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Flathub seeks funding to add payments, donations and subscriptions

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Making the rounds recently is a proposal being made to add in payments, donations and subscriptions options to Flathub.

The proposal is available on the Plaintext Group GitHub, which was submitted by Robert McQueen, who is CEO of the Endless OS Foundation and GNOME Board President. For some context here Plaintext Group are "a nonpartisan, technology innovation policy initiative being developed by Schmidt Futures" (Schmidt Futures was founded by ex Google CEO Eric Schmidt).

As per the proposal they're trying to incentivize more "participation in the Linux application ecosystem, and remove financial barriers that prevent diverse participation" and they've already been working on adding in donations and payments on Flathub via Stripe and verify developers too with this year moving onto adding in subscriptions, reoccurring donations, new review tools to prevent abuse, automated security scanning and more to eventually have Flathub become self-sustaining. This is a joint effort between GNOME and KDE.

What they're trying to do is get extra funding to help towards their goal of expanding Flathub, as explained in the proposal they're seeking $100,000 USD from the Plaintext Group to cover the remaining budget needed to enable all this.

To note: this proposal has actually been there since November 2022, when the proposal itself was accepted into the GitHub repository for consideration.

What do you think to this? Especially interesting with Canonical recently going on the opposite direction by having Ubuntu flavours remove Flatpak by default.

Flathub is also going through a rebranding.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Misc, Open Source
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32 comments
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Quoting: dvd
Quoting: Klaas
Quoting: CyborgZetaNothing wrong with supporting the people who make, or package, the software I use.
I wonder how they prevent someone from lazily throwing a package together and selling it on flathub while the original authors get nothing. Similar to what happens on Steam, e.g. https://www.gamingonlinux.com/2022/10/someone-released-the-foss-rts-0-ad-on-steam-without-speaking-to-the-developers/.

Nothing, anyone can sell free software.
Contrariwise, though, if it's FLOSS there's also nothing to stop anyone from putting it up for free. Charging money for Free Software is perfectly fine, but somewhat self-limiting.

Personally, I think that vis-a-vis Free Software this is not an important move--it might help a few projects get some contributions, and that's fine, but it's not going to damage the open source model; anyone who thinks it could is not remembering their open source history.

What interests me more is the closed source, commercial software side. This could set up Flathub as a distribution source for Linux software from closed source software publishers. That could be good for Linux. Not in the short term good for open source, but I think that on Linux, open source software tends in the long term to win out (less so in games, which have various weird characteristics such as being ephemeral and art-heavy). What one could see is an increased ecosystem of closed source (mostly non-game) Linux software distributed via Flathub, complementing the ecosystem of mostly closed source game software from Steam, and combining to make Linux a viable desktop for more and more use cases. But the open source software continues to be distributed on it mostly via more traditional distro repositories and package management. As the Linux desktop grows, with more user and developer base I would expect more and more of the open source alternatives to these Flathub-distributed closed source applications would reach critical mass and gradually supplant the closed offerings.

So. Summing up, I think:
--Short term, for open source, some people get a bit of money to help development, impact minor
--Short term, for closed source, could help distribution of closed software to the Linux desktop, creating more interest in providing same
--Medium term, could help grow Linux desktop but somewhat crowd out open source software on Linux
--Longer term, I'd expect on a bigger-share Linux desktop, open source alternatives would grow again and displace the closed offerings. In the vague, nebulous future a good thing.
slaapliedje Feb 27
Quoting: MercifulBossSounds like bad news as all the app developers will transition to flatpak and paid services. There will be few free FOSS developers left and this will likely leave distro repositories empty. I'd also expect that the open source movement will die as app developers seek to protect their revenue and close their code so they can continue making money.

Overall I think this is bad news for linux
This is a very good thing. The app developers that were already wanting donations could ask through github, or wherever. All this does is make that more visible. Now what I think would be bad is if flathub (mind you that's the 'store' vs the client) decides they should get a 30% cut of that... While I understand doing money transactions have a cost, that should be the limit of the charge they get.

This would give a huge benefit for those who have been on the fence about releasing Linux versions of their software for decades, universal packaging? Check. Being able to monetize your product? Check. Giving someone else a third of your profit? Nope!

(Note: It's a universal package, except for Ubuntu which you have to go through some hoops to get flatpak instead of snap (for example, I could never get the Ubuntu store to work with flatpak instead of snap, you have to install the gnome-software app.)
I like the sound of this but the idea of subscriptions for FOSS stuff makes me nervous. Yes I know stuff like Spotify is on there but it still makes me nerves nonetheless.
STiAT Feb 27
I personally still think the companies profiting from open source should stem such funding. As a contributor of my time I do not feel compelled to do financial invests as well as time invests into anything.

I do not think you should put that purely on users either. 100 grand for companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook or similar are pocket money. And big projects as Flathub are worth it.

I think it would often be better to just provide infrastructure and traffic for free, so those projects do not have to stem those costs. And it costs those companies basically nothing to provide that.
Quoting: Purple Library GuyWhat interests me more is the closed source, commercial software side. This could set up Flathub as a distribution source for Linux software from closed source software publishers. That could be good for Linux. Not in the short term good for open source, but I think that on Linux, open source software tends in the long term to win out (less so in games, which have various weird characteristics such as being ephemeral and art-heavy). What one could see is an increased ecosystem of closed source (mostly non-game) Linux software distributed via Flathub, complementing the ecosystem of mostly closed source game software from Steam, and combining to make Linux a viable desktop for more and more use cases. But the open source software continues to be distributed on it mostly via more traditional distro repositories and package management. As the Linux desktop grows, with more user and developer base I would expect more and more of the open source alternatives to these Flathub-distributed closed source applications would reach critical mass and gradually supplant the closed offerings.
I would like to agree with you, but I can't see Adobe ever writing software for GNU/Linux. Affinity Serif maybe, though unlikely.

Distributing your software on GNU/Linux is hard and backwards in most people's eyes, so this is a big problem (perhaps the biggest) being solved, but it is not the most important problem. One of the problems Valve solved was distribution; they made it very easy to get games to users in exchange for money and for users to install them. Users didn't have to do anything different from what they were already doing, and much more importantly, developers didn't either. Valve worked with Codeweavers to improve compatibility for other publisher's software on a platform they don't care about, and now some of them do care, at least a little.

I don't think Flatpak, regardless of how polished it is, will get software publishers caring about GNU/Linux, but it does solve a pain point for many small developers who want to support the platform but are put off by the horde of distribution methods. I think the market share needs to come before publishers will consider distributing their software on GNU/Linux, and the only tool we really have to help with that is WINE.

Though this does raise the question of how much Flatpak's sandbox impedes the developer's ability to implement DRM and associated watchdogs. This would be particularly unappealing for Adobe, for example.


Last edited by pleasereadthemanual on 27 February 2023 at 11:08 pm UTC
Quoting: Purple Library GuySumming up, I think:
--Short term, for open source, some people get a bit of money to help development, impact minor
--Short term, for closed source, could help distribution of closed software to the Linux desktop, creating more interest in providing same
--Medium term, could help grow Linux desktop but somewhat crowd out open source software on Linux
--Longer term, I'd expect on a bigger-share Linux desktop, open source alternatives would grow again and displace the closed offerings. In the vague, nebulous future a good thing.

I'm glad somebody gets the Second Order of Consequences ( that is that each effect forks into secondary and third forks of nested effects )

For example historically, Valve releasing Steam Beta on Linux 10 years ago lead to -> Porting Source / Source 2 Engines, work on Gamepad Controller drivers in the Kernel, improvements to SDLv2 and later -> The creation of Proton aswell as improvements to MESA, AMD open drivers, Nvidia Drivers and so on which eventually leads to Steam Deck and in the future Deckard VR.

--

I am tired of the historical false tropes -- like OMG Linux is FREE, or is that "that really old looking DOS thing".

All the Rust work and UnixprOnz CLI with amazing TUI applications like bpytop, neofetch, cava, pamixer, musikcube and others has already negated the second false trope.

Taking out the first will be my pleasure, I've spent tens of thousands on high end hardware, monitors, threadippers, expensive keyboards -- even $4,000 drawing monitors just because they support Linux.

To those who _really_ know Computing. Linux is King. Tell me where to shovel the money to the commercial software devs, then sooner we can dismantle and make a mockery of the shills and disinformants throwing shit to FUD up our reputation the better.

To go along with your points -- I do think that selling tools is different from selling content, and licensing and paying money for games and content vs tools or platform is fundamentally different. I think a platform and all its core libs and core tools (like htop, itop, etc..) should be cost-free to the consumer _if possible_ -- however if someone wants to charge for a alternative to Photoshop, or Games, or Music or other Content -- it makes sense they are creating the content as a business venture on some level.

I will be happy to see this stigmatism dismantled.


Last edited by ElectricPrism on 27 February 2023 at 11:14 pm UTC
STiAT Feb 27
Quoting: pleasereadthemanualThis would be particularly unappealing for Adobe, for example.

Most of Adobes software is actually web-based now. Distribution shouldn't be much of an issue. The issue is supporting it, and what Valve did in the gaming sector is taking over support for Steamdeck and Proton. Nobody will do that unless there is a market share worth investing into.

Nobody needs to talk to dozens of entities (distributions), they talk to Valve. And I think that's a key point of success there, Valve takes care it runs basically anywhere as long as it runs on a reference platform (which was originally debian based and is now arch based). And a device with actual market share of course. And I think we can agree Steam Deck pretty much gained some share.


Last edited by STiAT on 27 February 2023 at 11:35 pm UTC
Quoting: ElectricPrismI would buy several commercial tools right now if they were available starting with Affinity Photo 2 -- it was my understanding some people got it running in Bottles a few months back.

I was a part of that thread over on the Affinity forums.

Yeah, we got one of the last pre 2.0 releases to run in Bottles, but it wasn't exactly what I'd call a smooth experience. Between the flickering canvas, and the constant crashes, I'd say it's one step above "...well, at least we got it to boot."
Quoting: pleasereadthemanual
Quoting: Purple Library GuyWhat interests me more is the closed source, commercial software side. This could set up Flathub as a distribution source for Linux software from closed source software publishers. That could be good for Linux. Not in the short term good for open source, but I think that on Linux, open source software tends in the long term to win out (less so in games, which have various weird characteristics such as being ephemeral and art-heavy). What one could see is an increased ecosystem of closed source (mostly non-game) Linux software distributed via Flathub, complementing the ecosystem of mostly closed source game software from Steam, and combining to make Linux a viable desktop for more and more use cases. But the open source software continues to be distributed on it mostly via more traditional distro repositories and package management. As the Linux desktop grows, with more user and developer base I would expect more and more of the open source alternatives to these Flathub-distributed closed source applications would reach critical mass and gradually supplant the closed offerings.
I would like to agree with you, but I can't see Adobe ever writing software for GNU/Linux. Affinity Serif maybe, though unlikely.
True enough. Adobe, fuggedaboutit. Mind you, Adobe are turning so evil these days that forget Linux, software users in general are going to have to find some way to dump them. What the fuck is this "Adobe Creative Cloud" subscription bullshit?

Quoting: pleasereadthemanualI don't think Flatpak, regardless of how polished it is, will get software publishers caring about GNU/Linux, but it does solve a pain point for many small developers who want to support the platform but are put off by the horde of distribution methods. I think the market share needs to come before publishers will consider distributing their software on GNU/Linux, and the only tool we really have to help with that is WINE.
Makes me wonder how workable it would be to build Flatpaks with (Windows application + Wine), and whether Codeweavers could make a few pennies setting up such packages on Flathub for Windows software sellers?
Quoting: STiAT
Quoting: pleasereadthemanualThis would be particularly unappealing for Adobe, for example.

Most of Adobes software is actually web-based now.
Hmmm . . . I just had a tech guy come down to help me be able to use Acrobat again, and that didn't seem to be quite the case.
I work in a university library, fair number of employees across three locations. For all the other software, what happens as far as I can tell is the IT people buy a bunch of licenses and then the software is available on your desktop. And that's what old Adobe Acrobat Pro was like. But with the new "Creative Cloud" thingie, the way it worked was they bought a bunch of licenses subscriptions, and then I had to click on this Adobe Creative Cloud thing on the Windows software menu, and then that brought me to a web portal, and I had to make a password and stuff--that's me, individually, but only after I was pre-authenticated as being someone who was allowed to in the first place, right.

But then it wasn't like anything was a web application. What the cloudy portal let me do was download the application (and in theory other Adobe applications). As far as I can tell, the only thing "cloud" about it is that it phones home to the "cloud" to remind the mother ship of its existence and if the library's subscription runs out Adobe will nuke it from my desktop directly. Assholes.


Last edited by Purple Library Guy on 28 February 2023 at 1:22 am UTC
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