@bob @z428 @eldaking

Also, at that time RMS was earning money selling (tape) copies of Emacs, which was licensed as Free Software.

Now that we don't use physical copies, free software developers can make a living out of a) tailored software b) support c) donations. VLC does it this way, for instance.

@tagomago Agree with the both of you, yet I wonder how many devs in FLOSS these days actually manage to live like that, especially also compared to devs that can "afford" to do FLOSS development because they earn a living with a well paid job doing, like, highly proprietary enterprise software development. This seems neither sustainable nor honest to me...
@bob @eldaking

@z428 @bob @eldaking

I think we should stop thinking that the nonfree software model is honest and acceptable in the first place ('cause it isn't), then things would start falling in place.

@tagomago Agreed. But from that point of view, being devils advocate for a moment, I would consider software "non free" if it's a spare time project by someone who earns money developing closed/proprietary stuff in her dayjob. 😉 This is my only problem with that approach.
@bob @eldaking

@z428 @bob @eldaking

I would say that it's extremely unfair to tie what a person does in their free time to what this person does in their job, basically because we are *forced* to work, and most of the times we don't have many choices. Yeah, I think this person should look for an alternate ethical "dayjob", but not because it stains their free time free software "production".

@tagomago I don't think it's unfair, because it's a privileged mode of working that keeps people from understanding the issues of those who are software developers yet in a less privileged or economically "safe" environment in my opinion...
@bob @eldaking

@z428 @bob @eldaking

Well, not exactly. That depends on how this person (and all of us, by the way) presents their project, and how free software is explained to the largely unaware public. If this is correctly addressed, including the sustainability issue, then the responsability is not theirs, imo.

@tagomago Yes. But no. My point is still that FLOSS, despite all of its advantages, greatly causes difficulties for people that depend upon (maybe small scale) software development to earn a living. And I see not enough energy spent on fixing that - again because, if it's a spare time enthusiasm project and your dayjob pays your bills, you don't have to care.
@bob @eldaking

@z428 @tagomago @bob @eldaking There's been efforts from the like of elementary & some other dedicated groups I can't recall the name of right now.

From that it appears the biggest problem is cultural: too many people expect not to have to pay, or even be pushed to do so. The situation's slowly improving...

@alcinnz Yes, especially that latter part is a problem, also in FLOSS in my opinion. We've been hypocrites, to some extent, by claiming that we want "Libre" because it's of course more important - and quietly accepted that "gratis" is the most (and in some cases only) actual effect of FLOSS at least for untrained John Doe. 😔 @tagomago @bob @eldaking

@z428 @alcinnz @bob @eldaking

From my own experience, an overwhelming majority has never paid for Windows or other nonfree software.

And I donate periodically to many projects, some of them I even don't use. So who's the hypocrite?

@tagomago Ah sorry, that latter part wasn't addressing any particular individuals. I handle things just the way you do. But: Do you have a job with a modestly variable monthly income depending on something as possibly random as donations, or do you have a fixed monthly salary? @alcinnz @bob @eldaking

@tagomago If you were, say, a small development studio with three or four employees in full time living off selling proprietary software and this model works in a way you can survive: What advantage would you get from going for a FLOSS licence? Would you in worst case be ready to give up on an at least somewhat regular monthly income for these? @alcinnz @bob @eldaking

@z428 @tagomago @alcinnz @bob @eldaking Making a living / running a business on libre software does work, it's just less common. In a recent podcast the lead Ardour dev says they pull in about $100k per year. BlenderMarket.com is chock full of people selling GPL software at solid prices, because people have accepted the paradigm. Nextcloud is a very large business working solely with GPL software. Ghost.org is non-profit & MIT, has earned over $3M and supports several full time staff. 1/2

@z428 @tagomago @alcinnz @bob @eldaking WooThemes, before being acquired by Automattic, was a large business with several staff selling all GPL themes & plugins. There are also many other WP theme and plugin selling businesses doing very well selling GPL products.

The only reason we have the current dominant paradigm of selling proprietary licenses is habit and fear of the unknown. It's been shown as entirely viable to have libre software business it's just a matter of people getting used to it

@freedcreative ... to lay off people. That's generally a problem, maybe with moving to FLOSS even more so? @tagomago @alcinnz @bob @eldaking

@z428 Off the top of my head, WooThemes started with proprietary licenses until the WP devs convinced them to switch to GPL. From my recollection it had no negative effect and they kept growing.

NextCloud came out of OwnCloud, because the main guy behind it wanted to refocus on open source: invidio.us/watch?v=UTKvLSnFL6I

Ghost was non-profit & MIT from the start - John O'Nolan has a few interviews online talking about why he dropped his earlier life plans of chasing VC funding to have independence.


@z428 The guys who run Blender Market also have a video online talking about how they went into making a space to sell GPL software and how a lot of people told them it wouldn't work. But they made it happen, which is super cool.

IMO most people don't care all that much about license. If the store says, hey this GPL software is $20 they just decide if they want it the same way as they would any other product.

@z428 Oh and I forgot to mention Plausible Analytics, who are new and getting their open source based business off the ground. Just a little over a week ago @markosaric announced they've just hit $1,500 MRR. He also posted some of his thoughts on open source based business on the Plausible blog: plausible.io/blog/open-source-

@freedcreative @z428 thanks Kezz! not an easy space to be in. on one hand, open source enthusiast say all software should be free as in beer, on the other we have most people using proprietary tools because alternatives are not user friendly, pretty enough etc. i believe the best way to bridge the gap is to have more people work full time on open source and a way to achieve that is by paying for their software so they can do work on it without needing a job, worrying about finances etc

@freedcreative @z428

Ghost, @elementary, the brands you mentioned and some of the others i list in my post are great examples of this being done and i hope we see more projects like these in the future. will improve the quality of open source software and get more people away from closed source tools

@markosaric @z428 @elementary 100% agreed. The bottom line is if no money, i.e. resources, goes towards libre software, proprietary software gets all the resources instead and all that opportunity for improvement is hoarded instead of shared.

It's a terrible paradigm that only private projects should get funding and shared projects shouldn't.

There is no doubt in my mind that libre projects need money. The only valid question is how to ensure payment avenues don't diminish libre principles.

@freedcreative @z428 @elementary well put! our way of doing it is by keeping everything fully open source, developed in the open, a permissible license, stats shared in the open, having an open roadmap where people can share feedback/contribute and having exactly the same product as a self-hosted version which is free as in beer for those who want to manage it themselves

@markosaric @z428 @elementary Nice! I'm about to start pitching in to the open community in my own way and building some new sites. I know where I'm coming for analytics. 🙂

@freedcreative Agree. And these aspects are interesting... I'm on @elementary too just because of that despite some technical issues, but I also remember them receiving quite some bashing back then when they introduced payments to the app store and for the .iso download. These disputes felt extremely odd. @markosaric

@z428 @elementary @markosaric I also found those objections very unreasonable, and backed the crowdfunding for the AppCenter to support them.

I do understand the concerns of people wanting to prevent the libre software world turning into an inaccessible landscape for those with limited budgets as the proprietary world can be. But as long as there is an accessible option, like Elementary's $0 option, methods of encouraging contribution actually lead to libre becoming more viable for more people.

@freedcreative @z428 @markosaric

Interesting discussion - once again. Just to add a bit to that. Not too long ago I had an "investor" of a company I was working for who told me, since I am an "free software guy" I should be able to lower the cost for software and hardware by a lot. People confuse FOSS with "no cost" it seems. I always propagate to make software open source and - if possible - free of cost but sell the support. One has to eat and it´s not that companies don´t have the money.

@FLauenroth @z428 @markosaric That's the downside to one of the major reasons for the spread of "open source" software, that being its exploitation by those with no interest in libre principles as a means to free labour.

When you think about it that way, paying for libre software is the antithesis of that motivation, and hence one of the best ways to support software freedom as opposed to free labour.

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