Free Software is Serious Business
SavaPage is an Open Print Portal offered by Datraverse B.V. in a proof-of-concept “Free Software Practice” that is based on a “Libre Business Model”.
This paper explains why a Libre Business Model is needed, how its design came about and how the Free Software Practice works.
Why a Libre Business Model is needed
Be part of the pack
Make it easy for organizations to adopt Free Software.
To be accepted, we must offer our Free Software Solutions in a solid framework where contracts, invoicing, etc. are according to legal standards.
Ethics in, ethics out
Create Free Software with Freedom for All.
In a “Libre Business Model”, business partners cooperate to deliver a Free Software Solution in united responsibility, to guard and support software freedom for community members in a sustainable way.
Since the standard of living is different in different parts of the world, and not every organization has the same financial resources, pricing may be too high for some. Therefore, motivated candidate fellows must not be excluded for financial reasons, but will be accepted with the payment they can afford.
Help Free Software Professionals
Help Free Software Professionals make a living by lowering the threshold for engaging in Free Software Development.
Prevent Tragedy of the Commons
Tragedy of the Commons is the dilemma that people's short-term selfish interests are at odds with long-term group interests and the common good.
Designing a Libre Business Model
The Libre Business Model is an application of Free Software Design Patterns.
Concepts like Decentralization, Peer-to-Peer, Distribution and Confederation are ingrained into Free Software Design and considered best practice to let users optimally exercise their freedom.
→ “With Free Software users control their own computer instead of being controlled by their computer.”
Likewise, a Libre Business Model is designed as a distributed federation of small business units, or individual professionals, who cooperate peer-to-peer to accomplish well defined Free Software community targets.
→ “In a Libre Business Model partners run their own business instead of being run by their business.”
The Libre Business Model leans heavily on a Web-of-Trust
. By achieving common business goals, trust among federated partners will be extended and reinforced.
→ Trust is the most valuable equity of a Free Software community.
states that “organizations produce designs whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure”. Restated by Eric S Raymond, “the organization of the software and the organization of the software team will be congruent”.
→ The Libre Business Model is congruent with Free Software Design Patterns.
The Free Software Practice
I am the owner, and in 2015 was the sole employee of Datraverse BV, a company I established in 1998 for my software development contracting work and value added software reselling. The “BV” (Besloten Vennootschap) acronym is the Dutch equivalent of an “Ltd” (Limited).
As it happens Datraverse BV is also the owner and creator of SavaPage Open Print Portal, and therefore the perfect legal umbrella to prototype the Libre Business Model. I implemented the model as a so-called “Libre Software Practice” for the SavaPage Community, see https://wiki.savapage.org for a complete explanation. In a nutshell, the practice works as follows:
Datraverse acts as manager of the SavaPage Community.
Business is fueled by recurring subscription fees from community member organizations.
Member organizations (Fellows) are entitled to free, as in “free beer”, Technical Support
A flexible SLA contract
is available for Operational Support.
Datraverse guaranties that subscription fees are fairly shared among partners.
get a percentage from the subscription fees of Fellows they support and deliver to, and are free to invoice value-added services on their own account.
get a percentage from the subscription fees of Fellows residing in the locale they translate for.
Datraverse takes care of all legal matters like invoicing, taxes (VAT), etc.
The Libre Software Practice has proved to work. Up till now the community comprises 13 subscribing organizations with a total of 47,000 users. Looking at current prospects we expect a steady growth.
Create your own level playing field
“Never innovate to compete, innovate to change the rules of the game.”
― David O. Adeife
Think big, act small
“Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.
Learn by doing
“An ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory.”
― Ernst F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered.
Rely on your compass
“Liberty and Justice for All.”
Have hope and courage, be realistic
“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
― Václav Havel
FOSS now is the dominating software development paradigm.
GNU/Linux now is the dominating OS.
Libre Business Models will follow . . .