[clug] Re: pay for software (was Bluetooth mice)

Hugh Fisher hugh.fisher at anu.edu.au
Mon Oct 1 23:20:18 GMT 2007

Paul Wayper wrote:

> Since it makes no sense to design software like that, I think we can
> reasonably say that if we got a bunch of people together we could raise the
> cost of writing the software.  Or, a company like Red Hat, Novell or Canonical
> could decide that they were happy to spend the money to fund the developer
> time.  Put say $5000 in and I'm sure you'd get a very reasonable product, and
> if that means a company goes with RHEL, SLED or Ubuntu then it's almost
> certainly paid back in support costs.

I think that the Linux user community and/or companies like Red Hat
and Canonical need to establish ways of funding such development. I
had a look at PledgeBank as you suggested earlier, but it's a "pay
on completion" scheme. I'm sure a lot of people would be very happy
to work full-time as Linux coders, but they can't go six months? a
year? without paying any bills. An organization could gather enough
small contributions from a scattered group of interested people to
pay a salary.

> But a lot of the software that we use in Linux has been done outside that
> equation entirely.  It's been written by people who thought they could use a
> bluetooth device browser and that many other people would too, so in
> scratching their own itch they also solved a problem many other people had
> too, for free.  Then other people contribute to the same project and it all
> builds up from there.
> Are you still interested in comparing this with buying a copy of Windows,
> which doesn't support many of my favourite applications, forces me to buy lots
> of extra software to keep it free of viruses and treats me like a evil-minded
> simpleton?

It depends on whether you want your computing environment to remain
uncorrupted by the evil of commercial software, or get your own
work done. When your choices are A) wait for someone in the FOSS
community to decide your problem is worth solving, B) hire a coder
to spend a year writing the program you need, C) spend two or more
years learning to code it yourself, or D) buy a copy of MS Windows
and then a $500 proprietary program, it's a no-brainer for D if
the problem is at all important and/or urgent.

MS Windows isn't dominant just because of Microsofts dirty tricks.
There are tens of thousands of programs for MS Windows that are
genuinely useful/necessary, and don't run on anything else. (Yes,
there are tens of thousands for programs for Linux. 60% of them
are text editors and 30% are IDEs and new Web server libraries.)

Communal sharing is fine, but paying people to do stuff works


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