Open Source is all about choice

By | February 10, 2010

Josh commented;

First, thank you for the original 1.12 contribution [of discount coupons]. It is a very simple, and very easy to follow install. I have been reading for hours all over your site, mostly about the contribution, but I tend to go off on tangents when I see other topics of interest (like the trademark issue).

Anywa, like I said, I’ve been reading about your contribution all day, mostly on your site. What I don’t understand is your attitude (please don’t take offense, it’s the only word I could think of) towards sharing your code. I consider myself an intermediate php programmer, with intermediate oscommerce skills and knowledge (far from advanced on both accounts), so I don’t understand why you keep telling people “I have new great code, and you can buy it, but only if you give me access to your installation and let me install it myself, I will not let anyone else install it.”

The only thing I can think of is that it’s a support issue and you don’t want to answer the hundreds of questions that are bound to follow when you give someone the code and let them try to install it. But I’m with Tai Kahn when I say that I would not want you (or anyone else) installing anything into any of my websites. You made a (what I took as, sarcastic) comment to him (above) saying “when you are ready to start trusting, come back”, but I think that’s a poor attitude for someone who keeps mentioning “paying projects” in many of their blogs (and comments).

If someone like Tai or myself were willing to pay you the same rate that you’re charging to do the install, for simply emailing us the code, why would you scoff at that? Why can’t you simply make the sale with the simple condition that you will not offer any help installing it? I’m sure if the new contribution is as easy to install as v1.12, you wouldn’t hear any more than “thanks” from people who are confident that they can install it themselves.

Now, instead of just buying your code, I’m going to have to take hours to modify v1.12 code to do what you’ve already written. If this was an issue of money, I could understand, but it doesn’t seem to be, so I really don’t understand your point of view. Can you please explain it to me (and everyone else who reads this? In fact, I think this would actually be worthy of getting it’s own blog topic. I’m sure you have many readers who don’t read every blog and all of their comments, so making this a new blog topic would make it visible to everyone.

Again, thank you for the original contribution that you were actually willing to share.

Josh, no offence taken, and I hope you will not take offence at my answer and understand my viewpoint…

Open Source is all about choice. I’ts my choice to relese code in any way I see fit. As you already know the v1.2 is a very simple install – yet I get between 5 and 10 support requests daily…if I go on to release a codebase that is 5 times bigger and harder to install, how many support requests might I get? 20 per day, 30? It’s not viable for me to even look at so many emails…

So, that brings me to YOUR choices. You choose to disallow me access to your shop admin, and that’s OK! Your choice therefore is to use a different discount system, or to use the v1.2 as you already are and update it – that’s great – would be better if, after you update it, you then contribute it back to the community and support it.

You may have noticed that my contribution total stands at around 40 to 50 – guess how many people have actually emailed me over the past 10 years to say “hey thanks for contribution XYZ, it really helped me”. You could count the number on the fingers of 1 hand. But that’s unimportant and is a side-issue. Many more people have thanked me for taking the time to install and support after payment!

As you rightly say, it’s not about the money – $50 doesn’t come close to covering my time to install and support, but it sorts out the people who are serious about their business, compared to those who are not.

So, my choice is to release this only with installation.
And your choice is to accept that, or not.

It seems a fair and equitable way to make the vast majority of people realise that Open Source does not mean Free.

5 thoughts on “Open Source is all about choice

  1. Gary Post author

    To the “user” who prefers to remain anonymous on IP address ; if you don’t have the balls to post with your real details, don’t post at all.

  2. james

    what josh misses is that you sell a service not just code, along with all the bells and whistles that go with it.

  3. Josh


    You are incorrect, I did not miss that he is selling a service. If you read my original post, you will see that I am not interested in the service he is selling, I am only interested in the code that he alludes to want to contribute. I understand that the $50 is for the installation of the contribution. But I (along with other developers) think that I am more than capable of taking a pre-written contribution, with or without installation instructions, and making it work on my (several) heavily modified stores.

    The point of my original post was that I will not give anyone else access to any of my servers or installations – and I’m not the only one that feels that way. If Gary didn’t want to give away his v5 code for free, I understood that. I simply wrote him because I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t even sell the v5 code to anyone with the understanding that it is not allowed to be redistributed or shared, and that he will not offer any support if he doesn’t install it himself.

    So James, if he is selling the v5 installation as a service, and he isn’t selling the actual code, and he gave away the code for v1.12, then it doesn’t make sense logically to say that he would not give away, or even sell the code for v5.

  4. Gary Post author

    Josh – you are completely missing the point about “choice”. It’s my choice to release this only with installation – it works for me and it works for the people who have it so far. It’s your choice to say “ok”, or “no thanks”. It’s that simple.

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