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The Almighty Buck

Acknowledging Great Free Software 281

banuaba writes: "I am a Windows user. I've tried a couple of distros of Linux, and a BSD or two, but they aren't what I need in an OS. Sometimes in my job and my personal 'life' I need something with a little more power than Windows can give me, and when that time comes, I use Cygwin and have been wholly satisfied and enamored with the product they put out. My question for all you Slashdotters out there is this: I would like to 'reward' the Cygwin people for giving me a great product that fits my needs, but aside from an 'attaboy' email, I don't see how I could compensate them, preferrably financially. I don't have any coding skills of significance, and am not inclined to learn, I'd just like a way to let them know that I like what they've done. In the non-free (as in beer) software world, I would buy their next release. Is there any way to financially help them along? Should I just mail them a check? Would that be insulting to OSS developers, as a general rule? How or would you slashdotters who work on GPL'd code like to be compensated for your time and effort?"

The GNU Project maintains the Cygwin documentation; they have a whole page of ways you can help their efforts to spread Free software, which includes sending money, but quite a few other things, too.

I like Alan Cox's system of CD donations, but I've not met any developers yet who would be offended by a donation in money, bug-fixes, hardware, or positive word of mouth. Does anyone have interesting suggestions for thanking Free software developers?

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Acknowledging Great Free Software

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  • It's a commercial product, which needs revenue to Red Hat's cygwin pages [].

    Disclaimer: I work for the company producing it (Red Hat, Inc).

  • Walk a Mile (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nater ( 15229 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @02:26PM (#2112725) Homepage
    Try to imagine yourself as that developer. You've written some software, either because you needed it for something and it didn't exist, or you thought it would be cool to do, or you were just bored and anxious to write *anything*. You're not interested in selling it for a variety of reasons. Maybe it's because it's only a hobby for you, maybe it's because you have philosophical issues with selling software, maybe it's this, that, or another thing... whatever. At any rate, you wrote, you gave it away, and now you get lots of people writing you bug reports of varying degrees of helpfullness, people sending you patches that sometimes fix things or add features, and sometimes just waste your time, and there have been more than a few people who said they'd take care of something, like creating RPMs and debs on an ongoing basis and then failed to do it, and occassionally someone who has nothing better to say than, "This sucks, it doesn't work. You're the guy who wrote it, so you must suck, too."

    What could you possibly receive from a pleased user that would make you ignore all of the bad parts and think, "I'm gonna keep this thing going"?

    Send that.
    • What could you possibly receive from a pleased user that would make you ignore all of the bad parts and think, "I'm gonna keep this thing going"?

      Yeah, but could you imagine what FedEx would charge for a crate of naked slave girls?

  • by stealie72 ( 246899 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:44PM (#2113215)
    That would be "person 2 programmer" beer system. Aside from contributing geek toys (presumably to be used in further coding efforts), it sure would be nice to be able to send freeware developers a 6-er once in a while. Of beer, red bull, Mt. Dew, or whatever it is they drink.

    Beer addresses should be included in the documentation ;-)
  • Personally... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HoserHead ( 599 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:55PM (#2116096)
    ...I find much greater gratification from seeing downloads of my software, and hearing from actual users who either have bugs (or just questions) than I think I would from monetary contributions. An 'attaboy' email can go a long way, particularly when you're tired and might be inclined to go to bed rather than enhancing your software or fixing bugs.

    If you want to make the developer(s) feel good, send them an attaboy email. If you want to contribute and don't want to learn to code, send them an attaboy email and a cheque, or a case of interesting beer -- or maybe make a contribution to a charity they wish to support. An email saying "I really enjoy your software a lot, and I'd like to thank you for it -- are there any charities you particularly feel kindly for?" alleviates any possibilities that people would be offended by a cheque (though I don't know of any people who would, personally).

    But really, unless the people you're trying to thank are really overloaded, actual user contact is very rewarding. Knowing that people use and enjoy your software is one of the main reasons I develop Free Software.

  • Offended by money? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Erasei ( 315737 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:43PM (#2116779) Homepage
    Having developed a bit of free software, I don't think any of us would be offended by money. However, if you expected to be treated specially for your contribution, then I might be offended. But if was purely a contribution without asking for special treatment, then by all means, send it along.
    • by SLi ( 132609 )
      However, if you expected to be treated specially for your contribution, then I might be offended.

      Would you be offended if if money was specifically offered to you for making a certain feature the donor needs? I know I wouldn't. Though if it's as strange as most of the features usually requested by clients, it wouldn't make it into the main code base :-)

    • Although I haven't done much in the way of free software, I've been involved in web development for years, and built things that a few thousand people a month seem to find informative [] or useful or whatever. I am not at all offended by money, particularly since I've got to pay for this metered DSL connection...

      Of course, in the free/open source software arena, popularity doesn't impose too great a burden on the developer (other than spikes in download traffic, and a higher volume of bug reports, fix/enhancement requests, etc.) Web stuff unfortunately costs more to run as it becomes more popular. :)

    • I have to agree, I definitely wouldn't say no to money. Although I must say I also like the pizza idea from the Samba people. Not much beats money though. Never gotten any though of course.

  • Keep on doing what you're doing here - spread the word about great software! If you like it, tell people.

    Microsoft are unleashing a huge FUD campain against Open source software. Good news doesn't travel at all well in this age (unless it involves cute animals or kids), so spreading the word (without going OTT) is the best plan.

    Word of mouth is a powerful medium, often under-rated - look at film reviews - a critically panned film can be a huge success just on word of mouth,

  • Beer, pizza, money, emails - they are all great!

    I just started working on a project [] (I know, shamless plug) a month or so ago. Have not publicized it but in just one place, and am amazed at the number of positive emails and the number of downloads so far.

    That said, the emails I like the most are the ones with either code or suggestions. So far one person has sent in a code snippet and three have sent in some really killer ideas - that is the kind of stuff I like! I mean, I am writing the program for me, but I am not the only one using it.

    So send in those attaboy emails. Ask if there is something you can do to help. I personally don't care if you are a programmer or not - there are a ton of things you can do to help, mainly in the realm of minutia; that stuff can really be a drag to do but it needs to be done and in some cases those small little things are the biggest part of a project.
  • by yerdaddie ( 313155 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @04:05PM (#2120293) Homepage
    Unfortunately, because I'm a lowly grad-student, I don't really have the disposable income to send folks a check (unless I have a strong craving for a week's worth of Ramen).

    What I did to do my part to pay those hardworking cygwin folks back was get my organization to purchase $7500 worth of their software. We had a little extra cash left on one of our research budgets, and were and need of a compiler for the ARM microcontroller. I recommended purchasing GNUPro Tools, which includes gcc. Yeah, I know it's freely available, and that I could cross-compile, but do the accounting people need to know that? So, in short, get your organization to buy some freely-available software, and send them a six-pack for good measure.


    octave + + matlab*P = community-supported-interactive-supercomputing
  • Compensation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chrylis ( 262281 )
    I'm sure that most open-source/Free software developers would find the greatest compliment in knowing that people out there use and even rely on their software--but I would think that a donation for what you think the software's worth to the sponsoring organization wouldn't be out of order.
  • When a project is maintained/coded by a sole person, ever thought of donating some computer *hardware* to the cause? Maybe that "old" Athlon 500 isn't useful to you, but for someone else, it might come in handy. For a sole developer, especially someone doing it in his or her part time, why don't you drop him/her an email and offer some old equipment. In a simular vein, you could offer web hosting if the project needs a website, or (more labor intensive) help them on their documentation or FAQs, after all, you can help out OSS even if you don't have coding skills.

    Just my $.02

    Which reminds me. Why doesn't someone with decent graphical skills and some time on his/her hands drop the coder of eagle eye nethack a line and offer to increase the number of images. Last time I played the game, I was hampered by the lack of images, with several monsters/items having the same image. Of course, my graphical skills suck, I don't even trust myself to do color shifting to make an iron/steel sword into a bronze sword, but someone must have the skills and the time.

  • It seems to me that Free Software according to the FSF is a philosophy. To feel guilty about using free software and to think that whoever wrote it somehow deserves a reward seems to me to be contrary to the reason they wrote the sotware to begin with. Using it and contributing to it if you can is one thing, but feeling like you owe them money is another altogether.

    The answer is simple: Don't send them money and don't feel bad for using their great software, as though it's worth money and you got away with some naughty act in the privacy of your home where no one but your conscience watches over you.

    The best thing you can do for them is to:

    1. Use their software.
    2. Contribute to their software (if you can.)
    3. Don't support their commercial competitors.
    4. Spread the word about their software in particular. There's enough religious zealots as it is--don't add your voice to zealotry, add it instead to the promotion of good, specific packages.

    The whole concept of money in exchange for software seems to me to fly in the face of what they're striving for to begin with.

    Supporting an organization as a whole and acknowledging the fact that it costs money to operate or even exist is another matter entirely, while a human being who has chosen to write free software without doing something to make money for themselves doesn't really "get" what's going on around us. Giving him money means he might as well have not released his software under the GPL at all.

    On the other hand, the FSF is a foundation that does more than write software--and thus depends on donations to even exist--that's its whole premise from the get-go.

    Small difference but important.
    • It seems to me that Free Software according to the FSF is a philosophy. To feel guilty about using free software and to think that whoever wrote it somehow deserves a reward seems to me to be contrary to the reason they wrote the sotware to begin with. Using it and contributing to it if you can is one thing, but feeling like you owe them money is another altogether.

      I think you're confusing "freely redistributable" with "free of charge".

      Open Software's objective is to make computer related intellectual property common property as much as possible. That is a good thing. It's not a stated objective to have people always starving, or even going unrewarded for their work.

      Some of the forms of those rewards are public accolades, some of them the companies that (still) make money doing Open Source software hiring people, but there's nothing wrong with donations to programmers in general. Some might not want it, but that doesn't mean none of them do.

  • Obviously the best thing to do for an OSS coder is to send them a girlfriend. They have considerable trouble finding them on their own, so if you'd be kind enough to give them a hand, you'd be truly showing your appreciation.
  • Oh, and .. (Score:5, Informative)

    by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:56PM (#2127973) Homepage
    Yeah, probably the biggest value to an open source developer is seeing their product overtake a competeting commercial product in terms of market use. So, outside of sending money, anything you can do to increase use of the product (maybe you have access to some decent web real estate to help advertise?) I'm sure would be much appreciated too. Or, writing documentation. Or, maintaining a web page. Or .. well, the list goes on, but there are a multitude of ways to help open source developers other than contributing code! (Especially since many programmers arn't exactly gifted in the arena of documentation and language.)
  • by psychalgia ( 457201 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:43PM (#2130643) Homepage
    theyll take your money, chances are they are hungry. Mail em a check, if you think theyll be mad, make it anonymous, but I doubt they'll decline. Hell, fed ex em a case of beer, thatll thrill em ;)
    • by b0r1s ( 170449 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @03:18PM (#2131474) Homepage
      From the samba documentation:


      If you want to contribute to the development of the software then
      please join the mailing list. The Samba team accepts patches
      (preferably in "diff -u" format, see docs/BUGS.txt for more details)
      and are always glad to receive feedback or suggestions to the address We have recently put a new bug tracking
      system into place which should help the throughput quite a lot. You
      can also get the Samba sourcecode straight from the CVS tree - see

      You could also send hardware/software/money/jewelry or pizza
      vouchers directly to Andrew. The pizza vouchers would be especially
      welcome, in fact there is a special field in the survey for people who
      have paid up their pizza :-)

      Your best bet is always asking... if you really want to make them happy, make sure you're getting them what they want.
    • I did this through PayPal. Sent a developer US$100 for not only producing a useful Free program but also for personally helping solve a problem I ran into while using it (I submitted a bug report and he wrote back to me with the fix).

      Funny, the non-Free software competitor costs c. US$50. I only wish I could have afforded to pay more.

  • GNUPro (Score:5, Informative)

    by graveyhead ( 210996 ) <[ten.scinorthctelf] [ta] [hctelf]> on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @02:05PM (#2130948)
    I know you are running windows, but you could support the Cygnus team by purchasing the GNUPro toolkit []. It offers some really useful stuff (optimized gcc, insight visual debugger, etc). Maybe it will provide the incentive you need to maintain a dual boot. It would certainly reward the developers monitarily (as would purchasing the boxed RedHat). Last one I purchased was $79.00 US. Remember, RedHat and Cygnus are the same entity now, so by supporting one you support the other by proxy.
  • What I want more than anything else from people who use my stuff is to hear from them that they are using what I have written. Free software authors write free software for many reasons, but for many authors the biggest motivation is the thought that they are added something great to the world. Drop the authors a note of thanks and praise and let them know you are actually using their stuff and what you are using it for. You'd be amazed how few people who download a piece of free software do that.

    As far as giving money/pizza/beer, sure, if you are so moved, why not? But don't forget that many free software authors are already being paid to write the software they write, even if the software is not, in and of itself, intended as a commercial good.

  • by GroundBounce ( 20126 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:54PM (#2131167)
    Just buy a box or two of Red Hat Linux, even if you don't plan to use it. You'll be supporting the company that underwrites Cygwin tools.
    • If you do buy something and/or send money, make sure you also send a message indicating that cygwin is the thing you like. Otherwise, they might think that you are rewarding them for developing RPM or their work with GNOME.
    • Just buy a box or two of...

      No, never do that to anybody. Just send them money. It will keep aluminized plastic and cardboard out of the landfill. It will be almost pure profit for the company.

      • Just send them money.

        This is harder than you would think. I wanted to send RedHat some dough after I upgraded to 7.1. After more than a half-dozen calls and emails, I gave up. I never could convince them to just charge my credit card; it was always on some grand poobah's list of things to do, but they apparently never got around to it.

        If anybody from RedHat reads this and is empowered to take my dough, drop me a line.
    • > Just buy a box or two of Red Hat Linux

      Better yet, just buy boxed Cygwin [].

  • by AlgUSF ( 238240 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:54PM (#2131168) Homepage
    Send them a couple of kegs of beer, and some chicks^H^H^H^H^H^H women to serve it to them, maybe some chicken wings, and some curly fries. Or just give 'em some hooters gift certificates.
  • I think one of my favourite things about the free software community is that really you shouldn't have to ask people here if this is insulting - free software developers tend to like responses, and engaging with their users, so asking *them* is the answer - or just sending a cheque if you know where to, and 99% of OSS developers you'll meet will politely set you straight if they don't want it. The most likely response (after cashing the cheque) - if they didn't want it - would probably be to tell you which charity they'd like it donated to.
  • by 4thAce ( 456825 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:47PM (#2131939) Homepage

    I'd just like a way to let them know that I like what they've done

    Well, let's see, what do you look like in a thong?

  • charity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pyat ( 303115 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:47PM (#2131944) Journal
    maybe OSS programmers who don't intend to gain money for themselves for their work should encourage donations to charity like Bram Moolenaar has done with VIM
    and donations to childrens fund in Uganda
  • by cavemanf16 ( 303184 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:48PM (#2131947) Homepage Journal
    I would be offended at any cash advancement for my efforts. why?

    Simply because I code for the love of it, not for the money. Hell, I live out of a 2-story carboard box, code on an old 386 laptop weighing a hefty 50 pounds, and eat sewer trash for meals. And you know what, that Ferrari I bought during the dot-com fiasco just isn't fun to drive anymore. So please don't send me money, just send a simple chain email around the world 50 times to let me know that I have many, many friends.

    (Money an insult? You have got to be kidding me! - or smoking some really good weed)

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:48PM (#2131950) Journal

    More OSS developers need to be proactive when it comes to getting $. People shouldn't have to ask this question. I think developers would be surprised if they used a little line that said something like "you don't need to, but it'd be appreciated if you sent a check to... ".

    It's amazing what you can get sometimes just by asking. Anybody who's read Feynman should get the humorous reference in the title of this post.

    • I completely agree.

      As an example of the sort of difference this can make, consider the case of Steve Outtrim and Sausage Software. I used to work for Sausage Software back in 1996

      Sausage's main product was shareware. (I know I know, but just for the sake of argument, consider this case.)

      The thing was - instead of saying 'please send a cheque or money order to foo' it said, 'unlock this product by buying a key at our online store'. At that stage online credit card processing was not all that common (1995).

      But doing that was, I believe, the main difference between Steve being just another VB shareware developer and his becoming a multi-millionaire. Quite literally, this guy was worth 90 million dollars last time i saw a newspaper article - this largely through sales of shares in the company whose single major success was a shareware HTML editor (HotDog)

      I'm not suggesting that OSS developers are the same as Shareware developers. But I think a lot of people would be suprised by how many people actually use there products out there in the wide world.

      So being proactive will probably make a *big* difference.

      -- I have I think, I do. Didn't I?
  • A noble solution? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by melquiades ( 314628 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:48PM (#2131956) Homepage
    How about making a donation to the EFF [] in the developer's or project's name? In light of any number of recent events, that may be one of the best ways to help free software. And I'd be honored by the gesture, with no sense of awkwardness at all, if I were in the developer's place!
    • That's a great idea!
  • No, tiny Tim, we are not going to pay to write for Slashdot.
  • First the 'attaboy' (Score:4, Informative)

    by update() ( 217397 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @02:01PM (#2134712) Homepage
    My question for all you Slashdotters out there is this: I would like to 'reward' the Cygwin people for giving me a great product that fits my needs, but aside from an 'attaboy' email, I don't see how I could compensate them, preferrably financially.

    Don't sell the 'attaboy' email short. It's a great motivation to get some feedback beyond "You suck!" and "It doesn't work. Do I need Windows 2000?" For most small-time developers, it's probably more of an inducement to keep working than a $10 check would be. And it costs you othing but time, so be lavish!

    Not that anyone would likely be offended by money.

  • by rodentia ( 102779 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:57PM (#2138902)
    HERE []
    • Gosh, at a starting contribution level of $12,500, I think I, were I in the original poster's shoes, just go for a check to charity.
      • In the non-free (as in beer) software world, I would buy their next release.

        In the non-free (as in beer) software world, that's ~3 MSDN Universal subscriptions.

        I call that a bargain... --The Who.

        If I ever get a budget, it'll be the first license I buy. Cygwin is an outstanding toolkit. Amaze your friends! Turn your word-processor into a WORKING COMPUTER! Compile and run GNU software on Winblows!
    • Did you look at the prices for support? I believe the poster meant "reward" as in small monetary compensation, not "reward" as in "take my sister, my mother, my phat ride, and anything else that isn't bolted down".
  • Feedback (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Blue Aardvark House ( 452974 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @02:03PM (#2139390)
    More than just the "attaboy", get involved in the development process by reporting bugs. This will streamline the development process and make for a better product in future releases.

    When the downloads increase, they'll be thanking you.
  • by wobblie ( 191824 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @02:31PM (#2139813)

    I don't see any reason why sourceforge and freshmeat or other sites like it could not handle donations, or rather tips for certain projects.

    I know that if it was as simple as putting my credit card # in and selecting a project, and tipping $5, i'd have already done it many times. This could all be very easy.

  • I'll make sure that it gets handled :) Email me for the mailing address.
  • Documentation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gouldtj ( 21635 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:56PM (#2141158) Homepage Journal
    I think that a great way for a non-coder to help with an open-source project is to provide documentation. Heaven knows that most projects need this pretty badly. I think these are the best to write 'new user' documentation anyway. Stuff with screen shots rocks :)

    PS - Use the FDL
    • Absolutely. After a hard 5 minutes puruval of the Cygwin (albiet with sleep-rocks still in the corners of my eyes) I have no idea what exactly it does, or, really, what it could do for me. When I do web programming I usually have 3 or 4 sources of information (O'Reilly book(s), webmonkey,, ms dev lib, etc.) and when I don't get the kind of info I need from one I can always count on another to provide it. It's all the *same* information, it's just sometimes I understand it better the way, say, the MS Dev. Lib. puts it, sometimes O'Reilly makes it more clear. So more documentation in different styles is always welcome.
  • I think most coders will agree with me when I say, "Send those guys/girls a case of beer!" Nothing spells appreciation as well as B-E-E-R. It doesn't even have to be good beer, it is really the idea that counts...although Guinness isn't ever a bad idea...

    • Imagine the benefits if we rewarded outstanding software with a few cases of Bawls. We'd then have content caffeinated coders ready to twitch up another product, heh.
    • OFFENDED (Score:2, Funny)

      by Ziegerektum ( 470470 )

      As a Muslim and a longtime user developer of GNU/Linux, I am offended by your American cultural imperialism. My religion forbids the sonsumption of alcohol! Please attempt to honor the wishes of those who gvie their time to make software for you!

      I would like any donations to me instead be made to charitable organization such as:

      the PLO []

      kill []

      Muslim Aid []

      The Nation of Islam []
      Thank you.

    • Beer, like many things, is a personal taste. If you sent me a case of Guinness I would be suprised, and happy at the effert, but I would never drink it. Can't stand the stuff. OTOH, if you sent me cash, or a gift card, or even donated money in my name to the eff, It would be equally appreciated, and go to better use.
    • Now I know why some OSS software is so buggy!
    • I think most coders will agree with me when I say, "Send those guys/girls a case of beer!"

      Some jurisdictions have a minimum drinking age. In the United States it's 21. In Saudi Arabia it's (i.e. Prohibition).

    • I think most coders will agree with me when I say, "Send those guys/girls a case of beer!"
      Yes, but ask first. I know one open-source programmer who will have nothing to do with beer, but would love to have mead or good scotch. And then there's brands... I'm pretty picky about which Seattle-based microbrews I quaff, where some folks would be happy with Bud.

      So, yeah, free booze, but ask...

      So let's pool all the free booze we're going to get out of this story and host the First Annual Intergalactic Kegger...

    • by unformed ( 225214 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @02:16PM (#2142867)
      but weed is better
  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:52PM (#2141640) Homepage
    I release all the music I write for free. However, if you like it enough to send me a cheque, I certainly wouldn't be insulted, or complain. :) I'm sure the same principle applies to many open source developers. Often, things like web hosting, or simply the cost of a computer upgrade doesn't justify charging for software, but if one philathropist out there feels like throwing some money a developers' way, I don't see many developers rejecting the money?
  • Although the FSF does not charge for software, they certainly do accept donations and have information about it here []. Cygwin was developed very much in the spirit and philosophy of the GNU project, and if you make a donation and inform both FSF and Cygwin that it's a token of recognition for Cygwin, you can be certain that there will be good will and warm vibes all around. You'll also be helping Cygwin in a material way, because they benefit from the FSF's efforts, and the FSF has operating costs that you'll be helping them defray.

    The LinuxPPC project [] also encourages donations to the FSF -- when you order their stuff online, there's a box where you can enter any amount you'd like to donate.

    I'm probably sounding like more of a fan of the FSF than I really am here -- sometimes RMS grates me in the profoundest way -- but I just think this is what fits your desires best. There's nothing excessively material and unworthy about donating cash; many organizations make good use of it and will be deeply grateful. If that's a way for you to get a warm, fuzzy feeling, go do it. The fuzzies will surely come right back at you.
  • Uhh, say what? You're having second thoughts about sending us money? If you got a check in the mail, with no strings attached, would you send it back? (btw, if anyone wants to send ME money, by all means just ask for a fscking address)
    • O.K. I'm game, post your address. Go for it. Just one question, can you get slashdotted through snail-mail?

  • One word: paypal. :-)
  • Cool idea... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by merlin_jim ( 302773 )
    Well, other than the two obvious (beer and money) ways to compensate a developer, there's another not so obvious way that I personally would *LOVE* to be compensated...

    See, here's the thing... I make out okay in the money and beer department, but I don't always have the money to pay for cool geek toys. Find a cool geek toy that's roughly in the price range you're thinking, preferably one that you can verify or guess that they don't have. If its linux compatible and/or can help them continue developing, then that's even better!

    Some quick ideas in the under $100 range:

    • Drawing Tablet (most devs have always wanted one to play around with but not enough reason to actually pay for it)
    • Some decent speakers
    • Mice, keyboards, etc. with Geek potential (check out Intel's new wireless solutions [] for ideas)
    • Palm m100
    • Gift certificate to Best Buy / Circuit City /, etc.

    That's it I could come up with... any other ideas?

  • I heard of one freeware project that someone at Msft like so much that they chipped in to buy them an all-expense-paid vacation to Bangalor, India, and the programmer was never heard from again.
  • The most gratifying part of developing free software is watching the download numbers spin up. Immortality through software, in exchange for a few weeks of part-time volunteer work.
    • by Sir_Real ( 179104 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @01:53PM (#2125559)
      Immortality? Name your first born "Cygwin."

    • Re:personally (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wmulvihillDxR ( 212915 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @02:27PM (#2140800) Homepage Journal
      I have to agree with this. Especially for small projects that don't have the fame that other projects have. I'd say, if the project is small, (*blatant plug to my project below*) then they would just like to know if people actually *using* their program. Spreading the word helps these projects. But if a project is already well-established, like Cygwin, money will probably ensure that the project continues. I say this because if a project is as big as cygwin, the developer has probably heard all the praise in the world, might be forced to support the project full-time thus cutting into their "regular" job, and isn't normally paid for the project.

      Money would mean a lot to both kinds of projects, but would probably be more appropriate for a larger project. Praise and telling-your-friends-about-project-x is good for smaller projects. However, if you can code (which I know the author of the article can't), that is the biggest contribution to any project.
  • To K.M. Syring for making a 'Cygwin lite' toolset for Win32 : []
  • Most OSS programmers aren't writing software with the specific intention of not being paid for it :) The idea is that people shouldn't be forced to pay for software, not that they shouldn'y be allowed to. The worst response I can imagine is getting a message from them saying that they "don't accept cash" and have torn up your check :)

    And money isn't the only way to thank someone; a grateful user once had a couple cases of Dew delivered to me, and I was thrilled (though in general it might be best yo avoid gifts like caffeine or programming tools, as it might be interpreted as "thanks for the software, now work harder!"). If you're unsure what to get for your favorite coder/group, write them! Even if they won't accept anything in return, just knowing that you'd like to will give them a sense of accomplishment about their work (making your software free-as-in-beer isn't as meaningful if it's not something people would pay for :)

    Always remember that "just an email" is never just an email. OSS developers have dedicated an often-significant portion of their lives to producing something they know they may never be appreciated for. It's nice to know when people do appreciate it.
  • speaking of beer (Score:2, Informative)

    by fishexe ( 168879 )
    All these replies about beer reminded me of a couple software packages I've downloaded that were "beer ware": basically if you like the program and use it a lot you are encouraged to send the developer a case of beer. Sounds like a good license to me!
  • I think he wanted to help the people that wrote Cygwin, not RMS....
  • I am very involved in the OpenACS ( []ject. The best way to help, other than actual coding or documentation, is to somehow help develop the resources. One way is to pay a developer directly; a developer usually is working on the OSS project out of love and would kill to get paid to work on his passion.

    Another way is to do something for the community, which everyone would love. For instance, help purchase and colocate a server for the community to develop on. Or host a social for the developers to meet and drink beer together. Or help purchase tshirts for everyone to get.

    The best way, IMHO, to show support for an OSS community is to help keep it live and vibrant.


  • Simple proposal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alex Belits ( 437 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @04:39PM (#2145315) Homepage
    While financial rewards and praise are all great, there is one thing that every open source developer would be happy to accept from you:


    Zealotry aside, the fact that you and a lot of other people use Windows, helps the people who constantly damage what we make and love, so by refusing to support them even if it is 3% more convenient for you than, say, Linux or *BSD, you help to hurt us, and there isn't much else that can compensate this. Next time when some hideous API will create horrible incompatibilities with our software, when part of format will get patented, or when frivolous lawsuit will be brought against some of us, we won't think about praise or money we got from you, we will just think that by using Windows you have added to their dominance and paved the road that they are marching on. It's not like we hate you personally for that, but we would appreciate if you will refuse to help our enemies.
  • as i've had karma to burn for years I render myself awake from this big sleep and ask:

    How the hell do I get rid of that wasteful multiline prompt that Cygwin gives me?

    Is this basH? baj!! bah!!!

    Someone let me know the answer, then I might appreciate.

    Moderators: Offtopic: No, Funny: No, Informative: No, Insightful: Only if you Know, Troll: Don't be stupid, leave the rest to you idiots.
  • Just a couple of thoughts:
    • Join a mailing list and help people out if they have got problems that you can solve. You cannot image how easy to answer some question are. But they take time to answer. Write an FAQ.
    • Help the developers getting information. For GNumeric, that would be for example providing EXCEL sheets that don't work with current versions of GNumeric. For GPhoto, contact any manufacturer that won't release specs for their digital cameras and ask for information.
    • Translate projects.
    • ...
    It's not all about money...
  • Survey: Does anybody ever read stories that are two days old? Does anybody ever post to stories that are that old? Do moderators ever moderate stories that old?

    If you're reading this thread and are a moderator, please moderate me DOWN, just so I know. I've even used a +1 bonus to make it easier to find. However, if you've come to this message some other way than by reading this thread (such as from my user page), or if you aren't moderating, instead you can reply to this message.



Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein