half of them"?

Stablishing artificial scarcity to the so called "intellectual property" is a stupid notion on almost all grounds (except for the few making massive profits out of it without returning society comparable benefits), and History supports it i.e.: what did USA for as long as it needed to "stand on the shoulders of giants" for their own development? Would the world be a better place now if USA had honored the copy rights of the then developed nations, so it probably would still be now a third world country since those developed nations would have sucked up basically all the capital gains? As a general position, would be the world a better place if all-time intellectual creations were subjected to the terms and conditions that corporations stand for newer creations? I say "not at all".

Re:Some do (1)

Jens Egon (947467) | about 2 years ago | (#39465565)

That statement holds true for every last one of us. Not just people who buy non-free software.

So if you’re feeling belittled, at least you have company.

A positive network externality (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39465705)

After all, for most software the major part of the value comes from all the other lemmings.

Belittling people who see value in purchasing non-free software

That's not how I read Jens Egon's comment. I understood it more as a positive network externality [wikipedia.org] : "Microsoft Word and Excel are valuable because they let you collaborate on documents and spreadsheets with other users of Microsoft Word and Excel." Multiplayer video games are the same way.

Re:Some do (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#39465359)

"So what if the replication costs are zero?"

I already said what. Why do you cite out of context asking question already answered within that text?

"compensating for said effort is appropriate"

No, that's never appropriate. If it were, I could make a living out of farting. Compensation is never asociated to effort -and it shouldn't, but to percieved benefits to the recieving end. That's in fact why selling software usage licenses have been such a good business no matter how much I dislike it: because there's an enormous differential between effort (basically nill) and percieved benefit (quite high, specially for niche/novelty products).

"Then there are the distribution costs"

Which I already told I'm perfectly open to pay for if I have to.

"Your position doesn't match the realities of the real world and no-one would take you seriously if you tried doing business with such a position."

The fact is that I *already* have been in such a position, both as provider and customer and you can bet I've been taken seriously -and why I shouldn't, since there's real and serious money in exchange?

Re:Some do (1)

firefrei (2569069) | about 2 years ago | (#39465433)

Actually I don't care about what you say anymore. I was just glancing over at your previous comments to see if I was dealing with a nutbag, and I saw that in response to someone saying ""Medicaid and public universities both work fine", you replied "No, they don't."

In my country (Australia) we couldn't afford private health insurance so we relied on Medicare and the public health system. We also have predominately public unis although there are some private ones, but once again due to lack of funds I went to a public uni like most other people. I turned out alright and now have a great hardware engineering job. So as far as I'm concerned you can fuck off, because you clearly don't know anything.

I feel happy knowing I don't have to keep debating with a stranger when he's actually quite stupid and in the clouds. :)

Re:Some do (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39465471)

Unless someone meant "No, they don't work in Slashdot's home country, even if they might work in one of yours." Do you have a link to the relevant post so that I can read it for myself?

Re:Some do (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#39465653)

"I saw that in response to someone saying ""Medicaid and public universities both work fine", you replied "No, they don't.""

Were the hell did you read something along these lines?

"In my country (Australia)"

It happens that I'm Spanish, so I see your Medicare and double it. Spain, as basically all Europe, have public medical and educations systems that do work so I'm perfectly aware about what I'm talking about.

And how do you think i.e. a public health system works? Is it not a coallition of free citizens pooling to pay exactly for the service they in common decide they need without paying a premium on artificial scarcity for those services?

And doesn't it happen that health costs for European citizens average about a 25% less than their USA counterpart while at the same time European citizens average a 10% better life expectancy than USA?

QED.

Re:Some do (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#39468185)

An illustrative example, taken from real life:

Many years ago, I was working at a small cell phone company who wanted to introduce a new voice mail system. The dev team's manager found an OSS project that did the job and did it well, but was written for GSM phones when the company was running CDMA phones. Now, we looked through the source code (which we could never have done if it had been closed source), found the portion that was specific to GSM phones, then placed some appropriate ads and found somebody who could create a version of this project that could be used with CDMA phones for an reasonable fee.

End result: We got, for a few thousand dollars, something that we could use that was far cheaper than the commercial alternatives, so we won. The programmer got paid, so he won. The project got the code we had paid for, so they won. Oh, and our customers got a nice new voice mail system, so they won.

That really provides the answer for business-oriented packages. For consumer-oriented packages, I could definitely imagine a software project saying "Everybody who really wants us to add this feature, kick in $5. When we have $X, which is what it will cost us to make it happen, we'll get to work on it."

Re:Some do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39465735)

You know what? You're right! Every day, I drive by car dealerships just filled with cars. Why do they charge for those cars? They've already been built and paid for!

Re:Some do (2)

firefrei (2569069) | about 2 years ago | (#39465165)

Shit, I'll admit it. It used to be because I though it was a nice ideology (and it is), but nowadays I'll freely admit that I just like free software. I don't want to pirate anymore, but I don't want to buy software if there's a perfectly good OSS alternative available. Plus by using the OSS alternative I future-proof myself in case I finally decide to move to Linux (which may never happen, but it can't hurt to keep my options open and make the possible transition as painless as possible).

There's nothing wrong with being tight with money, particularly if the OSS options are good enough. I tend to now buy games and media more than tools, so long as the games are cross-platform and the media is non-DRMed. Keeps me happy, and yes it's a cheaper way to do things. Big deal, I like cheap. :)

Games, media, and tax software (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39465751)

I don't want to buy software if there's a perfectly good OSS alternative available.

What's your opinion on income tax return preparation tools? Even if the engine is free, Intuit and H&R Block treat their machine-readable interpretations of this year's amendments to the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and the 50 states' respective tax codes as a valuable trade secret and thus have no business case to make their products free software.

I tend to now buy games and media more than tools, so long as the games are cross-platform and the media is non-DRMed.

Except for the fact that a lot of games that aren't FPS, RTS, or MMORPG aren't cross-platform; they're either Wii exclusive, Xbox 360 exclusive, PS3 exclusive, or for 360+PS3 with no PC version. Even those games with a PC port are often crippled, with multiple gamepad multiplayer getting cut out. And as for media, since when have the Hollywood studios distributed a movie in any digital format (disc, downloadable, or streaming) without digital restrictions management?

Re:Some do (1)

rgbrenner (317308) | about 2 years ago | (#39466283)

The real problem isn't people using Linux because it's free.. If a developer wants to create a piece of software and give it away, or they sign up to work on a project that they know will be free, there really isn't a problem.

The problem is when those users, start making demands that cost the developers money. They demand features from a commercial version be added to the free version; or they demand tech support; or even just free downloads instead of a torrent. (Yes, that download of Ubuntu wasn't free.. can you imagine how much it costs Ubuntu to provide millions of downloads of a 2gb+ file?!)

And unfortunately, the most demanding people are usually those who aren't developers, who don't care about the software, and just want something for free.

Re:Does the OS community really hate RH? (5, Informative)

ix42 (222898) | about 2 years ago | (#39465207)

I don't hate RH. I like RH. I'm kind of annoyed with RHEL because people keep using ancient bug-ridden libraries and blaming me.

I've lost track of the number of times I've had this conversation:

Them: Foo doesn't work. Fix it. Fix it now.
Me: That was fixed upstream in library bar 7 years ago.
Them: We use RHEL4, and our policy won't let us install 3rd party library update packages.
Me: So you have an expensive contract. I'm sure RedHat will provide an official patch.
Them: Actually, we use CentOS4.
Me: . o O (Go buy a RHEL contract, you cheapskates. Or change your idiotic policy.)

But that's not RedHat's fault.

Re:Does the OS community really hate RH? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39465697)

I was going to post almost exactly this, but then I thought it would be interpreted as trolling. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who's had this experience. If any RedHat employees are reading this, please pay careful attention to the following:

A stable system means not changing the ABI. It does not mean refusing to ship bug fixes.

Yes, we hate Red Hat (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39465221)

Because it effectively killed the most popular Linux desktop (GNOME 2) in order to fight off its competitor, Canonical.

Re:Yes, we hate Red Hat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39466013)

Because it effectively killed the worst Linux desktop (GNOME 2) in order to fight off its competitor, Canonical.

There, fixed that for you.

Non-profit allows small profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39464869)

Non-profit doesn't mean that they can not make profit. It is just that they can not make greedy profit as capitalistic corporations does. Non-profit allows profit up to 5% or what is ethically correct.

Re:Non-profit allows small profit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39464897)

Um, no.

Non-profit means the owners of the company get paid a set salary. No bonuses, no dividends.
This is opposed to a for-profit company where the owners can take as much of the companies profit they want. (Think: sole-proprietership)

A non-profit is not obligated to restrict its revenue generating activities or pricing. It also is able to pay employees whatever it wants to so long as that compensation isn't based, or in proportion to, revenue or profit.

Re:Non-profit allows small profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39465573)

And non-profits employ family and friends who do nothing but get the salary anyway, and they use profit-making companies owned by the same directors for their services, paying whatever they want to pay.

Non-profits are not charities, they are unregulated and ripe for abuse.

Never give non-profits the same discounts you would give to charities.

Re:Non-profit allows small profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39465209)

Non-profit doesn't mean that they can not make profit. It is just that they can not make greedy profit as capitalistic corporations does. Non-profit allows profit up to 5% or what is ethically correct.

Good to know that You, and You alone get to decide what is "ethically" correct and what gets defined as a "greedy" profit.

What you're saying is if company A sells a cure for cancer at $10 for a complete cure which cost them $8 to produce, they are more ethical than company B who sells the same cure for $8 with a manufacturing cost of $5 because they're better at reducing manufacturing costs.

Plenty? millions? (2)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#39464885)

TFS claims that plenty of projects take in millions of dollars. And then points to an article that list 7 (about half) that take in at least a million dollars. And these projects have thousands of volunteers. Sure a handful of people are taking home some bacon. But the majority of the people contributing are not.

Re:Plenty? millions? (1, Insightful)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 2 years ago | (#39465023)

I agree. Frankly I'm shocked about the low numbers reported. Surely the author of Python deserves more than $30K/year? I'm not a big fan of the coders behind the GTK+ code base. Could it be partly because the whole Gnome organization runs on about $500K/year? Maybe that doesn't buy very many good coders? Apache makes practically nothing. How is that a good thing? I had no idea that our collective generosity added up to so little. I mean, we seem to be able to put together a couple hundred million in small donations to elect president, so why can't we help out some of these organizations a bit more. I donated something like $50 last year to the FSF, and $100 to NVDA [nvaccess.org] , the free screen reader for the blind. I figured that makes me a stingy SOB... gee a whole $150 in a year. And that was my most generous year of FOSS support ever. Still... don't we add up to a bit more than a few million?

The top earner, Mozilla Corp, is getting $300M/year from Google. So, combined, Mozilla is making something like $301M/year, assuming no other major cash sources exist. In short, Mozilla is rolling in cash, but they only have to report on the $1M. I would not be surprised to see several million in compensation per year to their top earner. How many other organizations on this list play similar tricks, having a private commercial side to make all the cash, while reporting as if they were poor starving do-gooders?

Re:Plenty? millions? (3, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#39465099)

Hmm, just because the foundations don't get a lot, doesn't mean the programmers don't - some (many?) of them are employed by other companies.

For example, the creator of Python, Guido van Rossum, is employed by Google not by the PSF, so you can be well sure he gets more than $30k/year.

Re:Plenty? millions? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39465747)

The amount that developers on a project make is not always limited by the amount that an associated foundation makes. For example, some of the work I did last year on FreeBSD was funded by the FreeBSD Foundation, but a lot of it was not. Some of it is funded by other companies. If a company wants a new feature in FreeBSD, then it's often easier for them to pay someone to add it (or hire people to work full time, as companies like Qualcomm and Yahoo do) than it is for them to go via the FreeBSD Foundation. In contrast, individuals who want to contribute something may only pay less than the cost of hiring a developer for an hour - it's not worth their while doing this as a separate contract, but the sum of those donations will be enough to get a few new features added. The FreeBSD Foundation typically gets something a little under half a million dollars in donations each year, but that's nowhere near all of the money that's made by people working on FreeBSD.

Economics 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39464917)

Doh. Generating income is not the same as generating profits.

Who is in it for the long run (1)

islisis (589694) | about 2 years ago | (#39464963)

Take 5 of the most grating bugs collated from any Slashdot project discussion, particular those which are often compared to 'the leading (non-floss) brand.' Imagine 5 programmers hired FULL TIME every year to work on each respective area. Subtract an average programmer's salary times 5 from (the top few, with some assumptions in data) salaries occupied in the upper management echelon.

A simple calculation shows which management figureheads understand the long term role of floss in public technology. You can either believe 100% in the war or choose the liberty of a 'private view'. No matter the absolute level of funding an organisation receives, the according effect on the future will be exponential. This is how the character of project members must be understood.

Big deal? (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | about 2 years ago | (#39464969)

I work for a for-profit company. What the boss decides to do with the software is none of my buisiness - I still need to put food on the table.

If I worked at a company who's target was not to make profit - I still would need to eat if its my full-time job. Just that at the end of the day(year) the company won't cut a big check to shareholders.

I have no problem with non-profits making money - if you don't have fulltime developers the company will collapse sooner rather than later.

cash cows (3, Interesting)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 years ago | (#39465243)

there are aspects of 'non profit' where there are no profits because the directors pay themselves such large salaries that there's (strangely!) no cash left over each year. I don't consider these non-profit at all.

eg. from TFA:

the Mozilla Foundation generated the highest compensation levels for Baker and Eich who, while receiving no direct salary from the Mozilla Foundation, were compensated $589,953 each from "reportable compensation from related organizations" and "estimated amount of other compensation from the [Mozilla Foundation] and related organizations."

"Related organizations," in this instance, is the Mozilla Corp., the for-profit subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation that generates much of the Foundation's revenue.

With a revenue of $1,934,659, the Mozilla Foundation ranked fourth of the eighteen FLOSS-related non-profits researched for this report. But with a net cash flow loss of $1,333,815 for the 2010 fiscal year, the Mozilla Foundation was next to last on money lost for the year.

so, basically Mozilla Corp pays Mozilla Foundation cash to make stuff that the corp then sells/advocates/etc. Only the foundation sat on a net loss of $1.3m, yet the corp paid its 2 directors $1.2m..... hmm.

Now I don't mind the directors making a reasonable amount of money from the situation, we all got to eat after all, but I'd say a more reasonable remuneration would be more like $100k, not nearly 600k. And I totally disagree with directors sucking the non-profit cash-cow dry.

Re:cash cows (1)

laffer1 (701823) | about 2 years ago | (#39466205)

And it doesn't stop with cash. Mozilla had a private jet for "advocating" that the CEO used to travel. There are many perks associated with the job.

I get angry they have money for private jets and large salaries but won't support more operating systems and get more development going on the products. Don't tell me you don't have resources to officially support mobile or even larger OS projects when you can fly around the country in your own plane.

Re:cash cows (1)

BZ (40346) | about 2 years ago | (#39467035)

Citation please? I'm not aware of either Gary Kovacs or John Lilly traveling in a private jet during their tenures as CEO....

Re:cash cows (1)

laffer1 (701823) | about 2 years ago | (#39467265)

It was Mitchell Baker. I'm having trouble finding the article now. It was something I read on a mozilla blog some years ago.

Re:cash cows (1)

BZ (40346) | about 2 years ago | (#39468027)

I would also be very very surprised by that. Please do cite, because so far this looks like pretty basic FUD to me...

Re:cash cows (1)

BZ (40346) | about 2 years ago | (#39467053)

Do you really think $100k is the correct salary for a full-time job being CTO of a 500+ person company whose main business is technology? In the Bay Area?

This is not money Brendan and Mitchell are being paid as "directors"; this is money they are being paid as employees with quite specific jobs involving a good bit of responsibility.

Re:cash cows (1)

guises (2423402) | about 2 years ago | (#39468109)

So... If $100k isn't enough, then how are the rest of Mozilla's employees getting by with a median income of only $86k?

http://www.salarylist.com/company/Mozilla-Salary.htm [salarylist.com]

Re:cash cows (1)

BZ (40346) | about 2 years ago | (#39468213)

Mozilla has employees in multiple locations, some of which have lower cost of living than Silicon Valley.

Mozilla also has a number of employees who happen to not be the CTO...

Was your question serious (as in, you really don't understand why different people in an organization might be paid different amounts), or are you just trolling?

But last of all.. The site you linked to just has bad data. For one thing, it lists a "high" of $116k, which is quite obviously bogus....

Re:cash cows (1)

guises (2423402) | about 2 years ago | (#39468631)

Mozilla has employees in multiple locations, some of which have lower cost of living than Silicon Valley.

Tha'ts very interesting, but the locations of all of the positions given on the site are listed right next to them - Mountain View, California. I'm not sure where the site gets it's data, but you're right that it's clear that they don't have information on every employee. I suspect that this is self-reported information.

Given that I didn't ask why different people are paid different amounts, your question is a nonsequiter. I wrote what I did in the hope that a reader (you) would be able to do a modicum of interpretation, but let me spell it out: the assertion that a high cost of living justifies a 10x salary increase over another employee is invalid when both people are living in the same place and subject to the same cost of living. Additionally, 600k is far more than a person, or family, needs to live anywhere on earth - cost of living is clearly not a factor in this case.

As for whether 600k is the correct salary, let's turn back to the data we have: with some variation a software engineer at Mozilla is making 75k, and a senior software engineer is making 110k. That's increased compensation presumably based on greater experience and responsibility. Most people would likely agree that a 45% increase in salary is probably not outrageous under the circumstances, regardless of whether they feel that the absolute values are right for those jobs.

Not you, apparently. You're saying that if a software engineer is making 75k, then a senior software engineer at the same company should be making something like 350k. Right? Because they live in the bay area? Or something? Maybe I'm being too subtle again.

Cold and hard numbers indeed... (1)

Slyswede (945801) | about 2 years ago | (#39465009)

...as the article seems to show that while there is certainly *some* money in FOSS, unless you're the top exec you probably won't be seeing any of it.

Gah!!!

No money (1, Flamebait)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about 2 years ago | (#39465017)

I guess I'm being voted flamebait or troll for this, but someone's got to say it.

The only problem with FLOSS is that you can't make money with with two exceptions: (1) You can earn money if your software is sufficiently complicated; in that case you get money mostly for support work and maintaining the software, not from selling the software itself. (2) You can earn money by making the software FLOSS, but using obscure languages, build systems, or distributing the source in a way that makes it almost impossible for anyone else to build it.

Both (1) and (2) works only with highly complex software involving a lot of know how. With anything else you cannot make money. That's a fact and it's kind of annoying that some FLOSS aficionados try to constantly deny it. A perfect example is AdaCore, who gave one of the most hypocritical talks I've ever heard on Fosdem 2012. Basically, AdaCore works because of (1)&(2), particularly (2), because their GPL edition forces you to put every program you compile under GPL, whereas the FSF GNAT edition with MGPL lacks essential tools (AdaCore doesn't provide them...), is about 2-3 years behind, and contains numerous bugs fixed in newer releases. Notice also that (1) is inherently bad, because it means that a FLOSS developer is more likely to make money with his software the less it is usable out of the box/without training.

I'm a big fan of FLOSS and also contribute to it myself, but someone has to say the truth. You cannot make money with ordinary end-consumer software under the free software model. That's why I think that the shareware model is still a viable route to go even if it means that the software remains proprietary. Perhaps releasing libraries under LGPL and keeping the end product proprietary is the right way for small companies. Of course, RMS, whom I respect very much, will disagree.

Re:No money (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39465353)

You got moderated flamebait, but that seems to be a placeholder because there is no moderation option for 'just plain wrong'. You categorically can make money from open source software - I do. The difference is that you make money from writing it, not from copying it. If you write something that ever gets to the state of being feature-complete and bug free (and comes with a free unicorn) then you probably can't make any money from it, but why should you? It doesn't need improving in any way, so what would you do to justify the money? Until then, there are people who need specific bugs fixed and people who need specific features added, and they'll pay someone to do this. That person may not be the original author - one of the reasons why open source software is often cheaper is that there is competition - but someone will make money from adding those features and fixing those bugs. In a large project, that will be a lot of people.

Software that doesn't need new features (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39465787)

Take the example of a video game. A single-player or non-massively multiplayer video game is supposed to be feature-complete upon release; any big new features are supposed to go into the sequel so as not to break game play balance. So once a video game is reasonably bug-free, it gets to the point of "doesn't need improving in any way" apart from keeping it compatible with changes to the underlying platform, so where's the money to develop a sequel?

Re:Software that doesn't need new features (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39465869)

where's the money to develop a sequel?

From people who want to play the sequel, perhaps? If you enjoyed playing the first game, would you pay $10 towards the development of a sequel? If you're allowed to share the game with any of your friends, then this increases the number of people who might be similarly willing. This also reduces the risk for game developers: they don't invest a lot of money in developing a game and then find no one buys it, they pitch the game to people who will buy it and then get the money in advance if they will.

Re:Software that doesn't need new features (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39466497)

So where does the money come from for the first game in the series get developed and promoted?

Re:Software that doesn't need new features (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39466595)

From people willing to invest based on the reputations of the authors. And this is gained by either releasing the first game for free, getting a sponsor based on the idea, or by working on a project run by someone else first.

Stop lying (-1, Troll)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 2 years ago | (#39465173)

Seriously, just stop. The FLOSS community hates to pay money and thinks no one should make any money from software. All one has to do is look at comments on Slashdot to see that.

Re:Stop lying (5, Interesting)

suy (1908306) | about 2 years ago | (#39465531)

Seriously, just stop. The FLOSS community hates to pay money and thinks no one should make any money from software. All one has to do is look at comments on Slashdot to see that.

Well, I'm going to lose the moderation point that I just used, but I have to reply to this.

Dude, you can't judge the way the FLOSS community thinks because of the comments on Slashdot. First, because you will have to prove first that Slashdot is a non-biased sample of the community. Second, because normally the comments on one news entry are the reaction to that event, not a proper statement from such community.

And if you want more, here is one small piece of evidence: 9000€ collected in 3 months to fund Nepomuk [wordpress.com] . Nepomuk is one of the most hated and/or more controversial pieces of KDE 4.x. From what I read on the KDE related sites, lists, etc., many people are quite vocal in stating that they don't want Nepomuk and want to disable it, or get rid of it as a forced dependency. And still got some love in the form of money.

Oh, and remember the figures from the Humble Indie Bundle: Linux users of the bundle paid (a lot) more on average that Mac or Windows users [lifehacker.com.au] .

Re:Stop lying (3, Interesting)

rgbrenner (317308) | about 2 years ago | (#39466341)

And if you want more, here is one small piece of evidence: 9000€ collected in 3 months to fund Nepomuk

Nepomuk is a desktop framework that cost 17 million euros to develop [europa.eu] . And they raised 9000 over 3 months?! That's only 3k/mo... not even enough to hire 1 developer. And you expect that one person to maintain an entire desktop framework?!

If they can keep that up, in just 472 years they will have collected enough to pay for the initial development costs.

The lady doth protest too much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39465183)

The fact that you see so many posts about business models and profits in regards to open source strikes me as a case of the lady protesting too much.

Trying so hard to convince people about how profitable open source can be just makes me think that money IS really THAT hard to come by when going the open source route. If it weren't the case, then the monetary opportunities provided by open source would be obvious to all and there would be no need for all these posts about it over the years.

Truth is some companies benifit big time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39465675)

Take Samsung for instance. Just about all of their devices like smart tvs run on the Linux kernel for dick all cash. Yet the jerks do not even include support for flac. Neither do they give out the code to allow FOSS for their allshare interface to the devices to have Linux ports. You buy their TV or BD player it shows the GPL licence and when you go into the store all you see on their devices is that they are JAVA powered ...which is essentially bullshit because they are running a VM on a Busy-box kernel.

So the truth is that there are a great many getting rich from open source and the programmers that created it are essentially ignored. Hell they even use ffmpeg if you look at the licence info. The average joe hasn't got a clue as to what is really going on. The Linux kernel and open source have become an engine for the consumer electronics industry. Sony, LG, Samsung and others are dependant upon the fact that embedded open source software keeps them from having to pay Steve Ballmer a cent. It is time for us to start educating the consumer as to what open source really is.

patterns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39465753)

There are good patterns:
- agile software projects with a community driving it
- heavier software projects with for-profit support (they pay people to work on OSS)

and bad patterns:
- bloated software projects with the purpose of driving other for-profit company
- marketing/speculative enterprises looking to whore out OSS
- confused OSS projects, managed by boards full of for-profit money nerds, that want to be "players" in technology

(my opinions, of course)

If you look at those categories, its very easy to go down that list and pick out which project is what kind.

The top 18? One only has revenue of $2,295 a year (0)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | about 2 years ago | (#39465999)

FTFA: Open Source Applications Foundation: Revenue of $2,295.00 That's dollars, not thousands of dollars. That's as close to "no money" as makes no difference. Anyone making that little a year is on food stamps or living in mom's basement.

Another: The Open Source Initiative: $40,334.00 a year revenue. This is some kind of a joke, right?

If this is the top 18, don't bother with the bottom 999,982. It's not worth the electrons.

Apple makes 10x as much per day as the all the "Top 18" combined do in a year.

Heck, even Angry Birds makes more than twice as much as all of them combined.

Free? As in Freedom? (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#39466083)

I thought the point of "free" software was that you are free to obtain the source code. Not that it's no cost. Whatever the distribution charge, someone pays for it, even if that payment is in the form of time donated to the project.

Re:Free? As in Freedom? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#39469223)

No, the point of free software (per FOSS definition of "free") is that you're free to obtain and redistribute the source code. That's what makes the traditional sales model of commercial software inapplicable here.

Losing Money (1)

SleeknStealthy (746853) | about 2 years ago | (#39466303)

I find it interesting that most of these projects are in fact losing money. Given the level of effort and the quality of the software that is being written, I wish that there was real pay days associated with the projects, but from what I can tell no one is making much money.

non profot != no profits (1)

bokmann (323771) | about 2 years ago | (#39466835)

more importantly, non profits doesn't mean that the organzizaion doesn't make profits... non-profit is simply a tax designation that says "profits aren't our first motivation", and in exchange get slightly different tax considerations under the law, especially in regards to 'gifted contributions'. Every organization must make at least as much as it spends, or it dies. whats leftover from year to year is the profit.

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