Sometimes people ask me how to do something on Windows, and I am reminded of how it lacks support for some pretty fundamental, simple things and requires nightmarish workarounds.

Sure, Linux has some really weird edge cases and issues. But it comes with a proper browser, pdf support, software repositories... and stuff like line breaks, compressed files, subtitles, partitions and updates just work.

Not saying that Linux is perfect. I have issues with display and audio output, network cards are notoriously spotty, graphic drivers are an issue, etc etc etc.

But it is just _wild_ that Windows just refuses to properly parse Unix linebreaks, has bad support to something as basic as pdfs, and people act as if it is normal to install software by downloading shady installers and letting them manage themselves. How can something so ubiquitous and so well-financed be this bad.

And the worse part is, most of that is intentional. They want software to be bought in a store. They don't want to help potential competitors. They want to break compatibility to lock people in. They want to add value to their own brand.

Which means this stuff is never going to get fixed. It's counterproductive to fix it.

@eldaking Fully agree, except for one small detail: Wanting people to "buy software in a store" actually is, too, creating a thriving ecosystem of small companies and individuals developing and selling software to earn a living, feed their families and pay their bills. I don't agree with *how* this happens, but we should acknowledge this is something FLOSS (which is to quite some extent driven by people who are hobbyists/enthusiasts and/or working elsewhere in a well-paid dayjob and can ...

@z428 @eldaking What you're describing is the 1980s model, from the time when Microsoft first appeared. That whole period was my childhood and I can say from first hand experience that it didn't create a thriving economy in software with sustainable livelihoods. What it did create was what we would now call "artificial scarcity" and a thriving warez scene, which resulted in kids being criminalized.

I don't think going back to that would be progress. Most software should be a public resource. Once created its duplication costs are almost zero. People shouldn't be criminalized for using software.


@bob @z428 @eldaking

Also, at that time RMS was earning money selling (tape) copies of Emacs, which was licensed as Free Software.

Now that we don't use physical copies, free software developers can make a living out of a) tailored software b) support c) donations. VLC does it this way, for instance.

· · Web · 2 · 2 · 3

@tagomago Agree with the both of you, yet I wonder how many devs in FLOSS these days actually manage to live like that, especially also compared to devs that can "afford" to do FLOSS development because they earn a living with a well paid job doing, like, highly proprietary enterprise software development. This seems neither sustainable nor honest to me...
@bob @eldaking

@z428 @bob @eldaking

I think we should stop thinking that the nonfree software model is honest and acceptable in the first place ('cause it isn't), then things would start falling in place.

@tagomago Agreed. But from that point of view, being devils advocate for a moment, I would consider software "non free" if it's a spare time project by someone who earns money developing closed/proprietary stuff in her dayjob. 😉 This is my only problem with that approach.
@bob @eldaking

@z428 @bob @eldaking

I would say that it's extremely unfair to tie what a person does in their free time to what this person does in their job, basically because we are *forced* to work, and most of the times we don't have many choices. Yeah, I think this person should look for an alternate ethical "dayjob", but not because it stains their free time free software "production".

@tagomago I don't think it's unfair, because it's a privileged mode of working that keeps people from understanding the issues of those who are software developers yet in a less privileged or economically "safe" environment in my opinion...
@bob @eldaking

@z428 @bob @eldaking

Well, not exactly. That depends on how this person (and all of us, by the way) presents their project, and how free software is explained to the largely unaware public. If this is correctly addressed, including the sustainability issue, then the responsability is not theirs, imo.

@tagomago Yes. But no. My point is still that FLOSS, despite all of its advantages, greatly causes difficulties for people that depend upon (maybe small scale) software development to earn a living. And I see not enough energy spent on fixing that - again because, if it's a spare time enthusiasm project and your dayjob pays your bills, you don't have to care.
@bob @eldaking

@z428 @bob @eldaking

I think that's a case-by-case thing.

Also, don't demand perfection from the free software model while removing the nonfree software from the responsability equation. If free software struggles it's because nonfree model has kidnapped almost every corner of life.

@tagomago Ah no, not expecting perfection. Just think that, in the 2020s, there might be some other issues (about FLOSS and software development) to resolve than in the 1990s. Like: Twitter, Facebook, ... became big (and to some point managed to stay big) because there was a wide range of libre/gratis tech they could build upon. Google pretty much controls the mobile devices operating @bob @eldaking - 1/3

system market by giving Android away in a FLOSS'ish way, effectively preventing real innovation or competition in this market from happening. And there still are fields of software development where FLOSS makes little sense and other (ethical) business models are extremely difficult to find (game development comes to mind). In the 1990s, we used to strictly make a difference between "libre" and @tagomago @bob @eldaking - 2/3

"gratis". In the age of surveillance capitalism and new digital monopolists, I wonder whether software still can be both "gratis" and "libre" at all.

@bob @eldaking @tagomago - 3/3

@z428 @bob @eldaking

The power that the nonfree consortium has amassed in its usual dishonest way (thanks to the big Open Source™️ contradiction, not thanks to free software) in the last two decades is so big that it tops multiple times any other enterprise in stock value iirc.

Still, there are free alternatives to almost everything, including Facebook and Twitter (this thing we are typing into). But time won't change anything if people don't change. Doesn't matter that we are in 2020 or 2100.

@tagomago I think it will not change if it doesn't change starting at the right point. That's why I think building a new tech society on top of voluntary spare time work done by people which economically depend upon the current status quo is a real problem. Free Software needs to become self sustainable in my opinion, with a majority of devs being able to work full-time on Free Software and still be able to survive.

@bob @eldaking

@z428 @tagomago @bob @eldaking If that's the aim then the best route might be to campaign for UBI or UBS.

@z428 @bob @eldaking

Then ask people to understand that they need to to pay for, hire and use free software only.

@tagomago And that's where we are back where we started: People don't do that. They don't need to. All they need is available as gratis download... 😔 @bob @eldaking

@z428 @tagomago @bob @eldaking And then you're back to the 1980s/90s. Yes you can download freeware from random places, but it may come with added extras you don't want and you may not be able to mod it at all or fix it if it has bugs.

@tagomago Yeah, trying to do so wherever possible. Lack of structure and offers is a problem though; in example I only know one GNU/Linux distribution (#elementary) trying to change that...
@bob @eldaking

@z428 @tagomago @bob @eldaking It's essentially the Bill Gates argument of "what software professional can afford to work for free?". It's kind of amusing, and a tragic, how little that style of argumentation has budged over the decades.

Commercial software development always had its problems, but today it's an eye-wateringly toxic field. But there's now law that says that anyone has to do commercial software development to support other voluntary work on free software.

The mostly part time nature of free software development is also why it's difficult to attain the levels of UX or polish which exploitative proprietary software does. If polish happens it's usually because someone has been slowly working on something for many years.

@bob Well... My problem is simple. I don't depend economically upon directly selling software. I know people who do, I see that I am tremendously privileged here, and while insisting on FLOSS for totally valid ethical reasons, there are people I can't provide with better recommendations on how to keep paying bills if they make software available gratis (not: libre). I see no solution to that. @tagomago @eldaking

@z428 @tagomago @bob @eldaking There's been efforts from the like of elementary & some other dedicated groups I can't recall the name of right now.

From that it appears the biggest problem is cultural: too many people expect not to have to pay, or even be pushed to do so. The situation's slowly improving...

@alcinnz Yes, especially that latter part is a problem, also in FLOSS in my opinion. We've been hypocrites, to some extent, by claiming that we want "Libre" because it's of course more important - and quietly accepted that "gratis" is the most (and in some cases only) actual effect of FLOSS at least for untrained John Doe. 😔 @tagomago @bob @eldaking

@z428 @alcinnz @bob @eldaking

From my own experience, an overwhelming majority has never paid for Windows or other nonfree software.

And I donate periodically to many projects, some of them I even don't use. So who's the hypocrite?

@tagomago Ah sorry, that latter part wasn't addressing any particular individuals. I handle things just the way you do. But: Do you have a job with a modestly variable monthly income depending on something as possibly random as donations, or do you have a fixed monthly salary? @alcinnz @bob @eldaking

@tagomago If you were, say, a small development studio with three or four employees in full time living off selling proprietary software and this model works in a way you can survive: What advantage would you get from going for a FLOSS licence? Would you in worst case be ready to give up on an at least somewhat regular monthly income for these? @alcinnz @bob @eldaking

@z428 @alcinnz @bob @eldaking

If that development studio is making tailored software for enterprises, free-licensing it wouldn't change anything for the studio, and the client should be happier, given that they can choose different support providers. So you probably would be in a better position going for free software.

@tagomago @z428 @bob @eldaking This has proven itself in practice for many people I know...

@z428 @tagomago @alcinnz @bob @eldaking Making a living / running a business on libre software does work, it's just less common. In a recent podcast the lead Ardour dev says they pull in about $100k per year. is chock full of people selling GPL software at solid prices, because people have accepted the paradigm. Nextcloud is a very large business working solely with GPL software. is non-profit & MIT, has earned over $3M and supports several full time staff. 1/2

@z428 @tagomago @alcinnz @bob @eldaking WooThemes, before being acquired by Automattic, was a large business with several staff selling all GPL themes & plugins. There are also many other WP theme and plugin selling businesses doing very well selling GPL products.

The only reason we have the current dominant paradigm of selling proprietary licenses is habit and fear of the unknown. It's been shown as entirely viable to have libre software business it's just a matter of people getting used to it

@freedcreative Interesting, thanks. Gotta do some digging here, curious to see how the economic structure of these businesses looks (individuals vs smaller/larger companies) and whether they did have a working "proprietary" business before. One issue I really see is, in example, getting a migration between business models to work without having ... @tagomago @alcinnz @bob @eldaking

@freedcreative ... to lay off people. That's generally a problem, maybe with moving to FLOSS even more so? @tagomago @alcinnz @bob @eldaking

@z428 Off the top of my head, WooThemes started with proprietary licenses until the WP devs convinced them to switch to GPL. From my recollection it had no negative effect and they kept growing.

NextCloud came out of OwnCloud, because the main guy behind it wanted to refocus on open source:

Ghost was non-profit & MIT from the start - John O'Nolan has a few interviews online talking about why he dropped his earlier life plans of chasing VC funding to have independence.

@z428 The guys who run Blender Market also have a video online talking about how they went into making a space to sell GPL software and how a lot of people told them it wouldn't work. But they made it happen, which is super cool.

IMO most people don't care all that much about license. If the store says, hey this GPL software is $20 they just decide if they want it the same way as they would any other product.

@z428 Oh and I forgot to mention Plausible Analytics, who are new and getting their open source based business off the ground. Just a little over a week ago @markosaric announced they've just hit $1,500 MRR. He also posted some of his thoughts on open source based business on the Plausible blog:

Show newer
Show newer

@z428 @tagomago @eldaking

Exactly the point I'm struggling with!
And same with music: So annoying you can't use or share or even copy or record...!
However, I'm a musician myself and know a few composers personally whose lives depend on selling their work (and controlling its usage...) ...

@holzgedackt Yes. Same here. At this point, it feels utterly bad that a lot of these discussions seem not even about things such as Fair Use but actually maximum freedom for those who merely "consume" things without contributing anything back, and be it just money. @tagomago @eldaking

@z428 @tagomago @bob @eldaking What people do as a dayjob varies enormously and doesn't necessarily have much effect on Free Software production other than needing to have enough time and energy remaining when not being a wage slave.

The media focuses on highly paid FOSS developers working for Google or Microsoft, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Most people doing this are not on six figure salaries, or anywhere close. These days I am merely a below minimum wage precariat with no particular official employment status (yesterday I was rescuing sheep, for example). This isn't the stereotype that tech journos write about.

@tagomago @bob @z428 @eldaking There is at least one other way to make money. Namely, charging for precompiled builds. Ardor does this, and Aseprite used to before it went proprietary.

Yes, this is permitted by the GPL. Like, explicitly.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Server run by the main developers of the project 🐘 It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!