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On the Funding of "Free" Software Tools

Submitted by devblog on Mon, 25/12/2017 - 00:00

It began with this statement by the OP:

Emacs should be pay what you want. When you download the software (and manual) from the, there should be an option to pay what you want. People can still pay $0, but gnu will actually make some money to support Emacs' development.

I actually suggested this to RMS a year or two ago. His response was,

"That sounds like a good idea. Why don't you do it?"

First off, RMS is awesome. Secondly, it sounds like RMS is ok with this happening. I do not have the technical expertise to do this, but maybe someone else can. This person could potentially contract out the work from GNU. You could say that you will make Emacs pay what you want, but you will collect 50% of the funds generated for the first 2 months, or something like that.

What do ya'll think?

to which I responded with:

I think this approach by the programming profession towards tools that are critical to their occupation is somewhat ass-backwards.

Their idea of professionals depending on critical tools which are created by other professionals in their spare time is wrong. It is time software engineers created guilds that fund the development of tools they need and use. It may be that software development is a new profession which is failing to get properly organized on account of the involvement of big corporations. But that is a throwback to an era when computers were expensive resources only big companies (with lashings of DARPA and NSF funding) could afford and thus were able to influence the tools and the outlook.

Those days are long gone in an era where a powerful computer can be had for less than $200, and there is no need for professionals to allow corporate agendas to undermine the proper development of software tools, as it has been since the internet came around, and it is time software developers learned to see themselves as professionals and stop seeing their jobs as gigs as though they are part time semi-employed musicians or something.

I mean it is 2017 and GCC has been available since the 1990s, but where is the graphical C++ debugger rivaling Visual Studio that we would have by now if developers belonged to a well organized profession which saw the need to fund the development of their software tools through membership dues just like any of the professional bodies out there? By that I mean the software developers themselves, wholly independent of any corporations out there, ie no Linux Foundation type f&ckery where BigCo come in and shape the direction to their agenda.

The software could be Free GNU License software but the hard part would be done by paid professionals funded by guild membership fees.

This is the thread of my response and the subsequent replies. I want to write out my thoughts properly but considering how other things get in the way, this may have to do for the time being.

PS. Who blogs on Christmas Day?

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