Does it pay to be Open-Source?

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Does it pay to be Open-Source?

Developers mailing list
Hello GIMP developers,

One of the things I've been enjoying is trying to use less and less proprietary software, and I've been thinking of becoming a developer for quite some time now.

I really love the passion and effort that's put in these projects, yours included, and I enjoy using them, but I can't say the same about creating my own Open-Source software; at least financially.

I want to ask you people out of curiosity because this project has existed for almost 25 years, and still going strong! Thus, I assume that you developers would have a lot of experience working with at least this Open-Source project.

So here goes:
Question 1:
What do I need to get started on making a project Open-Source? My guess is just my source code, a list of all the dependencies my program uses, and an account on a Git website (GitHub, or SourceForge are the two I know).

Question 2:
Can I still control or direct the program after I've posted it on a Git website? I don't mind other using my code for other projects, as long as I'm credited somewhere. I also don't mind it when people point-out flaws in my programs either, I or my team (if I have one) just want to be the one to fix it.

Question 3:
How do you make money off of Free software, and can you live off of it? I'm also wondering how money is split in large groups like yours. As much as I'd like to code Open-Source Software, I can't do it for free all the time as I'm on a tight budget.

Question 4:
How can you get your program recognised? It's one thing to code a cool program, but if no one knows about it then it won't stand a chance. I'm guessing the best thing is just advertise it on social media like everything else nowadays.


In conclusion, I'd love to be more educated in this topic as being Open-Source is something that I find beautiful in a way, as even if a project withers it's truly never dead and can bloom again in someone else's project. I'd also love to make Open-Source projects, but I fear that it may be a waste of time financially.

I'd love to hear from you.
~Anthony.B
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Re: Does it pay to be Open-Source?

Liam R E Quin
On Sat, 2020-09-26 at 19:47 +0000, Anthony Beaulé via gimp-developer-
list wrote:
>
> Question 1:
> What do I need to get started on making a project Open-Source? My
> guess is just my source code, a list of all the dependencies my
> program uses, and an account on a Git website (GitHub, or SourceForge
> are the two I know).

Yes, more or less, and make sure  it builds, and is distributed with an
open licence, and that it doesn't depend on  anything proprietary.

gitlab.com is another git site.

>
> Question 2:
> Can I still control or direct the program after I've posted it on a
> Git website?

direct - yes. The more you try to exercise control, the less open it
will be, by definition.

> Question 3:
> How do you make money off of Free software, and can you live off of
> it?

GIMP has from the start been a volunteer project, in people's spare
time.

You need a business model. Some examples:

[1] use open source projects as a funnel to get other work, or to
enhance reputation. This tends to have limited success except in some
very niche areas - you have also to be solving some real needs with the
software.

[2] dual license, with a "pro" version that has more features. The free
version has to be usable as-is. This is probably the most effective,
but you need to take care to mantain people's trust - taking features
out of the free version and making htem paid will risk a hostile fork,
in which you lose control of the project.

There are many other possible strategies of course.

> Question 4:
> How can you get your program recognised? It's one thing to code a
> cool program, but if no one knows about it then it won't stand a
> chance. I'm guessing the best thing is just advertise it on social
> media like everything else nowadays.

Pretty much, and word of mouth from satisified users. In the beginning
it helps to have an SEO-friendly Web site.


Best,

Liam (slave ankh on IRC)

--
Liam Quin, https://www.delightfulcomputing.com/
Available for XML/Document/Information Architecture/XSLT/
XSL/XQuery/Web/Text Processing/A11Y training, work & consulting.
Barefoot Web-slave, antique illustrations:  http://www.fromoldbooks.org

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Re: Does it pay to be Open-Source?

Ofnuts-2
In reply to this post by Developers mailing list
On 26/09/2020 21:47, Anthony Beaulé via gimp-developer-list wrote:

> Hello GIMP developers,
>
> One of the things I've been enjoying is trying to use less and less proprietary software, and I've been thinking of becoming a developer for quite some time now.
>
> I really love the passion and effort that's put in these projects, yours included, and I enjoy using them, but I can't say the same about creating my own Open-Source software; at least financially.
>
> I want to ask you people out of curiosity because this project has existed for almost 25 years, and still going strong! Thus, I assume that you developers would have a lot of experience working with at least this Open-Source project.
>
> So here goes:
> Question 1:
> What do I need to get started on making a project Open-Source? My guess is just my source code, a list of all the dependencies my program uses, and an account on a Git website (GitHub, or SourceForge are the two I know).

Readable and reliable code, some documentation, as well as implementing
nicely some non-trivial functionality. Otherwise it will take less time
for other folks to write their own.

> Question 2:
> Can I still control or direct the program after I've posted it on a Git website? I don't mind other using my code for other projects, as long as I'm credited somewhere. I also don't mind it when people point-out flaws in my programs either, I or my team (if I have one) just want to be the one to fix it.

You keep control if you demonstrate some ability and competence (or at
least more ability and competence than other project members). Linus
Torvalds has been in control of Linux for ages...

> Question 3:
> How do you make money off of Free software, and can you live off of it? I'm also wondering how money is split in large groups like yours. As much as I'd like to code Open-Source Software, I can't do it for free all the time as I'm on a tight budget.

If your software has a business use, you can sell support for it. Big
companies hate free software, they want someone to be accountable for
maintenance. Another solution is to have FOSS "Community" edition, and a
commercial "Pro" version with more features.  Otherwise, donations
(Patreon or else). I don't think there is so much money in the Gimp
project that the developers can split it between themselves. At best it
allows them to meet from time to time without paying all the  travel
expenses.

> Question 4:
> How can you get your program recognised? It's one thing to code a cool program, but if no one knows about it then it won't stand a chance. I'm guessing the best thing is just advertise it on social media like everything else nowadays.

Possibly. But not everyone is on social media (unless GitHub counts as
such :)

> In conclusion, I'd love to be more educated in this topic as being Open-Source is something that I find beautiful in a way, as even if a project withers it's truly never dead and can bloom again in someone else's project. I'd also love to make Open-Source projects, but I fear that it may be a waste of time financially.

It will likely be so. People do FOSS because they want to write a good
program. Sometime things get out of hand and they eventually make money
from it... but it's not a frequent occurrence.

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Re: Does it pay to be Open-Source?

Shlomi Fish
In reply to this post by Developers mailing list
Hi Anthony!

On Sat, 26 Sep 2020 19:47:29 +0000
Anthony Beaulé via gimp-developer-list <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hello GIMP developers,
>
> One of the things I've been enjoying is trying to use less and less
> proprietary software, and I've been thinking of becoming a developer for
> quite some time now.
>
> I really love the passion and effort that's put in these projects, yours
> included, and I enjoy using them, but I can't say the same about creating my
> own Open-Source software; at least financially.
>
> I want to ask you people out of curiosity because this project has existed
> for almost 25 years, and still going strong! Thus, I assume that you
> developers would have a lot of experience working with at least this
> Open-Source project.
>
> So here goes:
> Question 1:
> What do I need to get started on making a project Open-Source? My guess is
> just my source code, a list of all the dependencies my program uses, and an
> account on a Git website (GitHub, or SourceForge are the two I know).
>

GitHub/etc. are called "forges" or software dev hubs:

*
https://www.shlomifish.org/open-source/resources/software-tools/#all_in_one_proj_mgmt

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forge_%28software%29

Regarding best practices for software development see:

*
https://github.com/shlomif/Freenode-programming-channel-FAQ/blob/master/FAQ_with_ToC__generated.md#what-are-some-best-practices-in-programming-that-i-should-adopt

> Question 2:
> Can I still control or direct the program after I've posted it on a Git
> website? I don't mind other using my code for other projects, as long as I'm
> credited somewhere. I also don't mind it when people point-out flaws in my
> programs either, I or my team (if I have one) just want to be the one to fix
> it.
>

All free/open source licences gives one the right to fork:

* http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/magic-cauldron/ar01s08.html

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fork_(software_development)

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Free_Software_Definition

> Question 3:
> How do you make money off of Free software, and can you live off of it? I'm
> also wondering how money is split in large groups like yours. As much as I'd
> like to code Open-Source Software, I can't do it for free all the time as I'm
> on a tight budget.

See https://github.com/nayafia/lemonade-stand ("nayafia/lemonade-stand: A handy
guide to financial support for open source"). Note that it is not guaranteed
that you'll make a lot of money, but then again it is not guaranteed with
non-FOSS either:
https://www.shlomifish.org/humour/fortunes/show.cgi?id=joel-test-12-steps-better-code-2
and
https://www.shlomifish.org/humour/fortunes/show.cgi?id=the-old-shareware-and-the-android-apps
.

>
> Question 4:
> How can you get your program recognised? It's one thing to code a cool
> program, but if no one knows about it then it won't stand a chance. I'm
> guessing the best thing is just advertise it on social media like everything
> else nowadays.
>

Some people may also find it on search engines.

>
> In conclusion, I'd love to be more educated in this topic as being
> Open-Source is something that I find beautiful in a way, as even if a project
> withers it's truly never dead and can bloom again in someone else's project.
> I'd also love to make Open-Source projects, but I fear that it may be a waste
> of time financially.
>

Here is what I think of many "waste of time" arguments:
https://www.shlomifish.org/humour.html#waste-time . If it brings you joy, it is
not waste.

Anyway, here is a somewhat more cynical look at managing a FOSS project:
https://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/44q1mb/what_have_we_learned_from_this_open_source_project/
. I have also written a tutorial for how to start contributing to FOSS:
https://www.shlomifish.org/philosophy/computers/open-source/how-to-start-contributing/tos-document.html

and there is this book as well:
http://teachingopensource.org/practical-oss-exploration/

Also see the other replies you have received too.

> I'd love to hear from you.
> ~Anthony.B
> _______________________________________________
> gimp-developer-list mailing list
> List address:    [hidden email]
> List membership: https://mail.gnome.org/mailman/listinfo/gimp-developer-list
> List archives:   https://mail.gnome.org/archives/gimp-developer-list



--

Shlomi Fish       https://www.shlomifish.org/
https://youtu.be/KxGRhd_iWuE - Never Give Up!!

Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it.
    — https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Donald_Knuth

Please reply to list if it's a mailing list post - https://shlom.in/reply .
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