Nick Bolton

The Synergy Story So Far

10 posts in this topic

I recently received some feedback from a LinusTechTips forum user about our pricing.

Quote

[...] making people pay for a program that is open source, and based on another open source program written by people who do not work for your company, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I understand that you need to make money, but it kind of goes against my general philosophy.

 

Agh, tough read. I was a little surprised that some people still feel this way, so I decided to write a blog post to address this. I want to help people understand why Synergy isn't free (as in free beer).

Read the blog post: The Synergy Story So Far

What are your thoughts on this? Reply to this topic.

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Interesting blog entry, but it doesn't really address what I think is the core question here.  Which is the core tension in open source world.  I love open source, and I even try to contributre back and help move it forward, but I'm much more an IT guy than a programmer.  Which is why I've bought a synergy license, since it helps me in my job so much.  But since it was based on open source, people don't like to see the code go closed source or be forced to pay for something that is open source. 

One option would be for someone to just fork the code and take it in a new direction.  Which is hard since you have three major platforms to work on to get a product working.  Sharing linux screens isn't hard with VNC, x2go, etc.  It might not be as pretty or simple, but it does work.  Or even just plain SSH, the SysAdmin's friend.  :-)  I love synergy for it's ability to let me keep one keyboard mouse and manage my main linux desktop and then my need-for-some-tools windows box.  Makes life simpler and easier.  I really enjoy it.

And the price you charged wasn't *quite* too exhorbitant to make it worthwhile.  Just look at the MobaXterm people for a price that's just too high for my budget.

 

In any case, I don't think you really addressed in your blog, with some detailed examples of the complexities of the code base, why you really needed to push to a purchase vs donate model.  It's a balancing act, and one that I'm not sure I could pull off.  And if you put the price too high, esp after the Synergy 2 failure, it will just annoy people even more. 

 

Do you have a breakdown of how people are using the software?  Is it Windows -> Mac -> Linux for the Server and Windows -> Linux -> Mac for the client side of things?  I'm sure that Windows makes like really painful.  See my open ticket on the ~2 second delay when moving the mouse onto a Windows client desktop. 

 

In any case, thanks for all your work on this, I personally do apprecaite it, even if I have rambled a bit on this friday afternoon.

 

Cheers,

John

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13 hours ago, John S said:

Interesting blog entry, but it doesn't really address what I think is the core question here.

I think you're right. Why do we charge? To pay developers. Why do we need to pay developers? Because the project is too complicated to be run by volunteers alone (though Chris Schoeneman did amazing work from 2001 to 2006). Why is it too complicated for volunteers alone? Because with most bug fixes and features, you have to test on 3 operating systems (and all the variations of those operating systems). I am planning to have less platform specific code going forward, but we're limited due to integrating very tightly with low-level OS APIs (which constantly change).

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I have no problem with paying for good innovative software particularly when it helps me doing my job. I don't mind that free versions are available that do a similar thing - I like Synergy. Is anyone questioning Red Hat over why they charge when Linux is open source?

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I personally have used Synergy for a good portion of it's life. I used it for free for the longest time...  SO MANY YEARS, I remember when I would update using your nightly repository even after you went commercial and when I saw Linus spouting about Symless and Synergy and giving a code for 1 and 2, I knew... I had used the program for so long on so many of my own important projects and for the ease of my own personal gain that you guys deserved the money.

 

I'd use some powerful quote about how fueling the economy and business's are extremely important but I don't know of any. But what I will say is "Money makes the world go 'round!" & hopefully the fuel we give Symless allows them to support this beautiful and extremely important application for a long, long time.

 

P.S. Don't threaten peoples lives over a piece of software... lol!

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This is just to give a personal perspective. Yes, Syngery does cost something. But, for the price of less than two lunches, I could buy a license which in principle allows perpetual use. Meanwhile, my monthly 1€ donations to e.g. libreoffice during two years (I bought Synergy two years ago) add up to a higher amount than what I paid for Synergy. So, it has been a very worthy investment and I wouldn't complain.

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I think the big misconception is that Open Source means Free, as in Free Beer, where the true meaning is Free as in Freedom.

Developers that take an existing open source tool and add value to it should have the "freedom" to charge for that added value. There's nothing preventing others from taking the original open source tool and use it.

As somebody mentioned above, look at RedHat. They added value to the original Linux distribution and has now been bought by IBM for $34 billion! Do you think Linus is complaining about that?

I appreciate what Nick has done with Synergy and that is why I support him with both a v1 and v2 license.

I've read numerous discussions about how cloud providers are making money off of open source tools and now some of these are changing their licenses to prevent companies from making money off them. Doesn't sound like freedom to me. There's nothing preventing you from taking all these tools and setting up your own infrastructure in a data center. These cloud providers add value by streamlining configuration, providing support, improving integration, etc.

Everything in life is about tradeoffs. I'd much rather pay somebody to deal with the hassles, especially if it's not my core competency and doesn't improve my business.

Anyway, rant over.

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I could not agree more with @Kiliman . I just want to say thank you very much Nick and the team for the support and endurance to keep moving forward with this wonderful product.

 

Cheers,

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I enjoy the product and appreciate your transparency in your latest blogpost.

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I've been using Synergy for 16 or 17 years. I've donated twice, I've bought both Symless versions and I absolutely could not function without it. I've used many iterations and many alternatives. Hands down, nothing beats Synergy. Sure, v2 has problems, but that's common in software development and they didn't just tell us to live with it, they pulled it and are fixing it, taking our feedback and making it work the way *we* want it to. Imagine if MS had done the same thing with ME, Vista or Win8. 

The price of a Pro license today is about the same as the price of either a mouse or keyboard and it gives you access to as many computers as you need. I currently have as many as 18 devices that I control via Synergy from one server, and it is truly a seamless experience.

I miss the mobile integration that a previous (insecure) iteration had, but I wouldn't trade Synergy for anything.

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