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Re: [DotGNU]DotGNU and business

From: Boris Kolar
Subject: Re: [DotGNU]DotGNU and business
Date: Tue, 9 Jul 2002 20:29:59 +0200

> > I suppose that is to be expected when you try and mix politics with
> > commercial business plans for a Free Software base.
> I'm now convinced that it's better not to mix them up.

I think a good business model is essential to success. Note that proprietary 
software often provides better quality than free
software. For example: Linux is still not better (or at least not 
*significantly* better) than Windows.

In the area of entertainment (like computer gaming), free software is a clear 
looser. Still, I can see possibility for progress even
there: US Army released a freeware (but not free) game "America's Army" a few 
days ago, which is quite good and is becoming very
popular very fast. There is no fundamental reason why army wouldn't help 
finance development of a free 3d engine, just to name one

> However, the events that caused most of the "core group" of
> FreeDevelopers to become totally and permanently frustrated
> with the person who made all the decisions in FreeDevelopers,

I always had the impression, that FreeDevelopers is a democratic entity without 
a single person making all decisions. And if it's
not, it should be - I believe having something like FreeDevelopers is a very 
good idea.

> Here are the three main goals of the DotGNU project:

One of the important goals should be to provide interoperability between java 
and .net. That would be a huge competitive advantage.

> working on Free Software.  I have plans for starting an
> organisation which can replace FreeDevelopers in this respect.)

Great! Commercial aspects are cruical to success, as we have all seen so many 
times. I was thinking in this direction:

Let's introduce a new license (with RMS's blessing, I hope), that is free and 
compatible with GPL (I call it CGPL, C=Commercial, for
now). With addition that users ("members" of free software community) would 
have to contribute at least 1% of their income (or
nothing if their income is too low) to enjoy extra benefits, like free 
SourceForge-like account, MSPassport-like (but better!)
service, community support, newsletters, free web hosting and mail address, 
etc. Basically, the idea is:
- if you want to be a member, you should donate at least 1% of your income to 
the community (or nothing if your income is low);
salaries are not checked, so it's purely a moral obligation; the amount of any 
member's donation is kept secret by default
- every member would have a moral obligation to distribute "virtual dollars" 
(which he has infinite) to projects he would like to
support; distribution of virtual dollars is totally anonymous; real money is 
distributed to projects in the same proportion as
virtual dollars; default value is decided by developer
- if you want support for *any* free software (under license CGPL), you should 
be a member, so members get all, non-members nothing;
you can't get support for just one CGPL product (or at least members should 
have higher priority for support)
- if you're caught violating membership agreement (for example, if Bill Gates 
becomes a member and donates only $100 monthly, which
is obviously less than 1% of his income), the community has the right to 
publicly label that person immoral (the trick is that
member must agree to that definition of morality to join the community).
- if you want to be known as *supporter* of free software community, you should 
be a member; you can't claim to "support" free
software without being a member; this would prevent comanies saying they 
"support" free software but in reality only offer
proprietary software and never contribute anything to community
- you can use CGPL software in proprietary software, but in this case, you must 
pay the author *real* (not virtual) dollars to
obtain the license; the license cost is decided by author and stated in virtual 
dollars; by default: v$1 (1 virtual dollar) = $1

Of course, the community would also do other business activities, like buying 
copyright of proprietary software and transform it to
GPL (or CGPL), doing business with goverments, etc.

Just think about what a global community of highly-motivated developers could 
do! We can then start making Star Trek real!

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