Open Source

The importance of donating to open source projects (and a giveaway!)

Bodhi Linux is having a giveaway for a Dell Duo, and Jack Wallen wants not only to make you aware of it, but also the importance of donating to open source projects.

As many of you know, I am a big fan of Enlightenment, and no distribution does a better job of combining the wonder of E17 and the ease of Ubuntu than does Bodhi Linux. Recently the developers of Bodhi Linux released version 1.2 which has a number of solid updates, such as:

  • Linux 3.0.0
  • Enlightenment built from SVN on 09/06/11
  • Midori 0.4.0

Figure A

Bodhi likes to be a bit of a minimalist distribution, so upon installation, it's up to the user to go through Synaptic and install what you like. It's a good philosophy which will hand over to the end users ONLY what they want on their desktop. But more than that, Bodhi offers Enlightenment E17 on Ubuntu without having to go through the hassle of trying to compile from SVN or hunting down binaries.

Figure A (click to enlarge) displays the default E17 desktop on Bodhi Linux.

But why Bodhi? Bodhi is just another distribution right? Well, sure ... but Bodhi offers an escape from the nightmare that is currently the Ubuntu desktop. People are still too afraid of change, and Unity still has a lot of maturing to do ... so an alternative is necessary. That alternative could easily be Bodhi Linux. And Bodhi Linux had actually managed to capture the top hit point spot on Distrowatch for a seven-day period. It has since dropped in the rankings, but it still has captured the eyes of the public.

But there's more. Until mid-October, the developers of Bodhi are offering a giveaway. Their current cost of operations is $100USD per month and they want to try to take in donations to help ease that cost. To entice users to give, Bodhi is going to give away this Dell Duo. For every five dollar donation Bodhi receives from you, your name will be entered to win this convertible -- powered by, you guessed it, Bodhi Linux.

I post about this for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I really think Bodhi Linux is one of the better end-user distributions available. But second, and probably more importantly, is that this illustrates the oft-overlooked plight of the open source developer.

It's a hard life ...

Those of us who enjoy open source software often forget that the vast majority of open source developers do this on their own time and their own dime. For some that's not a problem ... a precious few some. For many these projects are headed up by younger developers, students, and people in less fortunate situations (for whatever reason). So every five dollar donation can go a long way to keeping a project running.

Do you use open source? Do you have a favorite project? Do you ever, or have you ever donated to the cause? The way I see it is that so many of these projects have saved me thousands of dollars over the past decade, why shouldn't I give a bit here and there? Previously my donations went to the Elive project. I've been looking for a new pet project to help and I wanted to begin that with bringing to light this outstanding giveaway, held by Jeff Hoogland (one of the Bohdi developers). Not only would you be donating your five-spot to a good cause, you would be registering your name to win a cool convertible running an E17 desktop-ed Linux distribution.

'Nuff said?

Of course not.

Every time you purchase proprietary software, you "donate" to their cause. What is their cause? Paying shareholders, CEOs, and hopefully employees. When you donate to open source projects -- you're keeping that project alive and giving even more projects the hope that they too can garner the attention of the change living between your sofa cushions.

I understand that the economy across the globe is in a less-than-good way. But if all of those open source projects went away, many of us would wind up having to begin purchasing software. That would put my personal budget in a significant crunch, considering how much software I use on a daily basis. I'd wind up having to purchase:

  • Windows (or Mac)
  • Office (or iWork)
  • Photoshop
  • PageMaker

And much more. That short list alone would set me back a significant chunk of change. So it only makes sense that I do what I can to help an open source project stay afloat. What about you? Are you willing to help an open source brother out?


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website


I manage an open-source project...does that count?


"software developers should not be paid at all," Do you mean open source corporates do not pay to their developer employees? "It also undermined the expectation that intellectual property rights should be respected." I miss your point here. Would you elaborate on that, professor8?


"Open source" has harmed the software product development profession. It shifted the expectation that people should be paid reasonably and in accordance with their productivity to the expectation that software developers should not be paid at all, or at least only paid in the form of "recognition" by the people in a tiny niche. IOW, it undermined the software meritocracy. It also undermined the expectation that intellectual property rights should be respected. If I were actually paid reasonably, and weren't expected to buy my own hardware and software to benefit current or potential employers, hundreds of thousands of software developers would be much better off. Before "open source" there were at least half a dozen current proprietary operating systems, and each vendor also has its proprietary compilers, linkage editors, loaders, configuration management/version control systems, most of which were in almost every way better than the open source garbage most firms use today. And along with those tools, current guides and manuals and training courses were readily available inexpensively enough that college/university students and employees and nearly everyon in the rest of the industry had, in his own office (yes, before bull-pens and cubicles) a sizable library at his finger-tips. And, unlike e-books, they were so much more legible they did not make your eyes burn after just a few hours, and they were lavishly illustrated with word/bit diagram of data structure and table lay-outs (I'm thinking packet headings/trailers and such), ORM diagrams, detailed circuit diagrams, and they provided actual, gasp, context. "Open source" has been an extremely destructive influence.


You forgot "Its anti-American!

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