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

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the freedom-with-a-side-of-sustainability dept.

Businesses 341

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

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One caveat. (-1, Redundant)

queazocotal (915608) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506897)

You can't do this with the GPL license, if you're not OK with other people putting up binaries, as they have the right to distribute, and even sell binaries.

Re:One caveat. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40506915)

He says in the post that others can do this and that he has no problem with it.

Re:One caveat. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40506949)

I don't think it's about the binaries. It's about the installation method and tools, for which he provides support.

Re:One caveat. (5, Informative)

RDW (41497) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506943)

He know, he's fine with it. From TFA:

"Now. You'll note that all of this software is GPL'd. Which means any Tom, Dick or Harry (or any other awesome name) can build their own binaries and distribute it on their website or repository. And I have absolutely no problem with that. None whatsoever."

Re:One caveat. (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507429)

He's presumably banking on a sufficient number of users being too dumb (or deciding it's not worth the effort) to find the precompiled/easily installed versions.

P.T. Barnum and I suspect he might be right.

Re:One caveat. (1)

next_ghost (1868792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507475)

Not dumb, lazy.

Re:One caveat. (2, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506953)

But that's wrong. So wrong that you failed to read this:

>Now. Youâ(TM)ll note that all of this software is GPLâ(TM)d. Which means any Tom, Dick or Harry (or any other awesome name) can build their own binaries and distribute it on their website or repository. And I have absolutely no problem with that. None whatsoever.

>modded informative

And the moderator was wrong too.

--
BMO

Re:One caveat. (5, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506969)

OpenBSD did(does?) a similar thing with their install CDs, and they were largely under the even-less-restrictive-on-distributors BSD license. There was nothing stopping 3rd party packagers, and they acknowledged as much. Conveniently for them, though, their user base is both fairly loyal(and thus wanted to support the project) and fairly paranoid(and thus not entirely trusting of 3rd-party install packages)...

Re:One caveat. (4, Informative)

synthespian (563437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507289)

AND, if you give them @OpenBSD money, they print your name on the CD cover, which makes you look Super Cool!!!

Re:One caveat. (4, Informative)

synthespian (563437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507303)

Sorry, I meant not the cover, the booklet. Don't want to mislead anyone aiming Super Cool status.

Re:One caveat. (4, Insightful)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506987)

If you're a main developer and pushing progress into the project, you have a de-facto monopoly on new releases -- other people's releases will be late and/or less tested. You will be the official source.

In GPLv2 (perhaps not GPLv3) you can have the program open source, but keep the build scripts to yourself.

You can enforce being official even further by registering a trademark on your products name. Then other builds need to change the name if they want to publish releases. All of that is fine with the GPL, and is not depriving users from the source code.

Re:One caveat. (2)

kanto (1851816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507223)

Additionally if it's his code, he can do whatever he wants to do with it; it's irrelevant that he's chosen to release all or just a part of the programs as GPL because he owns the code.

Re:One caveat. (1)

synthespian (563437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507347)

Proprietary methods of install + updates are much, much better then stupid build scripts.
Build scripts are for nerds. Nerdiculous solutions, we now can say with near 100% certainty, will not get you the chics YOU deserve!
We would like to see Real People start using Fine Open Source Software.

Re:One caveat. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507163)

mod this dumb-ass down please!

Re:One caveat. (1)

Nofsck Ingcloo (145724) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507293)

mod this dumb-ass down please!

Hmmm..... I do not see a mod category "factually incorrect". I guess "overrated" would have to do. What do others use?

Re:One caveat. (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507457)

Nah. Overrated means "I disagree". I'd use funny.

Re:One caveat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507169)

Cygnus does this, where they'll give you binaries and their source code with build scripts that hard coded paths for THEIR build environment (meaning it won't build out-of-the-box in your environment).

Pay-for-binary install/updates the model for OSS (0, Offtopic)

synthespian (563437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507277)

You can't do this with the GPL license, if you're not OK with other people putting up binaries, as they have the right to distribute, and even sell binaries.

Which proves, once again, how stupid it is to use the GPL. He could use the BSD license, then provide pay-for-binaries with some sort of proprietary installers and binary updating mechanism. Instead, with the GPL, everyone can steal his binaries. Of course, it wouldn't prevent anyone else from coming up with their installation and updating mechanism, but they would have to put in the work. It would still be advantageous to cooperate with the main project, because you would get more hands and brains working on the same source code. That is the beauty of the BSD license: it's a license for the real world. Not a license backed by corporations and advocated by a screaming army of unemployed students, like the GPL.

In this way, you get the source code, but if you want the convenience, you must pay for his exclusive method of installation and updates. He could push updates and bugfixes constantly. This would go hand in hand with current buzzwords, such as "the lean start up", "A/B testing" and the model of "release early" of free software (you see this constant updating in products such as Evernote, etc.).

I believe this would be a great model for developers who are writing for the desktop, instead of doing software for servers. In this way, we could have a healthy software ecosystem for the desktop, which is still lacking in the Linux landscape, that is just ridden with the problem of having to rely on the small army of "developers" who repackage the source code (they're really repackagers...), who are always behind the curve in comparison with their Mac OS/WIndows counterparts.

Re:Pay-for-binary install/updates the model for OS (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507397)

>Which proves, once again, how stupid it is to use the GPL.

1. The article doesn't say he objects to other people building binaries. In fact, he realises this will happen and doesn't care.

2. The GPL does not forbid building binaries in exchange for cash. In fact, such services are encouraged.

3. Trying to turn this into a BSD vs GPL flamewar.

Your anti-GPL rant just demonstrates that you are about as intelligent as jerryleecooper.

--
BMO

Re:Pay-for-binary install/updates the model for OS (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507513)

Nope nope. This model only works for Linux or BSD, maybe even MacOS X, it has the submarine nature of forcing you to use a free OS, or at least one with a system compiler that you can download the source code and compile. Microsoft Windows has never included a system compiler, thus there is no predictable out-of-the-box environment to compile to.

So maybe he's hoping that people running Windows desktops (the majority of computer users) are just too lazy/stupid to compile the binaries themselves and just pay for the binary.

But on Linux and FreeBSD, you can download the source for many programs, type "make install" and off it goes, and in fact that is my preferred solution, because binaries on Linux and BSD rarely work out of the box anyway.

Re:One caveat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507331)

I've have rarely seen this work.
Most of the time -- the user base will just hate you.

Re:One caveat. (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507355)

You can do that with any free software license, and I would assume anything approved by OSI as well. Being allowed to redistribute binaries isn't a unique feature of the GPL.

Mysid (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506899)

The problem with that is... they don't get the binaries, they can't try out the software and learn how good it is.

I would suggest an alternative: people who don't donate get different binaries. Binaries with a nag screen, or binaries that expire and must be manually updated after a certain date to continue using the software.

Whereas folks who donate get auto-update or binaries that can be used indefinitely (even an old version), and maybe some additional 'add-on' content elements like themes that aren't part of the code

And of course, they can build the source themselves.

Re:Mysid (3, Insightful)

NemosomeN (670035) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506917)

By only providing the binaries to donors, it looks like you are only charging nontechnical users, while more technically inclined users get it for free.

Re:Mysid (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506947)

I'm kind of confused about what he's actually doing. "I build and maintain the “official” installers and packages and provide them, to those that contribute." Does that mean he's holding back make files and install scripts? If he's not, it should be easy to compile your own binaries and thus there's no reason to donate at all, and yes, he's just charging people who don't know how to make from source. But if he is holding back make files, then he's making sure pretty much no one who has something better to do will download his software.

Re:Mysid (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507187)

I'm kind of confused about what he's actually doing. "I build and maintain the “official” installers and packages and provide them, to those that contribute." Does that mean he's holding back make files and install scripts?

Clicking through to his GitHub link, [github.com] I can't even find any source code.

Re:Mysid (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507253)

I know, I was checking this to try and get a confirmation either way, and was wondering the same thing.

Re:Mysid (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507247)

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

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

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

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

--Tim

Re:Mysid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507317)

(Replying to myself after following my own suggestion to search the macosx-talk archives...)

I goofed the dates. The "voluntary donation" thing took place in April 2011, not 2012.

I got so pissed off that I switched to OOo (Apache) / LibreOffice when this happened, and never looked back. Man, time flies.

--Tim

Re:Mysid (2)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507383)

You are right. I was thinking of that example myself. I had donated to NeoOffice once prior to the switch after using it a few times. I've actually paid twice since the switch, though less money. At this point of I just think of Neo-Office as inexpensive semi-commercial software. RedHat, JBOSS, Open-Xchange... use this model as well.

Anyway Neo is still a much better product than Open Office. There are some serious runtime bugs in Mac Base that Neo gets rid of that cost me several hours using OO.

Here come the freeloaders! (3, Interesting)

synthespian (563437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507471)

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

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

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

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

Re:Mysid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40506961)

Well... that's how the world works, yes? You know the right stuff, belong to the right club, you get ahead. Tech skills are no more unfair than the more common bases for elitism.

Re:Mysid (4, Funny)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507063)

And if you don't own a computer, you can't even get the source code. How unfair.

Re:Mysid (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507259)

If you don't own a computer, you don't need the binary anyway.

Re:Mysid (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507035)

By only providing the binaries to donors, it looks like you are only charging nontechnical users, while more technically inclined users get it for free.

which is in practice essentially the entire software industry + the pirate bay.

Admittedly there is a certain element of risk associated with using the pirate bay, but that doesn't seem to have acted as much of a deterrent, and the technical barriers between being able to build something from source and being able to download from TPB are quite a bit different, but now you're shifting tolerances around

Re:Mysid (3, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507089)

Think "car analogy" and you can fill in the blanks yourself.

This is how things work in the world; if you are an expert in a certain field, you'll benefit from being an expert in that field.

Re:Mysid (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507323)

"By only providing the binaries to donors, it looks like you are only charging nontechnical users, while more technically inclined users get it for free."

I agree with you. What's your point?

No shit, Sherlock (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507489)

By only providing the binaries to donors, it looks like you are only charging nontechnical users, while more technically inclined users get it for free.

You're on a roll.

Tell me, which of those categories is more numerous? Which would, due to their l334t sk1lz, figure out how get it for free anyway?

Re:Mysid (5, Insightful)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507509)

By charging a small fee to those most likely to require technical support, it looks like you are covering your support costs in the most fair manner possible. Hmm?

Re:Mysid (2)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506963)

>The problem with that is... they don't get the binaries, they can't try out the software and learn how good it is.

Sure they can.

They can compile it their own damn selves.

--
BMO

Re:Mysid (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507073)

The problem with that is... they don't get the binaries, they can't try out the software and learn how good it is.

Sure they can.
They can compile it their own damn selves.

I'm glad we're not talking about distribution of the compiler, then.
Imagine if it had some weirdness which only allowed it to be compiled by itself...

Re:Mysid (0)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507451)

it's still backwards as far as promoting the product goes.

but what this is, is selling a subscription to a games service while calling it a donation. that's what sucks about this, moreover you don't know what you're buying. yes, buying, it's a fucking tax dodge.

what he did right now was troll a lot of free publicity. I just spent my time reading the comic and checking if there's something to build on his github. I WANT MY GODDAMN TIME BACK!

another thing I suspect is that he wants to troll people to trying out his development tools which seem necessary for compiling this stuff?but for example the github project for "linux tycoon" has only the readme committed. if I bought the binary, would I get just that? or wtf?

Re:Mysid (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507529)

>but what this is, is selling a subscription to a games service while calling it a donation. that's what sucks about this, moreover you don't know what you're buying. yes, buying, it's a fucking tax dodge.

No, it's not a tax dodge. Only charitable donations are write-offs. He still has to declare it. You're accusing him of tax fraud in public. You should back that up or retract.

You seem butthurt that he wants to get something out of this besides just name recognition. I think you should see someone about that butthurt before it becomes malignant.

I'm as F/OSS as anyone, but I'm not one of those people who think that F/OSS authors should be paupers.

--
BMO

Re:Mysid (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507257)

And with commercial software you don't get JACK if you don't pay up.

So this method isn't really worse than the status quo.

Bad Idea (2, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506913)

All this will really do is decrease your user-base. If I download some source and it's lacking the necessary scripts to compile and install the thing, I move on and find another solution that does what I need. I don't have time to write my own make files to get the thing working.

Re:Bad Idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40506937)

good luck with that other piece of shit. This is the only answer, lazy dog.

Re:Bad Idea (5, Insightful)

MichaelJ (140077) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506983)

I don't have time to write my own make files to get the thing working.

So you're too cheap to give some money to the person who's offering to do all that work for you?

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507069)

You expect me to pay before I know if the thing works or solves my problem?

Re:Bad Idea (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507127)

Why not? Why should software be different than anything else you'd pay for?

Re:Bad Idea (2, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507221)

Because you can't return software. If I buy something at the store and it doesn't work as advertised, I return it. If I pay money for software and it doesn't work as advertised, I'm screwed.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507525)

Ahh, the de-facto cause of rampant piracy. Note that I'm not saying this is the cause for *all* piracy, as there was still piracy when youwere allowed to return CDs; there was just much, MUCH less of it.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507083)

> So you're too cheap to give some money to the person who's offering to do all that work for you?

I thought he was perfectly clear in his intentions: He's going to use the work of someone else who also is offering the work for free but who doesn't dick him around when it comes to using it.

Re:Bad Idea (2)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507165)

Well, if you know that this solves your problem, then you might be willing to spend money. You have to find out first, though. So let's say there are twenty programs which might be suitable or maybe not. You need to evaluate them - read the docs, look a screen shots, try them out. Which one would you try last? The one which is the most hassle to evaluate and/or costs you money to try, maybe?

Even with binaries you may need this new library and that update any further barriers will make the package even less accessible. Statistically - the harder it is to access the software, the fewer people will actually get to know it. He'll have a smaller user base, that's unavoidable, and that has fuck-all to do with whether his users would be willing to donate or not. Wishful thinking is not getting him around this problem.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507217)

I never said I wouldn't give money to a project that is easy to use and install, but only after I know if it does what I need it to do. You're just making assumptions. If I can't test his software first, I'm not donating. I'll donate to a different solution, one that doesn't play games to try and solicit donations.

Re:Bad Idea (4, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507019)

so what? smaller paying userbase is better than larger nonpaying one, IF your goal is to make money. but some of us have other goals with the software we give away.

Re:Bad Idea (2)

p0p0 (1841106) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507045)

Where are you pulling this from? He said he's releasing the source, but charging for a pre-compiled version. What is so hard to understand? If you don't know how to compile from source, then you essentially pay him to compile for you.

Re:Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507143)

It's not a DONATION then, is it?

It's not what you do, it's the way you do it...

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507161)

He said "I build and maintain the “official” installers and packages and provide them, to those that contribute." What does he mean by "official installers" ? I took it to mean make files / install scripts. As in, if it were as easy as just ./configure; make; make-install; then what's the point of charging for the binaries?

Re:Bad Idea (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507269)

He's charging the people who are too stupid to do this.

Probably a wise criterion, as they'll be 90% of the support burden.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

p0p0 (1841106) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507327)

Officicial installers mean in this case, compiled by the person who wrote the code instead of someone mirroring or forking his code. It's just that simple.

It's basically just donation.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507413)

Okay then this whole "software model" is pretty much a non issue. Everyone who would donate in a regular model will still donate, everyone who wouldn't normally donate will just compile from source. The intersection of people who don't know how to compile from source, and those who are likely to download open source software is approximately zero, and those who are likely to donate in this kind of model is approximately zero. Everyone who doesn't know how to compile from source who would download this software will just skip it and move on to something else. Again, all it does it decrease your user base without netting any additional money.

Re:Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507373)

Because 99.9999% of people cannot, do not want to, or are not permitted to do that. Admittedly, Linux users are often a bit different, but if it isn't in the Ubuntu/Fedora software repository a significant number of people won't get far if they have to build it.

If I wanted this guy's software, I'd quite happily pay for an update repository of binaries. I'm not going to use the source releases - it's too much hassle to maintain...

What the heck is 'Lunduke'? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40506935)

I even clicked around the guys' site but got no answers.

If it has something to do with "Duke Basketball Sucks, and so do its bandwagon fan alumni" I might contribute.

Works for RHEL (2)

pnot (96038) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506945)

Am I right in thinking that this is basically the deal with Red Hat Enterprise Linux? Seems to work for them despite the existence of White Box Linux.

I think I've seen a large scientific graphic package with similar terms. It was easy for me to find third-party binaries, but evidently brand-name recognition was sufficient to keep some people buying from the developer.

Re:Works for RHEL (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507015)

Are you thinking of PyMOL? You're thinking of PyMOL, aren't you.

Re:Works for RHEL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507541)

Are you saying "pound me in the liver"? You're trying to say pound me in the liver aren't you.

Re:Works for RHEL (1)

pnot (96038) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507025)

I think I've seen a large scientific graphic package with similar terms. It was easy for me to find third-party binaries, but evidently brand-name recognition was sufficient to keep some people buying from the developer.

Replying to myself because I found it: QtiPlot [proindependent.com] .

"By subscribing to a binaries maintenance contract you receive the right to download all releases available during the subscription period together with technical support. When your subscription period ends, the binaries you have downloaded and installed on your system remain fully functional and you can still use QtiPlot, but if you wish to have access to the updated versions, you will need to renew your maintenance contract."

So the maintenance contract might be the main draw actually. There's a legally built binary in the Ubuntu repos, and presumably Debian, Fedora et al. as well, but I can imagine that on Windows or Mac it would be pretty appealing to download the official build rather than trusting the third-party build you found on www.legitdownloads.ru or similar.

Re:Works for RHEL (1)

synthespian (563437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507367)

This might work for Linux too, because the repackagers are usually a few versions late (Debian? Oh, gawd).

Re:Works for RHEL (3, Informative)

Curupira (1899458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507175)

Also, isn't that exactly what XChat [xchat.org] currently does? Of course, there are a lot of unnoficial windows binaries (listed on Wikipedia and all).

Re:Works for RHEL (2)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507229)

RHEL has closed source software in it. This is nothing like buying RHEL. What you can download from RH is not what you buy.

Quantitative Easing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40506957)

Given the rate at which they are printing money, everything should be free.

Re:Quantitative Easing (1)

NemosomeN (670035) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507011)

QE has ended, they are currently doing Operation Twist, which has no net impact on the money supply. (and is stupid)

Provide Support (1)

MichaelJ (140077) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506959)

What about this model? Anyone can download the source for free and they're on their own. Donors can get a precompiled binary custom-tailored to their system as needed, and a direct line to you whereby you provide support for installation problems, bug fixes, feature requests, etc.

Re:Provide Support (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507241)

Wow, its almost like you read the article.

Re:Provide Support (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507337)

Speaking from experience, I can safely say that model simply is not sustainable for a one-person operation, if the system you've made achieves any degree of usage, but the not enough paying customers to allow you to devote yourself to it full time. In addition the types of people willing to pay for support are the same type who will need SLAs to be maintained.

In addition - as a solo operation, your time is necessarily limited. Which means the time you spend supporting and helping people is time you are *not* spending improving your product.

Colloquy comes to mind. (3, Interesting)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 2 years ago | (#40506975)

Not sure of how successful it is, but Colloquy for the iPhone is a pay for version, and the source is readily available. Perhaps code signing and walled gardens need to exist for this model to be successful, also release source a version behind the binaries would probably help, too.

Donation? (5, Informative)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507017)

I don't have a problem with this business model - it seems interesting and I hope it works.

However, I hate it when people use the word "donation" to mean a mandatory payment. A donation is a voluntary gift.

Re:Donation? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507103)

Relax, he's doing all the work and is still giving it away for free, just asking for cash for premium service. Who cares what he wants to call it.

BTW "mandatory" donations are not uncommon in the bricks-and-mortar world. You sometimes see this for admission to small museums, and for special events such as dances or fairs held by schools and churches. Usually it's to workaround a state or local regulation requiring a special license to charge admission.

Re:Donation? (0)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507159)

It's not mandatory if you can compile it yourself to get the same program.

Re:Donation? (1, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507255)

Its is mandatory to get the 'official version'. Nice try though, but you can't pretend two different things are the same thing just because they are alike.

Re:Donation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507357)

If you download the "official" sources and compile it yourself, it is the official version too.

Unless you want the fucking exact version of the compiler and all that...

Re:Donation? (0)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507377)

paying for windows isn't mandatory either since you can write your own 1:1 copy of it...

look, if the "donation" gets you something you wouldn't be getting without it then it's not a donation - it's dodging taxes when selling a product/service.

Moral highground (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507029)

"One developer who is trying to fund his development work via donations has taken on an 'Everyone gets the source code, donations get you binaries' business model, where he provides installers and binaries directly only to donating users.

Well, I'm glad he's taking this high ground with F/OSS and not selling his software with the source. God forbid he actually demands money for his labors!

Friends of Eclipse (1)

MassacrE (763) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507043)

The recent Eclipse launch had several benefits for Eclipse users; the big one is that the donors got access to binaries 48 hours earlier, while anyone else supposedly could build the same release it is a huge project and that would be a labor-intensive process.

I would recommend something like this over denying users binaries, as your project probably does not need any barriers to user adoption.

Re:Friends of Eclipse (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507263)

48 hours earlier access doesn't seem like much benefit to donors. Though it is already something.

Re:Friends of Eclipse (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507537)

You'd be able to start it before they were able to begin downloading.

If you have a fast machine.

x-chat (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507059)

x-chat has done this for windows binaries a long time, but there are free third party binaries, so i guess it probably doesn't provide a big incentive for people to pay.

Textual does this and I bought it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507087)

I was looking for a nice IRC client after switching to OS X (escaping the madness that is Linux on the desktop). Tried a bunch of them, ignored most of them because I didn't like the idea of running a propietary IRC client (I have itches to scratch, damnit!). Initially I ignored Textual thinking it was yet another propietary one but then by chance I found out they actually have the source up on github under a BSD license, and I was happy to pay a couple bucks for it on the App store to support what seems to be a very neat little IRC client.

I really like this model, I never really felt l like I was an open-source user for any other reason than not having to pay for stuff, but the fact is that I've grown to like having access to the source code - giving me the ability to write or apply patches for bugs, or know for sure that if the developer ceases work, the source will still be there for anyone to pick up and the product won't die.

Yes you can ! (2)

jalet (36114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507141)

This worked fine for me with PyKota and other printing utilities that I'm selling as binaries for a number of years now from http://www.pykota.com/ [pykota.com]

All my software is Free Software licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL, and is freely available to all from subversion. People wanting tarballs or Debian packages can pay.

Additionally I used to sell support contracts and consulting work, but I had to stop when moving to another part of the world.

So yes it's a model which works. I don't have to rely on this for living though, since I've got an unrelated full time job, but if you can dedicate a lot of time to this and to make your software well known and respected (so I'm not talking about spam), you'll be able to get some profits with this model.

Brilliant idea (1)

synthespian (563437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507147)

Brilliant and obvious idea. At first, I thought this would only apply to Windows or Mac platforms. However, once you realize that Linux distros are always late in their software repackaging, this might work on Linux too.

some assembly required (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507151)

Binaries for those who "donate"? You mean "pay". This sort of thing is friction, and it always drives away some customers. Some people will be put off by a nag screen or crippleware scheme. A bad interface is enough to drive users away. I've also bought games that didn't have some features implemented yet. They fobbed customers off with the excuse that it was a bug, and released a "patch" several months later. Stinks to find that out after you've paid. Now I never buy software unless I can try it first.

This "some assembly required" idea seems especially bad for software. "Some assembly required" makes a lot of sense for physical goods that pack down into much smaller volumes than they need when in use, but not software, just the opposite. Someone who is short of space may not want to make room for a bunch of source code. The Linux kernel is an extreme example. How big is the source code tree now, when unpacked? 200M? And after compiling, 300M thanks to all the object files created? And when you're all done compiling it, you have a kernel binary that might be 2M. Maybe that's insignificant on today's terabyte hard drives, but size still matters in other places. Just grinding through a compile still takes a few minutes. In this scheme, how are ordinary game players supposed to try before they buy? Linux comes with free compilers, but if they are on Windows, will they have to buy a compiler? Why not go with a demo version that leaves out some content?

In a better world, neither developers nor customers would need to bother with such schemes. We would have organizations whose duties are to collect funds, gather information on usage, and dole out compensation. The developer could concentrate solely on development, and the fans could share without guilt.

I prefer source (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507173)

So it sounds like a great model to me.

He looks at it from the wrong angle (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507207)

... I provided very little direct benefit to people who donate ...

Apparently he feels guilty for not making a difference between donaters and non-donaters.
He shouldn't. People who donate do this as a thank you, including the whole binary part.
Not all people are able to build the software. However they contribute to the whole community in another way. Seems to me he is missing the big picture of Open Source.

Reminded of Sveasoft and the GPL (3, Interesting)

millette (56354) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507219)

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

How to kill your website (1)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507233)

This is a dumb idea. You'll just end up killing all traffic to your own website, and some other site offering binary downloads will end up getting all the visitors. And all of the community as well, nobody will visit the forum or bug tracker from a site that refuses to give out binaries, they'll communicate at the other site instead.

PyMol (3, Informative)

Ubi_NL (313657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507297)

PyMol does this and its the de-facto standard in protein structure visualisation

Apple did it first, watch out for patents! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507321)

Apple did that years ago with Darwin (minus the necessary files to effectively build the components). If you were willing to donate a few bucks, then they would ship the software built, packaged and burnt on a nice and convenient DVD with lots of freebies like a shiny and innovative graphical interface. They didn't stop there and really went for the extra mile : if you were a top donator (1,000+ USD) they would also send you a finely tuned laptop to match your donation. How considerate of them.

You have it backwards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507341)

Binaries for free, donations for source code. The source code gives you the power.

Red Hat business model (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40507359)

This same concept has been working really well for Red Hat for years. They give away the source code, but sell support/binaries. If Red Hat can make a billion dollars a year doing it, this guy can probably make a few sales if his software is useful.

Moving forward by taking a huge step back (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40507545)

Back in the day you had to compile every little nitpick bullshit thing, and only a few hard core nerds bothered with it. If you want to slash your userbase, and community knock yourself out. I wont have any part of it, and I refuse to purchase a binary under the guise of a donation, I dont like being lied to.

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