Voice of the Masses: What’s the best way to fund Free Software?

Elementary OS is an up-and-coming Linux distribution that has gained popularity thanks to its attractive and consistent user interface. Until recently, the downloads page for the distro asked if users wanted to make a financial donation to the project – but the default amount was $0. Now the Elementary OS team has changed that to $10, and the reasoning? “We want users to understand that they’re pretty much cheating the system when they choose not to pay for software.”

Uh-oh. This has generated plenty of teeth-gnashing around the net, with many commentators noting that Elementary OS is largely a repackaged Ubuntu, which in turn is a spin-off from Debian, which doesn’t try to make users feel guilty for downloading for free. So for our next podcast, which ($DEITY-willing) we’ll record on Friday, we want to hear from you: is this a good way to fund Free Software projects?

Does it help users to realise that FOSS requires funding, or will it just turn people away? If you think it’s a terrible idea, how would you go about raising money if you were an Elementary OS dev? Let us know your thoughts in the comments and we’ll read out the best!


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