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SuperMike Introduction

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supermike's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-17

> You can tell us something about yourself, what do you do, where do you
> come from and how did you find out about Nuxified.org. You can be as
> extensive about yourself in your introductory post or as brief as you wish.

I am a father and husband, living in the USA, somewhat of a geek behind a keyboard most of the time, and am EXTREMELY creative. (My creativity is both a blessing and a curse.)

I have jumped over to the world of Linux after being stabbed in the back four years ago by Microsoft Consulting on a programming gig in Rhode Island. I had worked in the Microsoft world as a contractor direct at their facility in Charlotte, and then at Avanade (partially owned by them) in Manhattan, so I know a great deal about the Dark Side. Microsoft is very fraternal and has more infighting than many companies I know. If you know the careerbuilder.com commercials with the monkeys listening to the guy doing the presentation, then you know what I'm talking about.

Some thoughts entered my head then. Whether these are true or not, I may never know. But this is what I was thinking back about 4 years ago...

* Microsoft consulting people are mean. The Linux / Unix people I know are nice. (Again, that's a feeling I had 4 years ago and is largely generalizing.)

* I don't like the direction of VS.NET. It makes some things far easier to use, but other things it makes 3 times as hard and I'm left scratching my head on why Microsoft did this. I also learned that there are some things that VS.NET does that are SLOWER than ASP programming, XML parsing, etc., with older APIs and older programming languages. I also didn't like having to pay for Microsoft's programming platform every year -- it was getting my wife quite mad at me.

* Linux is getting easier and easier to use. Windows is getting more and more complex. Just chasing down places where spyware can hide, such as the Browser Helper Objects key in the registry, makes one wonder if Windows is really all that sweet anymore. Plus, Windows code is not really getting more efficient and having as large a peer review compared to Linux.

* Microsoft has a complete lack of focus on security compared to Linux.

* Microsoft got too greedy and I could even start to "feel" their greed. It was a huge turnoff when there were other alternatives out there.

Since moving to Linux, I have migrated to Ubuntu and seem to have found a very happy home. I learn Linux things with it extremely fast but am not perfect.

After the dot bomb thing, I relocated my family to a very tiny small town where people are more interested in hunting and farming than anything else. I only moved here because my wife grew up here and she could be closer to her family. Besides, the children could go to a fantastic school system here. When she inherited free land, we threw all our retirement savings into our house. We ended up with a mansion of a house. But then I got backstabbed in Rhode Island on a contracting gig and I gave up on flying around on contracting gigs. I had to settle down and take a lower paying job. I started working as an ASP programmer at a job that's an hour away, but then we had rumors at this startup company that we might be acquired. The new acquisition would mean that all our stuff would move to Linux. I decided that since the acquisition process was going to take about 4 months, and since everything was in limbo with my job, that I would take the time to learn Linux, PHP, and PostgreSQL. I was THRILLED, to say the least. I could instantly think that I was going to get quite wealthy off this stuff.

We finally were acquired by a huge global company and I've been with them for 3 years now. My pay is starting to ratchet up again, but it's still about $35K less than I made in the dot com era. Unfortunately I've had to switch from my programming to career to sysop work because of global market dynamics. I don't like the longer hours with sysop work. I think I'm also highly underutilized by not using my programming skills. Unfortunately, that's the way the company wanted to call it, so I had to play along. At least I get to type Linux commands most of the time and have the freedom to boot up on any Linux OS that I want. At least I don't have to work with Microsoft consultants or do any Visual Studio.NET programming -- ack, ack, spit, spit.

At night is where the fun begins. I want to become a millionaire and have something that actually is so productive that it pulls me away from my day job. I've been working for four years developing a great web app. I've been embarassed by my early code work and am always thinking of doing things better, so that's one reason I haven't taken a Bazaar model to development. I've also not really had the time for a lot of interaction on its development but needed to get something finished, so that's another reason why I've used a more Cathedral-style of development. Eventually I plan to sell this software because my wife doesn't understand the benefits and the concept of free software. She wants me to maximize profit quickly since I have wasted all these nights and weekends building this web app project. Perhaps I need coaching here.

Overall, I like being a nice guy to people, never accusatory, bitter, or on the attack. I would rather ignore that type of person. I like helping new people. I like pointing out ways that Linux is so much better than Microsoft without the discussion going into a futile troll war, which I avoid.

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

Hello! From the posts you've already made, it seems you know quite a lot Smiling

Selling free software can be okay.
Also RMS used to support himself by people paying to raise priority for/add things to Emacs. (forgot source)

supermike's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-17
Going naked for the first time

Selling free software can be okay.

The article seems to focus on convincing developers to give the software away but also permit them to charge a fee for the distribution of it and the payment to existing developers. If they don't want to pay, they don't have to. But if they do, everyone benefits.

Sounds tempting because I do see some benefits:

* Viral marketing. Wow man, it's free and you should download it too.

* If also open source in addition to being free, then you have potential developer review and help.

* Free beta testing.

* You sell on volume. Because it's got viral marketing, it's potentially far more widespread than without that. But in order to make ends meet, you have to hope that you sell to 50% of that increased volume (or the largest percentage you can).

* In many cases, you can beat out Microsoft if they want to compete with you.

However, developing and marketing free software *can* feel like standing naked in a wet, cold, dark room right before someone turns on the lights. You just don't know what to expect. That feels scary to me. I've never done this before.

My wife is a hard-sell on new, untraditional ideas. She's also dabbled in IT a little in previous jobs and sort of knows some of these concepts I'm expressing to her. All she knows is that I've spent 4 years so far on a project, spending my nights and weekends away from her and the kids occasionally (50% of the time), and she wants me to get paid for that or it's all for naught.

There's also cost for web server hosting, bandwidth consumption (and cost) on all these free downloads, etc. Take a look at the owner of SugarCRM.com. The guy is having to fork out a lot of cash to keep up with web download demand. But are the demands being supported properly by customers who do choose to pay? He's not telling. Of course, he's not really in a position where he can tell us -- marketing sometimes is like playing poker where you don't want to show your cards, or it's like Oz with the man behind the curtain. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

supermike's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-17
What about...

If optionally giving away software for free to non-paying customers sounds scary, then perhaps I could sell the software as non-free for awhile, start to feel like I've gotten a bit of a return on my 4 year investment of time into this, and then turn around and make it free/donationware so that it could really take off farther than I could do on my own?

Are there too many negative effects to this?

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

About the bandwidth, BitTorrent.

You could offer support and/or setup services.

EDIT: Saw your new post. Even if it's still just temporary, nonfree software isn't right.

dylunio's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-20

Welcome supermike!

As for making money out of software and keeping it free softwrae, you can either sell the free software as a thing has suggested, or you can sell services regarding the web app (since I don't know what it does I have no idea what these services could be). There are examples of companies that have writtin free software, which is free to download, but the company makes it's money out of customizing and tailoring the softwrae for the people who want to use it.

I wish you luck with the program.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04

Welcome aboard supermike!

"supermike" wrote:

The article seems to focus on convincing developers to give the software away but also permit them to charge a fee for the distribution of it and the payment to existing developers. If they don't want to pay, they don't have to. But if they do, everyone benefits.

I think that "giving it away" wouldn't be the right term to describe it as it still somehow implies that the software must be free of charge, while it is infact all about freedom of software users.

I don't think that this article is just about convincing developers to "give software away". It merely states the fact which is confirmed not by that single article, but the whole Free Software "system" to call it that way. GNU GPL license allows you to distribute software for a price and the Free Software Definition clearly states that it is not a matter of price, but freedom.

That said, Free Software is not against business at all nor is it non-commercial as some people mistakenly call it. It can very well be commercial and it can very well be in viable business model as well. Proprietary software development model is not so much easier than Free Software business model, actually, because you still have to develop something good and convince people to pay for it and you even have certain obstacles to the widespread adoption of your software which stem exactly from the fact it is proprietary, people can't share, people can't look at the code if they want to see how it works or fix something, add a feature, contribute, whatever.. with proprietary software you are the only one with powers upon the software you developed and I think that this is not an advantage, but a big disadvantage as people who you could have cooperated with you on it are just simply cut off.

Free Software is all about cooperation as freedoms that it guarantees are basically all essential freedom ones need to cooperate. This cooperation is good for business. Why? Because as you develop your piece of software and distribute it as Free Software you will be able to reuse existing Free Software code in it, utilize help and contributions by other developers and users who would like to cooperate and this way ultimately actually save on both money and time it took you to create the final release. The effort is distributed.

And then once you built this "ecosystem" or a community around your software you can start utilizing one of the Free Software business models to gain some financially. You can offer download of newest versions for a fee and release often which would mean that most often you'll be the only one from whom someone can get the newest version and would therefore have to pay you to get it. You could also charge for support, as dylunio already said. As an original developer you're the one who knows the code best which is why you're the best candidate for offering to custmize your software to any specific needs one may desire or just fix the code and offer help with any problems your user may have - all for a charge. I'm confident that this is a way you can build a succesful business out of Free Software, and one you couldn't build with proprietary software. Others have done it before and are still doing it.

Proprietary software model may seem to be more lucrative, but I don't even think that may be most correct. If you don't develop something interesting enough chances are you'll end up empty handed while if you made it Free Software you could have actually even made something out of it.
But additionally, proprietary software model sacrifices something very important crucial for our society, freedom of computer uses, freedom to cooperate. Distributing software as proprietary is a bad and unhealthy thing for a society and it just shouldn't be done. You have evidence of consequences all around you, starting from Microsoft's monopoly to security and various other kinds of disasters people have been through just because software they used didn't grant them certain essential rights.

Sorry for the long post. I felt the need to throw this out for your consideration. Smiling

Thank you
Daniel

supermike's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-17
"dylunio" wrote:

company makes it's money out of customizing and tailoring the softwrae for the people who want to use it.

Customization takes time. The day job prohibits that.

Moparx's picture
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Joined: 2006-01-28

Welcome to the forum supermike! Smiling

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

I was under the impression that this would eventually take over the day job.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04

Supermike, here's something you might find interesting to read: http://lxer.com/module/newswire/view/54178/index.html

I think this quote is especially important here:

Quote:

"Personally, I see a service model as an even better approach than selling proprietary software and frosted widgets. Why? Because customer satisfaction creates loyal customers, referrals and a robust community."

That's the thing. Proprietary software model wont end up with customers as happy as with the free software support service model. So if you do it right, build a community around your software product and then offer paid support you may very well end up better off than if you've done it the old, traditional and expiring proprietary way. Free software development model is the future by all means, both in business and out of it. Once they realize that they can have more freedom, people always prefer freedom, no matter how we call it (open source, Free Software etc. I call it "Free Software" because it better represents that it's freedom that matters). This is gonna drive proprietary development off the map eventually.

supermike's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-17
profit
"a thing" wrote:

I was under the impression that this would eventually take over the day job.

Yeah, but not cause me to lose it before I actually turn a profit large enough to pay my hefty bills and taxes.

Take for instance that many of the big guys in free software are now well-off because they are having to make a living evangelizing it rather than being focused on the software alone. I can't relate. I just want to write good software, increase my wealth where I could quit the day job, and then form a company supporting it. And for awhile there, these big guys were giving their software away and still being ignored for a bit until someone actually cared. They held down day jobs as sysops or whatever when this occurred. And somewhere down the pike they had this risky day where they had to decide whether they were going to leave the day job and jump full-time into making a living evangelizing free software ideas or growing a startup company. I can't take those kinds of risks. Been there before more than once in my life and I won't go there again. I feel I must turn a profit in a major way to compensate me for all the years of hard work I have put into making this software on Linux. And this profit, rather than my own eagerness, will have to pull me confidently away from my day job, rather than the other way around.

Tell me the story about the Linux programmer who had heavy bills, a family of 4, and who managed without sheer luck to generate an interest in his free software to the point that he could safely leave his day job and jump head on into forming a startup that immediately goes profitable. Now that would be a story I'd like to hear.

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