Charging for Free/Open Source Software

Memo to OSS developers: I can pay money for software licenses, even if the license is just “MIT, but we invoice you”, but I cannot just put business funds in your tip jar.

from an article about TarSnap, the secure backup service, and how it could be better run as a business.

This is an important insight: software can be licensed under the GNU GPL or MIT with a software fee included. This is allowed by the licenses and it makes it possible for businesses to buy your free/open source software. To developers, it’s seen as a donation to their project, but to businesses it will be seen as a justifiable business expense.Modern business concept

Personally, I’ve tried to convince previous employers that they should donate to free/open source projects that we routinely used. My justification to them was that we rely on the projects so much that the donations are essentially a business expense. Unfortunately, if it’s labeled as a donation and not as a sponsorship or as a required license fee, businesses will not see it as an expense, they’ll see it as free code that will lower costs.

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Meet Oppia, Google’s New Open Source Project That Allows Anyone To Create An Interactive Learning Experience

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Google has become an increasingly active participant in the world of education, particularly when it comes to exploring the role technology can play in re-imagining the way we learn. With Google Play for Education, Android and Play-powered Samsung tablets for the classroom and its work with
com/2013/09/10/google-expands-role-in-digital-education-teams-up-with-edx-to-build-a-youtube-for-free-online-courses/”>MOOCs and online courseware, the company is expanding its presence both in traditional academic spaces classroom and outside.

Google’s educational experiments continued today, beginning with the launch of its first MOOC-style course, now open to the public, on how to interpret and understand online data. The second experiment, quietly announced on Google’s Open Source Blog, was the launch of Oppia, a project that aims “to make it easy for anyone to create online interactive activities” that others can learn from.

The motivation behind Oppia, Google explained, stems from the fact that, while a growing amount of educational content is now…

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Community Strategies: Interacting with FOSS Community

The purpose of is to give organizations enough information to create a well-defined and clear strategy for interacting with Free/Open Source Software communities.

According to an article on,

“[financial services firms] haven’t yet developed the processes, culture and mechanisms needed to work directly with the community to obtain support, make contributions and influence project directions.”

how Puppet Labs deals with community:

OpenBSD seeking donations to cover electrical costs.

OpenBSD Logo

OpenBSD seeking donations to cover electrical costs.

According to the thread about this on reddit (r/programming), the electrical costs are for the servers.

This is one of those essential costs that’s required when developing free/open source software that is meant for servers or for particular hardware configurations. This is also required for mobile web app development, to ensure that the interface works on all sorts of smartphones. Donating to a free/open source project helps a lot with the essential costs. Donations may not be able to pay for more full-time development work but they can at least keep the electricity flowing to the hardware and keep the servers running!

How to Succeed in Open Source ( In Ways You Haven’t Considered Yet )

Getting back to that ROI thing. I’ve found success from being attached to the ui-router project, in particular writing good documentation. Having that under my belt has opened up so many opportunities to me and helped to expand my network. It isn’t why I contribute, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice to get that payoff.

There are lots of stories of others who’ve experienced documentation success. Joel Hooks, told me his story. He got his start by writing the documentation for the RobotLegs framework for ActionScript. He stumbled onto his project just like me. After researching it he felt like he found a diamond in the rough. Here was this obscure yet beautiful project. In his heart he knew it needed documentation to become popular. Writing the docs for that one project kickstarted his entire career! He was propelled into an evangelism role for the project and started speaking at conferences (even though speaking was absolutely nerve wracking to him). Writing docs compressed his five year career plan into about one year. Ha, I knew there were kickbacks! He ultimately became a consultant and even wrote a book and now he also teaches important concepts online via articles and video tutorials.

The key point is that he would have never written the RobotLegs framework—it was the stuff of legend—but he could write the fucking docs. I’m crying right now, it’s too beautiful.

I also spoke with Matias Niemelä who found success in a similar fashion. He blogged for a while, mostly about MooTools, hence his site’s name yearofmoo. He started to learn Angular and wasn’t really finding good learning materials on the web (back during the pre-1.0 days). So he made an article on SEO and it was really popular. So he wrote another article and the popularity continued, more and more. This caught the attention of the core team and somewhere between Matias’ third and fourth article Misko (an angular core team member) asked him if he’d be able to help revamp the Angular docs as well as create ng-animate as a contractor for Google. It paid off for Matias.

Re-blogged from:

Google’s iron grip on Android: Controlling open source by any means necessary


Android Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Google’s iron grip on Android: Controlling open source by any means necessary

Well there you go, Google can act like Apple whenever it wants to. Building their proprietary products on top of free/open source software, just like Apple does with the nicest user interface, Cocoa.

While you can’t kill an open source app, you can turn it into abandonware by moving all continuing development to a closed source model. Just about any time Google rebrands an app or releases a new piece of Android onto the Play Store, it’s a sign that the source has been closed and the AOSP [Android Open Source Project] version is dead.