1. 69
  1. 14

    It feels so amazing about their raspberry pi offering. I can see myself order that as well.

    1. 4

      Yeah, that’s a really interesting managed-but-on-prem model! For more “compute-heavy” stuff, I could see something like a NUC being a pretty viable replacement as well. Very cool!

    2. 4

      Is it free software or just open source? Does the license allow sharing these paid modules with other parties? Do you know of such case?

      1. 7

        The author actually answers this in one of the comments:

        Well, no, open3A is no freeware. I know it usually is seen as if open source was the same as freeware. But open3A is “only” open source. Which means anyone who runs the software is allowed to see the source code and make alterations to it like she pleases. Some people actually do that with open3A, too.

        In theory they are also allowed to re-sell the software. But we all know how hard it is to run a company and sell something. This hasn’t been an issue so far.

        I think that’s really interesting. It sounds like it is a “true” FOSS license (I haven’t checked myself), and the only thing preventing everyone from taking it for free is access (only available via a shop or someone redistributing it). It probably means there are people running free versions out there, but the fact that updates are part of the paid package/download is likely what is keeping this going - it’s a neat hybrid one-time/subscription model.

        1. 5

          in the comments the author clarifies that the plugins themselves are also open source

          1. 3

            Yeah, I get that. But what’s the license, though? If someone put it on GitHub or started selling it under a different name for a cheaper price, would the author mind? Free software would allow it, some source-available license not necessarily. I’m curious what’s the actual licensing and whether all people have acted in good will so far.

            1. 2

              The author might mind, but do you care?

              This isn’t new, BTW. Parts of GDB or GCC were developed under this model, by Cygnus in the nineties. I’ve forgotten which one (was it both?). None of the customers ever published what they got, even though they unambiguously had the right under the GPL.

              1. 6

                The author might mind, but do you care?

                Nah, I just wanted to know how viable and reliable this business model is to support one’s life. FOSS projects have been ripped before.

                I’d be afraid of it being just a matter of growing to a certain size or attracting someone like Albert Silver. A game of luck, basically. Once it happens, there goes your project and there goes your income. You can still sell future updates or support, but all your previous work got “stolen” and there’s nothing you can do with it.

                So what’s the strategy to cope with this? Make the sources available, but under a license stating basically that “this becomes licensed under GPL 5 years from now, but until then, you cannot redistribute this”?

                1. 1

                  If you don’t want people to take your stuff without paying for it, don’t make it OSS. Why is this hard?

                  1. 14

                    Someone talks about flying around the world.

                    Q: How likely is an aircraft accident?

                    A: If you don’t want to die in an aircraft accident, don’t fly.

                    Author of the article described his experiences with selling something. I asked about a specific scenario. Have it ever happened? That’s a yes or no question. Has she thought about what to do in such case?

                    I find answers to these questions highly relevant for my own reasons at this very moment. Either answer it or don’t, but please stop going meta. (I also originally thought the story was posted by the author herself, but it probably wasn’t.)

                    1. 2

                      How on earth is this a valid analogy? A key part of all certified OSS licenses is the users’ right to re-distribute the software without your permission.

                      1. 1

                        Sorry about the lateness of this… “a key part” doesn’t imply that this part is important for everyone, or even for many people.

                        The last time I was involved in anything of the sort, the company chose open source for sensible reasons that had nothing to do with that particular “key” part: Development and debugging convenience.

                        Open source meant that I had the source for all the code that went into the final executable. I could see the source code for every stack frame in my debugger, and I when I released for production, I could say “this can be built reproducibly from this git tree”. They had no desire to distribute, but did have a desire to use less of my time, and did have a desire to have buildable source code on hand.

                  2. 1

                    AFAICT it’s awfully risky, but not more or less risky than developing software, generally speaking. You’ve read Peopleware and the other great classics that describe how and why most software projects fail? Those are large risks. Developing FOSS doesn’t make you immune, and AFAICT doesn’t make you much more susceptible either.

                    If you have a specific case in mind, then that case will be one where going open source may add more risks than benefits. Or more benefits than risks. It depends.

            2. 1

              Cannot find the project on my mobile, but already a fork: https://github.com/Happy-Ferret/Office-Fox

              Which already answers some questions.

              1. 1

                Hasn’t got the last 5 years of updates, tho.

                1. 1

                  is that not a rebase away?

                  1. 3

                    Yes, of course it could be updated, but the point is that, like the Cygnus customers, Open3A customers don’t seem to be interested in doing that.

                    Open3A also seems inexpensive, so I don’t see that many people would want to undercut the author by buying from someone else (especially when the someone else won’t be creating new features for it).

            3. 3

              Much appreciation towards those who keep equitable business models for software alive at a time where most products are moving towards eternal subscription models, DRM, planned obsolescence, etc.

              1. 7

                I see nothing wrong with open-source software using a subscription-based service as a business model (managed hosting, pay-for-binaries, support etc.).

                The eternal subscription model is really bad for proprietary software because when you stop paying or when the vendor discontinues the software, you are left without the software, and possibly even without access to your data.

                There’s no such problem if the software is open-source though: you can keep using and hacking it regardless of what the vendor is doing.

              2. 2

                Great article! I’ve seen a few people suggest that one could make money off open source by releasing something under a free software licence that commercial places don’t like (usually GPL or AGPL) and offering paid licensing to be able to use the software without having to comply with the redistribution terms. I’d be interested to know if that particular model has actually worked for anyone in practice.

                1. 1

                  It’s worked for me, I suppose.

                  I suggested doing that while at Trolltech a long, long time ago, and we did. Mysql did much the same, very slightly later. Really, I think they fumbled their way towards a working business model around the same time as we did, starting the road a little after us but reaching a good spot before us.

                  I’ve spoken to Mysql people at length about why it worked for them, and I think I understand why it worked for us.

                  It can work, but it’s not magic dust. The major elements of what made it work for Mysql and for Trolltech were different elements, and IMO “open source” wasn’t the top reason in either case. Rather, if you want to be general about it:

                  1. Know your customer.
                  2. Serve your customer, and don’t let yourself be distracted.
                  3. […]

                  Open source matters if the customers think so.

                  Somewhat relevantly to this thread… if the product is one that appeals to customers who like the idea of open source in a vague way, but don’t exactly work on that themselves and don’t want to, then the customers probably won’t. There exists a class of customers who’ll say “ah, that’s probably bad for our vendor, who serves us well and with whom we have a good relationship” and don’t upload.

                  1. 1

                    MySQL (and now MariaDB) comes to mind as successful “dual-licensing” business: https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/19/mysql-founder-tries-a-new-software-licensing-model/

                  2. 2

                    That’s the first time I’m missing a product link for a blog post about it. And sadly the first thing DDG spits out is the github fork..

                    1. 1

                      It’s on the product page: https://www.indiehackers.com/product/open3a

                      I also spent a bit to navigate to the right place. It’s interesting that the German market is “big-enough” to sustain a business.