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Slashback: Arch, Bubbles, Keystrokes 112

Slashback with updates tonight on keystroke tracking (but not spying), OddTodd's interesting approach to unemployment, cold fusion, and an appeal from the Arch folks. Read on below for the details.

This research could still lead to new and powerful sink cleansers. mrsalty writes "A topic of brief and skeptical discussion back in april, Sonoluminescence as a fusion catalyst seems to be circling the drain. According to this BBC News article, new research shows that the collapsing bubbles' temperatures fall a bit short of that needed for fusion. A bit in this case being a few million degrees."

Discretion is sometimes the better part of avoiding attention. stinky wizzleteats writes: "Looks like OddTodd got off on charges that he defrauded the State of New York by starting www.oddtodd.com (Laid Off Land) while receiving unemployment payments. I didn't know he was only getting 67% of the take (his provider was getting the rest, which sort of explains why the site didn't get /.ed when the first story about him was run."

Try explaining this one to your parents. Earlier this year, we posted about Project Dolphin, an effort to measure the number of keystrokes you make as you IRC, email, program, whatever. Now, Wes N. a.k.a c3 writes with a largish update from the project's homepage, excerpting:

To this end, Dolphin has found itself its own dedicated server that serves as a home that is now (finally) suitably equipped to handle the growth we want to see, and fully expect. Previous participants will notice that this site itself has been fully redesigned and revamped toward a more professional look, while remaining commercial free in the original spirit of the project.

At the very core, this is a research project for its designers. It's made by geeks and it's made for geeks. The positive feedback received over the last few months since its initial launch has ensured that it will continue along it's current path of growth in the spirit of fun and experimentation for the forseeable future. (end from website) The new version of project-dolphin's Pulse is due to come out any time now. The new version is supposed to have a few bug fixes and how loads of new features. to check how the progress is coming along check out The development website some of the new features include . Typing Activity tab, Keystroke Frequencies chart , and alot of other neat stuff check it out on the website or goto irc.project-dolphin.net #projectdolphin on IRC."

"Arch" is adjective, verb and noun in one. When it comes to replacing CVS, Subversion is not the only game in town. We posted in May about the even-more-ambitious arch revision control system. Now, bshanks writes: "Tom Lord, the author of the revolutionary arch revision control system (slashdot article here), needs some monetary help."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: Arch, Bubbles, Keystrokes

Comments Filter:
  • A lucky SOB :) (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lancer ( 32120 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @07:08PM (#3955263) Homepage
    Looks like the judge agreed that the site was meant as a joke, even if he did end up cashing in - good for him, but I don't think I'll go into business being out of work :)
  • by Daath ( 225404 ) <lp&coder,dk> on Thursday July 25, 2002 @07:25PM (#3955347) Homepage Journal
    That is wierd and funny! Now I've typed 57... No 66... No 75... No 84... Eeeerh, 98... DAMN nevermind...
  • by Dthoma ( 593797 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @07:28PM (#3955355) Journal
    "...new research shows that the collapsing bubbles' temperatures fall a bit short of that needed for fusion."

    Hands up if you saw this coming from the start.

  • The new version will have tons of additions. Graphs, keystroke counts, letter counts, and tracks history. It does all sorts of neat new interesting things. My favorite will be "Pods". I'll create my own little pod of people to compete against. It'll rock. Nirgle for president!!!
  • by Dthoma ( 593797 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @07:53PM (#3955462) Journal
    Just had a look at Project Dolphin's top typers. Someone called "magictiti" has typed 24,535,976 keystrokes since he began on 31st May. That's 56 days in all, with 438,142 keystrokes a day.

    This person has been typing an average of 305 keystrokes a minute since May 31.

    THAT'S 5.1 KEYSTROKES A SECOND, NON STOP, FOR TWO MONTHS.

    And you thought that you didn't have a life.

    • by magictiti ( 596066 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:27PM (#3955589)
      > Just had a look at Project Dolphin's top typers. Someone called "magictiti" has typed 24,535,976 keystrokes since he began on 31st May. That's 56 days in all, with 438,142 keystrokes a day.

      > This person has been typing an average of 305 keystrokes a minute since May 31.

      > THAT'S 5.1 KEYSTROKES A SECOND, NON STOP, FOR TWO MONTHS.

      > And you thought that you didn't have a life.

      Actually, most of that time was spenth replying to slashdot posts. I copy the entire message by hand first before I begin to write. You'd be amazed what you're capable of when you don't try to spellcheck, grammar check, or anything-proof your typing.

      -magictiti
      It's all in the wrist.

      • Unfortuantely, your user history [slashdot.org] shows that you've only posted one message, so what are you talking about?
      • Typing that much could lead to Repetitve Strain Injury, something I developed after typing and playing computer games for hours a day over the course of about 7 years. In case you ever get pain in your arms, wrists, or fingers that doesn't go away, including numbness or tingling sensations, send me an email!

        If you never get RSI, you got my blessing and I say keep on truckin'!

        Peace.

      • Actually, most of that time was spenth replying to slashdot posts. I copy the entire message by hand first before I begin to write. You'd be amazed what you're capable of when you don't try to spellcheck, grammar check, or anything-proof your typing.

        How many times have you been asked what's so magic? =)
    • Palladium programmers at work.

      You didn't think the Palladium kernel would be smaller than 140GB, did you?

    • Its a stuck key.

      I held a key down for 5 seconds and got 113 characters, so I assume magictiti didn't have the stuck key all the time.

      Maybe her titi is magic because it hangs over her keyboard.

  • "WARNING: Continued use of Pulse has been known to be psychologically addictive. After prolonged use of this software, not having it loaded may make you feel slightly "empty", and as though you are wasting your keystrokes for every key you type that is not being counted.

    This warning is stated only half in jest."

    They were right. RIGHT, I tells you! I just...can't...stop...pressing...the...buttons.... AAAH!GHGH!

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:27PM (#3955585) Journal

    ...having the guts to post stories about alternatives to CVS, when their parent company (VA Software) has a CVS-based product (SourceForge) as one of their few apparent streams of revenue.

    Could this perhaps be stealth R&D for SourceForge 4.0, which might perhaps act as a front-end for all types of source maintenance tools? Given VA's past record, they're not apt to be that savvy. Perhaps Taco et. al. are just trying to convince upper management that they need to do something Real Soon Now. Perhaps they desire to have said higher powers become so disgusted with /. that they will decide to sell it to someone like Salon or NYT so that the editorial staff can finally become real journalists like they always wanted.

    • by dthable ( 163749 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @08:42PM (#3955635) Journal
      If VA was smart they would figure out ways to take the CVS code, make it modular and sell modules for source control systems other than CVS. Not everyone is going to use CVS just because SourceForge requires it.

      First, CVS is quite limited to what can be done with it. A lot of third party tools like PVCS and ClearCase provide a lot of GUI enhancements that make working with the products easier. And other systems, like Perforce and Bitkeeper really give developers a lot of control over concurrent development. CVS was a great idea to RCS, but now, it rates right up their with Visual Source Safe.

      We looked at using SourceForge where I work. Basically, since we didn't use CVS or have a need for the mailing list features, we only saw value to the bug tracker, task list and document section. The document section of SourceForge is very simple so it didn't buy us anything more than posting pages in HTML. Why would we pay for it. Now, if they could develop nice web based stuff like tinderbox for different source control systems, we would buy it hands down.
      • Had you bothered to look at VA's site, you would have noted that SourceForge Enterprise Edition integrates [vasoftware.com] with Rational and Perforce products (ClearCase being a Rational product).

        I only mention this because we just got SFEE here at work and man, it rocks!

        We would have used the crippleware^w free release available, but we couldn't even make it render the front page of our demo site.
      • Let me start a <ul> for you:
        • slower than the slowest thing you can possibly imagine;
        • randomly corrupt one file in 1,000;
        • randomly return the wrong version of a file;
        • sorting a directory by check-in timestamp, apart from one or two files that it inserts randomly into the list elsewhere;
        • using client timestamps, so if you have a small fix you end up checking it in before the last guy did (since he's a timezone ahead of you);
        • unusable over a 384kb VPN;
        </rant>
    • ....it would be out of the kettle and into the fire, I'm afraid.
  • It is interesting to see how there have been a couple of science experiments that have been published, first the elements that really don't exist, and now the bubbles that are not even near the temps that are required for what has been "discovered" during these experiments. I kinda feel sorry for these scientists if they have to falsify these kind of discoveries in order to get any sort of recognition in their respective fields. Although I guess saying that going through an experiment and failing to get the results that you wanted to wouldn't be too glorious either. Perhaps there are smaller discoveries that are needed in order to tackle these much larger needs, for example to create fusion for energy. Although even with these kinds of things happening. I hope that these can happen shortly, because it seems that news is tending to slow down as of late.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Fuck 'em. I don't feel the least bit sorry for them. Rather, I'm irritated at the whole fiasco--if the scientists would risk their own credibility and that of their fellow scientists (including me) simply for recognition, then they deserve whatever ignominy they get. A solitary, credible, null result that lands in some obscure journal is of much more value than a boatload of erroneous Science articles.
  • by Stephen VanDahm ( 88206 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @09:00PM (#3955709) Homepage
    "Tom Lord, the author of the revolutionary arch revision control system . . . needs some monetary help."

    He should just make a website [oddtodd.com] or something.

    Steve
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 25, 2002 @09:25PM (#3955776)
    Little Timmy has a terminal disease. But a large corporation has pledged to donate $0.000000000000001 to fulfill Little Timmy's (TM)for every keystroke you make wish. You help by typing 23 hours a day, leaving a book over your keyboard,etc.
    • Surely the pun of using keystrokes to cure a terminal disease was 100% unintended (heh). And they're probably get more donations if the CIQ (Charity-In-Question) was helping the South Park character Timmy (TIMMAYYYY!!!!!).
    • $0.000000000000001 for every keystroke

      In case anyone was wondering, assuming you leave a book lying on the keyboard and a repeat rate of 20 characters per second, that works out to one cent every 1584.4 years.

      -
      • >$0.000000000000001 for every keystroke
        In case anyone was wondering, assuming you leave a book lying on the keyboard and a repeat rate of 20 characters per second, that works out to one cent every 1584.4 years.


        It's actually worse than you say. You're off by a factor of 10: 15,854 years %

        20keys/sec * 60sec/min * 60min/hr * 24 hrs/day * 365 days/year = 630,720,000 keystrokes/year.
        1.0E-15 * 6.3072E8 = 6.3072E-7 $s/year
        We're looking for %, so use 6.3072E-5 instead.
        (6.3072E-5)^-1 = 15,854.896 years %.

        Of course, that number is just an appox and is a bit off anyway due to the leap years and other adjustments done every so often, but it's still almost 16.0 thousand years, as opposed to 1.6 thousand.
        • You're off by a factor of 10

          Drats. Yeah, I miscounted the decimal place.

          bit off anyway due to the leap years

          I generally type 365.24 days per year into the calculator without thinking. 0.25 for the one day every four years, but -0.01 for the leapyear you skip every hundred years. But then there's the leap year you DON'T skip every 400 years, so I guess I should really be using 365.2425.

          15,844 years 135 days for one cent. Give or take a day or two. Unless, of course, your key repeat rate doesn't happen to be running off of an atomic clock :) Weeeeee!

          -
  • Arch is doomed unless it supports tab completion with bash. Tom's previous answer to this was, "fix bash".

    Bash will never, ever change to support tab completion with '{' characters so what Tom seems to be saying is that Arch will never support bash. Which seems to tell me that he should pack it in and stop wasting his time.
  • by tomlord ( 473109 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @10:37PM (#3956062)

    I am grateful to supporters for the purchases and contributions received so far.

    I'm still a rather far from having enough to stay on-line, but the contributions so far suggest that there is a chance.

    The problems faced by arch aren't unique. Whenever I've talked to those more senior engineers who are my friends and who have lots of "open source" involvement, they say "We're hearing this same sad story from a large number of very talented hackers.".

    The botttom line: please do contribute to arch. It really is a fiscal emergency and your support is much appreciated. But in addition to sending support, please also send a short, polite note to your favorite budgeted manager or exec at an open source or free software friendly company. Point out to them that you are doing their job and spending money in a way that will benefit them. Ask them to be more proactive in supporting free software researchers, including working on their host organizations to establish some winning policies in this regard.

    • by lm ( 6327 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @11:37PM (#3956301)
      I'm the CEO of BitMover, we produce BitKeeper, an SCM tool which has some similarities to Arch. We're quite a bit farther along, we're 5+ years old and have a fairly large team, so I have some idea of what it takes to turn something like Arch into a real product from what it is today, which is more of a work of charity or altruism.

      We've been taken to task here and elsewhere for not making BitKeeper be open source. This is a reasonable opportunity for us to explain why we haven't done so.

      Tom's managed to raise $10K this year in support of all of his fine projects, arch being only one of them. We're not trying to do everything he is doing, all we do is source management. The problem is that we spend $10K every day or so in salaries. And we are dramatically understaffed compared to any other SCM company, when they figure out how small our engineering staff is they are amazed that we are able to do what we do.

      The reality is that we should be at more like $100K per day in salaries to really have a good product. The problem is that all you lovely slashdot folks want to get everything for free. And you'll insist on it if you can get away with it. Given that the SCM market is so small, the only way to get the money for the salaries is if you have a product which is based on IP and requires people to pay for it. Face it, if we gave BitKeeper away for free but asked you to support us with "donations" not one of you would do so. Remember, Tom is a really bright guy doing really nice work and he's managed to gather all of $10K this year. Which we spend in a day or two. And we're also really bright people doing really nice work, but that doesn't mean you'll give us or him money.

      The point is that certain market spaces simply don't work based on the tradition open source support style model. That model works great for things where there is a huge market and the product is broken so you can ask for support and people will want to pay for it. That model fails completely if you ever provide a product which works. It also fails if the market is small.

      The point is that if you want Arch to succeed, encourage Tom to make it a closed source product and get some funding and create a business. Anything less is a joke in poor taste. It's great to imagine that you'll get all your problems solved for free, but that's just not going to happen.

      It's not what you want to hear but I can't help that. If any of you can show how to support the salary cost it actually takes to support a product like Arch/Subversion/BitKeeper/whatever with an open source business model, we'll happily do so. We would like it much better if we could. As far as we can tell, we can't and we can also see that Tom can't either. Prove us wrong. Show us how. We'd love be shown that we don't understand. Just make sure that you show up with $100,000/day rather than $40/day which is what Tom is raising.
      • Tom's managed to raise $10K this year in support of all of his fine projects, arch being only one of them. We're not trying to do everything he is doing, all we do is source management. The problem is that we spend $10K every day or so in salaries.

        Seems Tom is a wee bit more efficient. That's your problem.

        And we are dramatically understaffed compared to any other SCM company, when they figure out how small our engineering staff is they are amazed that we are able to do what we do.

        So Tom is doubly amazing!

        If any of you can show how to support the salary cost it actually takes to support a product like Arch/Subversion/BitKeeper/whatever with an open source business model, we'll happily do so. We would like it much better if we could. As far as we can tell, we can't and we can also see that Tom can't either. Prove us wrong. Show us how. We'd love be shown that we don't understand. Just make sure that you show up with $100,000/day rather than $40/day which is what Tom is raising.

        You're making the assumption that a good SCM can't be developed for less than $10k (or is it $100k?) a day. Subversion, Arch and OpenCM are proving you wrong. Sometimes one or a few really good developers working for next to nothing are better than a companyful of developer seats.

        • Tom doesn't have a product yet. Neither do Subversion or OpenCM. And BitKeeper has been out for, what, 5+ years?

          Who's efficient again? Next time, make sure there's an actual release-quality project available before even attempting to make this argument. Subversion is the closest of the bunch, and even then it'll probably be 1-2 years before they are as polished as CVS or BitKeeper.

          Sometimes one or a few really good developers working for next to nothing are better than a companyful of developer seats.

          Sometimes? Sure. But those developers still have to eat. Assuming that Tom manages to keep up his current level of funding, he'll make all of $20k this year. Wow. Isn't that awfully close to the poverty line for a family of four? Tell us again why he should be doing this for free?

          I like the OS movement, I use Unix daily, I use open source products, libraries, and tools daily and deeply appreciate the work and time that goes into them. But whenever someone such as yourself spouts off utter economic bullshit about OS being so much better than commercial (whether totally closed or partially closed), it just proves yet again how little of a fucking clue a lot of people on /. have about the real world.
      • I'd like to thank you, lm, for being so forthcoming to a potentially hostile audience. May I politely suggest that you have missed the point of free software [open source]? You are stuck in Bill Gates paradigm of commercial software mills. This model has been commercially very successful, even if it produces technically mediocre [or worse] results for structural reasons. Commercial software is a project venture: someone sees a market, estimates its size and the cost to produce, then invests the cost of writing and distributing code and hopes it has a positive ROI.

        FS/OS has a totally different model. It certainly needs funding, because pgmrs gotta have their Twinkies&Jolt [or is that now Carob&Gingsing?] :) This funding comes _internal_ to the organization or individual. They have a burning need for the code, so will fund it's creation. This burning need drives the code creation, not some prospective market. It is very likely that the code will meet the need [ROI] -- not always the case in the commercial market.

        The tricky bit with FS/OS becomes what to do with the code. The code [or more likely embedded data] might be so valuable that it is a competitive advantage. This code will never be licenced and guarded like the crown jewels. The code may be so duplicatable that you might as well give it away for the goodwill. Or now, thanks to Mr Gates, some managers will consider trying to sell the code. This usually proves awkward, since the producing entity usually looks more like a customer than a saleman, and will need all sorts of new functions.

        The FS/OS model breaks down when there is no burning need, when the code becomes the crown jewels, or when people see no goodwill in publishing. I would have said that FS/OS isn't good for large GUI bloatware because no-one has that kind of burning need. But the existence of both Gnome and KDE proves that the World is a big place, and people have all sorts of needs and motivations.

        In the specific case of SCM software, I would expect that a large organization that writes lots of software would have "the burning need". IBM, NASA, RedHat, the USDoD, MS, Oracle, SAP, CA, and looser organizations around Linux and *BSD come to mind. Many of these probably already have SCM in the "crown jewels" category, and the commercial software houses certainly aren't about to release code -- they're all about selling it. IBM might release code, and RedHat certainly would. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see RedHat fund `arch`. Patronage is not ignoble.

      • If any of you can show how to support the salary cost it actually takes to support a product like Arch/Subversion/BitKeeper/whatever with an open source business model, we'll happily do so. We would like it much better if we could. As far as we can tell, we can't and we can also see that Tom can't either. Prove us wrong. Show us how. We'd love be shown that we don't understand. Just make sure that you show up with $100,000/day rather than $40/day which is what Tom is raising.

        You are expectiong flak, I'm sure. You wont be disapointed.
        Seems you don't get business, or open source.
        Youre problem and Tom's are very different, and both due to scale, and philosophy just at different ends of the spectrum.
        Both are likely to fail, but for different reasons, not that either of you were right and the other wrong.
        Open sourcing your project would bring you resources that you cannot afford to hire, possibly even decreasing your development cost.
        To do that you must however give up some of your ownership.
        Not a trade you appear to be willing to make.
        Your reasons for not making the trade are as valid as a someone who is willing to make the trade.
        C2Net/Stronghold (now owned by Redhat) is an example of how opensource and business works (as is Redhat).
        You have, I think, a crack in your business model.
        I looks like you didn't build your end game in at the begining and instead figured that the end would take care of itself.
        Business isn't static, change points, and end points need to be considered before you start.
        If you were to switch to open source(liberate the code), and have a seperate supported version(ala Redhat and others), and an open(free as in freedom) version that anyone can code on and improve then you can add coordination and project management staff.
        Doing so could magnify the effective results of your existing programming and development staff by orders of magnitude.

        Tom's problem is the reverse.. too open, too small, and die rather than sell.

        The requirement is balance, not an easy thing... Your going to need a zealot/visionary that can work with a business/accountant and they BOTH have to cooperate.
        Tough thing to do, very tough, but not really that different than how a business really should be run anyways.

        Expanding beyond the normal customer base for feedback and improvement, and being a good neighbor to the community.
      • Tom's managed to raise $10K this year [...] we spend $10K every day or so in salaries. [...] The reality is that we should be at more like $100K per day in salaries to really have a good product.

        Maybe $10K-100K/day is good for a company, but suppose a single developer could bring in just $100K/year? That's only $275/day, a modest amount, but it's enough for most developers to be able to quit their day jobs and devote their time and energy to the project. So why is even this out of reach, especially for the many open source projects that thousands or millions of people find valuable?

        The problem is that all you lovely slashdot folks want to get everything for free. And you'll insist on it if you can get away with it.

        This is a conundrum. Many of us would like to be able to write good software and just give it away for free. Of course, everyone loves to get free stuff also. But we also need to eat, and giving away your work doesn't pay the bills. Unfortunately, it seems that most of the options suck.

        We can try to create a business around our software, but that's expensive, difficult and prone to failure. It also requires sales and marketing efforts, support staff and other overhead. All this takes quite a bit more money than a single developer needs to make a living. Of course, new businesses have a very high failure rate, so this option sucks.

        We can try to build a business around open source, but we probably can't bring in much revenue from sales of the software -- someone will turn around and give it away for free and undercut the market. We can try to bring in revenue with support or services, but this is uncertain, and only some markets can truly support a company this way. Many open-source companies have had trouble with funding, and there's little incentive to create high-quality software that "just works". This option sucks.

        We can take the traditional route, keeping the software closed and selling it to bring in revenue. This can work, but charging for closed code will alienate the open-source community, and possibly even motivate volunteers to compete with you by writing free software. Many potential users who might have been interested will not buy the commercial product, so the market is much smaller, even if the return (per person) is better. Also, we'd rather be able to release our code as open source if we could. This option sucks.

        Most of the truly effective business models we've seen for open source businesses seem to rely on some sort of hybrid where the code is open, but the revenue comes from a proprietary source, such as large companies paying for consulting or support, or paying to use the free code in their non-free products (a la Sleepycat) or offering proprietary components to work with an underlying free system (a la Sendmail), etc. These can be effective, at least, but they often depend on someone else making money from closed software, or depend on the whims of large corporations who may make their money elsewhere. So these options can suck too, but at least they can be workable.

        I think the root of the problem is human nature. We like free stuff, and we think we're getting a bargain if we get away with not paying for something, especially if we're told that's okay. So it's quite rare for us to send money to send money to authors of free projects, no matter how much we may value those projects. And even when a few of us do, it's just a drop in the bucket.

        What developer can afford to quit their day job just because every week a half dozen users take it upon themselves to donate $20 when they didn't have to? Sure, it's nice. No doubt it's appreciated, but that $120/week would be barely over $6K/year, which is far too little to live on. Begging for donations just doesn't work well, whether it's a developer, a charity or public television.

        On the other hand, if each of 10,000 users would pay just $10/year, that would be $100K that could support that developer and allow them to quit working a day job. Why doesn't this work? Because each of those 10,000 users will tell themselves that the other 9,999 users can pay their $10, and nobody would miss that $10. And it's true; $99,990 would be just as good as $100,000. Unfortunately, the vast majority makes this same argument, and suddenly you're back at $6K instead of $100K.

        So, here's the question. How can we get the masses of regular users to pay a modest amount of money, on a regular basis, to support development of the software they want? And can we do it with the free-redistribution clauses in open-source licenses, or is it only possible if redistribution is restricted? Is it compatible with the GPL? Can we offer some other tangible selective benefit that only the paying users will benefit from, that will convince them to join up?

        How about some creative responses here? You, there! Yes, you! What would convince you to chip in some money on a routine basis?
  • by joneshenry ( 9497 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @02:57AM (#3956760)
    I do not understand the problem with funding the projects on Tom Lord's web site [regexps.com] if the projects have the value claimed for them. The projects appear to be licensed under the GPL. There are GPLed libraries such as hackerlab and there are GPLed programs such as arch. Supposedly arch is being used by several commercial projects. The copyright is held I would guess by one person, Tom Lord, so he would be free to dual-license it for commercial use.

    Perhaps the problem is the overinsistence on advertising the products as free software as opposed to advertising them as useful products that can be licensed, for a price, at whatever terms the buyer wishes. The problem appears similar to that solved by Sleepycat [sleepycat.com].

    The claims of hackerlab and arch are that they are technically superior solutions to important subareas of computer science. This is precisely what Sleepycat claims for Berkeley DB. As a GPLed library, hackerlab already qualifies as a product that cannot be used commercially unless the distributor wishes to distribute the source code for the application under the GPL. If hackerlab really has value, that ought to be enough to pry some money to continue its support. Similar considerations should apply to arch if it was designed properly.

    I really don't know why in this case the market isn't a perfect judge of the true value of this project.

    • No, it isn't. (Score:2, Informative)

      by anno1602 ( 320047 )

      Dual-Licensing works only with libraries, because the GPL prohibits linking between GPL and non-GPL code. However, arch is a program. You don't need to link it to your project to use it for generating your project. According to the GPL, you can use GPL'ed programs for commercial projects (e.g. using Kdevelop as IDE an arch as version control). As long as you don't use them as part of your project, everything's fine.

      So the difference is: When we're talking using GPL'ed stuff as tools, you can use it in any way you like. It's only when it comes to modifying or linking GPL'ed code that you get restrictions.
    • Yes, but that underfunds the projects. You can see this clearly when Microsoft can sell lots of buggy software and of the best OSS developers can't earn a decent salary.

      I'd love to see a new license, that could be called the fGPL. That would be the "Funded GPL". To be able to use fGPLd programs you'll HAVE to contribute some small amount of money to the fGPL foundation. You'll not be required to pay for any individual fGPL software, just a plain simple yearly $10 or $20 charge. And you will be able to distribute exactly where that money goes, among all the different projects. If you can't pay $20 a year it will be no problem, just a bit penalty: all fGPL software would be free as in beer once the year passes (old releases).

      The money paid to the developers would only cover salaries and some expenses that are needing to continue developement. So if any proyect gets over-funded, you'll be noticed that you must reasign some of your credits.

      It'd always be free as in freedom. We only need to bring some beer for that to happen. It'll also kill the anti OSS argument that the system is for comunists or anti-american. I know that is FUD, but does your representatives know that? It will also kill most of the FUD targeted at OSS and will also bust developement to unknown levels.

      What do we need for this to happen?

      To have the Linux Kernel, the Red Hat distro, mplayer, X and gcc (for example) adopting the fGPL for the next releases. After that, we'll see most every GPLd program adopting the fGPL. After that, you'll start to see how much sense it made to pay $20 a year. And even the ones that can't pay (if any) will be able to use the software (though 1 year old, but their hardware si severla years old for sure).

      This is my opinion. I'd gladly pay the $20, as long as EVERYONE ELSE pays their $20. That's why we don't see many donations now: because you have this filling everyone else is just waiting for a fool like you to contribute to project X in order to save it.
    • Just a side note to my other post.

      I really don't know why in this case the market isn't a perfect judge of the true value of this project.

      It doesn't work well for two reasons:

      1 - Market price reflects value when you can exclude people from using it if they don't pay a price. In any other case it means free-riding. This is why taxes are not optional (though the problem with taxes is you don't get to choose what public goods you do fund).

      2 - Distributed development and a lack of a formal structure in the organizations: "Hey, pay me some money, i promse to keep working on this project!" is not good enough. There must be some way to make sure where the money goes and that it's used for that porpuse. This may not look like a problem but it is. For example, people are bidding to open the sources to Blender. But what happens if they don't reach the 100k limit? Donations are not good enough in the sense that companies try not to donate but prefer to fund (meaning the developer just can't do whatever he likes with the money).

      That's about it. The misconceptions about the "market and it's benefits" are so widespread, but not their limitations. So I felt like posting my view (which is by no means different than what an economist will tell you)
  • by darrylo ( 97569 )

    As others have hinted (but did not provide any details), an alternative to subversion and arch is "opencm":

    Unfortunately, like subversion, opencm is still a work-in-progress, but it appears to have a lot of potential. Progress appears to be occurring at a steady, but moderate, pace.

    Features:

    • Doesn't require (part of?) apache to build, unlike subversion. (yay!)

    • Developers have explicitly stated that repository replication and disconnected commits will be implemented in a future version. I think subverion might someday support these (and I wouldn't hold my breath), but the opencm developers seem to have put a much higher priority on these (i.e., explicit mention as "coming soon" features).
  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Friday July 26, 2002 @04:02PM (#3961412)
    Well now. There is an interesting thread above about money and open source software. The core problem seems to be that you can't pay people to write code and then give it away for free, unless you make money on consulting/support instead. The CEO of BitMover appears to believe that you can only sell support for a broken product - this is hardly true, but he's right in that if your product is not one that is complex enough to need commercial support, you can't make money this way.

    There's a simple solution to this dilemma, which is, don't make your products open source if you want to make money out of it. Free software is great for writing operating systems, but only Stallman has ever claimed it is the be all and end all of software development. Note that you can write open software without giving away the source, simply by documenting the file formats and protocols. I don't respect companies that don't do this anyway, as it implies that they feel they need artificial lockin to stay afloat rather than just producing quality software.

    Having said all this, I have a problem with Tom Lord asking for donations, and ditto for Rob Levin with openprojects.net. There are countless open source projects in the world, many of which are very important. The Linux kernel, KDE and so on are all huge projects, yet I don't see them begging for cash. I also write open source software, but I do it in my spare time, and delegate work that I cannot handle, because my projects are by necessity non commercial. No project should be so dependant on one person that they have to work on it full time. This goes for writing source control systems, or running IRC networks. I think projects should either be non commercial, in which case you have a paying job during the day and work on it in your spare time, or you figure out a way of making money from it (ie by keeping the source closed).

    I don't see any good way, or any good reason, for attempting to make money directly from donations for open source projects. BitMover has got the right idea, they are getting mindshare and free testing by giving away their product to free software developers, but charging for it for commercial operators. They've figured out a way to tread the line, but most don't.

    • Yes, other projects need support as well. I regard myself as attempting to:

      • solve the immediate problem faced by regexps.com.
      • experiment with some simple business models to find one that is compatible with hacking
      • build engineering infrastructure tools, like arch, that can help to partially automate such business models

      Is there a way to make money directly for creating new Free Software? In a few cases, those of us lucky enough to get money from users, sure. In the majority of cases, in the future, I think the big companies that use open source ought to come up with funding mechanisms (and fund them!), because that's a good way for them to spend their R&D budget.

  • Here's an update about arch and the regexps.com [regexps.com] fundraising effort.

    A few days ago, I released a GPL'ed package (the monkey directory editor for Emacs) as a fundraiser: rather than post the source or put up a tar bundle or repository, I've been charging people money to send them the source.

    To my surprise, that actually worked a little bit. Some people bought copies. Great!

    Today I'm trying a new variation: I've mailed out (to the gnu-emacs-sources mailing list) the source for the previous version of monkey, and now I'm offering to sell (still GPL) distributions that have some new features. We'll see.

    If all of this works out, one idea I'm considering is to make all of my source available in the usual way (tar bundles, revision control repositories), but to rate-limit traffic from ".com" domains and sell FTP accounts. I think this model can be adopted by many projects, if it works, and that it won't cause any serious problems for hackers sharing code with one another (they just might want to use a non-".com" address for anonymous transfers).

    This "service differential for source code" model isn't perfect by some standards. It doesn't force users to pay and it doesn't force customers to spend their money wisely. On the other hand, this model reminds users to pay and implements a well-defined service that they can pay for.

    If you like the idea of this model -- that's another reason to support the current fundraiser! Perhaps we can bootstrap a whole new kind of Free Software Business Model.

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? -- Charlie McCarthy

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