A new and alternative open source business model.

Chromium / Google Chrome

Google Chrome does not need much introduction any more, especially not to those interested in open source software. It is the best browser available. It is fast, secure, supports bookmark sync and extensions. The Chromium project is the open-source core of the Chrome Browser, and as we reported before, it is also available on FreeBSD.

As Google doesn’t create FreeBSD builds (as yet?), porting Chromium to FreeBSD has to be done by volunteers, e.g. developers is Sprewell and Ben Laurie.

Chromium is Linux based, but it is possible to get it running on FreeBSD by applying some patches. However, more work is needed to stabilise and to include it in the ports tree, which Sprewel says may happen this month.

I’d like to get the last free build 42139 into ports sometime in the coming month.  It will only take that long because I’ve never submitted to ports before, so the packaging and submission process is all new to me.

Subscription based development

Instead of asking for donations to support his work, Sprewel has recently started offering subscriptions for Chromium development. If you are interested in Chrome and want to both continue running it on FreeBSD and its future development, consider supporting the development with a subscription.

Sprewell emailed me this week about this new open source business model:

The idea is to get paid for development by developing closed-source patches on a BSD-licensed, mostly open codebase, and contracting with subscribers that they will receive those patches within a time limit from the date they got that build, in my case 1 year.  I think linux has raced ahead of BSD largely because of the support/consultingware business model they’ve used with the GPL, but I think this type of mixed, time-limited business model could vault BSD-licensed software far ahead, to the point where it could compete with fully proprietary software.

All code for a particular build will be released to subscribers under the BSD license, within 1 year of a build being released. If the development costs for a particular issue are paid off before 1 year, the patch for that feature will be opened earlier. The goal is to keep pushing code back upstream within a year

According to Sprewell there are already a few subscribers. Let’s see how this model takes off.