Subject: Re: Bounty for Bugs in Open Source Projects?
From: Brian Behlendorf <brian@collab.net>
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 00:00:39 -0700 (PDT)


On Mon, 18 Apr 2005, Joe Corneli wrote:
> I imagine that if I developed something "really cool" but didn't release 
> the program or the source code, and then gave a public demo of the 
> software and offered to sell the code under the terms of the GPL, then I 
> might be able to drum up some "subscriptions" before releasing the code.

This is just not how people buy software.  They buy software as a 
necessary evil to accomplish some broader task like handling accounting or 
managing a sales team.  They won't pay money for something "really cool" 
unless it solves a problem they are in the market to pay money to solve. 
You don't start from the technology and then find customers for it; you 
start from the customer perspective and assemble a solution (perhaps stuff 
that's been done before, perhaps new stuff) that solves the problem for a 
price the customer will pay.

This is why you will find Open Source companies that focus on a particular 
segment of the software market, who assemble the best collection of 
software for that segment, and then sell services such as support, 
bugfixing, enhancements. They are in a better position to intelligently 
direct money towards code work than the generic marketplaces like 
SourceXchange, or bug bounty programs run by the OS projects themselves. 
The best thing an open source project can do, if they want developers 
being paid to write code for the project, would be to encourage companies 
to build commercial offerings that depend upon the project.

There have been a few examples of the "let's get together $X00,000 to GPL 
this commercial product"; Blender is the only one I can think of off the 
top of my head, but I'm sure there are others.  Still, I think these 
events are exceptions and not a sustainable part of ongoing development, 
they are more suitable for big-bang releases of a mature product in a 
segment with very little Open Source competition.

 	Brian