donation-ware vs. FOSS

Discuss how to promote using FLOSS to make music.

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Kati Maya
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donation-ware vs. FOSS

Postby Kati Maya » Sat Nov 16, 2013 11:23 pm

I was in IT for over a decade and then I did my own business for 7 years. I'm burned out from all that stuff, so I'm just focusing on becoming a musician. However I'm finding myself getting sucked back into code because I want things to work a certain way. And I realize that I really love writing code enough that my focus lately has been trying to do both and find some sort of balance.

Money isn't my focus; I'm more fulfilled just if people like what I do and what I offer. However, I'm not really sure that as an individual it makes sense to giving away the source code to what I do. I want to maintain that proprietary thing, and just give the binaries away free.

The reason being is that I had over $2 million stolen from me so I know from experience that licenses and contracts mean jack if you don't have the financial backing to sue someone with really deep pockets to enforce them.

If I do donation-ware then if people appreciate it they can contribute something, maybe some kind of indiegogo-type approach where I can list out some big thing of features and let people pledge towards what new things they want and if it hits a certain amount of pledges then I'll add that as an upgrade and give that away free...I think codeweavers used to do something that at one point in time, to debug their fork of wine to work with certain softwares that people cared about.

At this point in time I have enough annuity income to where my bills are paid. I have a nice computer now and a couple midi keyboards and a decent mic. But beyond that I'm completely broke; I'm not motivated enough by money to work a day job.

I love Linux but I find myself banging my head against the wall too much to where it's hard for me to get a good musical workflow. I used Xubuntu exclusively for almost 2 years but then I got back into Windows recently because I want to do professional music production. When I just load up FL Studio and Synthmaster on Windows and get to work then I can actually get stuff done. Also I'm in a learning mode now and I have all these courses on music production and it's a lot easier to just be able to install some demo vst on windows and fiddle with it to take the class then it is to screw around with PlayOnLinux and hope that I can get something working at a minimal level.

Right now I'm taking this ChucK programming course and I really like a lot of what I'm learning. I'm finding it more intuitive to figure out sound design type stuff by looking at code than by fiddling with knobs on a synth and trying to intuitively figure out what is actually going on.

I do like cross-platform stuff but it seems like the only thing that is really useful for cross-platform gui apps that doesn't cost a bunch of money is Qt Creator. So I guess I need to learn c++ at some point to do that.

I get the whole FSF ideology, it's just not really my ideology. I also get the Microsoft ideology. My buddy who works there is hard-core trying to recruit me, but I won't want to work for a big corporation either. I feel like I'm stuck somewhere in between those ideologies. I want as many people as possible to benefit from my work, and I want to make it as free as possible. But I'm not super comfortable with giving away the source code. For now I'm just thinking donation-ware is the way to go. I also have no problem with people downloading my music for free, and doing whatever with it as long as I get attribution, but I don't want them claiming it as their own and selling it or whatever. I like some of the stuff that creative commons does, but I'm not sure how easy it is for a broke person to enforce when these big RIAA-signed artists are doing things like appropriating artwork from someone's deviant art profile and turning it into an album cover and then the person who made the art not having the financial resources to do much about it.

So I guess my philosophy with money is that it's nice to have, but not nice enough to make it my focus for 40+ hours a week. And if I'm putting 20 or 30 hours a week into writing up a bunch of free software it would be nice to work my way up to making a couple hundred bucks a month from donations trickling in it without feeling overly obligated to add new features like I would if some customer is paying the bills. But if someone likes an aspect of what I'm doing I'm not really comfortable with them appropriating my code for commercial purposes...if they want that then they can contact me to negotiate something.

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falkTX
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Re: donation-ware vs. FOSS

Postby falkTX » Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:28 am

One option would be to release the code in a non-distributable license (some of the recent Fons software is like this).
This makes your code open to anyone that wants to change small bits or contribute patches, but forbids everything else.

Of course, this means smart-asses will steal code for their own products, but this is always the case for all open software anyway.

tatch
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Re: donation-ware vs. FOSS

Postby tatch » Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:26 am

would the FSF or another large pro-FOSS entity provide resources to combat theft like that?

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AnthonyCFox
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Re: donation-ware vs. FOSS

Postby AnthonyCFox » Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:09 am

tatch wrote:would the FSF or another large pro-FOSS entity provide resources to combat theft like that?


I used to listen to FSF's podcast and practically every episode they talked about going after some corporation for GPL violations. I think enforcing the GPL is their main reason for existence.
War, crime, disease, starvation, extreme poverty; these are serious things.
Music? Not so serious. Have some fun! :D

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falkTX
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Re: donation-ware vs. FOSS

Postby falkTX » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:21 am

tatch wrote:would the FSF or another large pro-FOSS entity provide resources to combat theft like that?

every case is different. most of the times is hard to prove there is stolen code, because said product is closed and/or commercial.

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funkmuscle
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Re: donation-ware vs. FOSS

Postby funkmuscle » Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:00 pm

This is just a thought and a maybe naive question and not criticism because every time I mention this, someone cuts my head off. :mrgreen:

I have Win7 running on a work laptop here and since I write hip hop beats for a friend, I bought the program called Virtual Beat Thang and all of the effects are opensource. LADSPA plugins especially Fons stuff. He's thanked in the credits for it. Does he get a royalty cheque too? He should.

I know open source means just that, it's opened but can't the Linux devs just work on Linux apps and if Mac or Windows devs altered or port the source code to their platform, they look after it themselves?

I've seen opened Windows plugins (not too sure of how it works with you and the vst devs falktx) but even you pointed out that DSPDiscovery devs put Linux to the back of the line, but to me it seems like Linux devs are quite generous and will help other platforms as much and Linux which is great. Only if that favour could be returned.

That's usually when I see down the road a dev saying it got too much to keep writing and update the app so it's now dead unless someone will take over. I mean so much work done by a few folks for free.

Linux has no help really from other platform so why cater to them? I know the donations from some Windows and Mac users are there so that makes life easier I guess to help them.

Again:
This is just a thought and a maybe naive question and not criticism. Just trying to understand this more.

bvanevery
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Re: donation-ware vs. FOSS

Postby bvanevery » Wed Jan 22, 2014 5:42 pm

funkmuscle wrote:I know open source means just that, it's opened but can't the Linux devs just work on Linux apps and if Mac or Windows devs altered or port the source code to their platform, they look after it themselves?


They can, if the licensing permits, which is a given if it's truly an open source license. Having source code available does not mean the license is open source. For instance, the license could restrict the platform or the field of endeavor, i.e. academic only.

However, if you don't have the buy-in and full support of the primary developers for a project, you are going to face big trouble with support and viability down the line. This happened to me with the Chicken Scheme compiler project. The developer was open to me providing a CMake build system and getting everything working spiffy on Windows and especially Visual Studio. Minimal Windows support was there but it was pretty bitrotted when I came on the scene, it needed a lot of work. I did the work, threw a man year of labor into it, and everything was working just fine for 6 months. Then the lead dev just couldn't hide the fact that he hated having to deal with CMake. We had words, he really didn't care about supporting Visual Studio, so he took the lazy path and just dumped my work. I could have forked Chicken Scheme at that point, but it would have left me as the developer for the whole project, not just contributing to keep one piece of the puzzle working. I was the only Windows guy standing around in the room, so to speak, and it was not tenable. So, I just accepted that a man year of my life was down the drain.

Open source isn't just about having the code. It's also about having the development team, the support, and the community around it. If you are alienated from those "human" issues, for instance if you care about a platform that most of the devs and community do not, then you have a big burden of going it alone. It may be too much work for you, and it may not be a profitable use of your time to do anything "downstream" of someone else. The upstream makes willy nilly changes, then you have to rectify that in your own codebase somehow. In the worst case they make changes that are contrary to your strategic goals. Although not an open source company, Microsoft is famous for this and is pretty much their core business model. Control other developers by churning your APIs and forcing them to follow your lead, or be out in the cold.

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raboof
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Re: donation-ware vs. FOSS

Postby raboof » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:13 pm

bvanevery wrote:So, I just accepted that a man year of my life was down the drain.


I know the feeling. Luckily, however, it's usually not really "down the drain", hopefully you had some fun and learned some skills in the process. One positive story I'd like to share: I once did a *lot* of work exploring a certain change to a project (which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent), and in the end it just didn't work out, other interests happened and I abandoned the project. Literally years later (like 6+ years), I returned to the project to find out some of the guys took my work and did what was needed to achieve the goal I had envisioned (which, even though I did a lot of useful work, when I left was still a huge distance away). That was really cool and rewarding to see.

bvanevery wrote:for instance if you care about a platform that most of the devs and community do not, then you have a big burden of going it alone.


While this is obviously true, the popularity of git as a version control mechanism has made it much easier to maintain an out-of-mainline fork of a project and keep it up-to-date. Not only that, even collaborate on the fork, and if you're really lucky and upstream ever has a change of heart, a new chance to get it merged back in.

bvanevery
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Re: donation-ware vs. FOSS

Postby bvanevery » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:24 am

raboof wrote:I know the feeling. Luckily, however, it's usually not really "down the drain", hopefully you had some fun and learned some skills in the process.


Not really... it's "fun" when you're in your early 20s just learning about all this kewl open source stuff, when everything is inevitably a learning curve. When you get older, and have seen developer group dynamics a few dozen times already, you start to be conscious of the fact that these tiffs are seriously wasting your time. You're older, you've just blown a year on skills that have no direct values in other areas. You may have done it at the cost of paying rent or eating, for your idealism, and you realize you're a year farther behind in your career as well, with no financial escape velocity from your circumstances because you've spent money not made it. There's a limit to how much you can justify as "fun," "skills," or learning curves before you have to face the reality, you are embarking on unsuccessful projects with dubious partners, and you need to find another way to proceed through life.

It does make you slightly smarter, somewhat tougher, and more discerning and focused about your strategies the next time. You're better calibrated as to how much jousting with some open source project's code could really cost you. So I have declined to mortgage my life to the Ogre 3D rendering engine, for instance. The community is good as these things go, but the community goals and code base don't sufficiently align with my own.

One positive story I'd like to share: I once did a *lot* of work exploring a certain change to a project (which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent), and in the end it just didn't work out, other interests happened and I abandoned the project. Literally years later (like 6+ years), I returned to the project to find out some of the guys took my work and did what was needed to achieve the goal I had envisioned (which, even though I did a lot of useful work, when I left was still a huge distance away). That was really cool and rewarding to see.


Sure that's great, but it's luck. Most small open source projects are just graveyards. Nobody's picking up the dead code, it's not useful to anybody, just bitrot. A historical testament to various people's learning curves about project organization and working with partners.

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Re: donation-ware vs. FOSS

Postby wolftune » Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:10 pm

Hi Kati,

I think what you might be feeling is that you don't appreciate the FSF's dogma. In other words, it isn't just about ideals, it's that they take things to a hard extreme. But there are still fundamental issues with trying to be controlling and proprietary.

Here's my thinking: your discomfort with releasing as Open Source is understandable but in all likelihood, after you do release, you will feel better. It's similar to a friend of mine who is freaking out about finally putting out his first album of songs. He's totally in control of things now and is worried for all sorts of reasons: judgment, control, perfectionism… But I know because I've gone through it, that if you release freely and let go of things, it will be for the best. People will appreciate your work, you'll succeed more than if you are controlling, and you won't regret it.

You can still get funding and donations with Open Source, potentially more than being proprietary. And being Open Source will make it easier for everyone. You don't need to be an FSF hardliner. Most people are more in the Open Source world anyway where they just recognize that practically it is useful to collaborate and be open to more constructive feedback and help and allow people to do valuable things that wouldn't happen if you stay proprietary.

I really think your hesitation is coming from a place of irrational fear, and you need to get past seeing it as an FSF-extremism vs staying proprietary.

Respectfully,
Aaron
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http://wolftune.com


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