[plug] Sobering read on the reality of open source software development

Gregory Orange home at oranges.id.au
Thu Mar 24 21:22:17 AWST 2022

Hi Chris,

It's an interesting idea and I really hope you get some traction with
it. It may just kill two birds with one stone - helping people derive
extra value from FLOSS by putting money towards it, and the projects get
a little bit of funding too. Heck, if anyone kicks off about it enough
with "but it's (F|f)ree, why should I have to pay" the conversation
might lead somewhere even better.


On 24/3/22 10:43, Chris Caston wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 23, 2022 at 10:48 AM Chris McCormick <chris at mccormick.cx
> <mailto:chris at mccormick.cx>> wrote:
>     Some different ways to make money if you use a FLOSS license:
>     * Lobby the companies that use your software for donations or patronage.
>     * Ask users for donations or patronage.
>     * Charge for binaries, or hosting fees.
>     * Charge for services.
>     * Sell associated merchandise.
>     * Sell educational materials and courses.
>     * Put ads on the website or product.
>     * Sell a book about the software.
>     * Use a dual license for commercial users.
>     * Charge consulting fees or premium support.
>     * Sell plugins or enhancements.
>     * Use a proprietary license instead.
>     Free Software is a gift. You can't take it back just because you don't
>     like one of the recipients.
>     https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.en.html
>     <https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.en.html>
>     Cheers,
>     Chris.
>     --
> I have been a self-employed call-out computer technician throughout the
> years and I have also been active with using Linux and open source
> software. I have also worked for MSPs and on contracts for corporate
> environments that are balls deep in MS software and services. In recent
> years I have started upskilling to fullstack web development. I have
> come back to my business and want to work on establishing an open source
> MSP feeling the time may finally be right for open source.
> I have come up against some of the same old resistance from customers
> that kind of want the Microsoft office suite for the Libreoffice price.
> It doesn't help that Libreoffice still has some UX issues for end users
> and they can't "find their documents" because MS Office had some way of
> allowing them to access them without actually knowing where they are
> saved on their drive.
> The customers just don't understand the new pricing model for Microsoft
> 365. They think the basic plan gives them the full office suite when
> they only had the web based versions and exchange online. Their Outlook
> 2010 had stopped working with Exchange Online. If they move to the next
> plan up they get the desktop programs but their exchange online stops
> working. They wanted me to handle all this for them without spending any
> money but still using Microsoft products. They also e-mail customers
> using copy and pasted word templates. I wrote a PHP web app that
> produces very clean HTML (that took some time to get it compatible with
> most e-mal clients) and used an array of base 64 encoded images to
> produce the top image and signature logo instead of their current
> unwitting VML. The result was beautiful but the manager doesn't want to
> use it leaving their sole employee without any automation that would
> make their job easier.
> I can remember once over a decade ago that a user was using the
> Microsoft Works suite which was a cheaper version of Office. It wouldn't
> run. I thought that OpenOffice.oef would easily beat this but the user
> wasn't happy. They said I had given them a dodgy solution. This was a
> bit of a kick in the face as I had gone out of my way to recover their
> data on DDS4 tapes even though I didn't own any of the required equipment.
> Having said that, whenever I built a machine for customers I always
> installed (or used an image with OpenOffice.org) but I was avoiding
> having the conversation and communicating with the customer about open
> source software. I was too busy being a tech. I would feel exasperated
> when they wanted Microsoft office but didn't want to pay for it. They
> wanted MS Office for the openoffice.org <http://openoffice.org> price.
> Now that I am a bit older and wiser and supposed to be more responsible
> and that I want to focus on building an open source MSP (serving small
> businesses) I need to do this whole thing better.
> All of those customers I have openoffice.org <http://openoffice.org> and
> other open source programs have never made a contribution to the various
> foundations. If they did then those programs would have had more funding
> to further improve the UX for the end users.
> So I am considering doing the following. Making provision of the
> software conditional upon making a contribution to the organisation
> behind the software be it the mozilla foundation, canalogical or so on.
> Calling it "funded open source" for example:
> * Install Ubuntu desktop $50 donation to canalogical (good for the life
> of the LTS release)
> * Ubuntu server $100 donation
> * Deploy and setup Thunderbird $20 donation fo the Mozilla foundation
> * Deploy Raspberry Pi IoT device - $10 donation to Raspberry Pi foundation
> * Install Libreoffice - $30 donation to the Document foundation
> * Something similar for docker and K8's containers. This would be harder
> to communicate to users as they are not desktop apps that face them
> directly but it still should be done.
> This is seperate from charging the customer for billable hour break-fix
> services or support contracts. The money goes to supproting the
> foundation that in turn pays core developers to improve the software for
> the users.
> Yes, there would still be a lot of interia to overcome from users that
> are very stubborn about wanting Microsoft but I would produce materials
> to clearly communicate what the programs are and what they can do for
> their business. Only once the donation has been made will the software
> be provisioned. It may be demonstrated to them on a laptop, presentation
> or virtual machine first before it is installed but the donation is
> non-refundable. This helps ensure the user understands what they are
> getting. Ideally the user feels more like an empowered buyer of open
> source services rather than being forced into a "second rate" alternative.
> best regards,
> Christopher Caston

Gregory Orange

More information about the plug mailing list