Exit to the community?
So I think like many here I like Open Source Software & yet here I am using a proprietary piece to run it.
My concern is mainly if you guys get offered $$$ to sell Cloudron to some big corp, or you find you're not making enough and need to do something else.
I was wondering if you were familiar with the concept of 'Exit to community'
Basically what Blender did, if you decide to sell then the community gets the first refusal. You name the price, if the price is met you sell the company to the community and the code is <likely> open-sourced.
It doesn't seem like you want to sell the company right now, & I'm not sure if the community even has the funds/ organsation needed to make a coherent bid.
Both of those things may change over time.
Would you be willing to make an in-principle statement that if/when you decide to sell, that you'd invite offers from the community in the first instance? Give us a couple of months to get our shit together?
That's quite interesting, I have to read up more to understand what all this entails. Is this a legal document or some promise put up on our website?
Speaking for the moment, we have no plans to sell or even take funding for that matter. We have also been self sustaining for many years now.
This reminded me of the KDE-Qt agreement (I was a Qt engineer in my previous life). https://kde.org/community/whatiskde/Software_License_Agreement_2015_Text.pdf I think is the agreement . But essentially if Qt company would stop developing Qt actively, the code then gets opensourced with a more permissive license. Without going into much detail, there are always ways around these "promises". I haven't been actively following Qt now but I think they made Qt LTS releases which are commercial only.
@girish As you say I think it would be hard to make it stick legally. I guess there are various levels of it
Your existing forum comment gives me ~20% confidence it might happen.
A public statement on the website would increase my confidence to ~50%
Some QT like legal documents would push it up to ~70% confidence
Drafting some bespoke thing with advice from external free software lawyers might push it up to ~80% confidence.
Basically the higher the better!
It looks like QT is currently dual licenced, commercial or LGPL
@sam_uk How important is this in reality? I'm not conversant with its functionality or legality, but it seems to me that the sort of unexpected scenario you fear could happen even with a formal statement. Or, does the existence of such a statement on their website send a message to potential Big-Bucks take-overs attempts, that they won't get what they want, so they won't bother trying in the first place?
Otherwise, it seems like extraneous mental luggage that might be fine to deal with at some point in the future, but which distracts from their current focus and efforts, which are currently successfully meeting the needs of all of us Cloudronians.
This is coming from my stance as Messy Puritan - I love the stance of OS, but when and if someone else's company or efforts stray from that too far, then I just move on. So far, Cloudron hasn't done that. Will they? I don't really see how its my business. But right now, using it and paying for it keeps the business going.
Anyways, don't let my rant distract from my initial , sincere question: Does the existence of the sort of statement or document you are talking about have any actual real-world heft? Or is it more the principal of the thing? Thanks for engaging me on that.
@sam_uk : it's a very interesting and good discussion.
I can certainly see that some arrangement like this would get massive thumbs-up from the OS community, and consequently could lead to a significant (huge?) uptake of Cloudron by OS enthusiasts. Meaning there could be a self-interested benefit to Cloudron doing it. But I'm not sure there is something broken which needs fixing, so maybe leave well alone.
And having said all that, as valuable and excellent a platform as Cloudron is, it's a gateway for deploying and managing OS apps. Does Cloudron itself have to be OS? It's still fantastic and I'm no less of a fan, even if it isn't. If some evil empire body does acquire it, well, life becomes less easy, rather than being directly threatened.
While the apps that I deploy on Cloudron should be OS wherever possible, it doesn't matter that much to me that the tool I am using to deploy is not OS. I just want it to continue its stability and grow its functionality even further. I use a Mac as primary desktop, and I don't stop doing so because Apple operating system is not open. Cloudron has amply demonstrated their reliability. I don't need it to be OS in order to trust it and use it.
Just my 2p, others may have different considerations.