[RFC] Decisions about Licensing

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Re: [RFC] Decisions about Licensing

Postby Giovanni » Mon Mar 14, 2016 9:26 am

Hi igor,

I need to address some points.

igor wrote:Hi Giovanni,
It's really the last bullet to generate significant revenue, because it provides to customers the tailored services they most likely need, plus the support over the life-cycle of the product, which makes the difference between best-effort and commercially-grade solutions.
IMHO the royalty driven model will die very soon, if it's not already dead. More and more companies selling silicon and HW in general are making available for free RTOS for their HW, so you have competitions at your door.


I work for one of those companies. Their solution are only acceptable if you are OK with general code quality and being tied with a vendor solution. About competition, it is not like it was not a competitive niche, it has always been a cutthroat market.

My plan is very simple: be better and low cost.

igor wrote:The real difference lies in how easily is it to find someone who can work efficiently with a certain sw solution.

Splitting the code base will have various detrimental effects:
    - more burden for you to maintain both
    - less incentives for others to use it (why should I choose some castrated OS?) and contribute back
    - less visibility/advertisement, because of the previous point

At most, what does seem to work, is that a certain fix/feature sponsored by a paying customer, doesn't become immediately public.
For example 2-3 months or until a product is launched, so that the customer can have a perceived competitive edge over their competitors.

This is very different from a separate code base, it's just an overlay of patches that is continuously updated and stuff eventually does end up in the free codebase.
Anything else will be perceived by non commercial users as sub-par and they will choose alternatives (your free user of today could be your customer of tomorrow).
For example, what if you intentionally keep the code unoptimized, but I submit a free patch that provides the same optimization?
You are putting yourself in the not so nice situation of having to choose between giving up an advantage of the closed version or not integrating my competing patch.


Rest assured, there will not be two code bases, one of the ChibiOS points has always been commercial==free codebases. Some features are simply not available in the free version. The GPL version will be always "full".

igor wrote: - requiring contributors to give up their rights might solve the situation for you, but it doesn't look so nice. Is it really the only way?
- discarding any history of who contributed what is even worse and frankly, unacceptable by any modern standard of sw development.


You must have missed credits in the code, those are maintained also in the commercial version. However only significant contributions are kept or there would be a clutter issue.

Copyright attribution is a different matter, nothing will be accepted in "ChibiOS core" without copyright attribution. Those that want to retain copyright on their code are welcomed guests in the community repository.

igor wrote: I was - really badly - surprised when I submitted a small enhancement to the Makefile and utzig told me that my commit message would be discarded.


Do you expect to have your name in all makefiles for a small change? small fixes are routine.

igor wrote: - will you move to something saner than sourceforge? The world is using github - I do not want to endorse the specific service provider, but the tool is definitely *the* standard. Incidentally it also supports proper history and commit mesages by others than the repo maintainer.


I have no issues with sourceforge, the new owner is fixing the dumb things made by the previous one, also, it happens that I do have issues with github, they will not have any business from me. BTW, subversion maintains the full history of commits too.

igor wrote:The great thing about true FOSS is that it ruthlessly kills its competitors, over time.
If you look at those companies that are successful in the FOSS market, they mostly sell services connected to their SW.
The FOSS is a business card for your tailored consulting business. It is *not* the money making machine, it's the vehicle for your company to be known and to establish new business relationships.


ChibiOS is active since 2007, a lot of wannabe competitors thrown the towel in the meanwhile but somehow we are still standing.

Giovanni

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Re: [RFC] Decisions about Licensing

Postby Giovanni » Tue Mar 15, 2016 1:51 pm

Returning to the topic of this thread.

Thanks for your feedback, it triggered the following decision for post-16.1:

1) The GPL+exception will return, it will be the same codebase but some advanced features will be disabled in RT and NIL. The HAL will be fully functional.

2) The "commercial free" option will stay but with less limitations than GPL+exception.

3) We will introduce ChibiOS licenses "a la carte". Everybody will be able to buy any number of licenses (even one) from the web site using an automatic form. After purchase the customer will receive a digital certificate, the receipt and a signed license.h file via email. The license.h file can then be placed in any GPL release and a tool will check the signature and then change all headers in the source tree turning it "commercial". The procedure can be repeated for any release in the same release branch, for example 16.1.x, so upgrades are basically free. This kind of licenses would not include a special support plan unlike normal commercial ones. Price would be inversely proportional to the number of licenses purchased.

About the certificate, I am thinking to a QR code stamp that the customer could, optionally, include in products documentation/web/box/whatever.

Giovanni


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