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    All this talk about ethics, open, and free brings another angle to mind: people pushing that with no-cost licenses are themselves misrepresenting what they are achieving in at least U.S.. I used to push for OSS/FOSS in the past. Now I’m switching to hybrids. The reason is that encouraging people to play “give it all away” or “use low-revenue models” in a capitalist country where opponents of freedom make billions of dollars for their software shifted all the money (and therefore power) to the latter. They then paid off politicians and used pricey lawyers to win more power against OSS/FOSS in ways they couldn’t fight against without piles of money. This includes ability to patent/copyright troll users of open/free software and especially Oracle’s API ruling which jeopardizes OSS/FOSS, backwards-compatible implementations of anything that had a proprietary API.

    From what I see, OSS/FOSS have done great things but are a fundamentally-flawed model in a capitalist country where money wins. As many as possible need to be charging by default both to support contributors and send money/power the other way. They and FOSS-using companies that don’t depend on patent/copyright money need to pool money together to fight legal advances of patent/copyright-trolling companies that want lock-in. Otherwise, in a game where only one side is playing for keeps, the OSS/FOSS groups keep losing by default software freedoms and ability to enforce their licenses while preaching that they’re maintaining them. Seems dishonest. Also, strange I almost never read about these issues in FOSS writers articles about business model and licensing recommendations.

    Far as hybrids, I can’t give you the answer yet since it’s too soon. For FOSS, I’m looking at Open Core and Dual-Licensing with strongest copyleft available. For non-FOSS, Source-available from public-benefit companies and nonprofits chartered to implement most software freedoms for customers on top of free for non-commercial or under certain use. These freedoms and justifications would also be in licenses and contracts with huge penalties for non-compliance for extra layers of defense. Maybe expire into FOSS after certain time passes or revenue threshold. We need more experimentation that lets companies currently supplying or later releasing as FOSS to get millions to hundreds of millions in revenue collectively to fight this battle. Again, it’s not optional: the other side is actively fighting to remove software freedom inch by inch. And mostly winning despite FOSS organizations’ little victories.

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      Apologies if this is a threadjack, but I’m wrestling with these kinds of questions. I’ve been doing open source more or less my whole career, and usually in some form of hybrid.

      Now I’m going out on my own and am searching for a model that makes sense. I like the collaboration of open source, but I also very much want to make money, and don’t want to do that with hallucinogenic business models.

      I’m building a game that has a music synthesizer in it as a core mechanic. What I’m building has basically 3 layers - infrastructure for building such things in Rust, the synthesizer itself (with GUI), and the game logic on top. What I’m converging on is doing the first two layers as very much community open source with permissive licenses, and the third layer as just straight up proprietary software, no pretending to be anything else. There’s stuff to fine-tune around the edges, for example somebody brought up a delayed open release of the game source, after the monetization has run its course, but I don’t want to commit to that right now because it might constrain working with a commercial publisher. If I end up self-publishing, I’ll strongly consider that though, especially if people tell me it helps motivate their contribution.

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        I think you should flip your plans on business models around this code - the infrastructure and synthesizer are the things that could have enough value to a business that you could do well selling them. The median game does not make a profit and, as entertainment, games are a hit-driven (usually-)one-time purchase not bought based on predictable need.

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          I’ve certainly thought about it. But here’s my thinking. First, there’s currently no business for Rust infrastructure, the community is very much organized around permissive licenses. Second, the market for synthesizers and music plugins is pretty crowded, while games in this particular genre are, as far as I can tell, underserved. Third, I think the Switch is a promising platform, and it doesn’t really do free games. Fourth, if the game is a dud but the free music tools catch on, I can always do a pro version, and I get free marketing and market research. Lastly, the game is definitely riskier, but I’m at a point where I’m ok with that; if this stuff doesn’t monetize, I just go back to a corporate job.

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          I think it’s pretty obvious that the ‘correct’ way of doing free software games without violating the freedom of users by making anything proprietary is to make all the code free software but not make the art/music/etc. free. After all, software freedom is about software, not about art or music.

          People can modify the software, they can use it as they see fit, but they can’t redistribute it along with the art and music. They can either come up with their own art and music or they can redistribute it without the art and music and it’ll be useful to others that already have the game (because they already have the art and music).

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            Your model (bottom two free, top not) was exactly what first popped into my mind when I read the first couple of sentences of your comment, so you’re not the only one who thinks it makes sense, fwiw :-)

            By the way (off-topic question), as someone who has recently bought a midi controller (MPK261) and started playing around with some of the synths that I got free (Hybrid Air, Sonivox), and has a decent mathy ability to understand any given synthesis concept, but absolutely no intuition for what changes will sound like… is your game aimed at me? :-)

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              Yes, it’s made for exactly you :) I’ll put you on my list for beta testing.

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                OMG that’s fantastic!

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              why don’t you want to deal LSD

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                Beg your pardon?

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                  hallucinogenic business models

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                    Ah, right, right. Basically I want to create value honestly and do a reasonable job of recovering revenue from the value I create, rather than playing these games that seem to increasingly substitute for that these days.

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                      what games are you referring to?

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                        Financial engineering in general, more specifically the kinds of things that startups do when they’re looking for an exit or when their purpose is to burn through VC money rather than make a business. MoviePass, Juicero, that kind of thing.

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                          ah okay. in reading your original comment i thought you were saying it’s hallucinogenic to think you could make a living writing free software.

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                “This would make sense if these ‘attacks on free software’ actually existed, but they don’t. They literally don’t exist.” “FLOSS doesn’t need ‘hundreds of millions in revenue’ to fight any battle because there is no battle.”

                You missed the war on open source software by Microsoft et al… thwarted largely by IBM saying it will drop a fortune defending Linux which fits my comment… the DMCA attacks, the patent trolling (Android vendors alone pay billions), the copyright ruling from an expensive case that applies to API’s FOSS often depends on, and so on. Hell, a patent defense alone facing one of these big companies gets quoted as about $200,000 on average from expensive, law firms. You bet FOSS folks need a fortune if one of these companies wants to use a legal team to destroy them.

                You really don’t see such things much, though. You wonder why if there’s a threat as I claim. They mostly ignore FOSS developers since they’re (a) free labor that the big companies are monetizing or (b) penniless opponents with weak or non-existent marketing to big spenders. For (b), the common MO is to hit companies building on the product, FOSS or not, for royalties once they’re financially successful. They parasite off them instead of destroy while using a slice of that money investing in lobbyists and courts to ensure they can continue. Alternatively, they use a combo of the lure of money with the threat of market destruction (patent or otherwise) to pressure them to sell the company. Microsoft and IBM have taken entire markets using their dominant positions, patent portfolios, and large[-for-small-player] offerings to get acquisitions. It’s rare for someone to stare at both that kind of money and corporate threat telling them to get lost. So…

                “People and groups of people that produce non-free software aren’t at war with people that do.”

                …the big players wanting to dominate markets, maximize profits from locked-in customers, and eliminate disruptive competition are always at war with folks producing anything that threatens that. Always. It’s never changed since they have people on top whose bonuses depend on this shit. They’ll also remember companies that were sent to non-existence or limbo from new stuff they didn’t stamp out when they had a chance. Just because you or many FOSS folks aren’t playing doesn’t mean they aren’t. They certainly are. They even have people working 24/7 on Capitol Hill to screw people over. Not just here in states: they’re represented in international, treaty negotiations as well under the I.P. agreements. And if you think copyright enforcement isn’t war or this is just U.S., just look at the nice, unarmed, law-abiding people that came after Kim Dotcom over U.S.-generated complaints. Those situations illustrates the heights things can go to when it matters to those in power. Better to be the ones with power.

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                    You are very wrong.

                    I am trying to bring some more floss to the public sector and the resistance from the entrenched vendors is a thing.

                    Straight up bribes are manageable, but lobbying and regulatory capture is the true evil. We actually need floss lobbyists of our own.

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                      You are twisting @nickpsecurity’s words and I do not understand why you are doing this.

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                        No I am not.

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                    You’re right that there isn’t a war as such, but there is definitely a certain kind of dynamic. I think @nickpsecurity is also pointing out (quite correctly) the wider implications of the wealth concentration resulting from the free work that goes into producing free software.

                    One of the issues is that the companies that use free software don’t always comply with the terms of the licence. There are many examples:

                    The problems are obvious unless you stick to a very narrow and dogmatic view. Consequences matter. Just like the ill-considered, short-sighted, damn-the-consequences technological “disruption”, free software is an idea that produced a lot of unintended side effects (and in fact, contributed to the aforementioned “disruption”).

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                  you cannot sell the software

                  hijacking language used by respected entities like Creative Commons

                  But Creative Commons has a NonCommercial license among others. This was my first association — “it’s called commons because it’s like Creative Commons BY-NC”

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                    But that still muddies the waters, because Creative Commons is not an open source license. It’s not used for software licensing. This is the weakest of several points, though. More important, imo, is the parasitic attachment to open source licenses, and most important is the abuse of the term “open source” by projects using it.

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                    Disclaimer: I work alongside Kevin, who helped create the Commons Clause. I was not personally involved in the creation of the Commons Clause.

                    I agree with the premise of this article, which is that projects licensed under the Commons Clause are not open source, and to call them open source is misleading.

                    The subtext of this article seems to be “the Commons Clause is bad”, which I’m less sure I agree with:


                    1. Commons Clause makes it possible to publish source code that would have originally been closed source.

                    I’ve mentioned this before. Most of this code would have originally been closed source so the authors can make money off of it. The Commons Clause lets them still make money while making the program and source code available for as many users as possible.

                    I think this is a net improvement.

                    2. Using an open core model with existing OSI-approved licenses is unpleasant.

                    Software developers must feed themselves. They must get paid somehow. This is a hard requirement.

                    Open core has historically worked well for open source infrastructure companies at scale (e.g. Hashicorp, Docker, GitLab, Redis). These companies provide immense value for the software community by doing sustainable open source development. (The only successful large company I’m aware of that used the paid support model was Red Hat.)

                    If you actually talk to many of the teams working on open source infrastructure, they’re frustrated by existing licensing tools. There is a big difference between the value that these teams generate and the value that they’re able to capture. A big contributor to this is the fact that service providers like AWS run hosted versions of open source software and capture disproportionately more value than they generate for the community. This is a strong disincentive to provide open core infrastructure.

                    Permissive licenses like Apache allow this to happen. Highly restrictive licenses like AGPL are too broad and scare away proprietary users who would not be hurting the team’s sustainability. In practice, open source teams do not have an option for saying “I would like to be as permissive as possible, but still make money so I can fund sustainable development”.

                    3. “Free software” and “open source” as concepts are more nuanced than the GNU and OSI definitions.

                    The GNU and OSI definitions are very narrow, and generate a lot of confusion. This is exacerbated when people use “free software” and “open source” (as opposed to e.g. “Free Software” / “free-as-in-freedom” / “GNU free software” or “Open Source” / “OSI open source”) to refer to the GNU and OSI definitions.

                    There are immediate layperson meanings for these terms: “software that I didn’t have to pay for” and “software where I can view the source code”.

                    The terms “non-free” and “non-commercial” can mean too many things, and to use them to describe the Commons Clause is misleading:

                    1. Often times, Commons Clause projects are provided at no cost.
                    2. The entire point of the Commons Clause is to allow as much commercial usage as possible, and to only forbid the strictest possible subset of usage (reselling the software) to enable sustainable development.

                    In practice, there are gradients of freedom. To say that software that is not strictly GNU Free Software is not free or projects that are not strictly OSI Open Source are not open source is misleading to the everyday user.

                    I would love to see GNU and the OSI step up here with better education and clearer definitions around this.

                    4. By insisting on their definitions of “free software” and “open source” and failing to recognise this nuance, GNU and the OSI are missing the forest for the trees and will ultimately push more projects towards closed source models.

                    By winning this battle, they are losing the meta-game.

                    At the end of the day, what matters is not whether there are more OSI Open Source projects, but how much value we provide to the community. When open source advocates say that Commons Clause projects are “not open source” (in the OSI sense) and discourage its use, they are correct but harmful.

                    By taking away this middle ground, they push projects to be either free-as-in-freedom or proprietary. Given the pains of sustainable infrastructure development using OSI-approved licenses, I fear that this will ultimately drive projects that would rather be licensed under the Commons Clause (i.e. as permissive as possible) into becoming closed source and proprietary.


                    I don’t believe that the Commons Clause is the best solution, but I believe that it’s important to start a discussion around:

                    1. How can we best address the need for sustainable open source development?
                    2. Should we create new licensing tools to enable sustainable development? If so, how?

                    I think the fact that the Commons Clause has been able to get adoption is a strong signal that there is a real pain here (see also: MongoDB and its SSPL).

                    @SirCmpwn, I would love to hear your thoughts on a better way to enable sustainable development for open source infrastructure.

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                      Software developers must feed themselves. They must get paid somehow. This is a hard requirement.

                      In practice, open source teams do not have an option for saying “I would like to be as permissive as possible, but still make money so I can fund sustainable development”.

                      Redis Labs only became the official sponsor of Redis in 2015, four years after they were founded as a company. So if they weren’t the primary sponsor for four years, how did sustainable development get funded? Well, until Redis Labs hired him, antirez fed himself with a job at VMware. VMware and Pivotal sponsored Redis and funded that sustainable development.

                      Alright, so how do other developers feed themselves? Is antirez the exception? Did Gudio van Rossum work for some Python-centric company focused on support? Nope! He worked at research institutions, then Zope, then Elemental Security, then Google, then DropBox.

                      The creators of Apache Kafka worked at LinkedIn when they initially developed it. Three years after LinkedIn open sourced it, some of the contributors from within LinkedIn founded their own company to focus on Kafka. Until that point, those devs fed themselves with a job at LinkedIn.

                      Linus Torvalds fed himself with a job at Transmeta, then a series of non-profits that eventually evolved into the Linux Foundation (also a non-profit). Many kernel contributors are employed by hardware companies like AMD and Intel.

                      Developers must feed themselves, but they can totally do that by working at a company that doesn’t revolve around the software they write as its sole product.

                      I would argue that it’s more sustainable that way. Companies like Red Hat, Redis Labs, Canonical, Confluent, and a whole bunch more exist because companies want to buy a bunch of integration work ready-to-go rather than spending huge sums of money doing it themselves. If Canonical went bust tomorrow (as many Linux vendors before it have!) Linux would still get developed. Would Landscape, their closed-source management tool? Probably not. The open source component is the sustainer that allows new companies to spawn and die without fear of losing the core.

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                        You’re giving the exceptions to the rule, not the rule. The rule is most aren’t funded. The responses were really negative, too, with lots of stress and burnout. Whereas, the proprietary software that has users gets money automatically with it going up with product development and/or marketing. FOSS developers trying to catch up to that inherent advantage finding funding sources can itself seem like a 3rd job on top of their 2nd job of making the FOSS for free.

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                          You’re giving the exceptions to the rule, not the rule.

                          Do non-FOSS applications succeed at a higher rate than FOSS ones?

                          The rule is most aren’t funded.

                          Ok. Here’s the end of that article:

                          “P.P.S. [edit 1/18/16] The response to this post has been incredible. I’ve started a list of OSS projects needing support here. Please add your great examples there!”

                          That leads to a git repo that’s no longer maintained. Uh oh. But wait! There’s a link that leads to libraries.io with the tagline “Tidelift has over $1 million dollars available to pay open source maintainers. If you’re a maintainer: Find your package.” Here’s some info from Tidelift.

                          The responses were really negative, too, with lots of stress and burnout.

                          Do me a favor and read them again, only this time imagine they’re working at a Fortune 100 on a closed-source project. How many of those would sound out of place through that lens?

                          I have to say, if you asked me about the projects Ive been paid to work on full time (mostly internal stuff at various companies), I would have largely the same complaints at one time or another, including the one about “It is not fair to expect me to do even more work outside of my regular work, and then not get fairly compensated (time or money) for it.”

                          By the way, here’s what they’re doing now, 3 years on. EDIT: I just realized that some of these are highlighting users on here! I’d love to hear what you have to say now!

                          @pydanny, still going strong on GitHub and contributing to open source, in addition to writing books on Python.

                          @ryanbigg, quit maintaining his open source projects (at the time of the article) and handed some off to other teams and developers. Wrote several books on open source projects, continues to work on the i18n ruby gem.

                          @drmaciver, still working on Hypothesis and doing consulting and training around it.

                          @andrewgodwin, still a Django core member, employed by evenbrite.

                          @kantrn, continues to contribute to open source, did consulting. I didn’t see his employment listed on Twitter, but I found him on LinkedIn. He’s got a job as a principal engineer now.

                          @shazow, working on blockchain tech with his own project, Vipnode. Appears to be working full time on open source via grants and partnerships?

                          Even the person who said “I do not have the time or energy to invest in open source any more” is still contributing to open source. Some have started contributing to open source full time. Others are gainfully employed and either working on them as part of their core work.

                          Whereas, the proprietary software that has users gets money automatically with it going up with product development and/or marketing.

                          dwarffortress, WinRAR, WinAmp, Sublime text editor all release free versions hoping for donations or as a free trial. It is not automatic for proprietary software unless that software is so completely necessary that they can just bill you to even have a peek at it. Hell, even Windows offers a free trial despite decades of a virtual stranglehold on the market for desktop OSs.

                          FOSS developers trying to catch up to that inherent advantage finding funding sources can itself seem like a 3rd job on top of their 2nd job of making the FOSS for free.

                          See above for why it’s not an automatic inherent advantage. Also, that presumes the development needs external funding rather than external contributors who are already getting paid. I’d much rather convince my employer to let me contribute to open source for my regular salary and have other projects to work on for if the open source one goes bust or implodes or hires a toxic developer who everyone hates or I run out of things to do on it or I need a break from the grind.

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                            By the way, here’s what they’re doing now, 3 years on. EDIT: I just realized that some of these are highlighting users on here! I’d love to hear what you have to say now!

                            […]

                            @shazow, working on blockchain tech with his own project, Vipnode. Appears to be working full time on open source via grants and partnerships?

                            Can confirm. Typically I do consulting work for part of the year to make up for the year’s expenses, then I do self-guided OSS stuff the rest of the year. Vipnode turned out to be an exception as it was a self-guided open source project that happened to resonate with a generous community that wanted to support my work financially. (And give or take some sales effort on my part.)

                            Overall, I stand by my original quote in the cited article:

                            Publishing and contributing to open source is going to continue happening regardless whether I’m getting paid for it or not, but it will be slow and unfocused. Which is fine, it’s how open source work has always worked. But it doesn’t need to be this way. — @shazow

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                              Thanks for following up! Would you mind sharing some of how you did the conversion to working (mostly) full time on OSS stuff?

                              edit: boy did that sentence get muddled in the middle. Fixed.

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                                Any specific questions?

                                I have a yearly minimum earned income goal (as I’m generally self-employed). If I reach that goal, then I allow myself to switch to not-necessarily-paid OSS stuff. That income comes from a variety of sources (I have some SaaS projects like Briefmetrics, some ad income from high-traffic free projects like Tweepsect), but the majority comes from contracts with clients.

                                This year, a big chunk came from an Ethereum Foundation grant and the partnership with Infura.

                                I’ve considered doing a Patreon and funneling supporters through that, but I’m not convinced that the expected value would exceed the relative effort and anxiety that would come with it. Still mulling it over.

                                When I do paid work, I certainly prefer open source work, bonus points if it’s things I’m interested in independently. I have some recurring clients who allow me to do this kind of work sometimes, which is great. Sometimes I’ll take less-desirable yet high-paying work to reach the minimum income goal quicker so I have more time to do better things.

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                                  Awesome summary! That’s really exciting about the partnership and the grant!

                                  Any specific questions?

                                  SO many. I’ll try to keep it brief though.

                                  Where was the tipping point where you were like “You know what? I can work for myself.”

                                  How do you find paid work on projects? Do people reach out to you for help, or do you hunt for places to help? Something else?

                                  Have you found yourself to be more productive on projects in general now that you self direct?

                                  What are some things that employers could do to make life better for folks doing open source contributions?

                                  What’s a normal work-week like for you? What kind of hours do you keep?

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                                    Where was the tipping point where you were like “You know what? I can work for myself.”

                                    I’ve been doing it on and off for a long time (since I was in my teens), so it wasn’t a super scary idea. It helps to be good with tracking your own finances. Figure out how much income you need to at least break even with expenses, and see if you can find contract work to cover it. Then dial that number up year over year so you build up savings.

                                    Hint: It’s much easier when your expenses are low. I suggest not living in SF, or even in the US if you can help it (where health insurance is expensive and risky). That said, I primarily work remotely with US customers (SF/NY).

                                    How do you find paid work on projects? Do people reach out to you for help, or do you hunt for places to help? Something else?

                                    Recurring customers that you have a good relationship with are best, but those take time to cultivate. Small/medium well-funded companies have worked best for me, especially if you know people there who have a good idea of the kinds of help they might need with. Bonus points if they rely on your OSS work.

                                    Have you found yourself to be more productive on projects in general now that you self direct?

                                    In some ways. I certainly do more of the kinds of things I think I should be doing, and less doing things that I think are a waste of time.

                                    It can be hard to stay motivated day to day, especially if you’re working solo it can get lonely. That’s generally true.

                                    It’s common to have self-doubt, but it’s easier to power through it when you’re being paid. If you’re just burning your own savings for your own idea and you’re having self-doubt, it can be very hard to get over that hump. It’s hard learning to trust yourself, but maybe it gets easier with time.

                                    What are some things that employers could do to make life better for folks doing open source contributions?

                                    Encourage employees to spend work-hours time contributing back to projects they use and rely on at work. At least a day or two per week

                                    An open source donation budget would also be nice, maybe as a team you can sit down once every couple of quarters and make a top 5-10 projects that the team wants to have an impact on, and do it (whether financially or through effort).

                                    What’s a normal work-week like for you? What kind of hours do you keep?

                                    When I draft contracting agreements, I tend to limit it to 3 full-time days/wk of commitment. I feel like I get 80-90% of a “40 hour workweek” productivity in 3 days, and it cuts down on a lot of other things. Clients aren’t keen on excessive meetings when the time available is constrained like this.

                                    Personally, I’ve found Mon-Wed works best for me, and brief written status updates on Tuesdays. I don’t charge by the hour, but I do “productive hours” tracking internally for my own analysis. Days with 6 “productive hours” (ie. actual time spent writing code and such) are considered good days. Some days aren’t good days, and that’s okay. If I’m having a particularly off day, I’ll sometimes write it off and try again another day (like today… I’ll probably end up working tomorrow instead).

                                    If I wrapped up my primary commitment for the week and I have days left over, I’ll switch over to other projects. Occasionally, due to the nature of contracting (it’s impossible to maintain an equilibrium of clients around your own schedule), I’ll have multiple concurrent clients, but I try to avoid that when possible.

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                                      This feels like it could be an entire medium article or something on its own.

                                      It can be hard to stay motivated day to day, especially if you’re working solo it can get lonely. That’s generally true.

                                      We have a bunch of employees that are 100% remote work, and I’ve noticed that some will take advantage of video chat while others generally seem to just want to be left the hell alone, with little variation in their routines.

                                      I don’t charge by the hour, but I do “productive hours” tracking internally for my own analysis.

                                      Do you have a particular tool you use for this? I’ve been meaning to do the same thing at work, but have always been kind of lazy about it because it requires so much extra effort to track by hand. I have noticed that on a “bad” day I can generally tell how much distraction I’ve had by the number of times I’ve had to pause my music :)

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                                        This feels like it could be an entire medium article or something on its own.

                                        What’s a good spicy title for it? :)

                                        Do you have a particular tool you use for this?

                                        Not really. Right now I just log it with Harvest which I also use for invoicing. My friend really likes Timing2 for macOS, but I’m on Linux these days. I’ve considered using something like Thyme but it does more than what I need.

                                        Really I should just write my own basic timer that lives in the tray and a quick start/stop shortcut.

                                        I have noticed that on a “bad” day I can generally tell how much distraction I’ve had by the number of times I’ve had to pause my music :)

                                        That is a good one!

                                        I often try to keep a policy to stop music anytime I’m not doing “work”, just to condition myself and avoid getting lost in distraction.

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                                          What’s a good spicy title for it? :)

                                          Maybe:

                                          Abort to Orbit: How I went independent and what I do when I need more.

                                          The concept of Abort to Orbit is that you launch your ship and then if the crap hits the fan, you’ve got a still-relatively-good fallback option. More importantly, you look at possible failure modes and address them rather than letting them hold you back.

                                          I’ve considered using something like Thyme but it does more than what I need.

                                          Oooh, that looks very promising indeed.

                                          I often try to keep a policy to stop music anytime I’m not doing “work”, just to condition myself and avoid getting lost in distraction.

                                          I follow the rule of “if they have headphones on, leave them the hell alone.” Exceptions include the building being on fire or prod issues. I’m trying to encourage my colleagues to do the same. It’s… hit and miss.

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                              Re success rate. Yes, non-FOSS succeeds in getting their developers paid at a higher rate despite failure rate for new companies being high. They actually charge for software. So, they win by default.

                              Re $1 million. So, FOSS developers have to divide up a million while proprietary developers get a slice of tens of billions in recurring profit. Your example argues my point more than yours.

                              Re working big companies instead. Many already work for them before doing the FOSS on the side. You’re in luck though since Ive surveyed thousands of people on this issue when working general public. Most gripe, shrug, or roll their eyes before saying “at east Im working” (low pay) or “but it pays well” (high pay). The percentage with terrible jobs can attempt to switch companies. So, they’re not a counter to my position but I decided to answer anyway.

                              Re anecdotes. Good they’re still contributing and/or employed. Remember my model has them working one job in regular hours paid for their work. In most examples I see, many still do FOSS as extra thing they’re not paid for. And often for lower amounts than proprietary sector pulls in.

                              Re trials. That’s a marketing technique to generate sales. Nothing in my post precudes loss leaders if necessary. The Prosper license, a candidate for shared source, allows a 90-day evauation for free.

                              Re last stuff. My post was about people that would like to get paid for their contributions not working extra hours on them. There’s people like you and maybe those you mentioned that want something different. Ive even known people, been one, to turn down money to keep their intentions purely altruistic or just separate fun from business. My comments may not apply to you or them at least for selfish gain and/or employment.

                              All that said, you still havent refuted biggest point that money dictates laws governing software freedom, FOSS-lovers are losing ground due to lobbying, the need a fortune to counter it, and current models paying a pittance guarantees we loose more freedom over time. I gave examples involving money being seized via patent trolling. If they want to get dirty, copyright law has criminal penalties, too. Current or future expansions might use it. Who knows what they’ll do in future but we have less if staying on same trajectory. Doing nothing in this case is still doing something (for opponents).

                              1. 1

                                Re success rate. Yes, non-FOSS succeeds in getting their developers paid at a higher rate despite failure rate for new companies being high. They actually charge for software. So, they win by default.

                                Do you have any stats to back this statement?

                                Re $1 million. So, FOSS developers have to divide up a million while proprietary developers get a slice of tens of billions in recurring profit. Your example argues my point more than yours.

                                If FOSS developers had to divide up $1 million amongst all the projects, it might argue your point. However, since as I pointed out in my other examples of companies that sponsor particular projects or employe developers directly to work on FOSS projects and companies based on FOSS Projects, this represents an additional $1 million to try to fill in the edges rather than core development. It’s disingenuous to represent that $1 million as the sole source of money for FOSS developers when Red Hat alone has $4bn in assets.

                                Re working big companies instead. Many already work for them before doing the FOSS on the side. You’re in luck though since Ive surveyed thousands of people on this issue when working general public. Most gripe, shrug, or roll their eyes before saying “at east Im working” (low pay) or “but it pays well” (high pay). The percentage with terrible jobs can attempt to switch companies. So, they’re not a counter to my position but I decided to answer anyway.

                                Can we see those survey results?

                                Re anecdotes. Good they’re still contributing and/or employed. Remember my model has them working one job in regular hours paid for their work. In most examples I see, many still do FOSS as extra thing they’re not paid for. And often for lower amounts than proprietary sector pulls in.

                                You said the rule was that they’re not funded, and cited a series of anecdotes. OK, pop quiz: how many of the anecdotes you cited resulted in people contributing to FOSS as their full time job rather than as an extra? Does writing books about FOSS count?

                                Re trials. That’s a marketing technique to generate sales. Nothing in my post precudes loss leaders if necessary. The Prosper license, a candidate for shared source, allows a 90-day evauation for free.

                                You said they get money automatically, which is demonstrably not true if they do a 90-day evaluation that doesn’t result in purchase. While it doesn’t preclude loss-leaders, it does refute your statement that they automatically get money.

                                Re last stuff. My post was about people that would like to get paid for their contributions not working extra hours on them. There’s people like you and maybe those you mentioned that want something different. Ive even known people, been one, to turn down money to keep their intentions purely altruistic or just separate fun from business. My comments may not apply to you or them at least for selfish gain and/or employment.

                                Fair enough, but your post claimed that “most” don’t get funded without any backing evidence, proprietary software “automatically” gets money without any backing evidence, and then made assertions about FOSS developers (without bothering to qualify it like “some FOSS developers” or even “most FOSS developers”) trying to “catch up” might have an experience like working a 2nd or 3rd job. You started with broad generalizations and suddenly want to add disclaimers?

                                All that said, you still havent refuted biggest point that money dictates laws governing software freedom, FOSS-lovers are losing ground due to lobbying, the need a fortune to counter it, and current models paying a pittance guarantees we loose more freedom over time. I gave examples involving money being seized via patent trolling. If they want to get dirty, copyright law has criminal penalties, too. Current or future expansions might use it. Who knows what they’ll do in future but we have less if staying on same trajectory. Doing nothing in this case is still doing something (for opponents).

                                The comment I responded to, in it’s entirety, is the following:

                                You’re giving the exceptions to the rule, not the rule. The rule is most aren’t funded. The responses were really negative, too, with lots of stress and burnout. Whereas, the proprietary software that has users gets money automatically with it going up with product development and/or marketing. FOSS developers trying to catch up to that inherent advantage finding funding sources can itself seem like a 3rd job on top of their 2nd job of making the FOSS for free.

                                Please show me where you made that biggest point or gave any of the examples you just claimed in the comment I replied to.

                          2. 3

                            Developers must feed themselves, but they can totally do that by working at a company that doesn’t revolve around the software they write as its sole product.

                            This stance ensures that FLOSS contributors will only ever be people who have abundant energy and free time outside of their work week. That excludes a bunch of, e.g., parents, people with multiple jobs, and people with medical issues.

                            1. 1

                              My point was that they can be employed by a company to do that contribution as a function of their job even if the company itself isn’t focused on that particular project. Redis exists because of this model. Ditto for Kafka. If you work a full time job doing open source for a company that uses that project and have a second job doing other stuff, how would that interfere with the open source contribution?

                              1. 2

                                Then that’s a chicken/egg issue. How does one get a job doing open source contribution (of which there are very, very few) without having open source contributions on their resume?

                                If you’re saying simply that companies should all contribute to open source, remember that running an open source project is significantly more work than simply writing software. That’s a large extra investment over what they’re doing now, and doesn’t have a clear ROI.

                            2. 3

                              I think the wording of the questions in the parent post is misleading, though probably not intentionally so. If the question was really, “How can we develop open source software sustainably?”, then as you have described, one answer is simply, “the same way we have for the last few decades”. However, I suspect the question they really want to ask is something along the lines of, “How can we fit open source development into a for-profit business in a capitalist economy?”. I do not think this is a bad question to ask, as the motivation for asking it is almost certainly a desire to promote and improve open source software full time without starving, but it is not the same as asking how we can develop open source software sustainably.

                              Once the questions are rephrased in this way, it’s a lot less alarming: The issue is no longer dressed up as a desperate attempt to save free/open source software, it’s just some people looking for business opportunities.

                              If you can run a successful business centred around free software development, that’s great. If you can’t, then FLOSS software development will continue regardless. I personally do not believe it is worth the risk of watering down the ideals of software freedom by implying, even if only by the names, that a free software license + commons clause is somehow still free.

                              As far as the “Commons clause” is concerned, I see two possibilities

                              1. It’s just ‘openwashing’. I.e. pretending to promote software freedom without actually making free software.
                              2. It’s genuinely trying to find some middle ground where software that would otherwise be closed source can be “slightly freer” without radically changing the owner’s business model.

                              Personally, I am opposed to 1. and have no interest in 2., but maybe option 2. might benefit some people in some way.

                              1. 3

                                This is essentially the “real musicians have day jobs” argument, and I find it very weak. There are a number of things wrong with it. The “day job” distracts from the work of open source maintenance and can make it much harder to do deep work. Only the top of the organization can really get jobs of this nature, it can’t fund helpers. It perpetuates the traditional problems in open source of making it easier to concentrate on technology as opposed to product management. The funding organization has too much control over the direction of the project, as opposed to the users who derive the most value from it.

                                But yes, in the current landscape, it’s (sadly) one of the more viable approaches.

                                1. 1

                                  This is essentially the “real musicians have day jobs” argument

                                  I disagree. The “real musicians have day jobs” argument is that because they can’t get a job doing the music they love, they do something else, right? Even if it’s still in music, they don’t do their main wish.

                                  My argument is that not all projects require a company dedicated to that project to succeed. In many cases success is found in projects that have a variety of contributors. Some of them are paid to work full time on the project by a company that - while not primarily focused on the software - still want or need to invest in its development. Examples of this are AMD and Intel engineers working on the Linux Kernel, or how Kafka and Redis were initially developed before the contributors either formed or joined a company dedicated to the project.

                                  Those companies provided incubation for projects that weren’t their core business model, but were useful nonetheless. Paying people to work full time on something you use - but can’t or don’t want to sell - is something many companies do already, but they don’t share the code. By open sourcing the project, they can get contributions from other companies with full time engineers that would use their code, or attract new talent from folks who want to work on open source but can’t because their current employer won’t allow it.

                                  1. 3

                                    Then we agree to disagree. Again to use my own example, I think it’s likely that working on xi-editor fulltime would likely be the largest value I could create right now. I had a sweet gig very much like you describe, working for a big company where they let me put some of my time into it. But the goals of that project weren’t precisely aligned, and I found my concentration pretty fragmented.

                                    If I could find a sustainable way to work on xi-editor fulltime, I probably would. My decision to work on the synthesizer game is partly because it’s fun and exciting, and partly because, if it flies, it’s a nice revenue stream that will let me work sustainably.

                                    This is my experience, I don’t speak for anyone else.

                                    1. 1

                                      Your example is a good one, and I totally get that disagreement. Your point is well taken. Additionally, the idea that the goals weren’t aligned is a pitfall that I imagine has lead to many a fork over the years in various projects :)

                                      If you do find a way to work on it full-time and still want to, I absolutely want to revisit!

                                    2. 1

                                      Examples of this are AMD and Intel engineers working on the Linux Kernel, or how Kafka and Redis were initially developed before the contributors either formed or joined a company dedicated to the project.

                                      The examples you keep giving are rare. Most FOSS doesn’t get funding or dedicated employees by big companies. Most FOSS with lots of users doesn’t get AMD/Intel-type investments. If we’re talking general case, it’s more accurate to assume what happens in the general case now will happen in general case for other people unless incentives and environment driving it changes. They haven’t changed. If anything, companies appear to be using FOSS in SaaS dodging the need to contribute many changes back more often than before.

                                      And your only reply from people you quoted was a person that doing FOSS at a loss using revenue from other work. Like a 2nd or extra job worked for free while proprietary vendors of similar libraries get paid. Just like I said most would be doing if it’s FOSS.

                                      1. 1

                                        The examples you keep giving are rare. Most FOSS doesn’t get funding or dedicated employees by big companies. Most FOSS with lots of users doesn’t get AMD/Intel-type investments. If we’re talking general case, it’s more accurate to assume what happens in the general case now will happen in general case for other people unless incentives and environment driving it changes. They haven’t changed. If anything, companies appear to be using FOSS in SaaS dodging the need to contribute many changes back more often than before.

                                        The question is are they rarer than closed-source software getting that kind of investment? You haven’t addressed that statement beyond your assertion that it is fact despite an utter lack of backing evidence.

                                        And your only reply from people you quoted was a person that doing FOSS at a loss using revenue from other work. Like a 2nd or extra job worked for free while proprietary vendors of similar libraries get paid. Just like I said most would be doing if it’s FOSS.

                                        People you cited, I quoted. I extracted their quotes from the thing that you specifically cited as an example of work not getting funded, from an article that had at the core of its premise “FOSS doesn’t get funded.” I specifically cited the examples you gave claiming they contradicted my point.

                                        Even then, in the territory of something you cited as directly opposing my view, the response here was not a slam dunk for you point. On the contrary, you claim that the person is doing FOSS at a loss using revenue from other work despite them clearly stating that was not the case this year where a substantial chunk of their income came from exactly the funding you say is rare.

                                        You can still hide behind the fact that it’s an exception if you want, but it doesn’t prove that it’s any different in the proprietary world. You keep asserting it’s true without the backing. Show me the stats to compare the two and maybe we can draw a conclusion.

                                2. 2

                                  Hi liftM, thanks for taking the time to write up your thoughts in such detail.

                                  I agree with the premise of this article, which is that projects licensed under the Commons Clause are not open source, and to call them open source is misleading.

                                  You’re right. This article is talking about two things:

                                  • Using the Commons Clause and calling that software open source is dishonest and unethical
                                  • The Commons Clause is bad

                                  The reason these aren’t separate articles is:

                                  • The two are related, because I think that the design of the Commons Clause actively encourages its users to lie
                                  • I’m sick of writing articles about the Commons Clause.

                                  Let me explain more about why I dislike the Commons Clause before I answer your questions directly.

                                  First, I don’t think that FOSS is the end-all-be-all of software licensing. Like I said in the article, anyone is welcome to license their software any way they choose. I’m also a fan of source-available models as an alternative to closed-source software, I think it’s strictly better than closed-source. However, the Commons Clause is not a good way to license source-available software.

                                  The Commons Clause should have been a new source-available license entirely. As an addendum to FOSS licenses, it’s totally bunk. The entire point of FOSS is to enshrine basic protections for the authors, users, and contributors. By removing these basic protections, the original license effectively becomes meaningless. It’s like a Jenga tower, with the removal of some freedoms it has a cascading effect which removes many of the others. Restricting commercial use has many grave side-effects: reusing the code elsewhere, forking the project, providing support after the maintainers abandon it, etc - all of this is now difficult-to-impossible, or at least egregiously under-specified by the Commons Clause.

                                  Additionally, I take offense with the Commons Clause’s stated goal of turning previously open source projects into source-available projects. Though source-available is strictly better than closed source, it’s strictly worse than open source, and the change is a net loss for the commons - which is why I take offense with the name as well. It also fails to adequately explain the responsibilities maintainers hold to their contributors - without a CLA in place which assigns copyright to the maintainers, it’s in fact illegal to switch to the Commons Clause. Or at the least, the Commons Clause can only apply to new code, and the old license has to be kept in place and in many cases (notably Apache 2.0) the differently-licensed changes must be explicitly disclosed.

                                  Now, to answer your questions directly…

                                  Commons Clause makes it possible to publish source code that would have originally been closed source.

                                  No, the stated goal of the Commons Clause is to transition code which was already open source to source-available. The code wouldn’t have originally been closed source because it was originally open source.

                                  The Commons Clause lets them still make money while making the program and source code available for as many users as possible.

                                  I don’t think it does. Without the rights afforded to users by the Apache 2.0 license, why would users have the good faith desire to use your software? Additionally, with so many grey areas, such an amateurish license, and only one option for support, any company who uses this kind of software is nuts.

                                  If you actually talk to many of the teams working on open source infrastructure

                                  Like me

                                  A big contributor to this is the fact that service providers like AWS run hosted versions of open source software and capture disproportionately more value than they generate for the community.

                                  So make a better hosted version than AWS has. Boo-hoo.

                                  Permissive licenses like Apache allow this to happen. Highly restrictive licenses like AGPL are too broad and scare away proprietary users who would not be hurting the team’s sustainability. In practice, open source teams do not have an option for saying “I would like to be as permissive as possible, but still make money so I can fund sustainable development”.

                                  Dual-licensing has allows this to work for ages. Use AGPL with a paid BSD option. Also note that many organizations have been successful with paid support, or with something like Patreon. You can also do sponsored blog posts, put their logos at your conference… get creative with it. You don’t need to capture all of the value of your software. Let AWS have some of it. By making it open source, it’s no longer yours. If you can make a living income on your software, demanding more is just greed. This is part of the commitment you make to the public by making your software open source. Companies like AWS have a vested interest in making sure you have a sustainable income - it’s your job to point this out to them, not to pull the rug out from beneath them.

                                  “Free software” and “open source” as concepts are more nuanced than the GNU and OSI definitions.

                                  No, they’re not. There’s no point in arguing this because I’m not going to concede it. Free software is defined by the GNU free software definition. Open source is defined by the OSI open source definition. If you do something which doesn’t fit in those niches, call it something else.

                                  I would love to see GNU and the OSI step up here with better education and clearer definitions around this.

                                  They already have. You just don’t like their definitions. Everyone else does, and in language the consensus is correct. If you misuse these terms you are a liar.

                                  By insisting on their definitions of “free software” and “open source” and failing to recognise this nuance, GNU and the OSI are missing the forest for the trees and will ultimately push more projects towards closed source models.

                                  Maybe they are. But the Commons Clause is doing a piss-poor job in their stead.

                                  1. 0

                                    I’ve mentioned this before. Most of this code would have originally been closed source so the authors can make money off of it. The Commons Clause lets them still make money while making the program and source code available for as many users as possible.

                                    No it wouldn’t. You’re relicensing free software as ‘commons clause’ proprietary software.

                                    Using an open core model with existing OSI-approved licenses is unpleasant.

                                    Nobody is saying you have to use OSI-approved licenses, and nobody is saying you aren’t allowed to license things as source-available. What you aren’t allowed to do is to call those source-available models ‘open source’. That’s misleading.

                                    “Free software” and “open source” as concepts are more nuanced than the GNU and OSI definitions.

                                    No they aren’t. Literally it’s as simple as ‘no they aren’t’. They just aren’t more nuanced than that. Those definitions are what those mean to literally the entire software industry and all software hobbyists. They’re universally agreed upon terms with precise technical definitions. Muddying the waters then claiming that the waters are muddy is very poor behaviour.

                                    ‘Software I don’t have to pay for’ is called freeware. ‘Software where I can view the source code’ is called ‘source available software’. Laymen are completely irrelevant. The terms exist, they’ve existed for decades.

                                    Often times, Commons Clause projects are provided at no cost.

                                    Commons Clause is a proprietary software license. It does not give users the four freedoms, so it is a non-free software license. What it costs has nothing to do with whether it’s free. You know this, I know this, everyone knows this. This was all sorted out long ago.

                                    In practice, there are gradients of freedom. To say that software that is not strictly GNU Free Software is not free or projects that are not strictly OSI Open Source are not open source is misleading to the everyday user.

                                    No, you are being misleading. And you know it. That ‘open source’ means ‘open source’ and ‘free’ means ‘free’ is long established. Very long established. The words work, they’re good.

                                    By winning this battle, they are losing the meta-game.

                                    What an awful article. Someone just learnt what an analogy was, I guess, and decided to practice them. Unfortunately, it makes the article impossible to skim-read.

                                    At the end of the day, what matters is not whether there are more OSI Open Source projects, but how much value we provide to the community. When open source advocates say that Commons Clause projects are “not open source” (in the OSI sense) and discourage its use, they are correct but harmful.

                                    You acknowledge that they are correct, but before you’re saying it’s misleading. Sorry, but that’s a contradiction. And what is harmful is misleading people, which is what you are doing.

                                    By taking away this middle ground, they push projects to be either free-as-in-freedom or proprietary.

                                    Proprietary software is, by definition, software that is not free. So pushing projects to either be free or not to be free, to either not be proprietary or be proprietary, is doing nothing. Every project is either proprietary or not, just like every project either includes Java or doesn’t, and every project either is lead by one person or isn’t lead by one person.

                                    Given the pains of sustainable infrastructure development using OSI-approved licenses, I fear that this will ultimately drive projects that would rather be licensed under the Commons Clause (i.e. as permissive as possible) into becoming closed source and proprietary.

                                    There are no pains. Free software has existed for decades, and will continue to exist for decades to come. It works fine as a model, as it is. Sell support. Sell proprietary licenses. Or don’t sell anything, and get a job doing something else. The world doesn’t owe you a paycheque.

                                    How can we best address the need for sustainable open source development?

                                    For a start, you need to stop misleading people and muddying the waters. You need to come up with your own terminology that is not misleading, or adopt the existing terminology (‘source available’). Until you have done so, you are actively harming the software industry and software community.

                                    @SirCmpwn, I would love to hear your thoughts on a better way to enable sustainable development for open source infrastructure.

                                    I’m not SirCmpwn, but my thoughts are thus: it’s fine as it is.

                                  2. 9

                                    This post seems confused. The term “Open Source” was specifically created to denote source which is open but not “Free” in the “Free Software” sense. That a specific group (the OSI) later co-opted the term and took an overly narrow definition in order to please Corporations who didn’t want to see the movement create software they were unable to exploit is uninteresting.

                                    Open source is simply what it says on the tin – any source that is open. To pretend otherwise is to insist that Up is Down and Down is Up – openly viewable and shareable software that is simply not commercially exploitable becomes suddenly “closed” in some nonsense confusion of semantics.

                                    Lambasting Open Source for not being Free for commercial exploitation is like lambasting a jar labeled Chunky Peanut butter for not being Smooth. Nobody was pretending it was what you’re complaining it’s not.

                                    1. 6

                                      Open source and free software are almost identical in meaning. Compare their definitions:

                                      https://opensource.org/osd

                                      https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html

                                      The list of free software licenses and open source software licenses is also almost identical. Only a small number of obscure licenses meet one definition and not the other.

                                      You may be thinking of copyleft licenses, like the GPL.

                                      1. 5

                                        Open source and free software are almost identical in meaning. Compare their definitions:

                                        Yes, this is a later development that I specifically think is an utter load of crap that a single group (the OSI) is attempting to dictate to everyone in disregard of common sense and basic English semantics

                                        1. 7

                                          This isn’t common sense and basic English semantics. This is an important step in defending the open source community against bad actors which do exist, in great numbers and with great resources. I can’t sell you a Jeep advertised as a Honda and cite “common sense” because my family used to own a Honda and we called all cars Hondas thenceforth. That’s not how language works. We have commonly agreed upon definitions for things and people who abuse the terminology to promote products for which these terms are inappropriate are liars.

                                          1. 4

                                            I can’t sell you a Jeep advertised as a Honda and cite “common sense” because my family used to own a Honda and we called all cars Hondas thenceforth.

                                            A better analogy here would be if Honda had seized the trademark for “blue car” and insisted that it was unethical to refer to anything, no matter how plainly blue and car-shaped, other than a Blue Honda as a “blue car”.

                                            “Open” and “source” are not some meaningless trademarks that the OSI owns. They mean something, both separately and in combination, and it’s not what the OSI wants to dictate that it means. I’m not buying their attempts to re-define the English language, sorry.

                                            1. 3

                                              Okay, so it’s like selling a toy car as a car, then.

                                              Your attempts to avoid “redefining the English language” are exceedingly silly and baseless. Just use the term “source available” like everyone else. Instead you’re sowing confusion and discontent where it really doesn’t matter to you, and really does matter to everyone else.

                                              1. 1

                                                Okay, so it’s like selling a toy car as a car, then.

                                                No it’s like insisting that something that is clearly a toy and plainly a car is for some reason not permitted to use the term “toy car” because you won’t allow IBM to make money off of it without compensating the person who die-cast it.

                                                Instead you’re sowing confusion and discontent where it really doesn’t matter to you, and really does matter to everyone else.

                                                Oh good lord. It’s free software extremists who are “sewing confusion and discontent” by appointing themselves Thought Police and decreeing that when referring to source code which is plainly open, the combination of words “open” and “source” is utterly verboten and some kind of attempt at fraud.

                                                1. 5

                                                  If you don’t grab it, someone else will:

                                                  https://www.infoworld.com/article/2671387/operating-systems/linus-gets-tough-on-linux-trademark.html

                                                  Torvalds didn’t plan on gaining trademark protection for the word “Linux” when he began work on his OS, but by 1996 he started wishing he had. That’s when William R. Della Croce Jr. of Boston first started demanding 10 percent royalties on sales from Linux vendors, based on a trademark claim he had filed in 1994. The Linux kernel was still free software, but according to Della Croce, the name itself was his property.

                                                  As bad as you imagine the current status of the term “Open Source” is now, it would be infinitely worse had Microsoft been able to grab up the term in the 1990s and use it as a cudgel against people who self-applied the term to what’s currently widely known as Open-Source Software. And the Ballmer “The GPL Is Cancer” Microsoft might well have.

                                                  1. 0

                                                    You can’t just decide you want a trademark and have it because nobody else has registered it yet. Linux existed before the 1994 trademark, and it was thus completely invalid.

                                                    1. 4

                                                      You can’t just decide you want a trademark and have it because nobody else has registered it yet.

                                                      That’s probably why Della Croce eventually lost the court case and, thus, the trademark. However, there still had to be a court case, because he was still issued the trademark in the first place, which likely wouldn’t have happened had Torvalds or some other valid entity gotten the trademark first.

                                                    1. 0

                                                      Yes, you’re the egg. Congrats on figuring that out.

                                            2. 3

                                              Basic english meaning would suggest free software is simply proprietary software you don’t have to pay for.

                                          2. [Comment removed by author]

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                                              RMS is a socialist

                                              Only if you don’t know what “socialist” means.

                                              1. 3

                                                The wikipedia entry is ahistorical – the phrase “open source” predates the Free Software movement’s co-opting of it by years, if not decades – since it is the single most obvious and commonly used descriptor of source code that is open for viewing.

                                                Mark Travers wrote a bit about the problem with the co-opting of the term, and resulting semantic confusion that the Free Software people are engaged in, here: http://marktarver.com/problems.html

                                                Hey look: here’s the term “open source code” being used years before Mozilla was formed and years before ESR “invented” the term, to describe something where the sourcecode was open but which couldn’t be used commercially. http://www.xent.com/FoRK-archive/fall96/0269.html

                                                1. 4

                                                  Thank you for actually providing a source! Unfortunately, it is just another person from 2009 asserting the same thing you did, while Wikipedia actually links to a primary source from 1998.

                                                  Can you link to someone, maybe an academic studying the history of the term, or an old Usenet post from before 1998?

                                                  (by the way, I’m not disagreeing with the core of that article: FOSS has hardly lived up to the promises that people made of it)

                                                  1. 8

                                                    Check the Edit. That’s a usage from ’96,

                                                    Or hell, here’s some random post from 1990 on comp.sys.amiga https://tech-insider.org/personal-computers/research/1990/1126.html

                                                    BSD’s open source policy meant that user developed software could be ported among platforms, which meant their customers saw a much more cost effective, leading edge capability combined hardware and software platform. The marketplace saw SYSV as junk, and the AT&T platforms running it did so poorly in the market, AT&T did massive layoffs for the first time in their history, to make up for the losses.

                                                    I’d go on, but Google seems to have made it damn near impossible to search usenet. It’s not a particularly hard to hit upon term, anyways.

                                                    The OSI’s position on all of this, by the way, is that these pre-existing usages don’t count as pre-existing usages of “open source” because they didn’t mean what the OSI means by “open source”. Which is rather like Honda claiming that there were no pre-existing usages of the phrase “blue car” prior to Honda insisting it means specifically and only blue Hondas, because any prior usages of “blue car” didn’t specifically mean Hondas. It’s bafflegab.

                                                    1. 1

                                                      Okay, that’s actually really cool thing to know. Thanks for the info!

                                                2. 0

                                                  “Free Software” was loaded with political baggage

                                                  No, it isn’t. There’s nothing political about software freedom. It’s an ethical issue. Where is the free software political party? Where are the free software policies of different political parties? Nowhere. ‘Political’ doesn’t mean ‘controversial’.

                                                  (RMS is a socialist, let’s not kid ourselves)

                                                  Grow up. RMS is not a socialist in any sense of the word.

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                                                    “No, it isn’t. There’s nothing political about software freedom.”

                                                    Its existence and enforcement in a particular country is determined by its politics (i.e. laws) and those of countries it signs agreements with. Yes, there’s plenty political about software freedom. It’s even enforced with copyright law in most cases. If you think politics don’t matter, then you might think downloading software off the Net can never result in fines or prison time. Or software freedom can never be enforced at all since it would depend on laws created through politics.

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                                                      Its existence and enforcement in a particular country is determined by its politics (i.e. laws) and those of countries it signs agreements with.

                                                      Laws are not automatically political.

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                                                        If it’s a democracy, then the laws are introduced by people, debated by people, possibly passed by those people, and debated/interpreted by other people in courts later. I mean, government itself is a political process. So, I don’t even need to say that much to show laws are political. Especially copyright and patent law which has extra element of lobbying by big companies that shaped the laws to mainly benefit them.

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                                                          By that logic everything is political.

                                                          Software freedom is not a political issue, and RMS is not being political when he pushes for software freedom, and the FSF is not political, and copyleft is not ‘more political’ then permissive.

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                                                            You think RMS and FSF aren’t political in their goals or activities? I think I’ll end our conversation on saying you’re the first I’ve heard ever say that.

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                                                              Correct. I don’t think there’s anything remotely political about free software.

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                                                      Where are the free software policies of different political parties?

                                                      Anything involving copyright reform (the Pirate Party), Internet regulation (net neutrality), or the limits of proprietary EULAs and ToS documents (TIVOization) is important for the future of FOSS, to enable software development outside entrenched commercial entities.

                                                      Also, the ethical is political.

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                                                        Anything involving copyright reform (the Pirate Party),

                                                        Free software doesn’t require copyright reform, nor would it benefit from it. Free software licenses use copyright.

                                                        Internet regulation (net neutrality)

                                                        Nothing to do with free software.

                                                        or the limits of proprietary EULAs and ToS documents (TIVOization)

                                                        Nothing to do with free software.

                                                        Also, the ethical is political.

                                                        Nothing in that link backs up your claim that anything ethical is automatically political. Just because you live in a country where everything and anything is politicised doesn’t mean we all do.

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                                                          Free software doesn’t require copyright reform, nor would it benefit from it. Free software licenses use copyright.

                                                          Copyright enforcement technology (DRM) has practical effects on people’s ability to write and modify software that operates on copyrighted works. There’s a reason why the Free Software Foundation runs the “Defective by Design” campaign. The usefulness of free decoding software is hampered if all of the best videos that you would want to decode are encrypted and can only be used with pristine proprietary ones.

                                                          Also, because free software licenses do use copyright, copyright law does matter.

                                                          Internet regulation (net neutrality)

                                                          Nothing to do with free software.

                                                          Like in the case of video decoding software, the legal right to write your own network-facing software isn’t worth very much if only proprietary ones have the privilege of running on the internet.

                                                          or the limits of proprietary EULAs and ToS documents (TIVOization)

                                                          Nothing to do with free software.

                                                          GNU General Public License version 3 disagrees.

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                                                            Copyright enforcement technology (DRM) has practical effects on people’s ability to write and modify software that operates on copyrighted works.

                                                            Which has nothing to do with free software. They wouldn’t be legally allowed to modify that software anyway. Free software movement is not one that wants proprietary software to be illegal, it just advocates for people to make their software free.

                                                            The usefulness of free decoding software is hampered if all of the best videos that you would want to decode are encrypted and can only be used with pristine proprietary ones.

                                                            But they aren’t only able to be used with proprietary ones. Software freedom is not about some right to just do whatever you want with things other people have ownership of.

                                                            Like in the case of video decoding software, the legal right to write your own network-facing software isn’t worth very much if only proprietary ones have the privilege of running on the internet.

                                                            But they don’t. Net neutrality is overblown nonsense anyway. Most countries don’t have it, none have any problem not having it, the US didn’t have it until very recently then got rid of it again and nothing has changed.

                                                            GNU General Public License version 3 disagrees.

                                                            The GPLv3 isn’t a proprietary EULA or TOS agreement, and as such it has nothing to do with the limits of proprietary EULAs or TOS agreements. I don’t really see how you find this so difficult to understand. The GPLv3 stops you from producing TIVOised derivative products. That doesn’t mean the FSF wants TIVOisation to be illegal.

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                                                  The post by a16z explains it well: https://a16z.com/2014/02/14/why-there-will-never-be-another-redhat-the-economics-of-open-source/

                                                  Elastic vs Algolia is a nice case study here as well. Let’s see which one ends up doing better long term.

                                                  Problem with open source is that it’s hard to monetize. In most cases if something is hard to monetize it results in poor product quality. Of course you can point to large open source projects which are excellent, but that’s really the exception not the rule. Relying on people contributing free work to a project just doesn’t work in most cases.

                                                  It also doesn’t help that the open source community has some negative feelings towards anything commercial. That culture is also pushing a lot of software from open source to closed solutions. This post is a great example calling Redis Labs shady for wanting to have a way to make money. Funny enough the post is written by an engineer who also thinks he should get paid for his work.

                                                  The only thing this post achieves is convincing more companies to stop with the whole open source thing.

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                                                    This post is a great example calling Redis Labs shady for wanting to have a way to make money.

                                                    Isn’t he just calling Redis Labs shady for calling a non-free license free? He even specifically states “You have every right to license your work in any way you choose.”. That doesn’t smell rabidly anti-commercial to me.

                                                    Monetizing open-source is not an easy task, though, that’s true. But the antidote to difficulty should not be dishonesty. Perhaps the honest thing would be to just stop trying to monetize it, and generate the income from some other thing?

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                                                      This post is a great example calling Redis Labs shady for wanting to have a way to make money. Funny enough the post is written by an engineer who also thinks he should get paid for his work.

                                                      You’re being dishonest. I’m calling them shady for calling their software open source when it’s not. I think that engineers deserve to be paid for their work but that doesn’t make it okay to lie about the licensing of your software.

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                                                        Standardized open-source tools/infrastructure are what make modern software products (open and closed) possible. The “exceptions” you mention represent a huge share of critical business systems (Linux, many widely deployed databases, web and other network servers, TLS/security infrastructure, web frameworks, most widely used language implementations, etc.).

                                                        Problem with open source is that it’s hard to monetize. In most cases if something is hard to monetize it results in poor product quality.

                                                        If you mean that “the standard of quality for software is low”, that seems easy to agree on. Asserting that closed-source software is somehow higher quality doesn’t hold water - see the list above and contrast with any of their closed-source competitors from 10-20 years ago.

                                                        Making money is hard, whether you’re closed source or open source. TFA is just asserting that being deliberately misleading is bad.

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                                                          Problem with open source is that it’s hard to monetize.

                                                          Not really. The problem with commons is that it’s hard to sell permits when everyone can just help themselves to come in. The mitigation has been known for a long time. Fund it from the taxes. You are represented, so the commons you care about should be maintained.

                                                          In other words, want to research? Get a grant. Still not good enough? Maybe it’s time to acknowledge that floss movement should be represented better and start pushing.

                                                          Here we have a Pirate party. I personally know an elected representative. He shares my opinions on floss.

                                                          Have you talked to your ER?

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                                                            In other words, want to research? Get a grant.

                                                            I thought about that. Unfortunately, the funding authorities for academic research are about quantity of papers instead of quality or code attached. Many will actually either give no credit for implementations or criticize the people doing them since it takes away from papers that bring in more money. An example was Antti Kantee of Rump Kernels telling me how they didn’t care that he actually built one to go with the paper. They just wanted the paper.

                                                            Now, there’s institutions that do build software to go along with their papers. Usually just prototypes they throw together but it’s something at least. Some build software outside of their papers. Some of those like Racket are pretty polished. Getting into one of those institutions might allow a person to use tax dollars to write open-source software. Much smaller number of positions than academia as a whole. Some percentage might also be doing it in their spare time on top of a full day’s work as an academic, though.

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                                                              As a library, we get small grants for improvements as well as software, but the situation is far from ideal. We can also get our hands on EU grants, but those do require some serious administration.

                                                              I have met the Racket team during their stay in Prague and I am still amazed at how good people they actually manage to fund to work on the PLT projects.

                                                              I think that it should be much easier to get funding for open R&D. EU still measures improvements using the number of patents granted, though.

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                                                            Funny enough the post is written by an engineer who also thinks he should get paid for his work.

                                                            I would like to upvote this more. Sadly, I can’t.

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                                                            I mean, it’s right on https://commonsclause.com that anything bearing the Commons Clause does not meet the definition of open source.

                                                            Is this “Open Source”?

                                                            No.

                                                            “Open source”, has a specific definition that was written years ago and is stewarded by the Open Source Initiative, which approves Open Source licenses. Applying the Commons Clause to an open source project will mean the source code is available, and meets many of the elements of the Open Source Definition, such as free access to source code, freedom to modify, and freedom to re-distribute, but not all of them. So to avoid confusion, it is best not to call Commons Clause software “open source.”

                                                            Emphasis mine.

                                                            I proffer that anyone pretending that their copyrighted Commons Clause licensed software is deluding themselves and fraudulently representing their software to be open source when it’s really not. That’s the part that’s not OK to me.

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                                                              This all sounds very much like the BSD vs. GPL arguments of twenty years ago.

                                                              • “GPL isn’t free because it has limitations on use!”
                                                              • “GPL is free because it enforces freedom!”

                                                              Now it’s

                                                              • “Commons Clause isn’t free because it has limitations on use!”
                                                              • “Commons Clause is free because it prevents commercial hijacking!”

                                                              Honestly, I lean in favor of Commons Clause. It’s open source in the very common understanding of it, even if it doesn’t comply with the OSI definition. And it’s a useful experiment in the evolution of OSS licensing. I don’t know that it will survive past a few years, but I predict whatever succeeds it will not only last, but become a first-class licensing option.

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                                                                I had hoped this would be about ISC licensed software where the holder interprets the license as forbidding distribution of a modified form of the source.