Since a few month it's relatively easy to offer commercial software through the Ubuntu Software-Center. Why shouldn't this be used to finance open-source projects like the Gimp, Ardour or Openshot and support their development efforts.
Let's Take Brian Lunduke's favorite example: The Gimp. Before I want to make an fundamental assumption: It doesn't conflict with the open-source/free software idea, to sell software, if you publish the source code at the same time.
How could this look like?
For Gimp there are certain plugins, which are not available via the standard package sources and which maintenance is bugging the typical (web-) designer.
Why not offer certain plugin packs in the Ubuntu Software-Center for a fair price? For example, I could imagine a plugin pack, that makes a preselection of special plugins for photo post-production – with features that are not available in Shotwell.
This could be an opportunity for the Gimp team; who's got more competence about Gimp than the Gimp team itself. What's true for Gimp is also true for a lot of other applications like OpenShot, Ardour, Open-Office, etc.
Where is the customer value?
Most OSS users are bugged or simply overstrained by the installation of plugins, PPAs or the compiling of source code – regardless they like to use the best plugins and the newest software. It would be arrogant to say: users should develop theses skills or wait for 6 – 24 month until the next version of Ubuntu comes out.
The concept of providing updates via the Software-Center is especially interesting for LTS-versions of Ubuntu. Users and programmers get totally new possibilities bypassing missing updates by Canonical.
Why it is important to have a vibrant commercial Ecosystem around open source software
Many times open source projects, most often small ones, have to fight obstacles like new hardware or server costs – not to mention compensation of the team members. In addition, most open-source projects are developed by solo developers and are lacking manpower to have faster development cycles.
If you are now interested in developing business ideas around open source software, check the two articles:
- 7 and a half sources of Innovation according to Peter Drucker
- Business Model Canvas by Alexander Osterwalder
How do you think about it? Should open source projects try to raise money with the Software-Center?