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Old 04 April 2015, 06:59   #1
wXR
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Please open source all the things

Hi guys,

It's amazing to see that even in 2015, our hobbyist computer still receives so many new developments. These efforts are no doubt highly appreciated by everyone, but I think we can do even better. This post is being made to encourage everyone to start thinking, ironically, about future users, and future developers.

Sakura here, is leading the way:
https://github.com/Sakura-IT/

Transparency. The benefits are clear: If you open your code (and designs, in Sakura's case) up, you allow more people to participate in it. You may grow tired of your project, but others may continue deriving benefit from it. Is what you really want for everyone to start again from scratch, to painstakingly reverse engineer what you've already achieved? Attribution doesn't go away with Git repositories, you know. :-)

I cannot imagine any reason in 2015, why most new Amiga (or retrocomputer generally) apps should not include source. Most likely you aren't making any money from this stuff. Why not allow newcomers and existing enthusiasts alike to learn from your work, and for existing users to continue improving it? As much as I'm speaking to individual app developers, I'm also looking at you Hyperion, A-EON, AmigaKit, Elbox, MorphOS team, etc. It isn't the 1990s anymore.

Again, much love and respect for your work. But let's make what's left of Amiga land all about educating and sharing, as much as it continues to be about impressing the living hell out of one another. :-)

Last edited by wXR; 04 April 2015 at 11:00.
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Old 04 April 2015, 07:43   #2
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A great idea but most Amiga software developers are too selfish to do it. Not only are their projects closed-source but they ask for money for them as well. Some things never change.
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Old 04 April 2015, 09:46   #3
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Why should people give their hard work away free ? I agree that open source is good for us but it's not good for the developer. With the rise of mobile tech, old style games are all the rage now. We could see many Amiga ,atari,msx , Apple2 style titles coming around again on iOS or android.

Look at organ trail for instance or flappy bird.

Serious programs or apps is different , amiga os productivity software is pretty much unsellable now although a few try.

Open source is great but don't expect much , 25 year old software has a habit of getting lost or damaged two.
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Old 04 April 2015, 10:59   #4
wXR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjnurney View Post
Why should people give their hard work away free ? I agree that open source is good for us but it's not good for the developer. With the rise of mobile tech, old style games are all the rage now. We could see many Amiga ,atari,msx , Apple2 style titles coming around again on iOS or android.

Look at organ trail for instance or flappy bird. Serious programs or apps is different , amiga os productivity software is pretty much unsellable now although a few try.

Open source is great but don't expect much , 25 year old software has a habit of getting lost or damaged two.
I really don't see the correlation between the source being available and not being able to make a profit on an app store. The average iOS/Android user is not going to roll his or her own compilation of a given app.
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Old 04 April 2015, 11:26   #5
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I think open source full potential can only be unleashed if we ditch capitalism.

Regarding GPL licensing specifically, one could argue it was designed to virally create this "incompatibility" with the market based system as a whole, and over time push us towards resource based economy (hopefully built on democracy).

In the current global system open source development remains a compromise which can only profit in business constructs designed to provide funding by other means.
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Old 04 April 2015, 12:04   #6
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Originally Posted by wXR View Post
I really don't see the correlation between the source being available and not being able to make a profit on an app store. The average iOS/Android user is not going to roll his or her own compilation of a given app.
Look at all the Flappy Bird or [insert popular app title here but i don't have an iOs or Android device] clones, imagine how much easier it would be for a potential clone coder to just take the source code from a currently popular Amiga-flavoured project and generate their own "clone" from the original code if it were open sourced - just wrapping it in an emulator'd probably work.

i'm an 8-bit bunny and rarely release my source code, although that's usually been because i don't want people learning the dirtier techniques i tend to use or have to suffer the bespoke, "user unfriendly" conversion tools i end up churning out for each project. That said, on the few occasions i have released source the terms have usually been ignored by someone down the line.

i'm still not against people releasing source and might consider it myself on certain projects, but expecting everybody to do so with everything is simply unrealistic. Just out of interest wXR, how much source have you released personally...?
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Old 04 April 2015, 12:24   #7
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If we open sourced everything then Oreos would no longer be Oreos (everything would taste the same).
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Old 04 April 2015, 13:23   #8
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Open sourcing applications is not always the answer to every project.

AROS is an example of an Amiga related open source project and some very hard work has clearly been done there with some good results. However, it has taken a very long time to get this far since it's inception in 1994.

We need a commercial model to accelerate development and close the gap with mainstream platforms.

I can understand why non-coders do not always realise the huge effort in developing even basic software on the Amiga, let alone more complex applications. These developers need to live and survive and asking the price of a pizza is not too much for many people who benefit from good software.

I sometimes see users on Amiga forums stating that they do not wish to pay the small fee for some Amiga software written by a bedroom coder and instead wanting it for free. But then in other threads the same posters have given 70 to Microsoft for an XBox game.
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Old 04 April 2015, 13:54   #9
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Originally Posted by amigakit.com View Post
These developers need to live and survive and asking the price of a pizza is not too much for many people who benefit from good software.
While it's certainly not too much, you can't live on that if your market is hundreds of people. People should consider the fact that there's not much money to be made in Amiga software. Developing Amiga software is something you do because you enjoy doing it, any money you get out of it is just a bonus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amigakit.com View Post
I sometimes see users on Amiga forums stating that they do not wish to pay the small fee for some Amiga software written by a bedroom coder and instead wanting it for free. But then in other threads the same posters have given 70 to Microsoft for an XBox game.
Really? What a douchebags.
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Old 04 April 2015, 14:53   #10
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The "commercial model" Amigakit so selflessly recommends here leads to people having to pay for (very) slightly updated versions of 20 year old software like Personal Paint, Aladdin or Final Writer, not sure what any of these have to do with "bedroom coding".

If you really want to make money (I haven't seen any bedroom coders making money with their Amiga output in the last decade?), the GPL is not a problem - you just have to adjust your business model. Even on AmigaOS 4, people were earning some really nice pocket money with open source software - the guy who ported DOpus 4 comes to mind, for example, or the 7000 Euros paid for the ridiculously bad and unfinished port of Firefox.

You can ask for donations, sell your software for six months then make it free (as in Freedom) software, organize some crowd funding ("will be released if amount X is payed upfront"), sell a boxed collector's edition...

But again: what bedroom coders have been trying to make money recently? I can't think of any. And if you're releasing your stuff for free, also releasing the sources under a free license is not much of a financial problem.

If the developer wants to port his old releases to some mobile platform and earn money there, we're out of luck. But there are hundreds of really good PD games out there where this is not the case. Even if I only look for good AMOS, BlitzBasic and GRAC games (for easy portability and/or maintainability), I can come up with dozens of old games worth preserving or updating.

That stuff will be lost forever one day, because running it in an emulator is cumbersome, requires special knowledge and is legally complicated since it requires Kickstart ROMs.
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Old 04 April 2015, 15:19   #11
wXR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMR View Post
Look at all the Flappy Bird or [insert popular app title here but i don't have an iOs or Android device] clones, imagine how much easier it would be for a potential clone coder to just take the source code from a currently popular Amiga-flavoured project and generate their own "clone" from the original code if it were open sourced - just wrapping it in an emulator'd probably work.
Open source does not equal rights for a third party to distribute someone else's work in a commercial app store, or to otherwise make money from the project. In fact, most all of the licenses expressly prohibit this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TMR View Post
i'm still not against people releasing source and might consider it myself on certain projects, but expecting everybody to do so with everything is simply unrealistic. Just out of interest wXR, how much source have you released personally...?
I am not a coder, but all of the projects I have worked on in the last 5 years have been fully open/Free.
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Old 04 April 2015, 15:22   #12
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I'm the owner of Sakura, some time ago I expressed my opinion about openness in the thread about Sonnet on AmigaWorld. It pretty much sums up my attitude.

When I produced the PCMCIA SRAM boards, did the fact that project is open impact sales anyhow? I highly doubt that.

Proponents of open source need to realise one important thing. Just opening everything does not magically solve the problems of our community. Sure, it often makes things easier, but the most important thing is getting people involved.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that are only good with writing stuff on forums, bitching and pretty much nothing else. But I'm not making the projects open to appeal these kind of people. What I care about is other developers, who (if the project was closed) in the future might have to reinvent the wheel. The most scarce resource in any computer community is the developer. Don't let this resource go to waste with constant need for reimplementation of existing things (or just figuring out how these things work)! It is also important for educational reasons, if we want our platform to survive, the new developers they need some examples.

In various Amiga-related projects I already had to reverse engineer, reimplement and rewrite existing things. I consider it a waste of time to write again something that already is out there.

Some hardware vendors are even refusing to release programming documentation. This is pathological situation. Fortunately a lot of new products are coming from Jens and he is doing a good job supporting independent developers with necessary information. I wrote NetBSD drivers for ACA500, X-Surf 100 and a couple of other products. It was a relatively painless process, compared to writing Mediator drivers where reverse engineering was necessary.

In the Amiga community there is some weird assumption that open source means the project must be non-commercial. At dayjob I work very closely with a major open source company. The amount of money they make is insane, and honestly I think it's more than all the Amiga companies make together... Could these methods be applied in Amiga community? I don't know, Sakura is a kind of experiment that will show it.

Quote:
We need a commercial model to accelerate development and close the gap with mainstream platforms.
I think, what the closed model is currently doing, it's not accelerating but slowing down the development. We need to get out of this 90s mentality. Some project leaders need to realise that this closed-secretive approach makes it very difficult for other people to participate in development of existing projects.

Or even makes it difficult to create new things. Let's imagine I wanted to create a new graphics card for classic Amiga. Fine, I can make the hardware. But then, it needs to be programmed. The only viable OS3 RTG systems are Picasso96 and CGX. Can I just develop the drivers? No. Cause siikretz and driver development kit is not publicly available. Also see what Ratte wrote here. Crap, I don't have the time to reinvent the RTG wheel now, guess that graphics card project will be postponed.

PCI programming "standards" on OS3 are similar mess. Amiga developers managed to create a dozen of incompatible APIs through the years. All of them closed source (excluding the AROS one, but well, it needs AROS). OpenPCI is so "open" that it provides development kit publicly. At least that, but it's not nearly enough for more advanced projects anyway, like Sonnet. It's possible we'll have to reimplement PCI wheel for Sonnet (more about that here).

Concluding, I believe Amiga projects could benefit a lot from more open approach.
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Old 04 April 2015, 15:30   #13
wXR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amigakit.com View Post
I sometimes see users on Amiga forums stating that they do not wish to pay the small fee for some Amiga software written by a bedroom coder and instead wanting it for free. But then in other threads the same posters have given 70 to Microsoft for an XBox game.
FWIW, though I personally don't support nonfree applications on any platform, I would be very happy to contribute financially to a project for a hobbyist platform that has source available, even if that license happened to be a good deal more restrictive than GPL/BSD/MIT, i.e. here's private repo access, but please don't distribute it.

About AROS: I don't think that's a reasonable analogy. I think the answer to why it moved so slowly is because, in the end, there was very little point. It's an admirable goal to want to create an open source implementation of the AmigaOS, but it's a minority within a minority who will care, especially since the initial goal was not running on actual Amiga hardware.
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Old 04 April 2015, 15:31   #14
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@strim

I am very much looking to ensure that AmigaOS 4 and 3 projects get updated at the same time wherever possible. In the past OS 3 has been left behind and I have been working hard the last year to redress that balance.

If you believe we can work together, get in touch. I am always approachable to new ideas.
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Old 04 April 2015, 15:42   #15
wXR
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Proponents of open source need to realise one important thing. Just opening everything does not magically solve the problems of our community. Sure, it often makes things easier, but the most important thing is getting people involved.
That's exactly right. But of course it has to start with a decision to be open to other people being involved, at any point now or in the future. God, if we could just get past this one first step, we could move mountains!

Let's face it, the difference in the present age of software development as compared to the 80s/90s, is that great projects can be found at all. GitHub lubricates the whole social/community process so I don't have to chase a developer by snail mail or some obscure BBS with questions, suggestions, etc. Here's my pull request, here's how to reach me. Thanks for your hard work.

And seriously strim, thanks for your hard work, and for drawing a very clear line in the sand about this topic. Forget the naysayers, what you are doing is the right thing and I wish you absolutely great success in all of it.

Last edited by wXR; 04 April 2015 at 16:32.
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Old 04 April 2015, 18:06   #16
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Gotta love the incredible sense of entitlement here, where you're horrible and selfish if you opt not to give away the thing you made for free as you're apparently morally obligated to do. But don't worry, you can still make money off your work, as long as you give anybody the capacity to take it without paying you! (Because you can just give away the program and only charge for the data! Because all you're going to be making is games, right?)

(Of course, I actually am planning to do some kind of source-code release of most of my projects when I get around to finishing them - but I'm doing this because I choose to, not because I'm in any way obligated. And it sure as hell won't be GPL, those pompous self-righteous freetards can go jump in a lake.)
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Old 04 April 2015, 18:23   #17
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Or even makes it difficult to create new things. Let's imagine I wanted to create a new graphics card for classic Amiga. Fine, I can make the hardware. But then, it needs to be programmed. The only viable OS3 RTG systems are Picasso96 and CGX. Can I just develop the drivers? No. Cause siikretz and driver development kit is not publicly available. Also see what Ratte wrote here. Crap, I don't have the time to reinvent the RTG wheel now, guess that graphics card project will be postponed.
I'll second that. A couple of years ago when I was tinkering with the Chameleon64's Minimig core I started looking at adding an RTG mode. It would have been fairly straightforward but I abandoned the idea because of the driver issue.
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Old 04 April 2015, 18:44   #18
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Gotta love the incredible sense of entitlement here, where you're horrible and selfish if you opt not to give away the thing you made for free as you're apparently morally obligated to do.
Thank god you're not a drama queen or something :P

Nobody's demanding anything, as far as I can tell. I just see people arguing that open sourcing stuff would benefit the community more than not open sourcing it.

Quote:
But don't worry, you can still make money off your work, as long as you give anybody the capacity to take it without paying you!
I was talking about projects that were free already, and could only be monetarised by third parties because of that. It was just an example that "free" software doesn't have to result in the developer not getting compensated at all.

Are you planning to sell your stuff? We were mostly referring to old code anyway. Not sure why you're getting so worked up.

Quote:
And it sure as hell won't be GPL, those pompous self-righteous freetards can go jump in a lake.)
Fine, then use some other well-known license. GPL is usually just used as an example because it's the most famous free license. There are others (BSD, Apache) that are less strict.

Last edited by Korodny; 04 April 2015 at 18:54.
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Old 05 April 2015, 01:00   #19
Thorham
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Gotta love the incredible sense of entitlement here, where you're horrible and selfish if you opt not to give away the thing you made for free as you're apparently morally obligated to do. But don't worry, you can still make money off your work, as long as you give anybody the capacity to take it without paying you! (Because you can just give away the program and only charge for the data! Because all you're going to be making is games, right?)
Yeah, that's right. If people want to sell things they made themselves, let them. They have all the rights in the universe to do so, and there's nothing wrong with paying for good software, old, new or otherwise.

Especially for old software people seem to think you should be able to get it for free legally. Very strange that, especially seeing how the software apparently isn't old enough to use

Generally, perhaps people should work on free, open source projects for the Amiga. There are other platforms that are literally a million times better for commercial products. The Amiga platform is so small that you might as well do it for free (but that let that stop anyone from selling Amiga software).
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Old 05 April 2015, 03:19   #20
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@wXR

Actually for me the point of AROS - missed by most - was not only to reimplement Amiga OS as open source and to do it cross-platform wise but also to offer open alternatives to the closed source toolboxes around: so you need a RTG? you have a cybergraphx reimplementation; you need MUI? there is zune; an open REXX reimplementation? we ported Regina, a 3D API? Gallium is here, and is working also as a gene bank to save some of the technologies that are not available for development.

As i see tihngs this is the turning point for the remaining Amiga communities: the survival itself of the "amiga way" approach is in danger, and that exactly because there are still entities that unlike on other communities keep the essential pieces for devlopment locked away (as Locutus called it the "crown jewel syndrome") so without those pieces no free reimplementations, no new software, no interest on new devs or curious devs that need to do some kind of treasure hunt to catch code pieces and also face a unlikely level of economical expense for a tiny hobby system what has become; and for this, until the music seriously change, in my opinion there will be no good homebrews or new software to sell or offer like on other retrocommunities and Amiga will be just a memorial.

Personally am more inclined towards free accessible infrastructures (APIs, libraries, languages,toolkits) than to open the program themselves so to give tools to whomever like, then if they want to do open software is better, for commercial would be more towards a donation system if possible. But i state for me the first priority objective should be to have an userbase (possibly an active one) grow again: some numbers to restart and make worthy build things.

@strim

probably not in your interest or short term goal, however i think you can write some generic documentation so that third people could do a clean room rewrite of P96 or some wrappers...

by the way i liked what you did with the Sonnet

Last edited by TCD; 05 April 2015 at 09:31. Reason: Back-to-back posts merged.
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