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Thread: Towards A Real Business Model For Open-Source Software

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by deanjo View Post
    I have to chuckle, "GPL the savior of all", yet meanwhile the most deployed database engine happens to be public domain.
    Yeah, as you said "happens".

  2. #42
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    hmm, i felt compelled to create an account specifically to reply to this thread, as i have been considering something similar for my own software endeavors.

    the bottom line: it requires an experienced developer/team many person-months to create a quality product; time=money. the feel i get after reading 5 pages worth of comments, is that few have written a line of code in any language, let alone professionally for a company or themselves. if you want the best, latest, and absolute greatest that a development team has to offer, then offer some compensation for their energy. isn't that fair? don't we exchange money for everything else in our lives? software isn't any different.

    i am an avid open source/FOSS supporter, and have used nearly 100% open software for many years; i enjoy spreading the good word to others. however, i believe in the rights of a person/group to assert ownership over something they've created.

    FOSS (in the modern economic/social/governance paradigm) simply doesn't fit very well for certain categories of software, especially direct, end-user consumables. it works better for underlying, shared, component-like technologies such as libraries, platforms, protocols, etc. etc... anything that isn't as directly marketable and can be shared and disclosed across many companies with little impact on their individual top level products. grasp the fact that companies/developers need to recoup capital lost in development. this is why Apple has contributed to LLVM/Clang.

    take a company like NoMachine. they produce an awesome library for efficient X server remote displays, like thin clients. the library is GPL i believe, but their IMPLEMENTATION using the library + additional features (their closed-source server) is not free. they use the money generated by the server product to fuel development of the library... which is now used by open projects like FreeNX and NeatX, both of which would not survive without the NoMachine's continued development of the underlying library.

    i have developed professionally for several years, and am now a self employed developer. i am considering a similar process for an upcoming product of mine: the core product will be open, but some of the heavy lifting modules that do the really interesting stuff will not be open... at first anyway. similar to the author, i will release the modules after i've had a chance to recoup the costs by licencing it to companies.

    in case no one bothered to read it, Sprewell posted a good link about the ghostscript author:

    http://devlinux.org/deutsch-interview.html#sec12

    there are several ways for closed and open source software to work TOGETHER, to create higher quality products on both sides of the fence, without being greedy and still being fair to all parties. a purely FOSS software industry is an unimplementable pipedream.

  3. #43
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    hmm, i felt compelled to create an account specifically to reply to this thread, as i have been considering something similar for my own software endeavors.

    the bottom line: it requires an experienced developer/team many person-months to create a quality product; time=money. the feel i get after reading 5 pages worth of comments, is that few have written a line of code in any language, let alone professionally for a company or themselves. if you want the best, latest, and absolute greatest that a development team has to offer, then offer some compensation for their energy. isn't that fair? don't we exchange money for everything else in our lives? software isn't any different.

    i am an avid open source/FOSS supporter, and have used nearly 100% open software for many years; i enjoy spreading the good word to others. however, i believe in the rights of a person/group to assert ownership over something they've created.

    FOSS (in the modern economic/social/governance paradigm) simply doesn't fit very well for certain categories of software, especially direct, end-user consumables. it works better for underlying, shared, component-like technologies such as libraries, platforms, protocols, etc. etc... anything that isn't as directly marketable and can be shared and disclosed across many companies with little impact on their individual top level products. grasp the fact that companies/developers need to recoup capital lost in development. this is why Apple has contributed to LLVM/Clang.

    take a company like NoMachine. they produce an awesome library for efficient X server remote displays, like thin clients. the library is GPL i believe, but their IMPLEMENTATION using the library + additional features (their closed-source server) is not free. they use the money generated by the server product to fuel development of the library... which is now used by open projects like FreeNX and NeatX, both of which would not survive without the NoMachine's continued development of the underlying library.

    i have developed professionally for several years, and am now a self employed developer. i am considering a similar process for an upcoming product of mine: the core product will be open, but some of the heavy lifting modules that do the really interesting stuff will not be open... at first anyway. similar to the author, i will release the modules after i've had a chance to recoup the costs by licencing it to companies.

    in case no one bothered to read it, Sprewell posted a good link about the ghostscript author:

    http://devlinux.org/deutsch-interview.html#sec12

    there are several ways for closed and open source software to work TOGETHER, to create higher quality products on both sides of the fence, without being greedy and still being fair to all parties. a purely FOSS software industry is an unimplementable pipedream.

  4. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by extofme View Post
    the bottom line: it requires an experienced developer/team many person-months to create a quality product; time=money. the feel i get after reading 5 pages worth of comments, is that few have written a line of code in any language, let alone professionally for a company or themselves. if you want the best, latest, and absolute greatest that a development team has to offer, then offer some compensation for their energy. isn't that fair? don't we exchange money for everything else in our lives? software isn't any different.
    I suppose nobody has problems with understanding this. People who write software need money too. However, there are many ways they can get it like paypal or they set a minimum funds required and then software is released or being worked on (afaik Amarok team is doing something like this).

    i enjoy spreading the good word to others. however, i believe in the rights of a person/group to assert ownership over something they've created.
    And what are you according to? Linux - Linus is an author and have rights to project he created, it's probably the same about any other GPL application and Linux distributions. If someone makes a fork then it's a different project.

    FOSS (in the modern economic/social/governance paradigm) simply doesn't fit very well for certain categories of software, especially direct, end-user consumables.
    Like what? It seems it's exactly opposite and it seems it's total bull - FOSS projects just rule many areas and they started to conquer others like desktops.

    there are several ways for closed and open source software to work TOGETHER, to create higher quality products on both sides of the fence, without being greedy and still being fair to all parties. a purely FOSS software industry is an unimplementable pipedream.
    This is bull. It's probably enough if some FOSS developers/companies which develop FOSS will be earning money on products they create like Red Hat on RHEL, Canonical on Ubuntu, Nokia on QT etc.. FOSS doesn't mean no earning money on products.

    i have developed professionally for several years, and am now a self employed developer. i am considering a similar process for an upcoming product of mine: the core product will be open, but some of the heavy lifting modules that do the really interesting stuff will not be open... at first anyway. similar to the author, i will release the modules after i've had a chance to recoup the costs by licencing it to companies.
    So, your released work won't magically became FOSS just because you get paid? ;>

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by kraftman View Post
    @KAMiKAZOW

    Let me explain this. Nothing interesting will remain, because everything what will remain is already freely available. I believe the things which made an OS X popular (except marketing) are made by Apple.
    Ah, now popularity is the defining factor of a BSD... I see... makes sense, because in the mind of trolls like you by definition BSD is unpopular and since Mac OS X, iPhones, iPads, and iPods are popular, OSX can't be a BSD....

    Great conclusion is a retarded way...

  6. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by KAMiKAZOW View Post
    Ah, now popularity is the defining factor of a BSD... I see... makes sense, because in the mind of trolls like you by definition BSD is unpopular and since Mac OS X, iPhones, iPads, and iPods are popular, OSX can't be a BSD....

    Great conclusion is a retarded way...
    Wrong. Apple products aren't popular thanks to *BSD and It's just not sane to call an OS X another BSD, just because OS X took some BSD parts. How OS X, which is a different product, can be *BSD same time? However, maybe some bsd fanboys wants to valor their poor system this way? Since iPhones, iPads. iPods and OS X aren't *BSD how can they be *BSD?

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    Damn, I forget Windows is a bsd too, because MS took some bsd part

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by kraftman View Post
    I suppose nobody has problems with understanding this. People who write software need money too. However, there are many ways they can get it like paypal or they set a minimum funds required and then software is released or being worked on (afaik Amarok team is doing something like this).
    sure, your saying it's ok to make money, just not as much as you can, i.e. the bare minimum. waiting around/donations are not viable; they aren't project-able/forecast-able sources of income for a business that depends on a software products.

    Quote Originally Posted by kraftman View Post
    And what are you according to? Linux - Linus is an author and have rights to project he created, it's probably the same about any other GPL application and Linux distributions. If someone makes a fork then it's a different project.
    Linus is a copyright holder along with hundreds of others... the copyright was not moved to FSF like they recommend. my point was that some people may not way you to be ABLE to fork their work, for a variety of good reasons.

    Quote Originally Posted by kraftman View Post
    Like what? It seems it's exactly opposite and it seems it's total bull - FOSS projects just rule many areas and they started to conquer others like desktops.
    it's not the opposite else Apple would release Cocoa and their other GUI libraries, along with every other software company that makes direct end user products. you said it yourself: "I believe the things which made an OS X popular (except marketing) are made by Apple.", and without protecting that IP Apple would have/be nothing.

    Quote Originally Posted by kraftman View Post
    This is bull. It's probably enough if some FOSS developers/companies which develop FOSS will be earning money on products they create like Red Hat on RHEL, Canonical on Ubuntu, Nokia on QT etc.. FOSS doesn't mean no earning money on products.
    i think you may need to research Red Hat's business model a little better, as i don't believe much, if any, of their income is directly from creating software (although it is in their interest to improve the stacks they use, which they employ developers to do). Canonical doesn't create anything; the only project they have ever done is Upstart. Nokia receives income from many other sources, and for a LONG time QT was not GPL compatible at all. you are taking some of the most successful examples and portraying them as common place... like those "get rich" infomercials try to do at 3am.

    Quote Originally Posted by kraftman View Post
    So, your released work won't magically became FOSS just because you get paid? ;>
    i'm not sure what you mean by this; yes my work is FOSS in every sense of the word, just not the parts i sell until i move on or decide to release them.

    i think you and many others are looking at this too black and white, good vs. evil; simply not the way it is. there are a myriad of factors that play into the game:

    how big am i?
    who are my competitors?
    what other revenue streams do i have?
    is this product critical to my success?
    who is my target market?
    does my market care about being able to modify my source?
    do i want them/is it safe for them to modify it?
    how large is my codebase?
    how long will it take others to learn it?
    is the code in a quality state?
    ...
    ...

    and many other examples better than the above. Apple contributes to LLVM because no matter what, it helps them. that is why the library/compiler/toolkit/platform type stuff is a more natural fit for FOSS. it doesn't mean that end-user products can't exist as FOSS, because obviously they do. i gave the NX example because that is their PRIMARY product... yet they still find a way to share it without threatening their livelihood. some startups may not want to take that chance though, and that's ok too.

    i develop software to provide for my family, and i want to provide the best life i can. if that means closing up and protecting a relatively SMALL amount of my overall work, then by damn that's what i'm going to do. if you follow/contrib to various FOSS projects as i do, you will find that most contributers develop for the FOSS application as a PLATFORM to another product they are creating; the example i think of here is Pyjamas, a python-to-javascript compiler + GWT port that i've begun to use heavily in my web based projects. i think about how to improve it for my own products, but hey if it helps you too then right on.

    i assure you, closed/open source software can/will find a way to coexist peacefully and beneficially. instead of being upset, we need to embrace this fact and find creative ways to implement it.

  9. #49
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    Some more responses:

    beniwtv, it's funny how dummies think that simply using the word fail is an argument. Obviously the older closed patches won't be as useful, but the idea is to fund development in the open source core using those closed-source patches to generate revenue. However, the fact that everything is opened up eventually is important to many customers.

    Xilanaz, Yes, you cannot build on the closed parts of a mixed-codebase, only the open parts. I don't understand your confusion about who will fix security flaws: both the hybrid source vendor and the original programmer of the compression scheme will have the source and will want to fix it since they're making money off it. As for when the security fix will be opened, it will be released 18 months after it is included in a build, so later than the original patch. Nothing stopping the vendor from releasing it earlier if they choose to though.

    Nighthog, there aren't closed and open branches, there's an open source core and closed-source patches on it. With modern SCM tools, it's actually fairly easy to maintain such co-development: I've been doing it for 7 months now. Pure open source may not jibe with profit but that's why it loses: that's why I'm suggesting a mix. As for your distribution copy idea, it's basically a cruder version of what I'm describing. I'm not worried about competition from free versions as they won't have the same money, but this model is a perfect testbed for open source proponents to prove their claimed superiority of open source. If their free, pure open source versions are so great at eating customers, they can prove it empirically in this model, by turning mixed codebases purely open. I'm pretty sure pure open source will lose, as it always has.

    it87k, if those models are so great, please use them and prove their superiority. I have seen them fail for decades at competing with closed-source software. 5-year old patches are very useful for slow-moving markets like medical software.

    crazycheese, I see, so closed BSDs don't count? Nice way to rationalize your stats, but the BSD parts of Mac OS X are mostly kept open, as KAMiKAZOW notes. GPL doesn't protect anything, all it does is force everyone else to use a consulting or service model. You think Google or Yahoo or IBM are paying GPL devs adequately for all the GPL code they're using? Maybe they sponsor some work or devs here and there to keep the chumps hopeful, but they're using the same amount of code without paying for it, just in a different way than BSD allows. BSD programmers allow others the true freedom to do whatever they want with their work, that's why it will win out over the GPL. How is IBM's GPL work not "stolen" if someone uses it outside IBM? Wikipedia is always down on money and that's why it's always doing fund-raising drives: your point is? Who said anything about only using the BSD license? A mixed source codebase is based on the BSD license but obviously it's something new, as some source is kept closed for a limited time.

    waucka, cut MS revenues by half or two-thirds then, it's still 20-40 times Red Hat's paltry revenues.

    JeanPaul145, 5 years is for medical software, it depends on the market. 18 months for web browsers is a very reasonable time limit. I don't know why you think a new license is needed when the hybrid source vendors already contract a time limit with their customers. I did think of going the licensing route by creating a completely new license like the CDDL, but I think the contract route is better: new software licenses are a PITA and even popular ones like the GPLv2 are badly written. Good points responding to the others.

    kraftman, we all know libraries aren't whole OS's or applications, what's your point? If you think BSD sharing is stealing while GPL sharing isn't, I don't know what to tell you. True freedom is always called anarchy by those who want to steal power. You made a mistake: you said "companies which use" GPL code have to contribute back, that's not true. Companies use GPL code on the server all the time without contributing back, only when you distribute a binary do you have to make your source modifications GPL also.

    sal-e, calling people's comments misguided is an insult? You're being too sensitive. If you're referring to my responses to some others, if someone's going to spread ignorant FUD, I have no problem responding with the derision that deserves. Hybrid source won't save your program from Microsoft, just like being pure closed source won't, as you noted. What's your point: nobody can compete with Microsoft? Many can and do. Sun didn't go under cuz of a lawsuit, it's because they listened to all the open source zealots and open sourced all their code, with no idea how they'd monetize it. If they'd used my model, they might still be around as an independent company. If you think this hybrid model has failed before against MS, please cite an example.

    Apopas, To me, the BSD is true freedom, while the GPL is communism. I think I can justify that claim more than you can yours.

    extofme, some excellent points. I hope your upcoming product works out well, let us know more about it sometime. The whole reason I wrote this essay is to encourage others to use this hybrid model, I'm confident it will work well for you. Excellent point about open and closed source coexisting.

    My whole point in writing the original essay was to publicize a model where open and closed source could coexist and compete side by side, with the mix of the two models producing something much better. I think this model will lead to a lot more open source code being produced, once such open source work can be funded by closed-source modules. If you're an open source zealot, you believe that mixing code is always a bad idea, that it must be pure open source or nothing. However, if you're a true open source proponent, you should welcome this idea, as it's likely to lead to ten times more open source code being written and used, although accompanied by closed-source modules that drive funding. Instead, purist open source zealots make the perfect the enemy of the good. This hybrid model mixes the best aspects of two competing models, so that they work together to produce something even better.

  10. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by extofme View Post
    sure, your saying it's ok to make money, just not as much as you can, i.e. the bare minimum. waiting around/donations are not viable; they aren't project-able/forecast-able sources of income for a business that depends on a software products.
    That's probably true. However, like you mentioned later, maybe the ways Red Hat makes money on its products is viable?

    you said it yourself: "I believe the things which made an OS X popular (except marketing) are made by Apple.", and without protecting that IP Apple would have/be nothing.
    I said this, because I consider *BSD has nothing interesting to offer for users who decided to choose an OS X and I don't consider it's only related to license (which is still very important IMHO), but also for other things like available apps and techs - Apple made things which helped OS X gain some market share while *BSD guys didn't bother or they're lack of man power, have different goals etc. Linux is also loosing in some areas compared to OS X like video acceleration, sometimes graphic drivers, but it's catching up with current development model and its license. Afaik Apple, Microsoft, some companies etc. can't take the GPL code, so there's no need for using proprietary one, because GPL (unlike BSD, however there's no a single rule which will match everywhere) will allow you to compete. In contrary Linux outperforms OS X in other areas.


    i think you may need to research Red Hat's business model a little better, as i don't believe much, if any, of their income is directly from creating software (although it is in their interest to improve the stacks they use, which they employ developers to do). Canonical doesn't create anything; the only project they have ever done is Upstart. Nokia receives income from many other sources, and for a LONG time QT was not GPL compatible at all. you are taking some of the most successful examples and portraying them as common place... like those "get rich" infomercials try to do at 3am.
    Maybe I missed your points here. I thought about making money by selling support and maybe some other services.


    i'm not sure what you mean by this; yes my work is FOSS in every sense of the word, just not the parts i sell until i move on or decide to release them.
    Of course it's FOSS and maybe the way you're doing with parts you're selling is a good way to earn money? At least, maybe better then this way?

    bare minimum. waiting around/donations are not viable; they aren't project-able/forecast-able sources of income for a business that depends on a software products.
    @Sprewell

    kraftman, we all know libraries aren't whole OS's or applications, what's your point? If you think BSD sharing is stealing while GPL sharing isn't, I don't know what to tell you.
    Not exactly stealing (I just call it like this), because if someone decides to use BSD he actually agreed someone else or some company can just take his code. It's bad for competition with GPL and proprietary products (but like I mentioned license is not an only factor).

    True freedom is always called anarchy by those who want to steal power.
    True freedom is when there are rules and anarchy is were there are no rules. Anarchy is called true freedom by those who have some interests in doing so.

    You made a mistake: you said "companies which use" GPL code have to contribute back, that's not true. Companies use GPL code on the server all the time without contributing back.
    I probably said use/share, but it doesn't matter, because I meant what you said here

    only when you distribute a binary do you have to make your source modifications GPL also
    This is why the GPL rocks

    Apopas, To me, the BSD is true freedom, while the GPL is communism. I think I can justify that claim more than you can yours.
    You probably have strange definition of freedom. However, we're talking about the applications code not about you. :> GPL is community friendly, not communism. Communism isn't community friendly. Btw. and you're propagating a business model for FOSS and appeared at Phoronix?! Bad

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