FLOSS Funding Idea

I’m sure there may be a reason why this hasn’t been done before, and this is a not particularly well fleshed out idea, but I’ve had an idea for FLOSS funding floating around in my head for a minute now:

  • A desktop application (or an extension to the likes of Discover) that takes a user-specified recurring donation amount and automatically divides it between all package publishers for packages installed on a GNU/Linux system.
    • Percentage of donation amount allocated to each publisher could be determined by how many packages depend on work by each publisher.
    • Users can assign a higher donation priority to packages they use frequently or especially want to support.
    • Donation info, packager / publisher info, and package dependencies could be added to the appstream spec, although while I imagine that many projects use existing donation payment providers with APIs that could be used, it may make more sense to have a dedicated platform / account for this purpose.

The problems this solves:

  1. Users have a quick and easy way to ‘set and forget’ a recurring FLOSS donation that supports the devs of the programs they use.
  2. If a dedicated payment platform is utilized for this purpose, it can pool user donations until the payout amount is worth the platform fees.
  3. Small utilities, libraries, etc that many programs depend on don’t get forgotten about, and receive a more equitable proportion of user donations based on their usefulness.
  4. Packagers could also be eligible for a percentage of user donations, which may help app availability.

Future scope creep could include:

  • Invoice generation for enterprise / business donations
  • Projects could offer perks / rewards through the desktop application based on recurring or accumulated donation amounts to their projects.
  • Feed reader for project news
  • User can opt into notifications for project news, or to review their total donation budget upon adding / removing packages.
  • Integrated bug reporting
  • User surveys on new features, et cetera
  • A CLI for servers
  • Support for AUR & Appimages

Personally, I want to donate more to the FLOSS projects I use every day, but I use so goddamn many. I’m sure there are a lot of users out there who have $10, $20, $50, or $100 that they could, and would like to, contribute to the tools they use each month, but figuring out which projects to donate to and how is daunting, and even if you did crack open LibreOffice Calc to divvy up that $50, individual donations may well wind up not worth the processing fees in the end.

I get that this would almost certainly involve some infrastructure, but this (perhaps naively) seems like the sort of undertaking that the team of a medium to large distro could manage. I know that Flatpak is trying to do something similar with their store, but an appstream-based solution could handle packages from distribution repos, as well as flatpaks and snaps.

Since you pointed me to the term FLOSS in another thread…
wouldn’t the ideas you’re presenting here diametrically contradict the “free (libre)” aspect of it all?



Not at all, Free/Libre in FLOSS refers to the four essential software freedoms, and isn’t referring to price. With my idea above the user is, of course, free to abstain from donation; it’s just an idea to make donation easier.

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It is an interesting idea.

I think some of the blockers would be:

  • It would be a surprising large amount of work to do
  • There would be some fairly significant legal hurdles to jump through since the laws vary between countries
  • There is a decent amount of financial investment needed to get that up and running
  • Finding people who want to invest the time and money in all of the above is probably not that easy

Ultimately, unless you had a large amount of donators, the overhead would never be worth it.

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Oh lord no, that wouldn’t fly. I don’t know how you would even get that merged in a community controlled project…

1.) https://www.reddit.com/r/StableDiffusion/comments/ynshup/ads_are_starting_to_appear_in_our_foss/

Advertising-supported software

In order to commercialize FOSS (free and open-source software), many companies (including Google, Mozilla, and Canonical) have moved towards an economic model of advertising-supported software. For instance, the open-source application AdBlock Plus gets paid by Google for letting whitelisted Acceptable Ads bypassing the browser ad remover.[19] As another example is SourceForge, an open-source project service provider, has the revenue model of advertising banner sales on their website. In 2006, SourceForge reported quarterly takings of $6.5 million[20] and $23 million in 2009.[21]

3.) http://www.fosspatents.com/2022/10/clarification-apples-ads-on-app-pages.html

etc. etc. … the possibilities seem endless at a first glance on the topic, and the big players are seeking to inhale whatever they can get from us.

It would be a surprising large amount of work to do

Yea, the key things in my mind are:

  • Changing the appstream spec
  • Creating the legal entity responsible for handling & distributing payment if an existing fiscal sponsor org can’t step in
  • Middleware / backend infrastructure
  • Getting projects and packagers to adopt the new appstream spec
  • A system for verifying publishers / packagers

Ultimately, unless you had a large amount of donators, the overhead would never be worth it

On this, if you could get the package into even a few large distro repos, I’d be fairly optimistic about user adoption.

But on time and investment, this may be a project to be undertaken by the FSFs of the world - it would have to be by an org or a team solely focused on building something that helps ensure the sustainability of FLOSS projects in the long term.

I believe that this idea might be a good solution to help avoid these attempts at fund-raising. It’s just so hard for FLOSS projects to raise money for infrastructure, maintenance, et cetera; I can’t help but think that the examples you’re pointing out occur as a result of that difficulty.

My thinking is that having a simple, centralized, low barrier to entry, community controlled solution for FLOSS donation, where the user is in control, will seriously bolster the amount of donations received by all FLOSS projects. Bear in mind, individual projects can’t force ads into a program that they don’t control, and if the community that develops the program goes off the deep end, re-writes the thing in electron and puts google ads in the sidebar, well, it’s FLOSS, someone can simply fork it and users can use the forked package instead.

Personally, I hate capitalism. I don’t think that currency, advertising, et cetera, ought to have any part in human society, but because we live under capitalism for the moment, FLOSS projects by and large do need capital to have the best chance at being here for the long run, and right now, there’s no simple way for users to give them any.

Of course, there will always be unscrupulous bait-and-switch FLOSS in name, but not in spirit projects like Simplenote, but they tend to just get forked and/or dropped by the community like a hot potato once people figure out what’s going on.

Nice idea. IMO, for reasons already posted by others, only freedesktop.org, or other relevant organization could put this in life (if ever).

IMHO FOSS devs and projects should be paid by the governments, together with including FOSS as a mandatory type of work in all educational grades and public service organizations. I think this idea will take way more time to be established than yours, so… go for it!! :wink:


Sounds like something decentralized would be in order. Throwing a very basic abstract suggestion at quite an intricate idea, imagine a new decentralized cryptocurrency that is dedicated to just this. The main points is you convert your cash to the crypto, and the platform can be designed such that transaction fees do not vaporize the donation pool that should be going to the multitude of contributors .

It’s easier to get corporations to contribute. They use open source applications internally and if they sell software or software as a service, build their bits on top of open source.

Any collection from users will pale in comparison to what businesses could/should contribute.

Net ask: tell your employer that they should contribute to open source.

For sure, I agree that businesses ought to contribute. This is just a simple avenue for users to contribute, it’s an additional funding source. The idea is that instead of not contributing at all, or only contributing to big, GUI focused FLOSS projects like Inkscape, users would have an easy way to contribute to all of the packages that make their day to day computing possible.

Plus, if you roll in a fiscal sponsorship, you have an org. that can do invoicing on behalf of the (donations) project, itemizing contributions for each package, that helps avoid the problem wherein orgs. want to contribute to FLOSS projects that don’t have the capacity to invoice.

Or cutting the crap completely and pay with Monero…



I’ll stick with FOSS.

FLOSS / FOSS - It’s the same thing.

What is the difference between FOSS and FLOSS?

And I’d also like to be clear that the idea is only a way to make it easier for users to donate if they would like to do so. Nobody would be forced to donate, or even have the package installed. It’s simply a way to help people donate to FLOSS projects. This is something that I would use right now if it existed.

As i said I’ll stick with FOSS. I don’t need another name to make it clearer or reference some difference. I know what it is and what it isn’t and it only matters what it means to me. :wink:

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If you follow the link, you’ll see how they are making millions with FOSS.

Richard Stallman says this, regarding his emphasis on FLOSS:


It’s GNU … I only do Linux! :rofl: