Where your contributions go

This is a thank-you to my tip-jar contributors.

Today I spent $88.76 directly out of the tip jar on engineering samples of GPS dongles specially modified to carry the 1PPS signal out to USB. I will test them, and if the modification succeeds it is quite likely that the company I am cooperating with will begin shipping this mod in a volume product shortly. This will, for the first time, make time sources with 1ms accuracy available for less than $100 each. The application I have in mind is fixing the Internet; there are many others.

This is the sort of thing that happens when you donate money to support my open-source projects. Thank you; you are helping me make the world a better place.

9 thoughts on “Where your contributions go

  1. This will, for the first time, make time sources with 1ms accuracy available for less than $100 each. The application I have in mind is fixing the Internet; there are many others.

    Interesting side-question – how much bandwidth would be saved by Many People switching from NTP to a GPS-based time service?

    It can’t be significant in proportion, but it’s an amusing thought experiment.

  2. >Interesting side-question – how much bandwidth would be saved by Many People switching from NTP to a GPS-based time service?

    I believe the NTP traffic load is so light that the difference would be below the statistical noise level of the measurement.

  3. This reminded me of a question I had for you regarding the nature of contributing to open source projects. There was a presentation entitled “why Linux sucks” at some user group that made its way to youtube. Its premise was fixing what’s wrong with Linux, including the lack of good high end art software. One thing the speaker suggested was that the community as a whole needed to get together and make massive contributions to hire artists and the sort of non-programmer specialists companies like Adobe can afford to work with the open source developers to make these programs.

    But if the project is so non-profitable with an open source model that it requires donations to pay the workers, is open source even the right choice of development for this project? How is that sustainable?

    It doesn’t apply to this specific situation of yours very well, because what you’re doing is a public contribution that’d be beneficial to the whole even if it wasn’t open source. And frankly, open source or not, it could be extremely profitable if you aimed to make it so. For the good of society, you’re willing to donate this work of yours and ask for donations whereas if you aimed to make a profit, you’d have no problem finding investors. And I very much respect this.

    I suspect that it all comes down to both open and closed source software models have their roles, and unlike what the hardcore free software zealots may suggest, we should work toward working together, not killing off the closed-source developers.

  4. We shouldn’t kill the closed-source developers. We should convert them. We should work on improving and creating business models for open source projects, and make the world run the better way.

    While closed source business models are better, or thought to be better than open source, we must work on proving our thesis. Not in theory, mind you, but in practice. I think we’re (we being the Open Source community) working towards shifting the traditionalist business focus. Red Hat’s recent “more than 1bn in a year” represents, in my mind, a tipping point. It’s an arbitrarily big number with a significance in people’s mind (Anyone seen how people check Forbes’ “list of billionaires” and similar lists?).

    While I like what esr is doing with opensource in this particular project, I like better the idea that there’s a company that’s going to make quite the banging buck, and I surely hope they invest in the development of the technology in the future. If that company goes on to grow to billion-dollars-a-year revenues while investing in open technology development, that’s more important, business-wise, than the very improvement of the technology.

    @esr: have you ever considered monetizing (or having someone biz-savvy monetize) your OS projects _while loudly announcing it’s open source_? It might not be your usual course of action, but we need as many people as possible doing that. There might be some, or even many, business doing that, I’m not saying there aren’t. I think we need more.

    And, above all, I think we need Open Source Software earning money from the SME market (not only for them by reducing cots).

  5. >@esr: have you ever considered monetizing (or having someone biz-savvy monetize) your OS projects _while loudly announcing it’s open source_?

    Haven’t hit the right combination of circumstances yet.

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