I’ve known about some time about jwe’s situation. I can probably answer any questions on his behalf that you might have.
Octave is huge, he can monetize this by:
None of these things are easy though. It will take him at least a year to get this of the ground. The story of sidekick is exceptional, that’s the 1% in super effective monetization. Not quite sure why it’s working so well for sidekick.
Not quite sure why it’s working so well for sidekiq
Sidekiq is very close to money streams for businesses (web products), a scientific computing platform is not.
I’m not saying the Octave bloke shouldn’t do the things you suggest – he should try many/most of them, but squeezing money out of mathematicians and scientists working for gov/edu is going to be very hard compared to a programmer getting a yearly contract paid for by a product manager.
I thought this HN comment was actually spot-on. Has jwe thought about offering a “pro” version of Octave?
I responded to it. I’m not sure I’m understanding it correctly, but I know jwe is committed to free software and will not sell non-free software. That’s typically what people mean when they say “pro version”.
I know jwe is committed to free software and will not sell non-free software.
My understanding is that there’s nothing against “free as in speech” that precludes your charging for support and distribution. This is a misconception. It’s getting “free as in beer” mixed up with “free as in speech.” Free speech isn’t against the selling of books. Protecting free speech is about ensuring that speech is unencumbered by governmental and systemic shackles. Likewise, Free Software is about the right to knowledge, not the right to have stuff without paying for it.
That’s typically what people mean when they say “pro version”.
Cygnus made lots of money in the 90’s by selling support for GCC. jwe should be able to monetize and still keep the license free. It will be more difficult, however. It may also mean switching licenses. (Did he consign his license to FSF?)
The article mentions his income currently comes largely from selling support services, but this has apparently been in decline.
But I must also face the reality of my financial situation. For the
last 8 years I have been almost able to pay my expenses by offering
support contracts. Recently though, the balance has shifted in the
wrong direction so that I am using personal savings to maintain my
ability to contribute to Octave development.
Edit: When I was in school the math department decided to drop their Matlab licenses in favor of Mathematica (they got a good deal). When they did that, they switched the numerical analysis course to Octave. I wonder if this is a common pattern: if you have money, you use Matlab, if you don’t, you use Octave. If this is the case, support contracts wouldn’t be so lucrative, despite the software helping a lot of people.
Yes, I understand the difference. :-)
What I mean is that people always tell us we should keep some features proprietary and sell those as extra addons in a pro version. That’s what we’ll never do. Selling support or selling access is entirely ok.
Did you consider something like django rest framework? http://www.django-rest-framework.org/
Hm, that’s an interesting story. Maybe that could work out for Octave.