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OSS Projects Offer Bounties For Features 261

jtowndot writes "The market for open source developers seems to be heating up. Asterisk, Gnome, Horde, and Mozilla all have bounties for desired features. Recently, Lime Wire updated its wish list to include bounties on open source development work! Similarly, i2p also released a bounty list. Is it time to consider quitting my day job to do open source development full time?"
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OSS Projects Offer Bounties For Features

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  • Is it just me or does "Bounty" evoke ideas of something else entirely?

    "We got the Feature. He's holed up over on the South side of the partition. Better bring your compiler."

  • by Simarilius ( 665671 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:00PM (#12491863)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:01PM (#12491877)
    $150 buys about 3hrs of my time, most of those projects posted look to take much longer than that.
    • by un1xl0ser ( 575642 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:05PM (#12491932)
      Mod this up.

      A lot of the projects offer very little money for what they require.

      What is needed is a bounty system that users could pay into easily so the bounty could grow over time.
      • Yeah I would definitely throw into the "kitty" for a feature. I even pay for shareware if it is worthwhile. Winzip was a perfect example for a long time until XP had a built in utility for unzipping. I would definitely pay for a feature such as a linux app that scans for unencrypted wireless or a wireless with a key you have on a list and automatically connect when in range. Great for roaming and would be awesome if every time you drove through a free hotspot it could sync email.
      • by Vorondil28 ( 864578 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:22PM (#12492103) Journal
        This is probably the smartest thing I've heard all day. Not only would bounties be bigger, but users would have an indirect say in what features got implemented. (i.e. - More users want feature X than Y, the bounty for X grows more rapidly than Y, X gets more man-hours of coding than Y and is implemented sooner.)
        • There's a proposal [] about integrating this type of feature into the Bugzilla bug tracking system. The idea is that there would be an extra field on each bug page that would allow anyone to bid on that bug. One would think that the ones bidded the highest would be fixed first (after being superseded by critical bugs and the like, of course).
          • Perhaps your bid gets spread out with a portion being divided proportionally over the critical bugs based on their severity and the rest being applied to the bug of your choice.

            This would keep the severe problems at a higher dollar value than all but the most popular of feature requests...

            Justin Dubs
      • That is a really, really good idea. For a very popular project like Firefox, it could actually make it viable for someone to work on it full time.
      • by duerra ( 684053 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:46PM (#12492333) Homepage
        What is needed is a bounty system that users could pay into easily so the bounty could grow over time.

        I'll give you $50 to do that.

      • Or taking it further, perhaps have it increment the bounty by $1 a day. Nobody's going to spend four hours coding for a $10 reward, but after another 3 months it's now a $100 reward. Someone still might not want to work on it, but eventually it'll fall within someone's target price where they consider it a decent amount and someone will grab it. The trick is to wait long enough that the amount gets up high, but not too high or else someone else will have jumped on it before you do.
      • What is needed is a bounty system that users could pay into easily so the bounty could grow over time.

        Ask and ye shall receive... []

      • What is needed is a bounty system that users could pay into easily so the bounty could grow over time.

        Users love this idea, but FLOSS developers generally hate it. I develop my project for fun in my spare time; I don't want users dictating what I must do with my project. Don't get me wrong; I love getting ideas from users, and more often than not, I implement them. I like my hobby, I don't want it to be a job.

        Anyway, there was a huge thread [] on kde-devel on this very topic a few weeks ago, in case you
      • You mean like the Public Software Fund []?
      • by zifferent ( 656342 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:05PM (#12494127)
        Wouldn't we then be rewarding the wrong behavior, e.g. More bugs = more $$

        Seems like a perpetual bug creating system to me.

        I might understand bounties for particularily tough programming challenges, but not for everyday bugs.

        Besides, once a price is set for open source coding, who's going to do it for free anymore?

        Paying money for everyday OS coding is switching the carrot, which has dire consequences.

        Open source works because the people who code do so, because the want to. Put a price tag on that and it does weird things to peoples brains. Basically, it changes the game.

        There was a psyc study about this kind of thing I think it was paying for grades or something, and the students lost interest once they figured out that it wasn't worth their while monetarily-wise and they stopped caring.

        When I volunteer for something, often times I find myself working harder and with more dedication than at work. I think the same thing happens with OS.

        Hey but it sounds like an awesome idea to kill off open source and it's ideals once and for all!

        Bad idea, all around.
    • Slut!!! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      $150 buys 1 hour of my time! It's low skilled whores like yourself that screw up the market for real professionals.
    • Yes, if you're trying to make a living off these bounties forget it.

      But it could be a nice bit of money for a student or someone just interested in the codebase and a good learning experience. I always find I learn a lot better if I'm trying to accomplish something in code rather than just browsing. That's part of the reason code reviews don't work as well as they should.
    • by orfanotna ( 813716 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @05:07PM (#12492560)
      To you $150 may be chump change, but to someone in let's say Russia (where a doctor with 10 years experience gets the equivalent of $18 a month), that's pretty good money. Is there a requirement that these features have to be implemented by North American/European/Japanese programmers?
  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:02PM (#12491887) Homepage
    At these bounty rates you would be starving. As a professional doing open source work for free they are almost an insult: Do people really rate our work that low?
    • Looks like OSS (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mandrake*rpgdx ( 650221 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:04PM (#12491917) Homepage
      Is outsourceing it's bounties to India then, heh. Just because me and you can't afford to live off of these bounties doesn't mean someone somewhere else couldn't.
    • Agreed (Score:2, Informative)

      by mfh ( 56 )
      I did some work on Rent-A-Coder, and the pittance you can get paid doing OSS projects makes it more worthwhile to simply get a job like everyone else.
      • You can do OSS work on Rent-A-Coder? I've looked at a bunch of offers on there, and they all say at the bottom that any work done is "for-hire", owned by the person paying you.
        • Re:Agreed (Score:3, Insightful)

          by greenrd ( 47933 )
          For-hire work can still be OSS. You just have to agree in writing with your client that it will be OSS.

          ... if you're lucky enough to find such an enlightened client :)

    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 ( 812236 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:07PM (#12491952) Journal
      If you're doing it for free anyway, what's wrong with getting a little gift?

      You are free not to accept it, keep it as memorabilia, or donate it to charity, as many have done in the past. People who found flaws in Knuth's books kept their $2 checks as a token of their work, rather than cashing it in.
    • Re:No (Score:3, Interesting)

      Professional? I figured this was aiming to get some work out of high school or college students who could use it as a way to earn cash on the side and possibly credit.

      • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yes, but the tasks these projects are hoping to accomplish are nasty and complex, and require a major measure of both genious and experience.

        Otherwise, some kid right out of school would have done it already.

        • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

          ...the tasks these projects are hoping to accomplish are nasty and complex, and require a major measure of both genious and experience.

          What can I say to someone who misspells the word "genius?" Some of these projects are difficult, but many are just not cool or high profile enough to attract coders. Some of these projects will doubtless provide beer money for college students who otherwise may or may not have contributed to a project. They are a nice bonus for people who contribute to areas that really

    • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

      Do people really rate our work that low?

      In a word, yes. Most clients I have tried to pick up on the side have balked at what custom software REALLY costs in terms of labor and time.

      • Re:No (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ACNiel ( 604673 )
        I have found it is mostly the time aspect. They all hear the hourly rate, but when they hear the projected time, then they balk.

        "Sure i'll pay you $50/hr. 100 hours?!?!? I can just keep doing it in excel for that..."
    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:17PM (#12492053)
      No, they just rate it low because the price they (may) be paying will be a slow/non-perfect developer. The ideal is "Hey, let's find the retired millionaire whiz and have him help out on a couple of things." In reality, the opposite extreme is you find the college aged whiz kid who disappears for three months because of terms or a big important project or he quit school.

      While not similar work, I find this all the time in the graphic design field. You find a lot of people who ask for a "custom logo for my new website" and will pay paltry sums ($20, $200) when the real value of a logo (or a good designer's time) is worth a lot more than that.

      I would imagine that putting low bounties on something is going to backfire. To someone who earns a living doing task X, spending 20 hours of their time helping out on OSS Project Y is going to be just difficult whether or not you pay. These projects need to un-monetize the incentives. Offering $100 for something that takes a lot of hours isn't going to be a big draw.

      Of course, the bigger the project the less of a monetary incentive might be necessary. Ask me to create a logo for your company and get paid $50, I'll pass. Ask me to do the next logo for Firefox 1.5, and I don't need $50, I'll do it for free. (Note I am not comparing my work to Burka & Desroches, or saying the logo needs a replacement, just using Firefox as an example).

      Of course, even with an OSS project, you can use free market concepts. The "price" of your product is people's time and resources as they download & learn your product. If you have informed a good number of people about your product and they are not willing to give their time to learn it, it may be because something better already exists. That's one reason why someone's new CD ripper project may not be that popular, or why your Java tetris clone is not being downloaded. It's not really "needed". Or at least, not yet.

      I really don't mean to troll or flame, and I don't see a problem with people getting together on something for the sake of learning and/or collaborating. But before your five team members pool together $500 to take your project to the next level, take some time to consider if it is really realyl worth it.
      • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

        by electroniceric ( 468976 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @06:24PM (#12493304)
        Of course, the bigger the project the less of a monetary incentive might be necessary. Ask me to create a logo for your company and get paid $50, I'll pass. Ask me to do the next logo for Firefox 1.5, and I don't need $50, I'll do it for free. (Note I am not comparing my work to Burka & Desroches, or saying the logo needs a replacement, just using Firefox as an example).
        I'd go a step further. $50 is less than free - it trivializes the work and reduces the non-monetary value as well. While you might well be an stellar coder or designer who contributed something incredibly valuable to the project and OSS in general, outsiders with marginal knowledge are gonna think: "$50? Either that project must have been really simple, or that coder's just not that good." Whereas before the stellar coder looked like a real saint for stepping in, now s/he has merely raised questions about his or her skills and ethics ("they paid him/her? isn't that really volunteer work?").

        Pro bono law work revolves around this: the hours the lawyers _don't_ bill are worth plenty plenty to the firm, but if the pro bono lawyer billed at rate the client could afford (e.g. $50/hour) the whole thing would be a loss to the firm. If you get down to token, "frame and put on your wall" or "have a nice dinner on us" amounts, then it's still perceived as essentially volunteer work. $50 bucks sounds ot me like you'll get something like:
        a) a college student of unknown quality and follow-thru
        b) an enterprising Indian or Chinese coder for whom the value of $50 is different.
        c) somebody desperate or out of work

        Note that Mark Shuttleworth is offering small but legitimate money for specs ($500), and real money for implementation (~$10000, and he's in S. Africa, ain't he?).

        It's nice to think that you can have a range of incentives, but the reality is that you have to be very, very careful mixing volunteer work with paid work, or people start wondering what your motivations are.

        As for LimeWire going in for this kind of work, it reinforces my impression that they don't have a clear business model. Hiring out for a couple hundred bucks (and no spec!) at a time for some bag o' features says to me that the plan is "let's make something really cool and it will sell itself", which is almost always a recipe for bankruptcy, and doubly so in a sector with an established track record of nobody making money on cool things that have already been invented.
    • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

      by keesh ( 202812 )
      As a student, these kinds of bounties mean I don't need to bother thinking about getting a job during term time to pay for getting an iPod...
    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:26PM (#12492143) Homepage
      You can do it because you 100% want to (OSS), or because you 100% get paid (commercial). But what's wrong with there being a whole range from 1-99%? And on a simple "the higher the rates, the less people willing" basis, most of them will be on the low end. A small bonus perhaps. But what's wrong with that?

    • It might be a nice bonus for a couple beer-and-pizza nights, but most people who would/could spend the required time for those projects would probably do it for free, anyway. I worry more for the starving student who spends a week on one of the projects only to be eclipsed by another starving student who submits his solution a day earlier.

      If you can afford the time, help the projects out and, politely, refuse the reward. If you're hard-pressed for cash and have the skills to provide them a solution... yo
    • Agreed. This whole people-work-for-free open source economy can only last for so long before the expenses of real life exceed the enjoyment of working on a project for nothing. So unless you have an ever-increasing source of free workers to meet the demands of the ever-increasing number of projects, supply and demand kicks. Even though the rates are atrocious, for some kid wanting to work on a project, would you rather make $50 or $0? Hopefully demand will vastly outstrip supply and we'll settle back at
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:04PM (#12491916)
    I mean, someone might write code for the requested feature that works, kinda, but maybe not a good implementation or is uncommented obfuscated spaghetti code or something. How do they assertain whether or not the implementation should get the entire bounty or a portion?
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:05PM (#12491923) "" there are $450 of bounties...and $150 of it is for a "Content Distribution Network"

    I wouldn't quit your day job yet.
    • I'll add a $100 bounty on a feature roughly summarized as "building a goddamned anonymous network that doesn't require an entirely new layer 3 architecture".

    • I would like to offer my own "bounty"

      I will offer $5,000 for the first person to build me a full scale fully functional DeathStar. I don't have the time or expertise to tell you how to do this so just watch SW and figure it out. To claim this bounty please deliver said DeathStar to low-earth orbit. BTW, I will also need a ride up there as my space cruiser is in the shop. I would like this no later than the end of this year.

      If you accept this bounty but fail to deliver on time, I will use the power
  • by Sv-Manowar ( 772313 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:05PM (#12491933) Homepage Journal

    In some cases at least, it seems as if these bounties are used to deal with the relative lack-of-glamour inherent in implementing some features in pieces of OSS. For the most part, its the cool hacks and features that people need individually that grab attention and get worked on. Bounties seem to redress that balance of developer attention towards less glamourous but key pieces of functionality & improvements which aren't imminently required. (although for the most part, it seems like a different class of hackers are attracted to the bounties within projects)

    Of course, putting money into OSS through these kind of means is a great use, since similar amounts spent on commercial products has a minimal/neglible effect on their development. Its also a great way for those people who cant code to contribute to the software they use, and get features they'd like to see implemented.

    • by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @06:13PM (#12493220) Journal
      Man, Personally I think one of the things that REALLY need some kind of bounty backup are the DOCUMENTATION projects... I mean, if you look at KDE help (the one that is embedded in the system) it Really Sucks(tm).

      And I am not talking only about Help Files, I am talking about Analysis and Design documents (anyone care to say what is the average of the OSS projects that have a reasonably good Requirments Document Specification or Design Specification Document.

      As a software engineer I know those are one of the things programmers really do not like to do... but they are really necessary and helpful.
  • I only looked at the Limewire bounty list, but the max they were offering is $500 for the hard projects.
    There's probably a few things on there that someone could bang out in a weekend. The cash might me the needed incentive.

    Although I wonder how long the project list has sat open. Maybe none of the projects were getting finished because of the lack of incentive.
    • I took a look as well. Is this really that hard to implement?

      Search for quoted phrases, for instance "LimeWire Rocks" would find only results with "LimeWire Rocks" and not find "LimeWire on the Rocks"

      My coding is limited to things like PHP and ASP, but this sort of search feature is a pretty common thing and not hard to implement in web scripting at least.
      Not trolling, just asking.
  • I was very glad to see that the bounties are actually reasonably set. I believe that a competent coder could actually make reasonable money, from these bounties. A few months working (in spare time) on two of the "large project" bounties would be a reasonable amount of cash.

    I certainly don't mean that any coder should quit his day job and only work for OSS bounties. The work isn't realiable or regular. And probably the amount he'll make, on a $/hour basis, is not as much as he could make in a normal job or
    • You must be high.
      Sorry at $500 a bounty you would have to do two a week to make "reasonable" money.
      These might be good for a high school or college student that would like to do it anyway.
      Not that I think this is a bad idea. It is more of a gift than a paycheck.
  • by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:07PM (#12491950) Homepage Journal
    I'm surprised it hasn't been thought of sooner.

    In a way consumers have always been able to vote on features in a natural selection sort of way (lousy software dies off, the best stuff gets a year or letters next to the title). But this allows much more direct feedback while still allowing the project leaders to control what direction the software is developed in.

    Additionally, it will perhaps put egos in check to see what users want and to be able to say you're giving them what they pay for, instead of getting upset when they feel they have a legitimate gripe about bugs in a free product and you feel they should be thankful for what they've got already (video game emulation community?)

    And on top of that maybe it would allow even stronger claims to be made if a company violates your licence -- those users aren't paying for features to be appropriated by someone who's going to steal work and close the source.

  • by kjs3 ( 601225 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:08PM (#12491959)
    Anyone who intends to count on the bounty opportunities as a source of income should make sure that there is a firm understanding as to what is required to earn the bounty (if not requesting a contract of some kind). I can certainly see folks plowing a lot of effort into this only to have the people offering the bounty say "that's not what I bounty for you".
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:08PM (#12491967)
    If there is one overriding reason that I hate MS Office, it is that it feels like the application was developed by a thousand independent programmers. Consistency between and within Office applications is very poor. Each feature seems to have its own UI logic, limitations, behaviors.

    A bounty program is great. But if it creates a thousand independent bolt-on features, it will suck. Perhaps some high-level architect in each project can create some stub classes or documentation that define exactly what the bounty-earning feature must do and how it should conform to a set of UI guidelines.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Consistency between and within Office applications is very poor. Each feature seems to have its own UI logic, limitations, behaviors.

      As opposed to Open Source, where consistency between applications is very poor and each feature seems to have its own UI logic, limitations and behavior.
  • by phidipides ( 59938 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:09PM (#12491978) Homepage
    One thing I've noticed about free software that differs vastly from the projects I've worked on in the commercial world is that with free software there is usually a push to do something right, even if it means waiting a while for a feature. With the bounties I've seen thus far, the mentality seems to be the commercial "do it as quickly as possible" idea. Granted, a lot of the bounties are for stuff no one really wants to do, so something is probably better than nothing, but it might also be nice to have rewards for those who do things well.

    Tasks like removing dead code, simplifying existing code, etc are tasks that the commercial world seldom does with its software ("if it ain't broke...") but it's something that keeps open source code maintainable. It might be a good idea to set up some of these bounties in terms of rewards, such that projects could once a year give something to people who not only added features to a project, but who improved the quality of a project. The bounties going out now are great, but expanding them to support quality and innovation would be really, really great.
    • Except the 'features that no one wants to do' thing is easier than 'optimize this code so it works better' thing. Though most projects let you donate to the developers. Also I think most of the bounties are setup by end users that get together and want a new feature added that the main developers don't really want to spend the time to do (maybe are more intrested in optimizing). I think some use a system similar to bug track, except you vote for the things you want with your money.
    • The thing is that even if you work on a bounty you still have to do it in such a way that the maintainers will accept it, which means it also has to meet a general level of quality and cannot juse be thrown together.
  • This is a sign of what supporters of Open Source have been saying - that real companies are getting real value by using open source. It is cheaper for them to pay for a feature to be added to some open source software than to have proprietary software developed to their specifications. Licenses like GPL make it compulsory for those companies to contribute those changes back to the community, but unless you're in the software business this is really not a disadvantage at all. Open source lets you pay less to get the features you need and *still* reap the Public Relations benefits of having "contributed to the community". Sounds like a CEO's dream!
    • This is a sign of what supporters of Open Source have been saying - that real companies are getting real value by using open source. It is cheaper for them to pay for a feature to be added to some open source software than to have proprietary software developed to their specifications. Licenses like GPL make it compulsory for those companies to contribute those changes back to the community, but unless you're in the software business this is really not a disadvantage at all.

      I would have to disagree wi

  • There have been a few examples of fundraising drives for paying a developer to implement features (BSD I think), but has anyone seen any examples of a pledge drive towards funding an open source program feature?

    I'm thinking of a pledge drive where I put my credit card down for the pledge and when enough money is pledged, all the pending pledges are "fulfilled" (to use the commercial sales nomenclature).

    A pledge drive like this has the benefit making me more likely to pledge, since I know my money will

    • There have been donation drives to buy out an app and make it open source. Well, one, and that was Blender. I think it was more Tom Roosendaal wanting to see how many people were serious, and he used the money to start the Blender Foundation. It's certainly benefited since then.

      Nlnet recently dropped 70 grand on the Perl Foundation for work on Parrot.

      I don't think paying for individual features is really what you want. If the developer didn't have it in their roadmap, chances are the app wasn't design
  • What if I work on a feature with the expectation of getting the bounty, only to find it claimed before I'm done?

    I'm assuming this is an attempt to speed development of some features, nothing more

  • by ultimabaka ( 864222 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:22PM (#12492100)
    I'm not a CS grad, nor do I have any programming knowledge at all, but as a college graduate with no job, seeing this article raises a few questions for me: (I'm in a different field but with a similar predicament)

    (1) How do the taxes on these "bounties" work out? Are you considered an independent contractor with your own 1199, or do payroll taxes kick in?

    (2) Can CS grads who can't find jobs now use open source projects as a basis of experience, and can they not put the experience on their resume? Before, saying "I helped program XYZ chunk of Firefox" didn't really seem to mean too much on a resume, since there was no one over there you could ask to verify this. But now, if someone over there is willing to pay you cash, is there now a paper trail involved? i.e.: Can you now put down ABC's name on your resume as a reference if his payroll office paid you to build that XYZ chunk of Firefox? If you now could, this option could definitely help a lot of the unemployed CS people gain valuable experience.

    Granted, I may not know what I'm talking about, but I'm just wondering. A lot.
    • IMO, Your best bet would be to incorporate (also serves to protect you in contractual agreement) and file your taxes for your income through that. LLC would allow you to limit your tax liability.
    • Actually generally in the changelog it would say that you contributed those changes along with your e-mail address, probably if the name matches, and you can prove thats your e-mail address that should be more than enough.
  • Is it time to consider quitting my day job to do open source development full time?

    The answer is obviously: Depends how many of those damn bounties you intend to earn!

    Seriously, don't let us talk you out of it. If you can pay your mortgage with bug/feature bounties, then millions of people will surely thank you.

  • How about a p2p style standard to publish these bounties out where anyone and everyone can find them, work on them and submit responses.
  • Wanted Dead Or Alive

    Fugitive Name: Clippy

    Bounty: $10,000

    Details: For causing the Great Depression.
    The Great Depression was a period of er, depression, among PC users. Clippy was known to smirk and annoy users who required genuine help. Many of the victims suffered brain damage and voted for George W. Bush. Clippy is known to travel naked and was last seen on Microsoft Windows (see Bill Gates wanted poster).

  • by Frying Ferret ( 557022 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:35PM (#12492228)
    Along the same lines, a new company LxM Media [] has started up. They will be offering data services for MythTv [] as well as paying the Myth developers. From what I undstand, you pay $5/month, and you get bounty points to spend durring the month by putting them towards a specific feature or plugin. They will then pay the myth developer who implements the most popular function.
    • You get more than bounty points with the subscription, too. As I understand it, about 40-50% of the subscription fee will be given back to the community in the form of bounties (the rest goes to cover the costs of the extra features you get, like movie times).

      The bounty system isn't in place yet, but I'm personally looking forward to it. It'll let me make a little extra money on projects I already invest a lot of my time in, as well as hopefully bring in more help for those things I won't have time/desi

  • Missing the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jsebrech ( 525647 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:39PM (#12492264)
    Aren't these bounties missing the point?

    It seems to me the biggest lacking in OSS is not the featureset, it is the usability of that featureset. Take gimp for example. It's an excellent image editor. It has every feature I need. And yet I keep getting drawn back to photoshop when I need to get real work done, because gimp is such a PITA to use (less so than it used to be admittedly, but still not anywhere near what it could be).

    This pattern for me is repeated over and over in almost all OSS projects. The few open source products I use on a daily basis and like are all centrally designed, with one person, or a few people, dictating the entire user-visible interface, like with firefox.

    The total lack of usability progress in the vast majority of OSS projects is what made me give up on linux on the desktop. Yeah, it's fine to tinker, and yes, it does anything you need. But to get real work done it just gets in my way.

    I don't mean to flame-bait, but that's my honest opinion. And I think if someone really wants to promote open source software, they are better off investing their resources in convincing projects to appoint design czars who have absolute control over the user-visible part of the software. Even a poorly done single-person design is still better than a methodically executed design by committee. These bounties for me are missing the point, and won't really matter in the end.

    Anyway, imho ofcourse.
    • Perhaps maybe that's why Apple charges for each copy of their software. I think you are right, usability in the open source world is an after thought if at all.

      However, things are stumbling along torwards better usability. I find Mepis linux very usable, partly because KDE is _nothing_ like it was a couple of years ago. So I would say there is hope.

      I think part of it is because usability requires a large amount of "grunt programming" that is a lot of work and takes a while to get done. And there is not a
    • The total lack of usability progress in the vast majority of OSS projects ... These bounties for me are missing the point

      Isn't the idea of a bounty perfectly consistent with the points you make or imply:

      1. The UI needs improvement.
      2. I {can't be bothered}/{don't know how} to improve it myself.

      One obvious response: Offer an incentive to make the necessary improvements: A bounty! Seems like you're describing the premise and failing to see a fitting solution.

      You also omit mention of the massive neg

  • I always think about NetBeans and Eclipse and how they are both these OSS projects that are funded by large companies. Most of the code for these projects has been written by developers on the dole from either Sun or IBM. The question is, why should companies like IBM or Sun limit themselves to the pool of developers they have working in-house? I currently work as a developer 40+ hours a week, and while I have ideas for features to contribute and bugs I would like to see fixed in these products, I can't
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @04:43PM (#12492304)
    "Is it time to consider quitting my day job to do open source development full time?"

    One word.....YES!

    On a totally unrelated note, could you please provide me with the contact info for your company's hiring manager?

  • Oct. 29 2004,16:31 (Post by Gamester17)

    Donations for DVD-menu in XBMC campaign

    We have had this idea in mind for a while and were planning to kick of this campaign at a later date but after a recent post in mplayer-dev mailing-list we have decided to bring forward the announcement. The 'donations for DVD-menu in XBMC campaign' basic concept is to encourage XBMC end-users to make donations (via PayPal) into a fund in order to motivate the XBMC developers to prioritize programming DVD-Video menu/navigation
  • Want to add stability, a professional look and feel, extensibility, and a strong underlying core technology to GNOME?

    It already exists. It is called KDE.
  • by pjkundert ( 597719 ) * on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @06:04PM (#12493133) Homepage's a mechanism for organizing "all or nothing" funding for any venture (including funding of Open Source development projects: []

    This really is one of the most interesting things I've seen developed on the 'net in a long, long time.

    It has, of course, heaps of utility beyond just funding development of pet projects...

  • by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @06:56PM (#12493566) Homepage
    This is what the Public Software Fund [] does. Write up a bounty and pledge some amount for it. If nobody will do it for that amount of money, talk your friends into pledging more money .... until somebody decides it's enough to write the code.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant