Cost of reasonable distribution

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by marcelol, Jul 23, 2004.

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  1. marcelol

    marcelol Network Guru Member

    SO....since the /. thread has been closed, and since this is a forum about "Modded firmware for the Linksys product line of routers" (primarily). I want to talk about ( since after all, the heading of this forum is "anything goes" ), what people think they consider a reasonable cost for the following:

    1. Should source updates be made available electronically, as well as physical media distribution ? ( which do you prefer and why ? )
    2. What do you consider should be a reasonable costs ( if any ) associated with obtaining said source code for modded firmware ?

    I had a third question to pose, but since we're being enjoined ( i.e. nicely made aware that we should not ) against discussing G_L subject matter, I'll refrain from it.

    So, what does everyone think. Please, no flames, no bickering. This really is a topic for discussion. Yes, as with most things, it does have a logical driver behind it. To provide feedback to the providers of customized firmware ( I am NOT affiliated with any of them, strictly an interested party in the outcome of this discussion ), with the following:

    A) Real sentiment about their possible "customer" base feelings regarding availability methods for their deliverables.

    B) What "traffic is prepared to allow" ( i.e. what the customers are reasonably willing to pay ), with regards "reasonable cost" associated with providing these source deliverables.

    C) Possibly WHY they feel the way they do.

    I have tried to put these items as simply and succinctly as possible so that there's no confusion as to what I'm trying to get at. Please read the questions thoroughly before replying, and please give as clear an answer as you are able to. I believe we can all benefit from having this subject discussed .
  2. rwhitby

    rwhitby Network Guru Member

    [Be aware that James Ewing has told his subscriber base that he will work out a way for them to get beta source code electronically for free (for subscribers), before the next beta firmware release.]

    I think $50 is a fair price for the all-up cost of my time spent sending a burnt CD to someone overseas who is not prepared to subscribe to a development effort.

    If I personally (living in Australia, and getting a request from someone in a different country) had to spend time burning a CD, buying some postal packaging, writing out the address, driving to the post office, and paying for the overseas postage (by registered post, in case it got lost) to post it for someone who was not prepared to support my coding effort by spending a measly $20 (in which case they would get the source code electronically for free), then I would want a reasonable sum of money for my time and trouble.

    I don't know about your life, but the time I have available to spend with my kids already is too short to waste by burning CDs for people who aren't prepared to spend $20 in the first place to support open source development instead of wanting everything for free.

    But this is just my opinion. You are free to have a different opinion on how much you would consider reasonable to charge non-subscribers if you were in Sveasoft's position, and I won't argue with your opinion (and don't expect or want you to argue with mine).

    -- Rod
  3. marcelol

    marcelol Network Guru Member


    Thanks for the update, but not yet being a subscriber, I suppose I haven't been privvy to new arrangements made available to users. The information I had at the time, stated that distribution via CD was the ONLY method that was going to be supported. I suppose I can go back to /. and send them an update about this, but before I'd do that I'd want to have some substantiation behind it.

    Thanks for the response also, I appreciate your candor. It still doesn't address my first question. Regardless of whether you WANT to receive something VIA CD, should not the option be made to those who wish to have it obtained electronically be there. My goal here is to establish a precendent. If one vendor chooses to follow the course of "CD only" distribution, sure, that's his/her right, but I think the consumer should be heard about what their wishes are. And that's the basis for my posing my questions.

    You bring up an interesting point, and in some cases, I can see what you're saying. However, my belief is >9 out of 10 people when the option of either obtaining an update to something, will choose to obtain it electronically, rather than on media. Regardless of whether they have/want to burn it on a CD. Frankly, if you're getting a source distribution, the only reason you'd probably WANT to put it onto a CD is for archival purposes. It's not like you're going to run a "make" against the code on the CD. :!:

    Thanks again for your feedback. Anyone else ?
  4. rwhitby

    rwhitby Network Guru Member

  5. littlewhoo

    littlewhoo Network Guru Member

    I would definitely prefer distirbution via FTP, HTTP Download or something like that. At least providing the source electronically is the most convenient and inexpensive way for both sides, the one distributing the code and the one obtaining the code. You can get 1GB of traffic for 50 Cent or even less.

    I think
    - max. 1$ for the CD (You can get 10 quality CD-Rs for only 5-6 EU)
    - max. 2$ for packaging (a special lined envelope for shipping CDs costs usually 0.5-1 EU)
    - 3-6$ for shipping (At least sending a CD from Germany to Australia, which is pretty much at the opposite side of the earth, costs only 3 EU)

    So 7-10$ is a reasonable price for shipping GPL'd sourcecode.

    And imho that's more or less, what the GPL says.
    " give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code,..."

    After all, the costs for physically performing source distribution do only include things like media costs, shipping fee..., but not any payment for the work involved.
    So you can't say: "Usually, when working, I'm getting 200$/hour. Unfortunately I have only an old 2x CD recoder, so I have to stop working for 40min to burn the CD. So the costs for distributing the sourcecode are 133$"

    Recently in a discussion about the distribution costs of GPL'd sourcecode (I think it was at Slashdot), someone proposed, that the GPL should be modified, so that you are not allowed to charge more for distributing the sourcecode, than you had to pay for yourself for the original GPL'd sourcecode. This sounds quite reasonable to me.

  6. rwhitby

    rwhitby Network Guru Member

    Sorry. but I must respectfully and completely disagree with you there. The cost of physically performing source distribution do include someone's time.

    If you have an issue with that, then I suggest you contact the FSF and get a ruling on the matter. Please post the full text of your exchange with the FSF here when you get it. Thanks.

    -- Rod
  7. marcelol

    marcelol Network Guru Member

    [quote rwhitby]
    The only question of CD-only availability is access to the source code of beta releases by non-subscribers for corresponding firmware binaries that they have obtained by means other than being a subscriber. That's a minority group for whom access to the source code does not need to be made easy (in my opinion), it just needs to be GPL compliant (which I believe is true for CD-only access with a $50 charge).
    [/quote rwhitby]

    IN this circumstance, I can see your point. And while I agree that a factor of a person's time should rightfully included, but the fact is that this mechanism of "subscriptions" is what I believe most users take offense to. Yes, a reasonable cost in time and materials is GPL-compliant, and frankly I can see his ( James ) point if this is the case. So, following your example, if a subscriber requested a CD, do you think he/she should be charged similarly to what a non-subscriber would be ? What would you consider a reasonable charge for providing such ?

    Interesting that nowhere else have I heard this explained this way. I will contact Mr. Ewing directly, ask for certain clarification, because what you've described radically conflicts with what I think most of us have read "in the media".

    Anyone else care to weigh in ?
  8. Toxic

    Toxic Administrator Staff Member

    I am now closing this issue seeing it is bordering on my forum violations.

    NO discussion of GPL? doh....
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