Subject: Re: Open Source shareware?
From: Rich Morin <>
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 09:19:19 -0700

At 12:37 PM +0200 9/13/02, Bernhard Reiter wrote:
>I don't think Free Software (what you call "Open Source") and Shareware
>are compatable concepts. What you actually mean is what you describe
>as b) below.

I'm quite familiar with the distinctions between Free and Open Source
Software.  In this case, what I am proposing would qualify under both
definitions.   For instance, I see no reason why I can't release my
software under a University-style license (or even the GPL), while
requesting that users pay a voluntary fee.  Alternatively, charging for
distribution, support, and other services is a common FSB model.

It may be, in fact, that using the term "shareware" is a way to help the
Mac community accept this as something familiar, while introducing them
to the notions and benefits of Open Source.  In any case, I would rather
avoid trying to explain a label like "Free Shareware"!

>>  This leaves me with (a) linking certain forms of support to
>>  subscription and (b) relying on the "honor" system.
>This basically means to make your service tangible to users
>and constantly show them what value paying you will provide them.


>I can't think of a possible proofs in ether direction.
>The conditions are changing more and more towards Free Software
>thus raising the chances that people will want to pay for service.
>There have not been many intelligent ideas to make b) happen
>and educate the people about the advantages it has.

As noted in my previous post, most Free and Open Source software users
seem to be philosophically opposed to spending money for the software
itself.  They'll buy books and CD sets, but they view this as "paying
for convenience", rather than supporting the development effort.  If a
user has corporate funding and a good justification, s/he may also pay
for a support contract.  I see no evidence, however, that most users
will contribute money to fund the actual development effort.

I speak with some experience, having published more than a dozen Free
Software collections.  At RMS' suggestion, I included options to let
folks contribute extra funds to be channeled back to the FSF, etc.  To
a first approximation, I never received anything of that sort.

Although the Mac community is new to the ideas of Free and Open Source
Software, they have a long tradition of paying (small amounts of) money
for shareware.  As an example, I have about a dozen shareware packages
running on my desktop box; most of these cost less than $30.

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