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Supermike Decides To Go GPL, Afterall

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supermike's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-17

Mark April 23, 2006 as the day I finally decided to go 100% GPL. However, my story with you all begins here.

My wife is a driving force in my life. She is my judge and jury, sometimes. She is my banker and partial financier. She pays all my bills and I help bring 60% of the cash home. She is an extremely intelligent but practical woman. She knows that I, like many of you here, am an intelligent and wildly creative person with an entrepreneurial spirit. After much talk from libervisco and a_thing, and the guys over at lxer.com as well, I have spent long hours sharing these views with my wife and one of my huge projects I've been working on for several years. I also made the cases about Richard Stallman, Marc Fleury, and the founders of many other huge software projects. She was a tough sell.

However, to my surprise, she did a 180 degree about-face and told me she wants me to get my project out and go GPL. She and I believe that by using the GPL rather than other licenses, I can gain an even wider acceptance and perhaps have some backing from the EFF if I were ever sued by the evil patent trolls. (Which is another reason why GPL is wildly popular -- big business has a better chance to trust a certain software package is going to stick around if it has the EFF defending it. The EFF has a proven track record.)

She wants me to take something halfway between the Libervis approach and the Stallman approach to releasing it.

She said:

* I can understand the viral idea effect of free software, and charging for everything else. Let's see how much interest this huge project you've been working on will generate.

* It is better to release an idea that you've been working so hard on for all these years to see if it generates any interest, perhaps enough interest to even pay you to customize it.

* Perhaps like Marc [Fleury], you can potentially grow a niche market, even if only a slightly profitable one, until some bigger company loves the idea so much that they want to buy you out or merge you in with theirs. (My note: this Synergy goes back to something important I read called Selling, Services, Subsidization, and Synergy from Dharmesh Shah.)

* If it does not generate interest, then at least you can move on and nothing from nothing leaves nothing.

* Moving on to other projects may, in fact, lead to something that sticks and may become profitable through indirect means.

* You have many other ideas and you're not able to capitalize on them because of this big fish. What if you finally had the chance to work out all your ideas? What other kinds of cool relationships and happenings could come of that?

So, I was a tough sell, and my wife was an even tougher sell, but we now see the light and I plan to finish my 0.5 beta of my big project within about 2 months and get it out.

I hope this inspires you to think about that with your future decisions. Thanks all to nuxified.org for keeping the FLOSS faith, remaining fair and rational, and keeping a deep sense of integrity.

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21

Have you considered the "release early, release often" concept? If you already get bug reports or even patches before your application is finished into the details, it's easier to find the bugs because they're definitely not in any of the code you haven't written yet. Getting feature requests early is also useful, because features that have been added late tend to be crappy hacks instead of well designed (the feature has to fit the design instead of the other way around).

All this of course works best with software that is both GPL and easy to install.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04

This is great news supermike! I also think it is the right decision.

Also, what tbuitenh said, when you allow community to get involved early you can only benefit.

I think that with enough interest and community participation with the release of your software under GPL its development will accelerate.

dylunio's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-20

Grand to hear you've got GPL,

I'll third tbuitenh on letting the community view the code and correct bugs and so forth.

dylunio

supermike's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-17

tbuitenh: Yeah, heard of that. It's more a matter of embarassment than anything else. Somedays on these long commutes I have, I drive down the road and realize I've made a really big blunder and must work a massive change through the app or it will get nowhere. That's where I'm at, working a new customers table through the system. It's like looking at an insanely cool engine in my garage, but all the parts are all over the floor. I don't want to be known as that kind of guy. I need to get this last major change worked through and then get myself super-organized. I have a company and a community to build. It's going to take some time.

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21

Only bad programmers think they write good code ;-) . Of course a release requires some cleaning up, but don't listen to your own embarassment too much.

a thing's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-20

Glad to hear the GNUs Eye

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