Operation Sugar-Daddy

Derek Neighbors derek at gnue.org
Mon Apr 25 12:08:12 EDT 2005

> Derek Neighbors wrote:
>>As a long time user of GNUCash...
>> However, the end consumer
>>doesn't give a crap about that.  They just want what they need.  They
>>could care less who gets more resources and what is "fair". ;)
> That's so true. Not everyone understands (or cares) how open source
> software happens, but those of us who do have a responsibility to keep
> supporting it, in any way we can.

Some people's way of supporting it is point out the deficiencies that keep
them from being able to use the software in a productive manner.  Of
course, the problem is that often times they do so in a manner that is
destructive rather than constructive.  We programmers also don't take
criticism well and often "bite back" at those who truly are trying to
help, but who do so with poor tact.

>>>That said, personal / business management software is arguably THE
>>>gateway application, for linux.
>>It holds some people back.  I don't think it is "the gateway"
>>application however.  It certainly is important though.
> Would you agree then, that the lack of such an application is an
> impediment to widespread adoption ?

Not in and of itself.  Most users who say they are waiting on a clone of
quicken or such are simply stalling out of fear of stepping off the
comfort platform.  I say this because for under $100 there are several
tools that would allow them to switch to Linux and keep their
quicken/quickbooks et al. (VMWare, Crossover, Wine, etc)

>>Many of you may or may not remember that GNUCash DID have a sugar daddy
>>(albiet a screwed up one) once upon a time.  Back in 2000 a venture
>>capital company called Linux Global Partners (LGP) that sunk money into
>>Ximian and other Free Software houses put up money for GNUmatic a
>>company designed specifically to develop GNUCash.
> Though short lived, was it a positive thing ?

Yes and no.  It was positive in that it got developers working on the
project paid.  However, out of those that got paid nearly none are still
active (that I know of).  So there were some really intelligent people
hacking on things with their tools of choice.  Once the money dried up
most of those people moved on.  It kind of left a big hole in GNUCash.  I
could be mis remembering but Derek pretty much stepped up and carried the
project just keeping GNUCash maintained after that period.  That is full
time work in and of itself.  Because of this new development largely was
ignored. As keeping the product alive was priority number one.  Actually
that isn't wholly true the small business features were added about the
time GNUMatic was finishing up and then it went into maintenance mode.  I
think this in a large part contributes to the fact that there is still a
struggle to get a gnome2 version out, that postgres support, budgeting and
other features just haven't gotten prioritized.  Certainly it would be
silly to lay blame as the resources have not existed to do more.   I for
one would personally like to thank Derek for stepping up and continuing
releases of GNUcash.  He entered a situation that was mostly lemons and
made lemonade out of it.

>>One problem is there was not a sustainable business model around the
>>product.  Shrink wrap sales of GNUCash is not highly viable and
>>offerring support doesn't really bring in the cash to maintain new
> If a large company was betting millions on the increasing popularity of
> linux, and realized that the existence of a solid noob-able financial
> app would make the platform viable for a much wider demographic, might
> that not be enough incentive to support gC development ?

I am moderately surprised that Ximian/Novell hasn't shown interest in
GNUcash.  I know that LGP's hope in funding Ximian and GNUMatic was to
make a Linux desktop to compete against windows.  However, I think that
Novell is going for the corporate desktop and GNUCash just isn't a factor
in that.  Red Hat is doing the same.  GNUCash is sadly stuck in the
middle.  It isn't a whiz bang media player or some other fun toy to hack
on so those programming for fun have little interest in it.  It doesn't
have corporate appeal so the major companies that fund Linux applications
haven't deemed it worth investing in.  I know at one time there were
"bounties" or such.  It seemed like a good idea, but appeared hard to
manage.  I would gladly pay $60 for good budgeting features.  However, $60
is not enough to make it worth a developers time.  If 20 other people felt
the same way $1200 might be enough to make someone willing to do it.

>>>From a perspective of someone that can code and uses GNUCash some
>>problems are that it's technology choices are not the kind that attract
>>developers.  Working with C and Scheme to do trivial functionality is
>>just not how most hackers want to spend their time on an end user
> Ahh, but paid professionals will work on whatever they are paid to work
> on.

Yes, but they also stop working if they don't get paid.  So unless they
find a revenue stream to yield payback or they have a sugar daddy willing
to completely eat all costs there is a problem in the long run.

>>Add to that the amount of gnome 1.4 cruft that needs cleaning and it
>>takes a real love for GNUcash to spend time in the code.
> the gnome2 port will significantly improve the app and the development
> environment, as well as making "Operation Sugar-Daddy" more attractive.

A business model that shows high rate of return is about all that will
make Operation Sugar Daddy viable.  That is unless someone that is
independently wealthy takes an altruistic stance to supporting GNUCash.

-Derek (Neighbors)

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