Ask Bryan: Linux Kernel Abuse

2013-07-17-KernelList

There’s a lot of hubbub and whosawhatsits going on right now in regards to the tone and language used on the Linux Kernel developers mailing list.

Some folks are saying that Linus, himself, is being verbally abusive to some of the devs.

Instead of weighing in on this topic in an adult, thoughtful way… I made a comic.  About chicken.

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Open Source, she is a fickle mistress.

I’m not really big on defeat.  It’s not something I dig.

So when I think something is a good idea… I tend to just continue hammering away until it becomes a reality.  Case in point:

BryanStep 1) Bryan wishes  Jos Whedon would make an Avengers movie.

Step 2) Bryan wishes for it really hard.

Steps 3 through 7,394) ?

Step 7,395) Bryan watches an Avengers movie made by Jos Whedon.

No matter how unlikely it is, if I am convinced it is a good idea that could make the world a bit more awesome, my soul demands that it must happen.  [Not trying to take anything away from Mr. Whedon's hard work here, all I did was get the ball rolling with the first two, obviously critical, steps.]

This applies to me believing in the fundamental awesomeness of Open Source (and, for those who feel persnickety about the wording, “Free Software”).

Which is why I Open Sourced such a huge amount of my applications and games under the GPL license.  And, as you can probably surmise, that changes the business strategy a teensy bit.

I opted to go for the “Open Source funded by donations” route.  Because I believed in its viability.  Still do, really.

Just not now.  [Maybe in the future.  Maybe in the near future.  Perhaps a bit farther out.  I, honestly, have no clue.]

Donations started out fairly strong.  Not off the charts… but steady enough to suggest a bit of predictability.  Which, for anyone looking to earn an income from an endeavor (aka “a job”), predictability in paychecks are a good thing.

Then, within a smattering of weeks, things dropped off.  Donations fell to a point where it would be hard to pay a part-time intern with the monthly totals.

Which leaves me with three options:

  1. Close up all of the software and begin selling it again (which is a proven way to support this specific software).
  2. Leave the software Open, keep working on it full time, and hope magical unicorns fly out of my posterior and begin conjuring money with their Rumpus-Unicorn-Magic ™.
  3. Leave the software Open… but stop working on it full time.  Thus free up time to focus on endeavors that provide better revenue.

Option 1 sounds like defeat.  See top of this post for more information on my thoughts about defeat.

Option 2 sounds awesome.  But unicorn-based.  Never go into a situation where you are reliant on unicorns.  This would be about as dumb as messing with a Sicilian when death is on the line.

So Option 3 it is!

Luckily, for me, I’ve got my writing to fall back on and give my focus to.  [For those of you who read that sentence and thought "REEEEALLY?!  YOU?!" -- and then proceeded to look over the current post for grammatical and spelling errors... all I have to say is this: Crazy, right?  People pay me for these words.  It's a nutty world we live in.]

Here’s how this is going to work:

  • Source code remains available for Illumination, App-Make-inator, etc..
  • Donations are still accepted on the Download Page. 
  • Those donations fund the development in the following month.  (ie. Donations in January fund the development that occurs in February.)
  • Only a few donations = Only a little development.
  • Lots of donations = Lots of development.

Simple, right?  This lets development continue, in a focused way… just (probably) a fair bit slower than before.

With all this in mind, I have removed the donation goal progress bar from the site.  It just doesn’t make sense anymore.

And if I, say, release a new game in the future (which has been known to happen)… will it be Open Source?

Honestly that really depends on how things are going.  If the funds are there to support it?  For sure.  Otherwise any new piece of software will likely be released as closed source in the old-school Shareware style.

As an aside, I just want to say this:

I am extremely proud of the community we have here.  Many of you put your money where your mouths were… and that resulted in some excellent Open Source software.  All of you deserve to pat yourself on the back.

I am also a fair bit humbled (about as humbled as I get, anyway).  You donated your hard-earned money based, in part, on your belief that what we were doing was worth while — and that me working on these projects was worth while.

For that, I thank you.  Quite sincerely.

Okay.  That out of the way, time for me to prep the next issue of Road-Sign Hank and the Aliens.  That comic book has sat idle for far, far too long.

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Road-Sign Hank artwork now on GitHub

Hank Issue 1 CoverThe first batch of artwork from the (critically acclaimedRoad-Sign Hank and the Aliens comic book series is now up on GitHub and licensed under the Creative Commons.

All of the artwork was built in Inkscape and is in the .svg format.  So it’s nice and portable, no matter what platform you are on.

If you want to see the finished comic book, you can download the first two issues (in DRM free .cbz or .pdf formats) from the Download Page.

There is still some artwork that I’d like to clean up and add to this repository (including some of the alien world buildings and vehicles), but there’s enough there right now to tell a pretty solid story — or be the basis for other artwork.

About the artwork:

Road-Sign Hank is in the style of actual road-signs.  As such, everything is black and white and adheres to a simple, “visible and recognizable shapes from a distance” philosophy.  The black and white, with hard edges, design is meant to be fun for adults and enjoyable for small children too.  In fact I started writing this series so that I would have a good adventure/sci-fi comic book to read to my daughter.

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Open Source. This time… with feeling!

Once.  Long, long ago (aka “last year”).  I tried to convert my long-standing (and fairly successful) business from a traditional “Closed Source Shareware” model to an Open Source model.

And I failed.  Tripped.  Wham.  Flat on my face.

But I’m not exactly the type of guy that lets a little something like that stop him.  No sir.  Learn from my mistakes, pick myself up — and try again.

So, as of today (5 minutes ago, to be exact) my entire business is now, once again… Free.  Free as in beer (no cost) and “Free” as in freedom (source code available under the GPL).  Everything.  Linux Tycoon.  App-Make-inator.  The whole kit and caboodle.

Check the “Apps”, “Games” and “Comics” buttons on the left for all the details on what is available.

I’ve learned some things over the last year — both about the business of earning a living by making free software, and about myself (what I enjoy and what I am truly good at) — that has left me confident that I can pull this off.  Here’s some details on how I’m approaching this:

Playing To My Strengths

BryanSure.  I make some cool software and such.  But, well, that’s really only part of what I “do”.

As many of you may know… I like to stick my mug in front of the camera.  And, as it turns out, I’m not completely terrible at that.  So let’s incorporate that in the form of a weekly video update over on my YouTube channel.

So what will this weekly video entail?

  • Updates on what is happening that week.  What I’m working on. What releases went out.
  • Updates on funding.  What sort of donations have come in during the week and how well we’re doing against the goals that month.
  • Discussion of other Open Source projects that need funding.  Not just my own.
  • Anything else I feel like rambling about.

There’s no set schedule (aka “Thursdays at 2:23PM”) for this.  Just “once a week”.  I will post the videos here, on Lunduke.com, as well as the YouTube channel.  And I’m sure I’ll share it out to Twitter and G+ too.  Because that’s what I do.

More Than Just Software

Ted128I also make Comic Books and such.  What about those?  Why not make those free too?

Done.  But let’s go a step further.

I am going to be releasing the source artwork for Road-Sign Hank and the Aliens (as Inkscape files) and 2299 (as bitmaps) under the Creative Commons.  Keep an eye here for that over the coming days.

Donations

Donations are great.  I’ve said this before: If every Linux user donated 1 dollar to a project… that would go a long way towards taking care of funding for so many of the Open Source projects we love and use every day.

And, to that end, I am setting an initial donation goal of $5,000 for the month of June.  Some may say that seems like a lot of money.  So allow me to lay out my reasoning for this number:

  • If this was a salary for a full time developer in North America… this would be a very low number.  We’re talking entry level wages here.
  • This is less than what I earn in sales when the software is closed source.
  • If only a fraction of the total user base for my software donates a single dollar… this goal will be easy as pie to reach.

As time goes on it may become a good idea to lower or raise this monthly goal.  I’m going to stay flexible here and adjust as needed.

Other Revenue Streams

But what about other various sources of revenue for supporting Open Source software?  Let’s do that too.

  • Shirts, Hats, Posters, etc. – Yep.  I’m going to be selling it all.
  • Bounties for features – Want to see a specific new feature faster?  You’ll be able to fund it directly.
  • Others? – There are lots of options out there.  From Ad revenue to App Store sales.  I will consider them all.

Leave no stone un-turned, as they say!

I Am Not An Island

There are a large number of, absolutely amazing, Open Source project out there.  And they need funding too.

But that funding tends to be quite elusive.  So let’s work to change that.

With that in mind I am putting together a page that lists as many Open Source projects as possible (in alphabetical order so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for) with direct links to their individual donation pages.

If you have a project that you would like to have included, drop me an email (link at the top of this page).

I am also pondering the notion of having a “Fund Open Source” telethon.  One of those “We stay on camera for 24 hours until we are punch drunk and acting ridiculous” deals to encourage folks to pitch in to one of many Open Source projects out there.  [This is just an idea at this point... no specific plans at this point.]

The point here is to work together, as a community, to make great things.  “A rising tide lifts all boats“, as they say.

So.  Here we go.

Holy moly, I am excited.  I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now… just been waiting until the moment was just right — and everything was primed for optimum success.  And now is that moment.

There’s plenty to do.  I need to some additional projects in source control still (that’s a weekend project for sure).  But all of the basics are in place.  You can download everything and donate as you feel appropriate.

Want to get ahold of me?  There are a plethora of links up top for your preferred communication mechanism.

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24-Hour “Pay What You Want” Sale

The sale is over!  But, do not despair!  All is not lost!

You can still save $10 (on any typically $30 purchase) by using the coupon code “LINUX” both at the Lunduke.com store and Theinators.com store.

Which ain’t too shabby.

Quick sale.  Because sales are fun.

Pay what you want.

Here’s what you get:

The Sale Has Ended!

This could save you like… a billion dollars.  Give or take.

This ends at sundown on Friday.  So… get it while you can.

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