I made a quite interesting experiment with free software, that I want to share.
EtLinux is a quite well known embedded Linux distribution. Our ftp site is overloaded by people downloading 180Mb of sources and packages. So I decided to offer the possibility of getting a freshly burnt CD with EtLinux directly via snail-mail for free, in order to reduce load on our ftp server.
The offer was put half-hidden in a sub HTML page of the EtLinux web site. After only few hours I got 10 requests for the CD from China, India, Germany, etc. So I spent the day after burning CDs, packaging and sending them around the world.
I needed to reduce requests quickly, because I don't want to spend my time (or my employee's) burning CDs, packaging and sending them: I have other things to do.
So I set up a paypal account, and ask 10$ for burning the CDs and sending it (and maybe saving some money to fund future development).
I'm now surprised: among the people who requested the CD when it was "gratis", there were big corporations, companies and institutions, that can easily spend 10$, but since the new offer is up (10 days) no one has requested the CD.
Now, there are two options: 1) I made something wrong in paypal setup (I'm new to it) 2) people will ask for everything which is gratis, no matter if they really need it or not, and will not spend 10$ no matter if they really need it or not.
I will try to learn from this experience :-)