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Submission + - Why Open Source Projects Can't Compete With Commercial Products (

archmcd writes: Claire from takes a look at two puzzling UI design decisions from two separate OSS projects and explores why the developers' egos prevent them from competing with more responsive commercial products that actively solicit and consider the feedback from their user base. Pidgin back in 2006 decided to abolish the manually resizable input box, and Firefox more recently changed the behavior of the quit function in its OS X version, puzzlingly in a way inconsistent with its behavior in other modern operating systems.

Comment Re:Its $4.00!!!! (Score 1) 371

As I mentioned in another comment, just because you can doesn't inherently mean you should.

Would you really want to see a precedent set where people start charging arbitrary amounts just for the luxury of acquiring compiled binaries for OSS applications in Windows, Android, iOS, or anywhere else? It seems like that attitude would go against the spirit of the law, so to speak...

Comment Re:Its $4.00!!!! (Score 1) 371

It's not at all that I "can't afford $4". My interest was more over the price relative to the average price of apps on Google Play. Most simple applications (e.g. those that are not highly specialized or released through large commercial entities like Adobe, who has things like Photoshop Touch for $10) are very inexpensive - around a dollar and change.

If the developer's rationale behind his price is to cover the cost of his efforts in compiling DOSBox for Android and adding a few new options in the application preferences, then yes, $4 is pretty high relative to what the customer base expects of Google Play pricing. Remember when Apple announced that the most popular tracks in iTunes were going up to $1.29 instead of $0.99? It's not a big price increase, but it was still thirty cents more than anyone expected to pay, which in the context of individual music tracks, adds up pretty quickly.

If all you're doing is compiling someone else's source for your chosen platform, particularly if minimal effort is involved, then how much is too much to reasonably charge for your efforts? If it costs you nothing to release your binaries, then is it in the spirit of the FOSS community to charge as much as $4 just for the privilege of obtaining those binaries?

Comment OP here... (Score 2) 371

There was some good discussion on the firehose article prior to this making the front page.

While I will absolutely agree that I misunderstood my initial reading of the GPL v2 text, I think there does seem to maybe be a gap in licensing options for FOSS developers. I do a little software development for fun (I am by no means a programmer; I know a little C# and used to actively develop a number of addons for a popular MMO using Lua), but that's it. Even then, I don't personally like the idea that someone else might take my weeks or months of work, tweak it a bit, and start turning a profit on it.

Obviously, the easiest solution is to just not release your source code - but there's a lot to be gained from letting others see your source, learn from it, make suggestions or patches, etc. So are there any open source licensing models currently in use in the real world that allow for source and binary distribution but prohibit profiting off of doing so? Can such a license (essentially a contract) be legally enforced?

Even if it's legally permissible to charge for compilation, distribution, or even modification of GPLed source, up to and including putting DRM or other anti-piracy measures in the compiled binaries, does that necessarily make it okay? OSS is very much community-driven. Is the general consensus that because people can profit off someone else's work, they should? I'm more interested in these aspects of the original question. I've already had an interesting enough e-mail exchange with the developer of DOSBox Turbo and learned enough about his perspective on the matter. I think the bigger question is how we as developers and users look at GPL in general and whether or not it's the open source panacea I more or less believed it was (whoops).

Comment The slow death of manual labor (Score 2) 602

One of the things that has drastically changed since the industrial revolution is the distribution of blue-collar vs. white-collar jobs. As others have pointed out, society's industrialization made the average desk job much more common, rather than reserved for the wealthy elite in business.

As rote, tedious, manual work is automated, there will be even more of a need for positions requiring education. Rather than dropping out of high school in a podunk town in northern Indiana just to go work at an auto factory for the rest of your life, it will be much more valuable to go to college, get a real degree (that is, an education that promotes critical thinking, math and science, and the skills required in those who will design and support and troubleshoot all this new automation technology, not a liberal arts degree that succeeds in little more than teaching you how to be politically correct and "feel" more), and make yourself useful as the world around you continues to evolve.

It is absolutely logical that businesses are going to move more and more toward automation. The cost of labor is high - not just the paychecks, but the benefits, the insurance, the constant evaluations by OSHA to ensure save work environments (not a bad thing, but even a small accidental slip-up can be costly to a large business), and unionization. Machines will never demand a raise, they'll never demand "collective bargaining rights", and they'll never insist on a pension plan. All these are pervasive in the world of manual labor employment - far more than what is commonly seen in white-collar desk jobs.

I think that Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory makes a very good point - Charlie Bucket's father loses his job assembling tubes of toothpaste after his employer buys a robot to do the work. However, the company quickly realizes that they need people who can support and repair those robots, and they hire Mr. Bucket with a better job and better pay, doing something that a robot can't do.

It's a myth that the plebes in society are incapable of getting an education and a real career. Start working on computers. Start working on cars. Learn a trade and become a plumber or an electrician. These jobs aren't going anywhere. We will always need people to fix our toilets and our laptops and our vehicles. We will see an increasing need for people who can engineer new technology, market it, and support it. These are the skills we should be encouraging the next generation of workers to focus on.

Comment Re:Selling software (Score 1) 12

Perhaps, but that's part of my original question - where do you draw the line? GPL doesn't specify what the charges for a piece of software are supposed to cover, so a seller can legally charge whatever he wants and claim that it's for distribution, value-added services, support, etc. Obviously someone charging $100 for a hard copy of the GIMP is overcharging, but they can do it if they want - and if people are stupid enough to pay for it. It's a bigger problem with derivative works. How much is too much when determining a price for a derivative of GPLed source? There may not be set rules, but is there precedent?

Comment Re:GPL doesn't mean must give the source to everyo (Score 1) 12

Well, with Google Play apps, the buyer automatically gets updates AFAIK, unless the developer releases an updated version as an entirely new app. So it would seem that buying the app once should theoretically entitle you to updated source until the developer decides he's sick of it and sets up a new app for his next release.

Comment Of course, this is a violation of Apple's EULA... (Score 1) 4

"2. Permitted License Uses and Restrictions. >> A. This License allows you to install and use one copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-labeled computer at a time." See Not saying I agree with it at all (I think it's ridiculous), but it's there.

Submission + - Darling: Run Apple OS X Binaries On Linux ( 4

An anonymous reader writes: After having Wine to run Windows binaries on Linux, there is now the Darling Project that allows users to run unmodified Apple OS X binaries on Linux. The project builds upon GNUstep and has built the various frameworks/libraries to be binary compatible with OSX/Darwin. The project is still being worked on as part of an academic thesis but is already running basic OS X programs.

Comment Re:GPL doesn't mean must give the source to everyo (Score 1) 12

I've been reading up on the text of GPL v2 and all the FAQs provided to clarify what the license does and does not allow - I certainly can't deny the above is true. However, one of the individuals selling his distribution of DOSBox states that he will not provide the source code. I suspect that, at least, is a violation, particularly if he refuses to provide the source to people who have paid for his application. What sort of allowances are provided for when a developer updates his source? If derivative works must be released under the same GPL, wouldn't it go to follow that any updates to that derivative must also provide the source (upon request)?

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