Elementary OS and payments
Elementary OS has attracted a lot of attention lately. But a controversy is brewing over how the distro developers are setting up their new site for payments by users. The Elementary OS site is being redesigned to encourage users to pay for the distro. But should the Elementary OS developers expect a payment in the first place?
The Elementary OS site explains the perspective of the developers:
We want users to understand that they’re pretty much cheating the system when they choose not to pay for software. We didn’t exclude a $0 button to deceive you; we believe our software really is worth something. And it’s not like we’re making money to buy yachts; currently the only people who have received money for working on elementary OS have been community members through our bounty program.
It’s about asking a fair price to offset the costs of development. It’s about securing the future of elementary OS to ensure we can keep making software that millions of people love and use every day.
elementary is under no obligation to release our compiled operating system for free download. We’ve invested money into its development, hosting our website, and supporting users. However, we understand the culture that currently surrounds open source: users tend to feel entitled to the full, compiled releases of software at zero cost. While we could rightfully disallow free downloads, someone else could take our open source code, compile it, and give it away for free. So there’s no point in completely disallowing it.
But we should discourage it.
As you might imagine, the stance of the Elementary OS developers hit a nerve with Linux users on Reddit. And they weren't shy about sharing their opinions:
Q5sys: "If you expect to be paid for your coding work, then don't VOLUNTEER on any project.
EDIT: They have silently edited their page.
Before the edit: http://i.imgur.com/WAeS4JU.png
After the edit: http://i.imgur.com/BJ8MRlh.jpg"
Clintonswat: "Better option is to just paywall the binaries and write good documentation for bootstrapping the source. But you better be prepared for the consequences of doing that."
Yetanothernewbie: "Feeling like they are entitled to payment for their work--totally fine by my book. They do a lot of work from scratch and there is no denying that. Wording it the way they did? Kind of obnoxious, but also incorrect. If they give the software for free, then it's not cheating. Piracy would be cheating the system. "
Ventomareiro: "That was very badly written. Their point is that the flow in their website would explicitly make users say “no, I will not give you guys any money”. Hopefully that would make people think a bit. I agree with their goals and implementation, but ElementaryOS itself is living proof that there isn't enough of a market in making a quality GNU/Linux distribution."
WhyIsArt: "Most users will have various expectations of the OS, and when something breaks, they'll be like "WTF, goddamn developer". In other words, the user has an expectation of the developer having an obligation towards them. Is it unfair for the developer to say "if I have an obligation to you, then you have an obligation to me"?"
Devosion: "That line, along with how they have set up their download, made me not want to download or support elementary OS. And it's not about cheating the system, it's about supporting foss and contributing to the community. It's the reason I downloaded Ubuntu, Crunchbang, Arch, etc. I think it's fine that there are distributions out there that you either pay for, or can donate to, but you usually get something out of it, like personalized tech support in the case of Red Hat. The message and the way this is presented feels like they are trying to make you buy their guilt trip.
The could have also just added a recommendation to donate instead of this, and even a notification if they would like to donate before downloading wouldn't be unheard of. But the message and the way this is done leaves a bad taste in my mouth."
SaladWithHotDogsInIt: "They are right. I donated $10 to debian in their honor."
And there was also an even larger thread on Reddit that spawned more than six hundred comments by redditors on both sides of the issue.
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