[4.0] 514b371 Preaching the "Moral License" gospel, not just for Varnish
phk at FreeBSD.org
Tue Jun 24 11:31:37 CEST 2014
Author: Poul-Henning Kamp <phk at FreeBSD.org>
Date: Fri Apr 11 23:55:29 2014 +0000
Preaching the "Moral License" gospel, not just for Varnish
diff --git a/doc/sphinx/phk/dough.rst b/doc/sphinx/phk/dough.rst
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+Raking in the dough on Free and Open Source Software
+I'm writing this on the third day after the "Heartbleed" bug in OpenSSL
+devasted internet security, and while I have been very critical of the
+OpenSSL source code since I first saw it, I have nothing but admiration
+for the OpenSSL crew and their effort.
+In particular considering what they're paid for it.
+Inspired by an article in `Wall Street Journal`_ which tangentially
+touches on the lack of funding for OpenSSL development, I have
+decided to write up my own experiences with funding Open Source
+Software development in some detail.
+I've been in the software industry for 30 years now, and I have
+made a living more or less directly from Open Source Software
+for the most recent 15 years.
+Sometimes the money came from helping a customer use Open Source
+Software, some times I wrote the Open Source Software for their
+needs and sometimes, as with the `Varnish Moral License`_ I get
+paid to develop and maintain Open Source Software for the greater
+FreeBSD community funding
+My first crowd-funding of Free and Open Source Software, was in
+2004, where I `solicited the FreeBSD community`_ for money, so that
+I could devote three to six months of my time to the FreeBSD disk-I/O
+At that time I had spent 10 years as one of the central and key
+FreeBSD developers, so there were no question about my ability
+or suitability for the task at hand.
+But in 2004 crowd-funding was not yet "in", and I had to figure
+out how to do it myself.
+My parents brought me up to think that finances is a private matter
+but I concluded that the only way you could ask strangers to trow
+money at you, would be to run an open book, where they could see
+what happened to them, so I did open books.
+My next dilemma was about my rate, again I had always perceived my
+rate to be a private matter between me and my customers.
+My rate is about half of what most people expect -- because I wont
+work for most people: I only work on things I really *care* about.
+One of my worries therefore were that publishing my rate would
+undercut friends and colleagues in the FreeBSD project who made a
+But again, there were no way around it, so I published my rate but
+made every attempt to distinguish it from a consulting rate, and
+I never heard any complaints.
+And so, having agonized over the exact text and sounded it off on a
+couple of close friends in the FreeBSD project, I threw the proposal
+out there -- and wondered what would happen next.
+I had a perfectly safe fall-back plan, you have to when you have
+two kids and a mortgage to feed, but I really had no idea what would
+Worst case, I'd cause the mother of all `bikesheds`_ get thrown out
+of the FreeBSD project, and be denounced for my "ideological impurity"
+with respect to Free and Open Source Software.
+Best case, I expected to get maybe one or two months funded.
+The FreeBSD community responded overwhelmingly, my company has never
+sent as many invoices as it did in 2004, and my accountant nearly
+blew a fuse.
+And suddenly I found myself in a situation I had never even considered
+how to handle: How to stop people from sending me money.
+I had simply set up a PayPal account, (more on that in a bit), and
+at least at that time, there were no way to prevent people from
+dropping money into it, no matter how much you wanted to stop them.
+In the end I managed to yell loud enough and only got overfunded
+a few percent, and I belive that my attempt to deflect the surplus
+to the FreeBSD Foundation gave them a little boost that year.
+So about PayPal: The first thing they did was to shut my account,
+and demand all kinds of papers to be faxed to them, including a
+copy of my passport, despite the fact that Danish law was quite
+clear on that being illegal. Then, as now, their dispute resolution
+process was less than user-friendly, and in the end it took an
+appeal to a high-ranking officer in PayPal and quite a bit of time
+to actually get the money people had donated.
+I swore to myself that next time, if there ever came a next time,
+PayPal would not be involved. Besides, I found their fees quite
+In total I made EUR27K, and it kept my kids fed and my bank
+happy for the six months I worked on it.
+And work I did.
+I've never had a harsher boss than those six months, and it surprised
+me how much it stressed me, because I felt like I was working on a
+stage, with the entire FreeBSD project in audience, wondering if I
+were going to deliver the goods or not.
+As a result, the 187 donors certainly got their moneys worth,
+most of that half year I worked 80 hour weeks, which made me
+decide not to continue, despite many donors indicating that they
+were perfectly willing to fund several more months.
+Varnish community funding
+Five years later, having developed Varnish 1.0 for Norways "Verdens
+Gang" newspaper, I decided to give community funding a go again.
+Wiser from experience, I structured the `Varnish Moral License`_
+to tackle the issues which had caused me grief the first time
+Contact first, then send money, not the other way around, and also
+a focus on fewer larger sponsors, rather than people sending me
+EUR10 or USD15 or even, in one case, the EUR1 which happened to
+remain in his PayPal Account.
+I ran even more open books this time, on the VML webpages you can
+see how many hours and a one-line description of what I did in them,
+for every single day I've been working under the VML since 2010.
+I also decided to be honest with myself and my donors, one hour
+of work was one hour of work -- nobody would benefit from me
+dying from stress.
+In practice it doesn't quite work like that, there are plenty of
+thinking in the shower, emails and IRC answers at all hours of the
+day and a lot of "just checking a detail" that happens off the
+clock, because I like my job, and nothing could stop me anyway.
+In each of 2010, 2011 and 2013 I worked around 950 hours work on
+Varnish, funded by the community.
+In 2012 I only worked 589 hours, because I was building a prototype
+computer cluster to do adaptive optics real-time calculations for
+the ESO `Extremely Large Telescope`_ ("ELT") -- There was no way I
+could say no to that contract :-)
+In 2014 I actually have hours available do even more Varnish work,
+and I have done so in the ramp up to the 4.0.0 release, but despite
+my not so subtle hints, the current outlook is still only for 800
+hours to be funded, but I'm crossing my fingers that more sponsors
+will appear now that V4 is released. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink,
+he said knowingly! :-)
+Why Free and Open Source costs money
+Varnish is about 90.000 lines of code, the VML brings in about
+EUR90K a year, and that means that Varnish has me working and
+caring about issues big and small.
+Not that I am satisfied with our level of effort, we should have
+much better documentation, our wish-list of features is far too
+long and we take too long to close tickets.
+But I'm not going to complain, because the Heartbleed vulnerability
+revealed that even though OpenSSL is about three to five times
+larger in terms of code, the OpenSSL Foundation Inc. took in only
+about EUR700K last year, and most of that was for consulting and
+certification, not for "free-range" development and maintenance of
+the OpenSSL source code base.
+I really hope that the Heartbleed vulnerability helps bring home
+the message to other communities, that Free and Open Source Software
+does not materialize out of empty space, it is written by people.
+People who love what we do, which is why I'm sitting here,
+way past midnight on a friday evening, writing this phamplet.
+But software *is* written by people, real people with kids, cars,
+mortgages, leaky roofs, sick pets, infirm parents and all other
+kinds of perfectly normal worries of an adult human being.
+The best way to improve the quality of Free and Open Source Software,
+is to make it possible for these people to spend time on it.
+They need time to review submissions carefully, time to write and
+run test-cases, time to respond and fix to bug-reports, time to
+code and most of all, time to think about the code.
+But it would not even be close to morally defensible to ask these
+people to forego time to play with their kids, so that they instead
+develop and maintain the software that drives other peoples companies.
+The right way to go -- the moral way to go -- and by far the most
+productive way to go, is to pay the developers so they can make
+the software they love their living.
+How to fund Free and Open Source Software
+One way is to hire them, with the understanding that they spend
+some company time on the software.
+Experience has shown that these people almost invariably have highly
+desirable brains which employers love to throw at all sorts of
+interesting problems, which tends to erode the "donated" company
+But a lot of Free and Open Source Software has been, and still is
+developed and maintained this way, with or without written
+agreements or even knowledge of this being the case.
+Another way is for software projects to set up foundations to
+collect money and hire developers. This is a relatively complex
+thing to do, and it will only be availabel for larger projects.
+The Apache Foundation "adopts" smaller projects inside their field
+of interest, and I belive that works OK, but I'm not sure if it
+can easily be transplanted to different topics.
+The final way is to simply throw money a the developers, the
+way the FreeBSD and Varnish communities have done with me.
+It is a far more flexible solution with respect to level of
+engangement, national boundaries etc. etc, but in many ways it
+demands more from both sides of the deal, in particular
+with respect to paperwork, taxes and so on.
+I am obiously biased, I derive a large fraction of my relatively
+modest income from community funding, for which I am the Varnish
+community deeply grateful.
+But biased as I may be, I belive that the Varnish community and I
+has shown that a tiny investment goes a long way in Free and Open
+I hope to see that mutual benefit spread to other communities and
+projects, not just to OpenSSL and not just because they found a
+really bad bug the other way, but to any community around any piece
+of software which does serious work for serious companies.
+Thanks in advance,
+.. _Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303873604579491350251315132
+.. _Varnish Moral License: http://phk.freebsd.dk/VML
+.. _solicited the FreeBSD community: http://people.freebsd.org/~phk/funding.html
+.. _Extremely Large Telescope: http://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/e-elt/
+.. _bikesheds: http://bikeshed.org/
diff --git a/doc/sphinx/phk/index.rst b/doc/sphinx/phk/index.rst
index 7eac4e5..40a4830 100644
@@ -8,6 +8,7 @@ You may or may not want to know what Poul-Henning thinks.
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