Why We Need to Pay for Linux/FOSS: Page 2

If we don’t challenge the stereotype of open source users as freeloaders, who will support the next dropped project we all depend on?
Posted December 13, 2011

Matt Hartley

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Short of that small issue, a bounty system would be a smashing success for projects such as Linux video editors, Gimp, and other open source projects where features are often requested.

The above scenario covers one approach to handling features requested frequently. It's pretty straight forward. Unfortunately, things can get dicey with trying the same type of approach with smaller features. Existing features might be better presented with user specific tweaks. Custom Blender based 3D titles in OpenShot video editor, for example. Even a branded version of a specific open source application would be a smash hit.

The opportunity for both developer and end user in this space is genuinely limitless. And yet surprisingly, hardly anyone is doing it!

To be fair, this might be an area where heading over to a coder marketplace would be a better use of time, since the developer of the related project may already be too busy.

However, for those unemployed open source developers looking to make a name for themselves, this is a really great income opportunity. Projects like Miro have been doing this for some time. Which is why I think it's a great idea for an additional revenue stream.

Why not Linux distros?

The last area I want to touch on is the need for a branded USB wifi dongle. This is completely brain-dead simple for any distribution to offer. Atheros and Ralink, among other chipset vendors, would be happy to set up such a deal. Simply insert the dongle inner-workings into some branded plastic and you have a fully supported wireless device with your favorite distribution's logo on it.

Anyone telling you that it cannot be done hasn't investigated it thoroughly – I have. I've spoken to chipset vendors, looked at 802.11n options natively supported and I'm saddened to tell you that this could have been offered years ago.

Even worse, it's practically "drop-ship easy" thanks to most of the chipset vendors coming from areas of the world desperate for new customers.

Think such a thing isn't needed? I can direct you to hundreds of forum posts that would indicate otherwise. These forums, filled with posts of individuals who purchased devices that do indeed provide Linux drivers. Despite these drivers being offered already, the end user still has to compile and configure many 802.11n devices.

Now obviously, most Linux distribution developers don't have time to chase down every possible wifi bug one encounters. This is especially true when you consider how bad the wireless chipset revision/version system is.

Look at the back of most USB wifi dongles, you'll find it likely has a version or revision number on it. This means that while the model number may be the same, changes to the chipset are likely and undocumented.

A decision needs to be made

Over the years, I've worked with a number of open source projects. In that time, I've come to an interesting conclusion. The brains behind these fantastic projects may be successful coders, but they're often lousy at funding their own endeavors.

So my thinking is that even if an open source project is formed as a hobby project, it would still be nice to offer the end-user an option to keep the project alive with some extra money. Should the developer not want to keep the money for themselves, they could simply offer the funds to a worthwhile charity.

Back on the user side of things, we need to decide whether we're going to continue perpetuating the stereotype that open source enthusiasts are just freeloaders. As stated previously, this is a vision for the future that can be overcome by simply opening up our hearts and our wallets.

Because if we don't, who will be around to pick up the next dropped open source project that many of us depended on? Consider this food for thought.

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Tags: Linux, FOSS, GIMP

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