2 Aug 2002 raph   » (Master)

rillian: I'm not really trying to argue that the AFPL is a superior license to the GPL. The question is whether AFPL licensed software is, literally, an unspeakable evil. I think there's a pretty strong case that it's not.

In any case, the GPL won and the AFPL lost. As a result, software is freer, but it's harder to make a living doing it. On balance, this is probably a good thing. Anyway, it's certainly not the case that the AFPL by itself would guarantee a good living wage to developers. In fact, the model of GPL'ed libraries + proprietary licensing seems to work as well as the AFPL, if not better. he discussions with RMS continue.

In any event, the discussions with RMS continue.

Philanthropy

Now that the vast majority of "business models" for making money doing free software have been discredited, good ole fashion philanthropy is starting to look more like a viable option. You could even say that a good deal of free software has been financed this way - of the billion dollars or so the US spends subsidizing advanced computer science research, at least a percent gets embezzled towards free software development. In our world, that's good money.

I'll note that Advogato itself is supported in this way: the server is hosted at Berkeley's XCF. I'm not sure exactly who pays for the bandwidth, but it's probably some grant or other.

Recently, I've noticed quite a few software projects and services are begging for money: OPN, kuro5hin, LWN on the services side, and Dillo as one example of software.

I think this is actually a reasonable model. The money brought in from voluntary contributions is very small by proprietary standards, but maybe enough to keep a lean, mean free software project going.

The biggest problem with the model is the lack of connection between merit and funding. The main factors in allocating funds are fundraising ability and visibility. Again, I see this as just a fact, rather than something that needs fixing (or can be fixed).

But here's a thought I had today. How much money do you think Microsoft spends preventing free software? The roughly half-million "donated" to Peru almost certainly falls into this category. If there were an equal amount allocated among the most worthy projects, it would make a big difference.

Meetings

I met with my advisor, Alex Aiken, today, and had dinner with Peter Deutsch (I'm staying in his guest cottage as I type). Tomorrow, I'll attend the seminar Peter is giving at Adobe, on the history of Ghostscript, and will probably meet lots of Adobe folks. Monday is our Artifex staff meeting. I don't consider myself much of a people person, but I'm enjoying the contact and the sense of connection. Even so, I'll be glad when things settle down and I can concentrate on coding again.

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